Originally written for Gulf News Opinion http://gulfnews.com/opinion/thinkers/detoxing-the-body-and-soul-this-ramadan-1.1538896
Published: 15:28 June 22, 2015
When the starting day of Ramadan was confirmed, my heart skipped a beat as I welcomed my favourite time of the year, grateful to be alive to experience it again. Memories of last Ramadan came flooding back to me when I was lumbering around with swollen feet, nine months pregnant, desperately wanting the baby to finally arrive. As the month ends, she will turn one, and because not all of us shed baby weight as easily as Kate Middleton, I am looking to detoxify the body and hopefully shed a few pounds in the process. But what’s much more important is cleansing the soul.
Life for each one of us is a blend of wonderful, rejuvenating experiences and ugly, forgettable incidents. The amazing human mind stores all of these events pretty efficiently — our mind is like a large castle with many rooms, alleyways and courtyards. The negative memories, those painful incidents that we would like to forget, we unconsciously dump in a room in the posterior wing of this castle and keep the door firmly shut. Yet those experiences live within us, and the lingering hurt remains. Adverse experiences are a part of life, and indeed we would not value happiness and peace as much as we do were it not for the occasional jolts that life gives us. There are some of us who are able to brush off every negative experience nonchalantly and go about our merry ways.
But there are those who have a hard time letting go and accepting reality. As for me, my personality can be painfully analytical and critical, especially of my own self. I am prone to thinking things through, dissecting them to death trying to figure out why they happened. There’s always a desperate struggle to “get it right” that has defined my life, the feeling that if only I had done this or that, things might have been different. Now the time has come when I want to, consciously, let go.
For every relationship in life that didn’t work out, for every time I have felt dejected, and for each instance in which I have failed, I have frantically tried (in my head) to hold myself, or others, responsible. While introspection and soul searching is generally a good thing, and has helped me on many occasions, there is such a thing as too much of it. There’s a certain calmness and profundity about accepting things the way they are, acknowledging them as they stand today without beating yourself up about it, and without secretly blaming someone else, either.
A month of positivity
To me, this blessed month has always rekindled hope and brought positivity, and this year comes with me needing a fresh perspective on things perhaps more than before. In the last ten nights of Ramadan I will be looking for the genuine contentment that comes only from the belief that every experience that you went through was destined for you.
And that even though it may not seem so, in the grand scheme of things it was somehow the best thing that could have happened to you. Truly having faith that every challenge in life has positive connotations and consequences — no matter how contrary it may seem — is wonderfully liberating. I will take this opportunity to share a beautiful line from the Quran: “But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not.” (Surah Al Baqarah 2:216).
Even though tough times test us and bring us pain they do form an integral part of our life experience, and we are the better for them. True happiness and healing is in learning to be truly thankful for them. Moreover, we tend to dwell on the little hills that are our problems in life — and each one of us has those. But in the process we ignore the mountains of blessings that have been bestowed upon us. This Ramadan I want to give genuine thanks for every gift my Creator has given me that I have neither acknowledged nor been grateful for. It is a time to connect with Him with a certainty that every time we call out to Him, He listens.
As the sweetness of the imam’s recitation during taraweeh prayers warms my heart, I feel that distinct Ramadan feeling, an inexplicable joy that can’t be put into words. Here’s hoping that this Ramadan will be better than the ones gone by, and that I am able to savour every moment of this month that slips by too quickly, leaving us to wonder whether we did in fact make the most of it.