The hustle and bustle of life passes daily, like lightning. Where has all the time gone? The last so many years of life that I passed thinking that significance lay ahead of me in time. How many times I simply forgot that each day molds me, contributing to my destiny. But heedless, I live, eat, sleep and work always planning for tomorrow, forgetting the moment at hand.
Once again the time has passed. A whole year since last Ramadan. Each separate day swirling into a mass of time, something past and lost forever. Now at my doorstep lies Ramadan. A chance for renewal.
Rising early when all is quiet, we eat and prepare ourselves for the day ahead. This day, today. Concentrating on the tasks at hand. Conscious that every good done in this month, will carry a reward which only Allah the Almighty knows, Who in His infinite Mercy, rewards us so bounteously for the seemingly little things we try to do. From the silence of night, the Athan (call to prayer) is called. Beautiful notes of praise are carried on the night air and fill our home with peace. We sit quietly and answer the athan, remembering that prayer is the way to success.
I spend my time in reading the Qur'an, both in Arabic and English, soaking in the meaning of verses I hadn't read for some time. Verses read many times take on new and more deeply significant meanings as I affix my life to the path of Allah the Most Great. Trying to undo bad habits that I have formed. Trying to silence the tongue that so easily breaks ties and wounds hearts. Trying to make my every footstep bring me closer to the Creator and His Mercy.
As the day wears on hunger strikes but the pervading feeling of peace stirs the soul to patience. Eyes that are more open than usual see the poor and how they suffer daily due to hunger, which I now experience. Unlike the poor, for us hunger is something we can usually control. If we feel hungry , we simply eat. But in Ramadan, we must wait until the time of sunset. Here's a chance to experience the feeling of those who live in weakness every day. Giving in charity in Ramadan is rewarded more than at other times. And at this time, in a state of hunger, it becomes easier to give and free another human being of deprivation.
Ramadan is a month of struggle. Getting up earlier than usual, continuing to work even though hungry, reading and studying Qur'an and doing extra worship in the evenings and sometimes late in the night, when Allah is even closer to us.
Sometimes friends visit and we break the fast together, but our talk is not so much of this worldly life but of Islam and how we must improve ourselves and our families. We pray together, with the one who knows the most Qur'an to be the leader of the prayer. There is no pride, no conceit, no malice between us. Problems are solved by referring back to Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Even the children voluntarily join with us, standing in prayer. A feeling of peace pervades.
Then the last ten days come. This is the time of the greatest struggle. Not only a struggle of the physical body to bear changed sleeping and eating patterns but a struggle in the soul. No harsh words should be spoken, no anger and no hurt. The individual seeks closeness to the Creator and seeks forgiveness of sins.
One of the nights during the last ten days in exceedingly special. No one, but Allah knows which night it will be that is called 'Lailat ul Qadr'. The one who sincerely prays and worships in this night will be forgiven all their sins and their prayers will be answered. So everyone seeks extra worship during the nights of the last ten days. Only after the end of the night, at dawn, does nature itself disclose the identity of the night that just passed.
For me, Ramadan is a time of spiritual renewal. As always, the body and the spirit are inter-related, one cannot advance without the other's effort. So fasting, constraining one's desires and giving, come together at a time when quiet reading of Qur'an and reflection on life pervades one's daily activities. Too soon, life will roll on, as Ramadan passes. But one never knows, if one's life will continue to see the next year. Every morning we awake and find another day before us, another chance to live and cover the evils of our lives with goodness, we should feel surprised and grateful, keeping in mind that we may not live to see the night
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