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Finding solace in the month of mercy

MEHENAZ SULTANA TISHA | March 21, 2024 00:00:00

"Ramadan away from parents" - many of us are at the stage of life where our Facebook feed keeps showing shared posts with this caption. Ramadan peeks at us again, invoking homesickness and a yearning for iftar made with mother's magic and father's affection.

With an increased sense of nostalgia, this holy month reminds us of the tenderest virtues of our soul. As it is confirmed in Bukhari Sharif, "The gates of the Heaven are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained in the month of Ramadan," Muslims all over the world embrace this opportunity to practise extra acts of Ibadah to cleanse their hearts and minds.

Ramadan is the month when the Quran was finally descended upon us. However, that is only one of the reasons why this month is the most blessed of all. This month is the greatest opportunity to rectify our body and soul through Sawm (Fasting). Fasting flushes out the toxic particles in our bodies and cleanses our minds.

The notion behind fasting is to understand the misery of those who have no choice but to go hungry daily. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran, "Oh you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become pious and righteous" (2:183).

So, during Ramadan, we can increase our observation and empathy to ensure that no one in our neighbourhood is malnourished or in scarcity. Especially if you are a young person living away from home, the joy of sharing meals with roommates and friends will fill your cup tenfold. The different recipes of muri mix each day might ease away the pain of your hard-working spirit.

Ramadan presents a year-long opportunity for those blessed with abundance to cultivate gratitude and contribute to a more equitable society. Sahih Bukhari mentions, "Giving Zakat is more beloved to Allah (SWT) than giving in charity during the entire year."

So, instead of indulging ourselves in medleys of luxuries, may this Ramadan be the perfect time to become a medium for the Rizq of the deprived ones. Those of us who own flourishing businesses can use the benefits of this month to be generous in their prices. Surely, it would benefit those who need it.

Among all the virtues, we must remember restraint and abstention, as those are the core teachings of this month. Ramadan is not only about abstaining from food and other indulgences but also from emotions that corrupt our souls.

Due to the stress of life, we often forget to practise kindness and humility. Anger, backbiting, arrogance, and ignorance become a part of our lives consciously and subconsciously.

This Ramadan can be the year of self-improvement for everyone. Practising modesty, speaking softly, or any other habit that you often wish to change can be a good starting point. Even the resolve to spend less time on screens can be our first step towards rectification.

One of the most effective ways to do that is to increase the time for salah. Salah is not only the best method to communicate with Allah (SWT), but it also humbles our arrogance with tranquillity.

That is why Taraweeh is an integrated part of this month, so we can stay closer to Allah (SWT) for longer. The harmonious recitation of the Quran during Taraweeh strengthens our soul and physic with the much-needed exercise after a fulfilling iftar. However, we should stay hydrated throughout this long prayer to better prepare for the next day's fasting.

Let us not forget to practise kindness toward those who do not or cannot fast during Ramadan. For example, the simple act of cooking for the menstruating women and looking after them might be written in your book of good deeds. After all, feeding a hungry person, regardless of their religious faith, is Sunnah.

Allah (SWT) says, "But whoever is ill or on a journey, then let them fast an equal number of days after Rama?an. Allah (SWT) intends for your ease and does not intend for your hardship" (2:185). If the Creator of all has made fasting as accommodating as this, who are we to force Sawm on someone? So, let us not drown in ignorant pride and a false sense of superiority, as only Allah (SWT) knows best.

In fact, there is even a Hadith on mistakenly eating before Maghrib: "Whoever forgets when he is fasting and eats or drinks, let him complete his fast, for it is Allah (SWT) who has fed him and given him to drink" (Bukhari and Muslim). So, let us remember that Allah (SWT) feeds us and practices such mercy to everyone.

This year, Ramadan carries a sombre note, as the plight of war-stricken Palestine weighs heavily on our hearts. Yet, this hardship fosters deeper reflection. Let our prayers, offered during Salah, encompass those suffering around the world.

Even if we, as individuals, are powerless against evil forces, let us strengthen our faith in the Almighty, who is the Protector of all. With the grim reminder of the impermanence of life, let us cultivate gratitude for our time with family.

Even amid the global turmoil currently happening, debating about whether mixing jilapi with muri mix would be a good or bad idea, being excited about receiving new items of iftar from neighbours right before azan, or preparing Sharbat for a month to tune in to Kazi Nazrul's song on chand raat - may Allah (SWT) allow our spirit to grow with all the joyous memories on repeat.

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