Al Wida Ya Ramadan

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We have reached the bitter-sweetness of bidding farewell to Ramadan once again. A sad time for many of us as we’re unsure if we’ll have the opportunity of tasting it’s sweetness again. Unsure if we will have the same loved ones around should we be alive to experience another.

Once we reach Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power) on the 27th night of Ramadan, we know that the most beautiful month will be leaving us shortly. Ramadan is like receiving a beloved guest. A guest we put our lives on hold for. We cancel all our social activities to be in their company only. We disconnect from the outside world. We don’t even keep up with the news. We stay up late at night and wake up early in the morning. We get through our days on minimal sleep and barely notice our empty stomachs. We rush through the evening meals to get ready for taraweeh (night prayers).

This beloved guest brings out the best in us. Makes us more charitable. Encourages us to be good to others. Brings out the sharing spirit in us. Gets us to reconnect with family. Forces us to come face to face with our ego. Inspires us to give back to our communities and those less fortunate than ourselves. Envelopes us in contentment. An extra effort is made to share suhoor and iftar meals as families. But overall, it fills our soul to carry us through the next eleven months, where we hold on to the memories that was left by our beloved guest and strive everyday to get as close as we can to feel the way our guest made us feel.

Al Wida Ya Ramadan.

 

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Ramadan Ya Habib

In just over two weeks, Muslims all over the world will be welcoming an esteemed guest….Ramadan. A period known to many as the month of fasting. But is this really all that Ramadan is?

ramadan-loading-wallpapers_37267_1920x1200As it turns out, Ramadan is not simply an exercise in fasting during the day, binge-eating during the night and setting the clock to the morning’s wee hours to rise for the predawn meal. Neither is it about irate drivers who feel entitled to exhibit road rage, lacklustre employees who see the month as an excuse to slack off and overworked women slaving over a stove every day in preparation for the sunset meal. Ramadan is none of those things, if done right, and instead, is the chance for a spiritual boost, with lessons to be applied long after the month is out.

The month

So Ramadan is here (almost). How do we know this? Because according to official Islamic bodies, the crescent moon will soon be sighted, marking the beginning of the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Lasting 29 or 30 days – the end date will be revealed through another official lunar sighting in the last week of the month – Muslims are to refrain from food and liquid (including chewing gum, smoking cigarettes and the like) from dawn to sunset, and instead renew their focus on prayers and increase their recitation of the Holy Quran.

Why it’s so special

It is the month in which the Holy Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH. As a result, Ramadan is also known as the month to recite the holy text even more eagerly and with renewed dedication to completing the task. Muslims are encouraged to complete the full recitation of the Holy Quran at least once during the month. With an average of 600 pages, this seemingly huge task can be achieved through the recitation of four pages before each of the five prayers daily throughout the entire month.

The fast

It is one of Islam’s five main pillars (the others being the belief in one God and the Prophet Muhammad as His Messenger, praying five times a day, completing the pilgrimage to Mecca for those who are able and giving alms or “zakat”). It is mandatory for all Muslims upon reaching puberty, as long as they are mentally and physically sound. The elderly and chronically ill are exempt from fasting; however, it is incumbent upon them to feed the poor instead if they possess the financial means.

A spiritual detoxramadan_hero_2x1

The fast is not simply about denying your body food and water. It also involves arguably the more taxing challenge of avoiding ill speech, arguments, loss of temper and malicious behaviour. The whole point of the fast is to demonstrate submission to God and keep the mind focused on a spiritual plane.

The benefits

Patience and mercy, which, let’s face it, we all need more of in these harried times. Ramadan is viewed as a month-long school where graduates leave with a developed sense of self-control in areas including diet, sleeping and the use of time.

imagesThe meals

The fasting day is book-ended by two meals: suhoor and iftar. The former is the early morning meal consumed before fasting begins at dawn, while the latter is to break the fast at sunset. If breakfast is viewed as an important meal, a healthy suhoor is even more vital as it is meant to last you up to 15 hours! Slow digesting foods like barley, wheats, oats and lentils are recommended and limiting fatty and sugary products would be wise. There is a propensity to binge eat at sunset, but a balanced, moderate meal would really make all the difference, considering that the evenings are spent engaging in special nightly prayers. It is also recommended to break the fast with dates, as was the practice of the Prophet Muhammad.

The prayers

Ramadan is also defined by extra congregational prayers performed nightly after the evening Esha prayers, which are normally the last prayers of the evening. For those living near a mosque, expect your neighbourhood to be a hive of activity for the whole month.

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The finish line

Ramadan culminates with the Eid ul Fitr holiday celebrating the end of the fast. Marked by a special morning prayer, the day is a form of spiritual graduation and a chance to permanently implement the spiritual lessons learnt throughout the month. Muslims dress in their best and visit friends and relatives as a sense of community prevails.