By Farrukh Siddiqui
It happens every year and I can only speak for myself but I have a feeling that I am not alone. Ramadan comes and goes as if in the blink of an eye and before I know it I find myself regressing from the spiritual gains that I so prayed for, welcomed, and enjoyed during this most blessed of months.
I mean, even during the long hot summer, fasting – admittedly after the first couple of days – becomes quite easy during Ramadan. Reading, studying, and memorizing the Qur’an after Fajr, during the day, or in the middle of the night seems like no big deal at all. Not to mention the effect on our tongues that all of a sudden, forget to utter words or attitudes that, though quite free flowing at other times, are clearly forbidden by Allah and what of our eyes that rediscover amazingly the innate difference between a first glance that is pardonable versus a stare that is not. And of course we can’t forget about our devices that go through their own purification process when televisions learn to tune in Islamic programming, head phones get accustomed to recitation and hamd (songs glorifying Allah), browsers get locked into inspiring lectures and articles, and cell phones routinely display Qur’anic verses like no other time of the year.
Masha Allah, how simple, organized, and systematic life becomes both individually and collectively during Ramadan. What we take for granted throughout the year takes on a renewed significance in our lives. We actually appreciate the food that we are blessed with, the little sleep that we are able to get, the precious time we spend with family and friends learning and talking about what really matters, and working efficiently and productively because we can’t wait to get back to what is really important, a focus and dedication to His worship.
If we actually take a few moments to reflect on it, we can quickly realize that the promise of Allah is true. He did cage the shayateen during Ramadan as just the start of his limitless bounties reserved for us; bounties that have no equal and not even a lifetime of worship can surpass them as long as we search out that most powerful night of all – Laylat al Qadr.
I am not here to quote Qur’an or hadith because let’s face it I am not a learned person and our imams, scholars, khateebs, and those asking for our funds do an excellent job of bringing our attention to the requisite Qur’anic ayaat and sunnah of our illustrious Prophet Muhammad (saw). My hope is that we will all relate to the obvious bounties of Ramadan recognizing that Allah (swt) has done His job by making this month stand apart and in so doing painting us in the best of light for the world to see. From the President down to the press to our teachers and our neighbors, they all come to appreciate and acknowledge the greatness of Islam during this most blessed month. Did we do anything except just ride on the Ramadan bandwagon? Not really.
Our challenge is the rest of the year when fasting from breakfast to lunch becomes an ordeal; when the Qur’an often times becomes the immovable decoration on our book shelves, when holding our tongues and lowering our gazes become foreign concepts; and when our devices once again become the great time pass instead of the gateway of knowledge that they seem to miraculously transform into during this glorious month.
You see in Ramadan, we are appreciated because we are seen as different, special, and unique. But afterwards, we race to become part of the pack. We disappear from the world’s consciousness and those very few of us who use hate and violence once again begin to represent us all. Is it the fault of the media, the politicians or really anyone else besides us for how we are ultimately portrayed? We need to take ownership of the fact that in our quest to be like most everyone else chasing after money, pleasure, and affirmation we become like most everyone else – dazed and confused.
Now counting down the last few precious days, I am wondering again what is going to be different after the Euphoria of Eid has abated this time and the shayateen are wreaking havoc after a month of solitary confinement? How long is it going to take to commence the spiritual regression that is bound to occur? This is when I tell myself to take a deep breath, calm down and remember that the prescription has not changed because it works; just hold on to the Qur’an, the rope of Allah. It is pretty simple, not complicated, and utterly doable for after all, it is the book of Allah that is meant to shield and protect because only it is able to speak directly to the heart, the bastion of iman.
I know what you’re thinking, easier said than done. Very true indeed! But so what. The duniya is designed to be a test so earning the pleasure of Allah and finding a place in Jannah will take some doing. But let’s not forget that we are trained to perform salah, the relentless pursuit of perfection so dogged determination and discipline are part of our DNA. With Allah, hope is eternal, mercy is ever flowing, and redemption is but a moment away so let’s get busy holding on and being different. In the end, there really isn’t any room for self-pity and if all else fails, remember that our calendar is shorter so the next Ramadan is less than a year away.