Alhamdulillah! Thank you, Allah, for such a beautiful day!
The day began slow for me. Really slept in, and by that, I mean waking up close to 12 noon. (tsk tsk)
But I was glad that the Ramadhan forum I was intending to attend (organized by Al-Qudwah Organization) would only start at 2:30pm (or so I thought), until I realized that it was supposed to start at 2pm! :S (*panic mode on*) Hesitated on whether I should still go for it, but I eventually (wo)man-ed up and decided I shouldn’t miss this opportunity. Yup, all good days start with right decisions like these.
This forum surprised me a great deal, partly because it proved me wrong – that despite everything that has been said and shared about Ramadan (and I’m sure you’d agree with me that a lot has been shared before), Masha Allah, the 3 Uztaz who were there (may Allah be pleased with them for their sharing), Uztaz Taufiq, Uztaz Nuzulul and Uztaz Hidayat- shared so much more than I thought there was to know of Ramadan. Here’s one of my favourite insights picked up from Uztaz Taufiq:
Allah SWT created us as creatures of consciousness. Sadly though, many of us are asleep, we lead our lives out of habit, in lack of consciousness. That is why Ramadan is liberating. It pushes us to re-examine and alter everything we do- the way we think, act, eat, speak- it brings us to that state of full consciousness. – Uztaz Taufiq, Ramadan Forum, 6th July 2013
Here are a couple other refreshing insights, on why Ramadan is so precious:
1) It allows us to slow down.
‘Slowing down’ often has negative connotations in today’s rat race of a world. The person who gets most things done in the shortest time possible (one definition of productivity, and efficacy), is often praised as the one who is closer to ‘success’. Everything we know aspires to work at clock-work, corporations, businesses, schools, institutions, try to get more things done within the same period, and everything is quickening. That new smartphone you just got is better because it provides you with that seamless faster browsing, picture-taking experience. But in that rush, sometimes we forget to breathe. Don’t you think so? I look at myself and my peers around me, and I realize that really is how (arresting) life is. And it’s not like our bodies have somehow evolved to cope with the quicker pace of life too, because almost everyone of us (come on, admit it) is planning, day-dreaming, wishing for that next holiday. Clearly, that spells some imbalance. That life needs to be re-set somehow, to make room for time/ space for spiritual development for instance, to just breathe, and enjoy nature (and its message from its Creator: this is an inspiration from Yasmin Mogahed 🙂 ). It’s true – we all basically NEED to slow down. Ramadan provides this respite too- for one, it gives our bodies a break from food, digestion slows down, it also pushes you to take a while more to contemplate your thoughts and actions to preserve your fast (yes, vile words, cursing, swearing can nullify our fast too – according to a Hadeeth). So that’s just one other (on top of the many others) as to why Ramadan is so beautiful.
2) The point on consciousness – is also why, Uztaz Taufiq and Uztaz Nuzulul Qadar advised us to concentrate on the quality of our worship, and not just quantity. For example, in response to a question posed by a participant – “Should one strive to complete the Quran within Ramadan, or take time (albeit a lot more slowly) to contemplate it’s message and its relevance to our lives?” Both Uztaz strongly advised us to choose the latter. For Knowledge is not information. it means to understand, decipher, and apply what you’ve just read/ heard/ acquired.
3) “Resistance helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle. – Daniel Goleman, Author of Emotional Intelligence
The quote above is kinda linked to that broader theme of slowing down during Ramadan (point 1). But I separated it because it is also linked to another theme of self-control. Self-control in words, actions. To fight that temptation, and prove bigger than desire, lust, temptations. Today’s world (also because this is how some of us choose to define happiness sometimes, albeit temporary), is largely guided by hedonistic values. Giving in to that whim to shop, that craving for chilli crab, that lust for someone (just random examples, really), is sometimes seen as a reflection of a carefree spirit – that embodies freedom, (or does it)? I mean, frankly, I don’t think giving in to temptations is a bad thing – I mean God did create this Earth for our enjoyment too, for us to appreciate his perfect mastery of art, science, compassion, precision, in nature, people, and its relationship with one another, within limits that He deems best. But it’s the balance of it that’s tough. Ramadan takes it away evry day over a month, but guides you to focus and derive that inner peace and solace from other things, from that relationship with Allah SWT, from your actions and intentions for Him alone – to focus on that which is permanent and the source of everything we used to depend on.
Yup, these lessons I picked up, were so refreshingly good food for the soul. Treatment of the soul is after all, the root to solving all symptoms. How true.
Anyhow, I can’t wait for Ramadan (I can’t explain it but I’m both nervous and excited.) It’s not going to be easy, but it’ll be worth it, and I pray it’ll be the best Ramadan yet, Insha Allah.