It’s the second day of the holy Ramadan, month of the year for all Muslims. A month which we abstain from eating any food or liquid from the dawn until sunset. Some have it longer and some have it shorter – range between 12 hours to 22 hours, mine is roughly 16 hours.
When I was a kid, I was afraid to start fasting. An act of not eating anything from fajr (dawn) to maghrib (sunset) scared me. I don’t remember at what age or how exactly I start my annual fast or how my parents made me to do so. I just unquestioningly went along with the society at that time, being a conformist at such a young age. I did it because everybody did. I learnt at school that all Muslims must embrace Ramadan each year and that goes with eating nothing. Still, I couldn’t reason myself why I have to do that? I was kid and there was only explanation for a kid. It freaked me out because to my notion, no one could survive that long!
What if I die in the process?
Who’s going to take responsibilities for that?
I learnt it later on that Ramadan is more than just not eating. Ramadan is a teaching. And when I understand that part, fasting for twelve hours straight doesn’t sound so bad at all.
I remember practicing fast as a kid as fun and enjoyable experiences. We were allowed to eat before dawn , a “pre-dawn meal” – its suhur. Mom would wake up an hour early to prepare for the meal, sometime we just ate whatever left from the night before. We would be eating half awake half asleep and as soon as we finished the meal we went straight back to sleep until fajr. It’s not a compulsory to eat but it is considered one of the blessings, in that it allows the person fasting to avoid the crankiness later on.
Because the day was too hot, and also because I was a kid back then, there was a time when I sneaked into the fridge for a slice of cold, sweet and juicy watermelon. I ate it while my eyes were looking here and there for any signs that could be my mom. And waiting for the iftar was also a challenge, you were literally counting seconds for the time which you could finally eat. I remember drooling most of the time while watching food advertisements broadcasted on the TV, twenty minutes before iftar. It was fun. And challenging as well.
However, Ramadan isn’t merely about abstaining from food or eating at scheduled times. There are some do’s and don’ts during Ramadan – rules and guidelines we as a Muslim must abide but the whole main concept is to teach the person’s fasting about the poor and how it feels to have no food or drink to survive. Ramadan instills within us the compassion and empathy.
It is a month of worshiping. This doesn’t mean we should not pray and be grateful to god in other eleven months. It works the same but for Ramadan, it’s exclusive. Same goes when you celebrate Mother’s Day. Every other day is mother’s day, you love her, you care for her, you give her gifts every single day but for one day it’s exclusive. This is the month bestowed upon it such blessings from the start of Ramadan to the end.
It is also a month of austerity and modesty. Where people don’t spend too much money for food. Ramadan teaching encourages them to stay modest and abstain themselves for spending too much on unnecessary things. They give charity and spending most of their time giving food to homeless, orphans and those who are unable to feed on their own or don’t have money to feed the whole family enough food. Ramadan teaches them to care for the others who may be less fortunate as they are because life lesson number one: there are ups and downs going around in our lifetime. Today we can be the one giving but may be later, we are the one receiving.
There are more to Ramadan than meets the eyes. We Muslims celebrating the holy Ramadan doesn’t make us any extra special than other human beings of other religions out there. Non-muslims can eat publicly, when and where they want. It doesn’t has to be a restriction to them when we are fasting. But for us it’s a blessed month. Islam is a fair religion, only the one practicing it fail to act so.
So, this year it will be my third time celebrating my Ramadan away from my hometown. It has been four years studying in a foreign country. I won’t deny, I miss my home’s food and environments. During Ramadan, best things to do in my hometown are going for night prayers, ‘Tarawih’ and celebrating Eid together. Everytime Ramadan comes knocking on my door, I am hell-bent making this Ramadan the best out of all Ramadans I had. So, the same goes to this year Ramadan, it should be better than last year. In all aspects I should try to spend less, pray and do charity more. Because I cannot be sure that there will be another Ramadan for me next year.