Allahu Akbar (Allah is great). Ramadan has arrived once again. For those of you who just read my blog and haven’t met me yet, I know what you are thinking: “She is Muslim? Weird. She didn’t sound like it so far”. Believe me, you aren’t the first to say or think that. It’s not like I am not religious or hiding my faith, on the contrary, many wonder why I stand by my beliefs as strongly as I do. It took me this while to include my faith into the blog because I wanted to establish me, and to make people see that my faith- important as it is to me- is not the only aspect of my personality that defines me. I want you to identify with the multitude of characteristics that make me who I am. This means my religion too.
Now that I am done talking to you about me. Let’s talk about Ramadan. There are many things that make Islam stand out from the hundreds of religions known to man, some of which are Hajj (annual pilgrimage to Mecca), Salat (five daily mandatory prayers) and Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the month of our holy fasts. Muslims all around the world fast from the first light of the day till sunset for 29-30 days, depending on the lunar movement. Ramadan is an important month for Muslims, one of which is because it this the month in which our beloved prophet Muhammed (S.A.W) received the word of Allah i.e. the Holy Qur’an.
Fasting itself is not a new concept, many religions fast but what makes the Islamic fasting (Saum) different is the complete restriction on solids and liquids. No ingestion of any sort. “Not even a drop of water?” you ask. “Yes… not even a drop of water”. Sounds impossible, hard and even to some barbaric. I know. I’ve heard it all. But the truth is, the restrictions don’t stop there. In totality during Saum, especially in Ramadan, one is to entirely and obediently give up anything that he indulges in all through the year, for the sake of his creator and lord Allah. Calm down guys it’s not all bad. Actually, it’s not bad at all- it couldn’t be bad if about 2 Billion people in the world are fasting at this particular moment, could it?
When you look past the restriction on food, drinks, sex etc. you see Ramadan as a month of togetherness. Muslims all around the world spend their days together in solidarity focusing only on the things that matter most- Allah (religion), humanity and family. The 30 days in Ramadan acts a building block for the rest of the 11 months that will follow, pushing Muslims to bring out the best of themselves. Allowing us to have 30 days to grow ourselves spiritually and also as human beings. It is a time of reflection and appreciation, understanding and uplifting one another. Families spend hours together either in Ibadat (worship), participating in charity work or at the very least in preparation for Iftar (the food consumed at sundown). It is the only time where every Muslim in the world goes through the same feelings and struggles as the next. The hunger and thirst just as in Salat makes us all equal not only in front of our maker but also visible to one another. We all take responsibility for each other’s wellbeing and for a short time distance ourselves from materialistic and worldly desires.
Islam is a complex religion which generates a variety of responses- especially in this decade- yet islamophobia cannot stop one from seeing the beauty, enrichment and catering that this pillar of Islam does to the human population and individuals. For Ramadan is a month of worship, a month of devotion, a month of generosity, a month of forgiveness, a month of love and a month of compassion. Ramadan: the month for mankind.