Besides the fact that Ramadaan is compulsory for Muslims, this month and the fasting brings a host of other benefits that is very difficult to match. I thought I would post a few of the things that I love about this month and why when it comes to the night before Eid, although we are so happy to sight the moon – there is a weight placed on our hearts. We are saddened to see the end of such an amazing month and yes, there are tears also not knowing if we will be granted the opportunity to see it again next year.
While we get closer to the one week mark , I was hoping you may take some of this into consideration and appreciate each day going forward into the rest of the month.
1. Fasting has endless physical benefits, from detoxifying your body , improving your immune system, clearing the skin to the healing process that begins in the body during this time. There are many reasons to fast that helps to rid yourself of ailments and contributes to a healthier you.
2. Our lives revolve around food. If you don’t believe me, just think about it. New fast food joints are cropping up all over the place and we have been conditioned to think that on the weekends, we should just go out and get a takeaway. Are you planning to go out? Well, you need popcorn at the movies, meat for a braai at the beach, ice cream or coffee at your nearest café and even a packet of chips while you are lazing on the couch. It is time to focus on important things (there are , in fact more important things than chow)- you are eating to live people, not living to eat.
3. Ramadaan promotes love. All of us have such crazy, busy lifestyles and if you are living at home and have siblings , or if you are living with your in-laws – you may know that not everyone’s breakfast and dinner times coincide. For the most part you are grabbing a slice of toast and tea in the morning and if you work different times than the rest of your family then you may be eating supper alone. Ok, so some of you may be lucky enough to all be at home at dinnertime but be honest, most of you are crowding around the TV while eating and not even speaking to each other. I love Ramadaan because we all get to eat together 🙂 Yeah, so we may be a bit grumpy when we wake up for sehri hahahaha – you know there is that person who can’t even get a word out and yet, here you are chatting away while you have your cup of tea LOL. The fact remains though that you are having breakfast as a FAMILY. While the rest of the year will pass in a blur of takeaways, skipped breakfasts, lonely meals and TV dinners – you will remember this month and for those of you who CAN sit at the dining table with everybody will make an attempt to. Unfortunately, for some of us (like me), where our spouses work shifts and its impossible to have that, Ramadaan will always be special for us – when Sehri or Iftar is spent with them.
4. We are obsessed with watching series – Suits, Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black and the rest of it – I can’t keep up these days. Making sure a friend of a friend of a friend whose cousin’s sister can load it on your hard drive and can get it to you ASAP so you can sit passively in front of your iPad and watch it for hours until day turns into night (where did the time go?). This month makes you re-evaluate how you spend your time. Do you find you have more time in Ramadaan?
Well, actually you don’t.
You still have 24 hours like you did before when you thought you didn’t have enough time , but now you have a better understanding of it. Spending large amounts of time doing mundane things that have absolutely no positive impact on your life is what exactly? Hey, I aint saying give up your series but I am saying that you need to plan how much of your day you will spend on it. Watching TV can become all you do and while we want to de-stress especially after a hard days work, it cannot be your life.
5. We begin to realise that nothing is impossible, or unachievable. When I tell people that I cannot drink or eat anything, the look on their face is like ‘Say Waaaaaaaat!’ followed by ‘not even water?’
Yes, not even water (did ya not hear me lol)
But seriously, people think it is impossible and once when we were little and we started with those half-day fasting missions, we thought we would never be able to do it but we did. It teaches us that with determination, hard work and a good attitude – we can achieve even what may seem like a huge task.
6. We experience , just for a time what life is to not have any food in our belly like those who are poor and have nothing to eat. It makes me sad – to think that are people out there who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, where they have nothing and for the most part we are throwing good food away. Some of us are lucky enough to come home to a cooked meal, get a nicely packed lunch and still, still we complain.
‘Ma, I wanted chicken curry and rice not beans and roti. Aaargh, I am not going to eat this!’
Since when did we have a sense of entitlement that overshadows respect and humility. There are people starving out there and yes, we experience fasting for 1 month but they are doing it their whole lives – eventually passing this life onto their kids. We should be so grateful for what we have and what we have been blessed with. While , in your mind you are wishing for that new car, big house and iPhone 6 to make you happy – there is someone out there living on the streets, rummaging through the garbage praying with all his might just to have the life you have. Think about it the next time you want to be ungrateful and disrespectful.
7. Fasting brings with it a new level of Spirituality, you rid yourself of distractions and spend your time in the path of Allah. Your heart is open and you want to help the less fortunate, make taubah and repent for your mistakes and be a better Muslim. Yes, there are some people who only change in Ramadaan and truth be told I am not here to judge anyone – if for this one month you feel the need to change, your relationship is with Allah and your intentions only he knows. We should never change for anyone else but because of what is in our souls.
8. We are taught patience, generosity and sincerity. The fact that you are abstaining is not for anyone else to even know about. Your fast is a secret between you and Allah. If you eat or drink in private, we will be none the wiser so it teaches us to be honest not just when fasting but in other areas of our lives; in your business, in your marriage, and in all your relationships with others.
9. Zakaat (charity) is compulsory and is 2.5 % of ones wealth. This is something special and the reason why it is one of the five pillars of Islam. Can you imagine just this act can have such a significant part of Islam? It is because helping and aiding the poor is an important part of our lives and should be all the time. While this means giving money to help others to buy food and clothes to help them , it also gives you the motivation to keep this spirit throughout the year. Even though we may not be able to donate loads of money during the year, we can still give some of our time – visit an orphanage and spend time with the kids or go to an old age home and assist them if they need it. It doesn’t need to cost anything to help.
10. Reading Tarawih together, performing Eid Salaah in jamaat , spending time with your family, being invited for Iftar at friends and family – all this and more strengthens the bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. It unites us , across the globe, in our homes, in the community and in our masaajid. The love that binds us is special and that feeling is only a gift from Allah.
Our mothers and sisters at home are cooking together, helping each other during Ramadaan (even , *gasp, the in laws are helpful – hahaha, my mom-in-law treats me like a daughter so no complaints haaha) and being kind and considerate to one another. It is a time to forgive and forget, to let go and give each other reasons to be happy.
Oh and how can I forget the goodies that bring us together (ESPECIALLY mom’s foooooooddd) – oh mom, that Puri Patha craving aint going away LOL.
The universal greeting of As-Salaamu Alaikum which is uttered so many times to all those you meet this month and the hugs on Eid day, the smell of Oudh and the endless smiles of everyone you see is something we should all cherish. Allah gave us this great month for many reasons. To others, it may seem that is difficult and perhaps even unnecessary but we know it isn’t. We are filled with so much love and happiness when the first day of Ramadaan arrives because we know that no matter how hard we try we can never replicate the atmosphere that we experience.
I know this was a super long post but I wanted you to know what I find special about this Ramadaan. Yes, there are way more benefits that I cannot even mention here – there have been books even written about it so I won’t be able to talk about them all. Nevertheless, you know what is special to you about Ramadaan. There is so much to gain from it , so much to learn and it is an opportunity to change – it takes 21 days to form a habit, even if you start today you have a running start to making yourself a better Muslim , a better person, someone who you will be happy with.
When I say Alvidah to this blessed month , it will be like bidding farewell to a very good friend who I will make Duaa to see next year so I can reap the rewards of its presence.
I wish you all a spiritually uplifting Ramadaan and a blessed Eid.