Ramadan

May Musings - 24

Today marks the first day of the last ten days of Ramadan. Bit of a mouthful that, but the last ten days of Ramadan are the holiest, and always seem to rush by faster than any other ten day period in the year. 

Tranquility - a moment from my recent trip to Dubai 

Tranquility - a moment from my recent trip to Dubai 

How has my Ramadan been? I’m not going to lie; it’s been a tough one. I’ve found the constant travel has made it difficult to have the regular Ramadan routines I took for granted growing up. I also seemed to have struggled quite a bit with caffeine withdrawal, and the long London days take their toll. All that said, Alhamdulilah, I’ve been able to push through and channel that mental discipline Ramadan requires. It’s funny, even as I write this I’m reflecting on the fact that many of my recent Ramadan months have been tough - I’ve been on tour, working on rigs, away from home... it hasn’t been the idyllic childhood scenario for a few years now. What has been wonderful about my time here in London though has been finding a new community to share the month with - some Muslim and some not, some living at home and some on their own; all of us on a journey with our faith but with a commitment to the practice, the tradition, each other.  We’re creating our own communities now - as our parents did so for their generation, so must we for ours. 

How has your Ramadan been? What’s your relationship with the month?  

May Musings - 04

image_3.jpg

Ah, it’s upon us! The night before Ramadan, a month that seems to come around quicker every year but almost always finishes too soon…

I’m in equal parts excited and nervous for the holy month ahead of us, inshallah. Excited, because it’s an opportunity to earn blessings on blessings, a moment for a spiritual detox, a month for family and friends and community unlike any other. It brings Muslims around the world together in shared practice and experience, moments where you share dates with strangers at iftar (the moment of breaking fast), nights spent on rugs picking away at food with your fingers until the morning adhan (call to prayer), evenings swaying during taraweeh as you will yourself to stay focused (you have eaten so much for iftar your eyes simply want to rest, just for a minute…). Ah, Ramadan is the sweetest of months.

However, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I was nervous. Fasting in London is an 18.5 hour stretch (dawn till dusk during summer is punishing), and it’s no small thing - especially after a lifetime of the easy Australian timezone. 18.5 hours without food or water means you have to make sure you’re eating enough during the night, it means managing energy during the day, and it definitely means no coffee all month. Admittedly, not everybody does the 18.5 hours - some folks follow the Meccan hours which are a manageable 14.5 hours or so. I think I’ll start on 18.5 hours inshallah and see how I go. Inshallah, Rabana gives us all enough strength to help us through.

Spare a thought also for those in Sudan at the moment; not only the ones in the sit-in, continuing to protest, but in the rest of the country where temperatures are on average 45 degrees +, where the electricity cuts out on the regular and the lines for petrol stretch not just around the block, but pretty much around the city. Surely, as they say in Sudan, fasting in the Sahara desert means a VIP entry into heaven…

***

Ramadan Kareem, all. May Allah bless us all this month, inshallah. May He make it easy for us, may we find it rejuvenating and wholesome, may we be with our friends and family safely inshallah. May we tread softly on this earth, may we tread lightly with those we love, may we find grace in all that we have been blessed with, inshallah. If you’re a non-Muslim - feel free to wish your Muslim colleagues ‘Ramadan Mubarak’ or even a Happy Ramadan!

***

Just a final sidenote - if your Muslim colleagues and friends aren’t fasting - please don’t question or pry. We are all on our own journey with our own unique circumstances and would all appreciate your discretion. Khair, inshallah.

Him.

He sat across from me and asked.

Does Allah talk to you?

Do you hear him?

What do you pray about?

Does he answer your prayers?

I don’t even know what I said, but what a question indeed.

I didn’t know how to articulate it, and I don’t know if I ever will.

I didn’t know how to say that knowing Allah is there, all the time, that was all I ever needed to know. 

That I hear him in music that moves, see him in the outline of mountains against the sky.  

That my mortality frightens me, an intense fear that I may not be doing enough… a fear that my life is too easy, a fear that these blessings are in fact my hardships, and that I am failing the tests.

That sometimes, not very often, but sometimes...

I buckle. Doubled over, during sujood. Tears not merely from my eyes but from somewhere deeper, racking me raw because I am so humbled to be in His presence, Subhanallah. 

My heart begs Him to guide me, to forgive me, to use me, to save me from myself and my own weakness.

Because I am oh so weak, and without His blessings, I am nothing.

“And how could we not place our trust in God, seeing that it is He who has shown us the path which we are to follow?’ ‘Hence, we shall certainly bear with patience whatever hurt you may do us: for, all who have trust [in His existence] must place their trust in God [alone]!’” [14:12]


It's a little frightening, writing so publically about religious faith, particularly to an Australian audience. We are not comfortable with it, and often I think that my secular friends are surprised by how much Islam means to me, particularly on a spiritual level.  

Politics aside, Ramadan is fast approaching, and it is a time for reflection. It is time for that spiritual (and painful caffeine!) detox. It is a month to remind ourselves of our temporary nature, and what we are living for. 

What is it that we live for? 

Well, each of us has to answer that alone...