So it has finally come, the month cherished by Muslims worldwide, Ramadan. I can’t deny that I received the announcement of Ramadan with tears of joy and hope that Allah’s Mercy would touch our burdened lives. Ramadan, a thirty-day gift from Allah where His Mercy, Retribution and salvation from Hell are granted to those who practice fasting in the best manner described in the Holy Quran and our Prophet’s Sunnah. The media has distorted this beautiful image of Ramadan and turned it into a month of lethargy, oversleeping, overeating and staying glued to the wide range of television series , soap operas and other programs which lack any moral guidance mostly needed to help us to succeed in Ramadan.
As youngsters, we could not grasp the true essence behind Ramadan till mid adulthood. We knew that we had to fast, although food makes up for almost half of every child’s world. We went up the roof before the Maghrib (sunset) Prayer was announced to wait for the minarets of the mosques to light up so we can celebrate the end of the curfew on food. I clearly remember that once we stood there holding on to our small bags of candy as we waited. What I try to teach my kids today about Ramadan are the true feelings of love I hold for this blessed month. I couldn’t keep the joy inside as Ramadan was only a day away, I was so enthused as I burst out about all the things that Ramadan brings along. First I had to mention the material things such as the Ramadan Lantern (Fanoos) and the man (Musaharati) who wakes people up for (Suhoor) which is having a small meal before the Dawn Prayer and the famous Ramadan foods and all. This attracted their little minds, but then my six-year old Huda curiously threw this question at me: Mom, what happens in Ramadan? I was delighted at her question which I believe that if asked to grown-up Muslims, they would labor in coming up with an answer. So let’s ask ourselves this question: What is Ramadan all about?
First of all, Allah the All Merciful does not intend to make our lives harder by commanding us to fast from food, water and marital relationships for 14-15 hours a day. Ramadan is a school which purifies our souls and strengthens our bodies. As human beings, we tend to attach ourselves to the earthly pleasures which fulfill the needs of our bodies, while neglecting our souls. The soul which runs through our bodies is not content or relaxed with the same food given to our bodies. Ramadan comes to uplift our heavy hearts and souls through fasting, prayer and many other forms of worship. When the thirty-day school draws near its end, we feel this powerful immunity towards many of life’s luxuries. We long to read Quran, give out charity, stand in humbleness before Allah in midnight prayers asking to be saved from Hell, to be granted our wishes and to stay steadfast to the straight path which Allah has defined to us. Most of all, we feel the pain of hunger and thirst which millions suffer from in impoverished nations.
In Ramadan, Allah gives us countless opportunities everyday where He answers our prayers; the things we long so much to have. Throughout the year, we may turn to people for help, to doctors for treatment and friends for advice. But, in Ramadan, our hearts our content with turning to our Creator for all help and treatment. At many times, doctors fail you as well as colleagues, and you are uncomfortable to turn to them for help because after all, they are human beings like the rest of us who have worries and concerns of their own, so no point in opening your heart to them and putting full trust in their human power as if they have the secret cure to all your problems.
Another good lesson we learn from Ramadan is that with the feebleness of our bodies, and the elevation of our souls, we tend to make less mistakes. Our hearts are filled with love and kindness to all those surrounding us, and forgiveness to those who have not been so kind to us throughout the year, especially when we learn that Allah the Almighty forgives the sins of His worshippers, so why can’t we humans forgive and forget. The season of Mercy has come, so let’s not waste it and try to really live the spirit of this holly month, and believe me, you are bound to see wonderful things if you value every minute of it.