In less than two weeks, the routine and rhythm of over a billion humans will abruptly and drastically change. The days will no longer be times of eating and drinking. The evenings will no longer be filled with mindless hours of Netflix. The nights will no longer be a time of uninterrupted sleep. For all these people, a much-awaited time of the year is coming. A month of worship and community and service will become the focal point of their lives: the month of Ramadan.
The community aspect of Ramadan is often the most publicly visible: congregating for night prayers at the masjid (mosque) each night. Congregating for iftaar (the fast-breaking meal) each evening. But these things are the cherry on top…the thing that catches our eyes. But the true essence of Ramadan…the metaphorical cake with the cherry…is the personal convictions and growth during this blessed month.
Ramadan is like a reset button. It’s an opportunity to see the best version of ourselves and the capabilities we didn’t know we possessed. In the busy bustle of life, it can seem that we have no time to read the Quran, or that going to the masjid/ mosque for prayers is too much when we can stay home. We might decide that we have no time to visit our families. We might be thinking our smoking habit or the litany of curses that pepper our conversations are just a part of who we are.
But suddenly in Ramadan it’s all different. We suddenly have a half hour before work to open the Quran and read a few pages. The usual scrolling through social media is not even missed. Or we see that weekends are perfect to pop by our parents, or an aunt or a dear friend, even if it’s for a few hours. Or we realize that we can go twelve hours without smoking a single cigarette.
It is why Ramadan is a blessed month. Through Allah’s Mercy, we are blessed with this month of ease and tranquility. We are blessed with the chance to see things in a more positive viewpoint. We are blessed to know that we are capable, that we have the ability to do anything.
During the time of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, his companions prepared for this month far in advance. They prayed to their Creator begging to be blessed with the opportunity to witness the month. Oh Allah! Safeguard me for Ramadan, safeguard Ramadan for me and accept it from me. And then they started planting little seeds of worship that would grow and blossom into big acts of worship by the time Ramadan arrived. Reading half a page of Quran each morning, then one page next week, then two the next week would eventually become one entire chapter daily in Ramadan.
It is that spirit that we can strive to adapt and implement. The month of Ramadan is like any other visitor that we welcome to our homes; rather, it is the most honoured visitor. Just as we clean and cook and freshen our home when we are expecting guests, we can cleanse our hearts, prepare our big acts of worship by practicing with ever-growing small acts, and renew our intentions. Just as we rearrange our calendars for that dinner party, we can rearrange our priorities so that worship is given space. The best guest in the entire year is coming, and now is the time to prepare.
Maryam Baksh is a graduate from University of British Columbia. She is a member of the Muslim community in Vancouver and a busy young mother.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking at https://www.timescolonist.com/blogs/spiritually-speaking
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, March 11th 2022