Alhamdulillah, we are almost at the end of the blessed month. Perhaps saying “Alhamdulillah” might seem an inappropriate choice of word. It suggests a sense of relief. However, I mean it in the sense that I have been fortunate to have experienced most of this month and inshaAllah, will see it right to the end as well.
As all Muslims know, the month is not just about the fasting of the stomach. At a higher level, we are urged to restrain ourselves from so many other undesirable habits of the body and mind like backbiting, wasting time and other fruitless pursuits. At its best, Ramadan is a time where the heart is constantly connected to Allah. It is a time of being more conscious of the actions of oneself and of the ego.
I have had the past few weeks to reflect on what I need to purge from within myself. I know I need to learn more humility and point the judgemental finger right back at myself before waving it at others. That is a serious reality check in itself. I have had many moments of self-criticism and regret at past actions. However, I am also full of hopefulness that I may be making some modest progress in terms of my life as a Muslim. That middle ground is exactly where a Muslim is supposed to be: to live between hope in and fear of Allah. To me, it makes perfect sense.
Ramadan is a time for re-energising the spiritual dimension of ourselves. I know for many people, as good as their intentions may be, it is a struggle to even get started. Sometimes life just gets in the way. This is particularly true for women running a household on their own without a husband to help. My heart goes out to them as I understand their plight too well. Though my own children are no longer children as such, I can relate to the struggles these mothers are going through. For them, it is not easy to listen to how others have achieved great spiritual leaps, through reading the Quran or extra prayers, when they are floundering with just the normal routine of everyday life. If you are such a person reading my post now, I salute you. I salute you for your commitment to your family and for going it alone without compromising your dignity and determination. I salute you for having even just the intention to do so many extra deeds although you may not have had the chance to actually cross them off your list. To all those women who singlehandedly are raising well-rounded children through personal sacrifices and societal sanctions, please know that this is a mission that is as noble as any other.
My understanding is that Ramadan is a time to bring forth the best example of ourselves. It is a time of community spirit and global awareness of what is happening across the Muslim world especially. Whilst some of us may struggle to find time to read the complete Quran, or put our lives on hold to do extra acts of worship, the beauty is that worship can take many forms. Looking after our children is a great example; sharing food with our neighbours; a phone call to an elderly or lonely person – these are noble causes not to be dismissed lightly. So, even if the more personal goals for ourselves are not met, the part of our existence which is given over to taking care of the needs of others is a truly commendable one. I hope some will take comfort from that. Not all hope is lost.
Sometimes, striving to do more in Ramadan can be as simple (yet powerful) as controlling our thoughts while fasting. This is a wonderful opportunity to learn to rein in some of those unsavoury thoughts rooted in anger, suspicion, jealousy and pride. We try to pull the plug on them and instead, let them drain away. That is not a small feat and it’s a continuous process but done at a time when Allah generously rewards us for any good we do, it’s a goal worth pursuing.
For myself, I am beginning to learn to have a more tenuous grip on this duniya (world) as I can’t hold onto it forever. Indeed, I don’t want to. To have lived another day of peace and good health is more than what I could have asked for, Alhamdulillah. I am grateful for every seemingly positive and negative experience in the hope that they will all collectively make me move closer to my Creator.