Alhamdulilah, the Holy Month of Ramadan has been bestowed upon us, and those that have been fasting are now accustomed to the hunger pangs and parched throats. For most Muslims that are active in their Deen, this is the one time of the year where we look forward to promoting our devotion, reflection, repentance and most importantly, our test of patience. I’d like to think of Ramadan as a month that is dedicated to spring cleaning your soul. This is a month meant for moderation; a time to not only control your tongue(speech), actions and your appetite, but a time to readjust your mental, physical and spiritual alignment towards true submission.
To me, fasting is more than just a pre-requisite of my faith, it’s a reminder of what I normally take for granted. It’s a realization that I need to curb my physical cravings and replace them with an appetite for a deeper relationship with my Creator and the HereAfter.
For many that don’t understand Ramadan, it might seem absurd and almost impossible to go 10-15 hours without food and water, but it is the withdrawal of these elements, that takes us out of our comfort zone and teaches us the lessons of being hungry and thirsty. It unites us with that homeless man across the street, the child beggar, the helpless and underprivileged, and it intensifies our gratitude when we break our fast with a cool sip of water, or a sweet date. Now that all the distractions of your daily routine of where to eat, what to eat, which movie/party/event to go to, are taken out of the equation, you now have the opportunity to stay on that prayer mat a little longer to be thankful for all that’s been given to you.
There’s that infamous phrase that says “you are what you eat”, well what about what you listen to, or what you watch, or who you hang out with ? Imagine the impact of change that’s taking place within you spiritually when you replace your hip hop playlists with the recitations of the Qur’aan, swap the Kardashians for the Deen Show, and instead of hanging out with friends at a cafe, your indulging in Taraweeh prayers at the local masjid. You are now intentionally giving up these ‘distractions’ to have a better understanding of your religion and getting closer to your Creator. What better time is there than now when the gates of Heaven are open for us, and when the rewards for praying and supplication are increased ten fold?
The Prophet Muhammed PBUH has said ” Whoever does not abstain from deceitful speech and actions, Allah is not in need of him leaving his food and drink” (Bukhari)
Purify your tongue by controlling what comes out of your mouth, whether it’s from using profanity, telling a white lie, gossiping or back biting. Remind yourself that less is more, especially when it comes to your speech. If you’re like me and suffer from road rage (if you lived in Dubai, you’d have it too) remind yourself to be the better person, and not to sweat the small stuff. Getting frustrated because you didn’t get the work shift you wanted, or irritated because someone looked at you funny, are trivial and petty matters to someone that’s unemployed, or a war veteran that’s lost an arm and a leg.
Remember, Ramadan is also a month for mercy. Just as we ask God to be merciful upon us, use that same principle on others. Even a smile, is an act of charity. No act of kindness is too small, even feeding a stray cat or offering a bottle of water to a street bum, creates a positive reaction. Your mercy on that stranger or animal, has just eased their hardship, even if just momentarily. And if every person on this planet understood what it meant to fast as we Muslims do in the Holy month of Ramadan and gave the prescribed charity, there would be no stomach left empty or throat left dry.
May we use this holy month for reflection and prayer, may we replace our ingratitude with humility and appreciation, but most importantly, may we substitute anger with mercy and kindness.
Have a blessed Ramadan.