Originally written for Gulf News “Off the Cuff” http://gulfnews.com/opinions/offthecuff/do-some-soul-searching-during-ramadan-1.1206472
It’s one of those things about life; it takes us to the lowest possible ebb, and just when we’re ready to throw in the towel, it gets us to rise again. I remember last Ramadan with a mixture of sadness and fondness. It had been a tough year for me, perhaps one of the most turbulent phases of my life.
About a year ago, I wrote about how Ramadan was important to me because it wasn’t just about abstaining from food and drink, it was about clearing my heart and letting go of every malicious thought, every grudge and ill-feeling that I harboured against anyone.
I wanted to truly forgive and forget and I wanted a clean slate. Those days turned out to be, in many ways, a turning point in life for me.
I could have either given up on everything and everyone or I could have moved on into the light, brushing aside the cynicism and the negativity.
I was tired. I was tired of the way things had been, I was tired of myself and I was very conscious of the fact that I might never see another Ramadan again.
When the Ramadan moon was sighted, it brought with it a hope as faint as the moon itself, and as I searched the heavens for a sign, I saw a hazy sliver of silver suspended in the faraway sky and I wondered if that little bit of light would somehow, miraculously brighten up my world too. I had known all along: it was time for change.
The change that had always made a case for itself but I had ignored the fact that it was even, in any way, needed. I decided that I would let this month be a sort of new beginning.
That meant only one thing: a fresh perspective, some serious soul searching and hoping, praying and trying desperately for the changes I so badly, urgently needed to make within my own self.
The ego of a human being is the single greatest thing that stands between a person and total happiness and peace. I wanted to conquer my ego, I wanted the realisation of my own errors that would help me break down and cry, and start again from scratch, without a ton of unnecessary baggage weighing me down. I wanted to humble myself, and I knew I had to take responsibility for everything that had gone wrong.
Holding myself, and just my own actions accountable for everything that had happened was where it all began. When I finally came to terms with the fact that our present is a direct result of our decisions and behaviour in the past, it looked as though the grime was finally shifting.
When the mosques were full and people beseeched Allah in the blessed nights, I too prayed for a miracle. And then just as quickly as it had come, with so much hype and hope, stealthily, the month of Ramadan passed me by.
I wondered if the changes I so desperately wanted would occur and if they would manifest themselves. It is said that if you take a step towards Allah, He in all His might and glory takes ten towards you, and if you walk to Him, He runs to you.
About a year later, I say this with moist eyes — change did happen. It happened from within. Perhaps that’s why I could I see the world clearly, because my own vision was no longer altered with an omnipresent layer of dirt.
I don’t know how, I don’t even know when, and I certainly don’t know why — but all I know is that sincere remorse, no matter how lost you are, and being honest with yourself is the best way to pick yourself up again, and to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.
As I wait again for another Ramadan, I am filled with joy, gratitude and a sense of wonder and a warm feeling of hope and positivity. The blessed nights are truly special.
PS: What does Ramadan mean to you? How was your best Ramadan, do you remember it? What are your favourite tips for a great Ramadan?