It seems like it was only yesterday that I was fasting Ramadan for the first time in my life.
Yes, that’s my first Ramadan as a Muslim; as I converted few months before this Ramadan. During these months, I observed fast a few times. But in Ramadan, I fasted for an entire month for the first time. Although I believed that Allah SWT would provide me with the strength I needed to fast, I was also aware that it wouldn’t be very easy to fast for many hours during summer daytime while temperature ranged from 40 to 45 c in my place.
Ramadan is not just the time when Muslims fast, it is indeed the month when Muslims willingly strive to worship and obey Allah day and night. I needed to be educated about all the acts of worship that I can perform during this blessings-filled month. Alhamdulillah, that was accomplished by the help of my Muslim friends. May Allah bless them, amen. They taught me all about the Taraweh prayers, Zakat Al-fitr , the specialty of last ten days of Ramadan and the night of Al Qadr. Alhamdulillah, I observed the fast, prayed Taraweh, and give Zakat.
But in my heart I wanted to do more. I wanted to take that one extra step that would increase my ibaddat (acts of worship) and strengthen my emaan (faith). So I thought of the hours I spent on watching TV dramas and movies, and reading novels. I then decided to press the pause button. Instead, I chose to spend my time watching YouTube videos that would further educate me about how to make the best use of my time in Ramadan. I also made a sincere effort to recite Quran Sharif daily, and started reading “The Sealed Nectar” – biography of our Nabi (Prophet), PBUH. Moreover, I began watching Omar series, searching and learning more about the history of my deen (religion).
As my heart and mind were being slowly cleansed of the duniya, I could feel I was getting closer to Allah and my deen. I also felt lighter. Money was no longer at the top of my priorities. In fact, Ramadan was an eye-opener for me as I began to see the things that mattered most in life; family, relationships, one’s character and behavior and helping people in need. As I figured this out, I felt happy deep down and tried to remain calm, like our Nabi, PBUH, even in the most worrying situations. Though, I admit, the worldliness sometimes took the better of me, I tried my best to stay on the Sirat al mustaqim (the Straight Path- Path of Believers).
The more I read about the simplicity and benevolence of our Nabi, PBUH , and the sahabah (his companions ),the more I was inspired. I decided to curb my temptation and limit my shopping to just basic needs, till Eid al Fitr and feed people whenever possible. Food and water, I realized, were very central to most-known life forms, one that I had taken for granted all my life. People can survive without a roof on their heads and proper clothes on their bodies, as long as their stomachaches are full.
During Ramadan, there were times when I would count the minutes to maghrib azan. There were also times when I started feeling thirsty just after completing fajr prayer. But to be honest, waking up at 3:30 in the morning for suhoor was definitely the most difficult part for me. However, as days went by, I felt more and more confident that Allah would ease it for me during the few remaining days, just as he had done so far. And just like that the days flew by.
It was Thursday, the 29th day of Ramadan when one of my friends told me that if the moon of the new month “Shawwal” appeared tonight, then tomorrow would Eid Al Fitr and if it didn’t appear, then tomorrow would be the last day of Ramadan. I then had to wait because if tomorrow would be Eid, then I wouldn’t have to pray taraweh tonight. It is not Sunnah to pray Taraweh in the night of Eid. I hadn’t known this before, and thus wished Ramadan would last for one more day so that I could pray taraweh concentratedly for one last time. Alhamdulillah, my dua was accepted and Eid was declared to be celebrated on Saturday. That Friday was very special for me as it was the last day of fasting. As the day was coming to a close, I wished Ramadan would never end.
That is the miraculous essence of Ramadan. You put in so much effort by fasting all day, staying up for night prayers and waking up early for suhoor, but when you realize the month is over and you can now eat and drink whenever you want, you almost don’t want to. You miss the standing in the night prayers that caused your back pain, you miss fasting during the daytime that made your stomach grumble and your throat dry, you miss waking up early, you miss listening to those khutbahs about Ramadan and you miss reading Allah’s book and supplicating to Him. Of course, you can do all of these anytime around the year as well, but the feeling wouldn’t be the same. There is something special about Ramadan. It is indeed a miraculously special month. It changes you, tests your patience and perseverance and in the end, and to your surprise you pass the test by Allah’s grace and blessings.
Today is Monday. For the first time after Ramadan, I went to the mess in the morning for breakfast and it truly felt like a privilege. To be able to have food on your plate is a blessing! And to think of the numerous times I wasted food, one has to say Astaghfirullah. Everything seemed new and beautiful today; I felt that Allah’s noor was brightening my day. Ramadan changed something in me. It was a spiritual awakening! I thank Allah for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me and all of us.