The blessed month of Ramadan is almost upon us and my phone has already been exploding with notifications of upcoming webinars, lectures and tips for a productive month of worship and reward. As well-meaning as all of this is, I actually find it sends me into a state of frenzy and anxiety.
In an age where religion is easily dispensed through online platforms and is available at the click of a button, I am also cynical about being overwhelmed by it all. It begs the question that if I watch one video after another, telling me how to use my time in Ramadan wisely, then surely the first step is to cut back on the videos themselves? Too many scholars with too much advice and too much screen time can sometimes feel like binge watching in itself. Passive learning on this scale leaves little time to get up and actually do something myself.
I guess I want to go back to basics and try to fulfil the rights of this month without the intervention of the internet. Like how an armchair traveller can claim to have seen the world without ever having left their seat, so too, we live in a time where people can have religion delivered to their fingertips without ever having to interact with a teacher face to face. This isn’t to dismiss the positive outcomes that online platforms can offer. However, these days it all seems too easy. Islam is now delivered at our doorsteps like a pizza through Deliveroo. We have become detached from the process of its making and are only interested in the final product if it is palatable to our tastes.
I sometimes wonder how the earlier generations of Muslims managed to motivate themselves through Ramadan without the advent of the internet. They did not face the challenges of detoxification from social media and 24/7 newsfeeds on their phones. Perhaps they had other challenges like finding clean sources of water just to function with their daily chores. Whatever their challenges may have been, surely, scaling back from a fast pace of life was not one of them.
Quite frankly, I do not wish to receive any more prescriptions for a successful Ramadan. We all know that too many medicines can do more damage than good. This year, my plan is very simple: I want it to be a month of conversations between myself and my Creator. He will speak to me through the Quran as I aim to read it, inshaAllah. Similarly, I plan to speak to Him through prayers and supplications. I look forward to an extended period of stillness and quiet where I can enjoy hearing my own thoughts in my head which I pray will lead back to my Creator. To accomplish this, I do not need another medium to intervene. It will require my own personal effort and sacrifice.
So, as Ramadan approaches, I make no apology for not having prepared a food menu for the month. It is enough that I know I can open my fridge an hour before maghrib and find things to put a meal together, Alhamdulillah. I have no demands on me as mother to cook particular foods. I would never accept that anyway. In fact, I have never understood why households prepare fancy items in culinary terms when this is not the focus of this month.
InshaAllah, this will be a quiet month away from any high drama of the world beyond my four walls. It is the simplicity of the routine that I relish the most. It is, no doubt, an exhausting time especially as we near its end but the rewards we hope to accrue are more than worth the sacrifices we make to achieve them.
I wish my fellow Muslims peace in this blessed month and pray we take the harvest of this month to sustain us through the time beyond. Ameen.