Ramadan this year is going to be significantly different for many Muslims around the world. As the global pandemic shows little sign of petering out, we are forced to usher in this blessed month without the usual congregation performing taraweeh at the mosque, the bustle of bazaars that punctuate every part of our island, the gathering with friends and family for iftar… It is indeed strange and rather melancholic, picturing the juxtaposition of past Ramadans and this year’s. As much as community plays a huge part in this month (and our faith in general), perhaps this year, we’re stripped off the usual routines only to be blessed with more time to focus and engage in sequestered worship and self-reflection.
With Ramadan celebrated within the confines of our abode, we are encouraged to bring the mosque into our homes. To prepare iftar together, regale with a feast filled with blessings to its brim, before swiftly answering the call to prayers with our family, some of whom we have not even had the opportunity to spend time with despite living under the same roof. What seems like an ‘imprisonment’, might actually be a sense of freedom in the discovery of our own spiritual nourishment that perhaps over the years have been depleting. It is also heartwarming and exciting to see the myriad of platforms that religious teachers and leaders around the world have utilised to its utmost benefit, to reach out and retain the sense of community online. This came at such an opportune timing as we are all still very much in need of spiritual guidance and rejuvenation through these classes that are like food for the soul. I can’t even begin to count how many there are – we are so blessed to even be given a choice.
Personally, as I look at my own Ramadan experience, a Stay Home Ramadan is not really something new to me. I have always been spending my Ramadan that way. Except for the times when I had to work, I had always been breaking my fast and praying taraweeh at the comfort of my home. It’s only on rare occasions where I would accept an invitation to do iftar or pray taraweeh at a masjid with friends. I remember, 3 years ago, when I had the privilege of having the whole month of Ramadan fall during my holidays (I was in teaching training school at that point of time), I thought to myself I’d never get this opportunity again. And mashaAllah, Allah is the best of planners indeed, for He is gifting this opportunity for me to max out this month in the comfort of my home again and make use of the time I’ve been given to catch up on all the things that I’ve been spiritually depriving myself with.
This year, I’m spending my Ramadan at home with my father. Sometimes, I forget that he’s aging. Before the doors of the mosques had to close, he would visit the mosque he’s been frequenting for years every single day without fail to pray, teach and catch up with his friends. It’s basically his second home. But now… I suppose he’s basically stuck at home with me.
While last year I had the company of my brother and sister in law, this year it’s just the two of us. It does get a little lonely at times, but alhamdulillah I am always finding things to do at home so my time is constantly occupied. Last night, I felt like something was amiss… and I immediately realised that the festive lights were not switched on. We used to only switch it on during the last night of Ramadan to celebrate Eid, but these are our Ramadan lights now. Mama used to make it a tradition in our home to switch it on during the first night of Ramadan. It’s something I keep close to my heart. I’m grateful to still have my dad with me. It’s probably Allah’s way of telling me that it’s time I forge a closer relationship with him. For every blessing we’re so used to getting, He might one day just take it away…
To those of us who are privileged enough, may we seize this opportunity to look inward, fix our internal states and continue to consistently plant good deeds, while looking out for those who are struggling. To those who are struggling, please know we are here for you. Please let us know if there is anything we can help out with. There are angels looking out for you. You will not be left alone.
I have a list of Ramadan Reads that I promised myself to read at the very minimum 2 pages a day of a selected book. One of it is The Women Around the Messenger by Muhammad ‘Ali Qutb, gifted to me by a dear a friend, and this passage struck me at how relevant it is to our current situation:
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) by his nature loved seclusion, and he often withdraw from people and their materialistic world for the purpose of reflection and meditation over the sovereignty (of the heavens and the earth). This seclusion led to the elevation of his soul and the purification of his sentiments. He became prepared to receive the Great News and the huge responsibility that came with it.
Perhaps, this is our period of seclusion where we will pause, turn inward, engage in plenty of self-reflection, recalibration, and fervently pour out our prayers for ourselves, for our families and friends, for our world. For this difficult period we are living in, it may be a chance to purify our souls and strengthen ourselves to prepare for more challenges to come.
May this Ramadan be filled with the inherent spirit of celebration and light of this blessed month of Qur’an, even if it means us sacrificing our usual routines. May we always strive to cheer each other on and run towards His doors of repentance and mercy. May we be forgiven for our ocean of sins and given the golden opportunity to meet the night that is better than a thousand months. May this Ramadan be filled with much meaning, value and love for what is essential and beloved in His eyes. May we, from the comfort of our homes, make this month a Ramadan to remember.
taraweeh – special prayers performed at night during the month of Ramadan
iftar – the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan