Ramadan is just around the corner; it is less than a week away. And this year, it will be a Ramadan like no other.
If you ask people to describe Ramadan, the common recurring themes would be community and worship. Community iftaars(meal to break the fast) at the mosque. Taraweeh, aka congregational prayers at night. Family gatherings featuring samosas and the most delicious sweets.
And we will be missing that this year. Covid-19 and social distancing means that the things that have come to signify this month will be non-existent.
But there are so many hidden blessings waiting to be discovered.
We will no longer spend that last precious hour of fasting in a mad rush to reach the mosque by sunset. Instead, we can spend those special moments when prayers are accepted in private supplications to Allah.
The time between iftaar and taraweeh will no longer be filled with mindless chatter. Rather, we can spend it in serene peace contemplating and reading the Quran.
The lockdown has forced the world to slow down and take a breath. It has forced us to be with our families and nurture those relationships. But most importantly, it has allowed us to look within ourselves and to foster our personal relationship with Allah/ God.
Taraweeh was motivating, but we can pray to God from anywhere. The floor we prostrate on will testify to that whether it is in a mosque in Saudi Arabia or a living room in Canada.
The Prophet Muhammad told us, “The entire earth has been made a place of prayer.” So this is an opportunity to turn our homes into places where we turn to the Most Merciful.
The prayers of the Imam each night were so emotional. But there is nothing more powerful than a prayer from the bottom of your heart, with God’s Name on your tongue, in the silence of the night.
Allah says in the Holy Quran: “Indeed I am near. I respond to the call of the supplicant when they call upon me.” [Quran 2: 186] So pour out your innermost thoughts to Him, knowing that He has all the answers.
Preparing platters of food in the hot kitchen is made easier knowing it will be served at the mosque's iftaar. But there is no greater reward than for the simplest food prepared to nourish your family through another day of fast.
A bowl of dates and a platter of fruits cut with love, served with a cold pitcher of water. That can be your ebaada (act of worship).
After draining days of hurrying kids to and from school or of putting in long hours at work, we were often too tired to do anything. But now we can take that commuting time as a blessed extra few minutes; use it for the little things we always wanted to do each Ramadan.
And when those moments come where we yearn for a night of taraweeh prayer at the mosque, it is a chance to walk in the shoes of all our sisters with little children.
And when our hearts feel heavy at the absence of family gatherings for iftaar, we will walk in the shoes of our revered brothers and sisters.
So, when we see the Ramadan moon, let it mark the beginning of something new and better. Let this Ramadan be filled with growth: where we learn to pray from our hearts, to worship from our homes, to welcome our sisters and the children, to reach out to our family, to appreciate all our blessings.
For it is a blessed Ramadan.
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, HERE
* This article was published in the print edition of the Times Colonist on Saturday, April 17th 2020