Ramadhan Over The Years
I’m not sure about you but not all my Ramadhans have been great—some were very special while others felt like nothing much took place except for hunger, fatigue and a huge change in my schedule. Looking back, what made each Ramadhan experience differ were my intentions followed by my efforts.
I’ve gone through very demanding Ramadhans before: some of them took place during my studies while some took place when I was working 9-5. Regrettably, there were years when I could have spent my Ramadhan a lot better but either I did not put in the effort or I just didn’t know how.
Fasting During Secondary School
During these years, like many other kids, I was mainly focused on school. I wasn’t able to truly appreciate Ramadhan—all I knew was that fasting was an obligation and I had to just deal with the challenges somehow. I should note that personally, Ramadhan was physically the easiest during these years and I feel the difference to my body now that I’m fasting in my late 20s (macam lah tua sangat kan).
Fasting During Sixth Form
Ages 16-19 was when I began diving deeper into Islam so instead of simply fasting, I took part in tarawih (night prayers during Ramadhan) at the school’s surau and other additional acts of worship like reading/reflecting on the meanings of the Quran and dhikrullah.
I was in boarding school during these years—the work load plus our busy schedules made it extremely challenging so good time management was key. I had little sleep every night but by the Will of Allāh, I managed to balance: studies, extracurricular activities, worship and even exercise! Some of the best Ramadhans of my life took place during these years.
Fasting During University
I briefly wrote about my fasting experience in the UK. Fasting was 18 hours back then and smack in the middle of summer when it’s super hot and dry. With only 6 hours to eat and drink, you actually couldn’t eat that much because by the time you break your fast which is around 9pm+, you are so tired and have to get ready for bed as you had to be up again by 2am for sahur.
Because I was living on my own and juggling exams, my biggest challenge was the motivation to even fast. Fasting in the UK was tough but I learnt that when you are sincere, no matter how impossible the circumstances seem, Allāh will assist you every step of the way. Allāh does not abandon a slave that wants to do something for His sake.
Fasting While Having A 9-5 Office Job
This was tough for me physically because I had to use so much brain power while my energy levels were low. I spent my lunch times napping to regain energy. I discovered oatmeal later on and it totally changed the game—you’ll be alert all day. Fitting in tarawih was also easy, alhamdullilah. I’m fully aware that all of this is made possible from the perks of living with your parents and being single (my friends who are parents tell me this).
The Heart Makes The First Move
It’s definitely interesting to have experienced Ramadhan in so many different kinds of circumstances and even places. My Ramadhan experience has evolved over the years as my responsibilities change and also as I delve deeper into Islam. It doesn’t mean things get easier but they certainly do become more meaningful.
While it is certainly easier to devote ourselves to God when we have a lot of free time and zero responsibilities; there is more meaning in our acts of ibadah when we are faced with the constraints of time. It is a beautiful thing to choose God even when the choice is hard.
If you’re someone who feels segan (intimidated) by this Holy Month because you feel like you’re not alim (pious)—reset the way you think. Ramadhan is not reserved for the awliya (saints), it’s for ALL of His slaves regardless of their level of iman. This month is for any Muslim sincerely seeking their Creator’s Love, Forgiveness and Blessings.
This is the one month you should not waste time by having self-doubt. Have full conviction that no matter how much you’ve sinned: Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'alā will forgive you and continue to love you. The gates of jahanam are shut tight while the gates of Jannah are wide open to illustrate the great extent of His Mercy in this month.
The Scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) commented on the Hadith Qudsi, where the Prophet ﷺ said that Allāh said: “I am as my slave expects Me to be.” Ibn Hajar (may Allāh have Mercy upon him) said: “Meaning, I am able to do whatever he expects I will do.” [Fath al-Bari]
Although it may be hard to believe that with all our imperfections and mountains of sins, that Allāh could ever gaze us with profound Love and Gentleness, but He definitely can and with great ease, because Allāh is not us, He is not limited in His Mercy. Humans are limited, Allāh is not.
It’s not up to you to determine whether you’re deserving of forgiveness or love from Allāh, that is His Prerogative. No one ever truly knows where their level of iman is; no one can measure their own level of piety with accuracy because we are limited in our perception of things. Allāh subḥānahu wa ta'alā in His unlimited capacity for Love, Wisdom and Knowledge is the best Judge there is and in this month He chooses to give and forgive.
No matter how hectic things can get during Ramadhan, this month is what you make of it. If you seek goodness in it, that is what Allāh will grant you, even if you think you’re doing so little. The sweetness of Ramadhan cannot always be felt right away and sometimes you may not even realise how much your heart was at ease until the month comes to an end.
Mind, Body & Soul
The act of fasting tests our spiritual self as well as our physical bodies. The restrictions that are placed on our bodies while fasting puts us in an uncomfortable state but it is within our weakened state that we are able to draw ourselves closer to the Almighty without any distractions.
Fasting for the sake of Allāh is special because as our bodies weaken, our iman strengthens.
After Asar prayers at the mosque yesterday, the imam gave a talk on fasting. He said that there are people out there, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, who doubt that there are people who can actually give up food and water, intimate relations with their spouses, among other things from dawn to dusk.
These people, he said, do not understand nor appreciate fasting because they are void of iman.
I don’t know about you but I’ve gotten those reactions before. I’ve had people look at me in such disbelief, almost disgust at times, that I could devote myself to a seemingly difficult lifestyle for a month. I know now that when we lack taqwa (God-consciousness), it is difficult to understand that pure bliss can be found in deprivation and not just in consumption.
On the outside, Ramadhan seems like hard work but on the inside, it’s heart work. ❤️
To those who don’t understand the essence of fasting, all they see is deprivation but to those who understand its wisdom, they will appreciate that while their stomaches are empty and their tongues are dry, their hearts are fully nourished by its devotion to Al-Razzaq, the One who provides even when He deprives.
No matter how tight our schedules are, I pray that our hearts will be transformed by our good intentions and whatever efforts we are able to make in this month—Allāh knows when we are trying our best. Amiin.