Ramadan – my favorite time of the year. The month associated with some of my most beautiful memories. There are some key moments in life which make you feel like you have taken a few steps towards the ultimate goal of self-actualization and for me those golden moments have, more often than not, been found in the blessed nights of this month. Ramadan and I go a long way. If it weren’t for the Ramadans in my life, things would have been very, very different. There are too many memories, too much history (and umm.. Too Much Information) that I could talk about, but suffice to say this has been a very special month for me historically. But as of now, I’m … Anti-Ramadaning.
If you don’t know what Anti-Ramadaning means, I don’t blame you. A couple of days ago, even I didn’t know what it meant, but now that I have coined this term, I can explain. It is an umbrella term that includes many things such as (but not limited to):
- the frustration of not being able to fast
- glancing enviously at the hubby, kids and friends who can fast
- not fulfilling quran, nawafil, dua and tahajjud goals like you’d planned
- watching TV (documentaries, cat videos and even serials) when you can do zikr
- twiddling thumbs
So basically, I have started this Ramadan feeling very – unfulfilled. I have always associated Ramadan with a deep feeling of fulfilment and contentment but this time, I feel like I don’t ‘belong’. Like everyone has a happy secret that they’re sharing and I can’t be a part of it.
For the uninitiated, my little one is only about 4 months old and I happen to be her primary source of nutrition. I miss fasting. Last year when Ramadan came around, I was pregnant and pretty sick so fasting was completely out of the question. The year before that, I had broken my foot and while I could still fast, I couldn’t stand or walk much and standing in prayer was difficult if not impossible. So was cooking for the family.
This is the third year running when Ramadan does not feel like usual. As I snack on almonds and ignore the urge to watch ‘just a little bit’ of the Grenada Sherlock Holmes series while my kids complain about how hungry they are and repeatedly ask how many more hours there are to iftar, I’m a wee bit – annoyed. So, I think to myself – what if I do fast? What’s the worst that could happen? An image of a fussy and disturbed baby that doesn’t seem to calm down enters my mind, and me at the edge of my wits, wondering how to handle the situation. Perhaps fasting is really not an option, I concur. Reciting extra quran, praying my fard with ihsaan, extra nawafil and charity is definitely doable. Except I’m Anti-Ramadaning, remember?
It’s like a silent rebellion, like the teenager in me (which never seems to go away completely by the way) is saying “Yeah, whatever” (the shrug of the shoulders while you’re at it) and that (un)happy comfortable place of “I AM like that. Go figure.”
True, the devils have been chained in the month of Ramadan, but I don’t seem to require their services – I seem to be great at this stuff myself. Is it rebellion? Is it because I’m lazy? Is it because I have a small baby and that can scatter-brain you a little bit sometimes? Or is it just that I’m not as spiritual/nice/____ (fill in the blank) as I’d hoped to be? Could it be the fact that I feel like what good is my small little ibadah, when people fast, pray in the mosque and basically do things I do in a year in a single night? The fard prayer I muster up sleepily because the baby didn’t sleep well at night and I don’t feel that awesome spiritual “Ramadan feeling” while people cry buckets during salah? Really, what is up with me?
The writer types (and the reader types – more specifically, my blog reader types) would know that I overthink and analyze things to death in order to make sense of them. I chop the sausage (the sausage being my problem) in my head to tiny little cubes, each symmetrically perfect and equal. And then I chop them some more and examine them from every side and wonder how the light reflects on them on a certain angle. Yeah, I overthink stuff. So as I analyze why this Ramadan I haven’t been my best and why I’m coining terms like Anti-Ramadaning of course I would have to blog about it and you my dear reader, just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I were you, I’d leave now.
Obviously, I haven’t thought this through. I haven’t yet touched upon the fact that Ramadan is between me and Allah and my Rabb is far more Merciful than I can ever imagine. Perhaps my frustration at not being able to fast translates into rewards that I know nothing about and perhaps the spirituality and closeness that I crave is elusive for now, but just around the corner. It’s almost like the invitation is open and all I need is the courage to accept myself, and know that I will be accepted too, no matter how broken I am. Perhaps the five fard salahs I manage with some level of mindfulness are far more important than I can understand. Perhaps my longing will become my salvation.
Let me just make it clear – I’m not planning to read the entire tafseer this Ramadan or even close — but I do really hope and pray for His closeness, His forgiveness and the one missing element – IHSAN. I want to do this right. I want to pull myself out whatever this Anti-Ramadaning is and collect, coin by coin, my treasure which will serve me in this life as well as the akhirah. It hasn’t been perfect but I’m willing to try again. I’m going to try again, and I know Allah acknowledges every step we take towards Him.
Abu Dharr (RA) reported that the Prophet SAWS said that Allah swt says: Whoever draws close to Me by the length of a hand, I will draw close to him by the length of an arm. Whoever draws close to Me the by length of an arm, I will draw close to him by the length of a fathom. Whoever comes to Me walking, I will come to him running. Whoever meets Me with enough sins to fill the earth, not associating any partners with Me, I will meet him with as much forgiveness.”
Tired, frustrated, annoyed with myself I might be oh Allah but I am taking that first step. Please hold me tight for it feels like I might falter. And time is running out.