Everyone around the world is eagerly anticipating the arrival of Ramadan. It will begin on Sunday night with tarawih prayers and the first fast will be, God willing, on Monday when the new moon can be sighted. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and a month of fasting, purification and intense worship. Ramadan is the month where the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him.)
Many non-Muslims may wonder why do Muslims actually look forward to the punishment of not eating or drinking all day! Especially now in the month of August with incredibly hot, long days. Ramadan is not only a month where we fast but it’s also the month with endless rewards in this world and the hereafter. That is what we are after. We want the rewards of the fasting, of all the good deeds we try to accomplish and of all the acts of worship we perform in this amazing month, and we do this for only one reason, for God. We don’t fast to show off for people, we don’t fast for any prophets or saints, we don’t worship to show others we are such good Muslims, we don’t have seven course iftar (breaking the fast) dinners to outdo our neighbours, we do it for God alone and for His approval and for His reward (though, seven course dinners are not a good idea in Ramadan because it defeats the purpose and simplicity is key.)
I am also preparing; mentally, physically and emotionally. Mentally because to fast we have to get up before dawn to eat a light breakfast that will sustain us until sun down when we break our fast. Sun rise in Colorado is around 4.30am right now which means I have to get up at 3.30 to start preparing breakfast and waking the children and hubby to finish eating by 4.30. Phew! That’s going to be an early morning. Usually, I have a hard time falling asleep again until much later so this is where the physical preparation comes in. My medications and physical limitations are tested a little bit during this month but it’s unreal how God gives me the strength.
The not eating and not drinking part have never been difficult for me. I don’t fret about them at all. I find fasting quite easy and when the distraction of food is taken away, it’s a very productive day. My concern is just the tiredness I feel and sometimes the guilt. I feel like I should be reading more Qur’an or studying the text or even being nicer. I do as much as I can but it feels like its never enough. After a day of fasting and doing the usual household chores, I am so tired from the day that I cannot muster up the energy sometimes to go to the mosque for night prayer and I feel very guilty about that every year.
Emotionally and spiritually preparing is probably the hardest. You have to prepare to open up your heart to God and pour out your feelings. Something I am not used to doing with anyone so this one is hard for me. In Ramadan, the prayers of the fasting person are always accepted. What we pray for and all the worship we perform are accepted by God, as long as our intentions are pure. Sometimes it’s hard when you come to the realisation that you were a little lacking in your worship and generosity after the last Ramadan. The goal is to continue with the good habits you procure during Ramadan. However, being shiny examples of humanity is not easy all the time for us lowly humans and we should be ready to submit to God for our shortcomings and ask for His help.
Ramadan is a time to make some resolutions and one is to have the best Ramadan ever! We have to make it fun for our children, and to take an active part in the community. To include our neighbours and especially the non-Muslim ones. This is a great opportunity to show them the beauty and peace of Islam.
My resolutions this year are:
- To make it to the mosque for prayer as many times as I can.
- I want to read the Qur’an everyday, even if it’s only for five minutes.
- I want to visit all the mosques in the surrounding areas this Ramadan.
- I want to make sure to take a nap so I can be ready to worship all night.
- I don’t want to overeat.
- I want to be nicer to my children because they can be so trying sometimes.
- I want to teach my children the importance of their faith and culture.
- I want to reach out to all my relatives that I overlook during the year.
- I want to be a better person.
- I want to reaffirm my faith and connect with God, especially since I feel so lost sometimes.
- I want to invite my non-Muslim neighbours to my home to break our fast with us, so they may understand that my religion is one of peace and tolerance.
- I want to have the best Ramadan yet and even though it may seem impossible because I am here in Colorado with none of my family close by or even a friend, I will try.
So, as Ramadan quickly approaches, I pray that God accepts all our fasts and our acts of worship in this very blessed month. I hope to be not cooking as much during this month so I may concentrate on my worship. I may not post as frequently also, but please understand this is a special month for all Muslims. I will write to let you all know how it’s going though and how many resolutions I have ticked off.
Ramadan isn’t for a few more days so I still have time to sneak in a dish or two, and maybe you might even use one for an iftar.
Have a wonderful day!