Well, it’s that time of the (Hijra) year again! Ramadhan is right around the corner, inshAllah, and the discussions that are being held by Muslims all over the internet can be divided into two categories:
- The excitement of Ramadhan.
- The dread of Ramadhan.
I, personally, get very excited when I start realizing that, inshAllah, Ramadhan will be here soon, and I actually look forward to the fasting, and extra worship. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I am a “perfect” Muslim or anything. I have my weaknesses, and some definite shortcomings (we all do, I am sure, since we are all human), and I tend to skimp on many things that I should be doing the rest of the year. I am one of those Muslims who needs Ramadhan to recharge my iman. The holy month of Ramadhan, with the increased focus on ibada reminds me to give more time and attention to the things that really matter in life. Things like reading Quran, listening to lectures by scholars, doing more reading on Islamic topics of interest. Oh, and not watching junk television (which is becoming most of the TV channels these days).
Yes, because Ramadhan is starting roughly around the 19th of July this year, it is going to be hot. And long. But we need to remind ourselves what the very name of this month means. A tradition says that the first Ramadhan that was observed, was at a time of year that was very hot, a scorching heat. The word “Ramadhan” describes a scorching heat.
If we think that Ramadhan this year is going to be difficult, we should think about the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the sahaba (may Allah be pleased with them), and the great hardships that they endured. Just imagine it. Living in the desert, no such thing as air conditioning, or ice, or refrigeration of any kind. Even the cold water that we drink to break our fast is an extreme luxury compared to what they drank (“room temperature” back then was the same as leaving a bottle of water outdoors!). When we lie down to take a nap, it’s on a super cozy, soft bed, with perhaps a ceiling fan overhead. Again, they had nothing like this. Beds were not cloud soft mattresses, and what would have powered a ceiling fan back then? Nothing.
The length of the days is just something that we must prepare ourselves for, and accept. Yes, they will be long, but they will not be impossible. It will be difficult, but it will be nothing more than what we are capable of bearing. Fasting is not meant to be easy. I hear people all the time talking about how it’s “too hard,” or complaining about the difficulties of fasting, and then excusing themselves for why they broke it (“I felt weak,” or “I started feeling a little dizzy”). Very little effort seems to be going into trying to understand why fasting was prescribed for us by Allah. And even less effort is going into understanding the physiological changes that our bodies go through when fasting.
For example, that weakness and slight dizziness are normal, and are not signs of a health issue. Stick with the fast, and your metabolism will slow down, and inshAllah, the feelings will pass. Unfortunately, there are people who won’t allow the fast to last long enough for their metabolism to adjust. They will tell themselves that this is proof that they cannot physically handle the fast, so they should just break it, and chalk it up as an attempt. Did they best they could. Yada yada.
This is an issue that is prevalent among reverts, since they did not grow up around people fasting. They have very limited understanding of how fasting works, and unless they are around people who can talk them through it (alhamdulilah, I was working for a Muslim physician, and he explained it to me), they may never learn how to essentially “survive” fasting for an entire month (from sunup to sunset, not 24hrs a day!).
The fiqh of fasting is very important to learn as well. We must understand why we fast. Of all the things that we do, the many forms of worship, fasting is the one thing that we do for Allah. It is the only thing that humans do that is totally selfless. We are actually doing without something. This is the one act that Allah loves the most. And our “bad breath,” to Allah, is the sweetest musk in all the world. There is a gate in Jannah that is reserved for the fasting person. If a person dies, while fasting, they are granted Jannah, and they will enter through this special gate. Duas made by a fasting person, moments before breaking their fast, are more likely to be heard by Allah than dues made at any other time. It is said that Allah is so pleased with us, that He wants us to open our hearts at this time, and ask for what we desire the most. Just imagine it. Just for fasting, this is what Allah will give you.
Complaining makes it harder, not easier. Dreading it can make it nearly impossible. It is beyond wrong to dread something that is full of nothing but blessings. Ramadhan comes only once a year, and it is very short. It is only 29 to 30 days, out of a year that is roughly 365 days. The sahaba would weep openly at the close of Ramadhan, because they knew that the chance for getting so many blessings had ended. And they would start making dua that Allah give them the chance to see another Ramadhan. No other month holds the blessings that Ramadhan holds. Why would we want to dread it?
We should be dreading that Ramadhan will end. We should cry, like the sahaba did. And we should spend every day, begging Allah for the chance to see another Ramadhan. Think of those Muslims who, last year, were with us for Ramadhan, and this year, they are gone. Think of how much they would have wanted to spend just one more Ramadhan. To have one more chance to earn the many blessings that are contained in this month. Think of them. And then think of how next year, it could be you wanting another Ramadhan, and not getting it.