Ramadan Reflections: 30 days of healing from the past, journeying with presence and looking ahead to an akhirah-focused future
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Irrespective of our own faith or no faith, we can all share in that reflection on hardship, hunger and suffering wherever it lies. We might pause and ask what difference we can personally make in our local communities as well as across the world. Fasting gives us a small window of what it might be like for those around us who struggle to afford food on a daily basis. It allows us to reflect of what we take for granted and makes us appreciate what we have and what we can do for others. Onto repentance on Day 6; moving forward to self-love on Day 14 to having tāwwakụl on Day 23 and one of my faves learning the beauty of istakhara on Day 27 — it has been like a mental rollercoaster ride. There have been days I’ve cried. Cried thinking about my past, thinking about the hardships, trials and of my sins. I’ve cried whilst learning to let go by forgiving others (Day 7). I was always a believer in forgiving, not so much in forgetting but that day I truly let go… The anger. The hurt. The pain. I let it all go. And from that day the journey to Allāh seemed more easier! I felt my heart really open wide. Spending further days smiling whilst learning of the blessings Aliyah had and has ma’sha’Allāh (Allāhụmma barįk laha); feeling hopeful that I too will get through my hardships with persistence and a little sabr (Day 26). Firstly, we learn fasting is a prescription. Much like other forms of ritual worship, human or otherwise, when the formula is followed the believer is given the opportunity to experience spiritual healing and growth. We see this time and again across Star Trek, from Klingons to Kelpiens, rituals offer meaning and a sense of sacredness to one’s being.
Cleanliness is an indispensable fundamental of faith in Islam, both physically and spiritually. We cleanse our minds and bodies before and during prayer five times a day, and many Muslims around the world take this purification further when practising special occasions. One great example is the people of Indonesia at the beginning of Ramadan. Padusan (meaning ‘to bathe’ in Javanese dialect) is a deeply embedded purifying tradition in which Indonesian Muslims cleanse themselves just before the Holy Month of Ramadan begins. This ritual is intended to purify the body and soul before starting the fast. But the impact of COVID on our community goes beyond our collective grief. The pandemic has had many other consequences, which could stay with us for many years to come. With parents and carers losing jobs and wages, even more families are struggling to feed their children, heat their homes – and afford the technology and data needed for almost all communication. Then there is the impact on children and parents’ mental health – already at crisis point before the pandemic.
Ramadan Reflections is pretty much a roadmap for our lives; the reason, the seasons, the battles, and Our Merciful Lord, Whom she proudly shows off by some of His Magnificent Names and Attributes and Whom I proudly love more. This book is a keeper. You can keep returning to it over and over, as you grow and develop and find new meanings to each chapter/topic previously read. Thankfully the level of understanding and awareness has changed significantly. The UK is now much more multicultural and cosmopolitan and there's no doubt that social media has played a part. All of this has helped to bring huge awareness in respect of all religions and the associated religious events. Non-Muslims are now much more aware of Ramadan and it is pleasing to know that vast majority show great respect and sensitivity. Ramadan lasts 29-30 days and the end of Ramadan depends on when the next Moon is seen. The end of Ramadan is marked by a big celebration called "Eid ul-Fitr" or the festival of breaking of the fast. It's kind of like the Muslim version of Christmas, in the sense that it's a religious holiday where one comes together for big meals with family and friends, exchange presents and gifts for the children and Muslims go to the mosque for the Eid prayer and generally having a good time. Once Eid is announced the plans for the celebrations commence in full swing.
She has written the book in a relatable way to the Holy Month of Ramadan and which I find can be used in any month of the year.May Allah (swt) grant us the tawfiq to make the most fruitful use of this blessed month of Ramadan.