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.
Unlike legal faith however, real faith is only known to God for only he can see the sincerity of one’s heart. Simply put, real faith is about one’s relationship with one’s creator. A muslim can make no assumptions about a fellow Muslims’ real faith. For instance, in my humble opinion, I believe that a person without legal faith can have real faith and vice versa; the ideal case is to have both.
Disclaimer: I’m not trying to proclaim myself as someone with real faith; I am just a believer working towards a goal: God’s love.
Set your goals
As I mentioned earlier, real faith is divided into two groups: intellectual and spiritual. Today, I thought I’d share my goals with you, in both categories in hopes that you draw inspiration from them for yourself. Remember, we are all unique; some of us are driven by intellectual knowledge while others by performing acts of spirituality. The importance is to start somewhere while having pure intentions.
Fasting and praying are already acts of spirituality and are a given. But because I’d like to take my game to the next level, I plan on reading the Quran on a regular basis and making supplications (duaas) on a daily basis.
1) Watch religious content on a daily basis.
2) I plan on writing four blog posts in this coming month of Ramadan in order to learn more about my religion and engage in reminder. Below, are just the headlines (as abstract as they may be):
- All this and heaven too
- Love, life, and Ramadan
- Windows, in all of its forms
- Bidding farewell to Ramadan 2021
Plan your Ramadan
Now, that I’ve set my goals; I need to plan how to achieve them. I came up with a guide and will use myself as an example.
- Assess your situation: I have a full-time job and limited time for cooking. Hence, my husband and I decided to prepare the appetizers in advance (freeze them), follow a ramadan meal plan, and prepare desserts during the week-ends (as they are optional).
- Decide a time for each activity: I plan on writing on weekends, making my supplications in the mornings and during my prayers, reading the holy book during my lunch break, watching religious content after my night prayers, etc.
- Make time for family and friends: As ramadan is the month of mercy but also a celebration of Quran’s revelation, I plan on celebrating this holy month with my loved ones.
- Put everything in writing: Now, that I know my priorities and goals, I will schedule everything out (ps. nothing fancy) and do my best.
Remember, it is easier to follow a plan than to decide what to do; the less questions you ask yourself on a daily basis, the better.
RAMADAN MUBARAK, in advance!!!