Given today’s context, this Ramadan, like the previous one, will not be celebrated as usual, pre-COVID times. Families and friends will not be gathered around a table to break their fast, some of us might be confined alone, without the ability to pray night prayers (taraweeh) in a small group, and most of us may spend a significant amount of time reminiscing the good old days. However, today’s difficulties should not impact how Ramadan should be experienced and cherished.
I apologize for the grim start to this post but I couldn’t avoid the elephant in the room. I believe that one way to celebrate Ramadan is to remember its blessings and plan it in advance.
Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven. – Said by Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) as narrated by Abu Huraira, Sahih al-Bukhari
Evaluate your heart
Faith (Imaan) comes with its highs and lows; I always compare a person of faith (mu’min) to a surfer that is in constant search for the next wave. This analogy makes sense to me because I compare my faith to a tide. A tide can come in three forms: it can be high and rising with each successive wave pushing higher and higher; it can be high and falling with the energy in each wave subsequently decreasing; and finally, it can be low with each wave becoming less powerful and flatter.
Unfortunately, today my faith compares to a low tide that has reached a plateau; as much as this saddens me, it motivates me to attain a higher level. In order to feel closer to God, the first steps I took were:
- Admitting the distance that I feel and finding ways to address it.
- Paying attention to the content I was absorbing; I decided to switch out a Netflix series with a religious one.
- Engaging in conversations about God and learning more about my religion.
- Staying consistent with my prayers.
- Realizing that in order to overcome the lows of faith; I needed to understand the essence of it.
The essence of faith: Legal vs. Real
Faith can be grouped into two groups as explained by Nouman Ali Khan; the first group is “legal faith” while the second one is “real faith”. Real faith can then be sub-divided into two categories: spiritual and intellectual.
In layman’s terms, a person can obtain legal faith by affirming his/her faith by saying the Shahadah (first pillar of Islam). A muslim can not question another muslims’ legal faith. If a person is known to be muslim; then he or she should be treated and respected as one by other muslims regardless of his/her actions.