Ramadan is to break the bad habits not put them on pause.
Ramadan for me brings a bunch of beautiful memories. Days & Nights that we spent in Makkah & Madina during fasting were probably the best days of my life. When the Muezzin says Allah hu Akbar & everyone would stop doing whatever they are doing to go to the mosque, is one of the most beautiful moments. Being born & raised in Saudi Arabia has been one of the biggest blessings for me because it kept me real close to my religion. Alhumdulilah.
What is Ramadan & Why Fasting?
The Holy month of Ramadan is about fasting basically not eating or drinking from Sunrise till Sunset. Ramadan for me is about being thankful. Fasting teaches us humility. Because we can empathize with the underprivileged & understand how they go days without food & water. It teaches us to be patient, we can’t lose our cool or be angry. We have to try to be our best selves. And Muslims do this happily because this Month helps us test our limits. It works on the theory, if I can do it for a month I can surely do it for a lifetime.
But today I want to talk about what you can learn this Ramadan and carry it forward. In my university days, we did a project for Psychology & we went to spend a day at Edhi Center the psychiatric ward for Kids and Women. We were fasting & seeing their lives just for a few hours made me not eat for weeks. That day changed my life & my perspective/ purpose of life. The Edhi Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Abdul Sattar Edhi a philanthropist. He even donated his eyes after his death on July 2016. His foundation has shelters, hospitals, drug rehabilitation services etc.
Being humble and kind is something we should practice throughout the year. But a lot of times, we fail to follow it. By knowing and understanding that we are seriously blessed with more than we deserve. I didn’t do anything special to deserve this life compared to an orphan in Africa who is dying of hunger and thirst. During our daily grind, we forget that HE is the Planner & the Provider, not us. We are just a source to bring in food on the table. When I heard the stories of women & children at the Edhi Center, it was painful to know that most of them were left there by the closest family members. Some women were beaten while being tied up, some were being molested, again and again, and some ran away from their homes and came to the shelter. I kept tossing and turning in bed that night, I couldn’t take their face out of sight. It’s almost been 6 to 7 years and I still remember their stories, very clearly.
To lead a happy and content life, you just need two elements: “Sabr” That is patience and “Shukr” being grateful for what you have. & honestly, I have tried implementing these two in my life and those days were truly the happiest days of my life. But then, of course, I stopped practicing it but definitely will do that again this Ramadan. I met a mother at the Edhi Center, she was the only one who said she was happy there and doesn’t want to go home. She was content with whatever life she was leading. She was patient when she didn’t even have a bed to sleep, they had a concrete slab with a pillow. I was amazed to find out that she had a green card but she chose to stay there, maybe because she went through so much that nothing was appealing to her.
3. We are enough/We have enough:
That day at Edhi center, there was a feeling of being needed, being wanted among those women. They were holding our hands and begging us to call their family members, which apparently are the ones that left them there. Sigh.. Their eyes had so many questions that were unanswered & they looked tired after waiting endlessly for their family members. I cried like I have never cried before. How do we let our daily life overshadow the feeling of gratitude? how do we forget that we are blessed beyond our imagination? How do we forget that we are enough and we have enough? I kept repeating in my heart “Alhumdulilah” that I am blessed way beyond my imagination, our basic necessities were a luxury to them.
4. Seriously, it’s not about food:
Ramadan is in simplicity, feeding the hungry, helping the poor. There is no point cooking lavish dinners and then wasting all that food. The simpler the better, one dish would be enough. We have this concept of cooking too much food and over eating while we should be focussing on healthy eating. I think it happens naturally because in hunger I feel like I can literally eat the whole world but then it’s like three bites and I am done. Overeating leads to being lethargic, so focus on less but nutritious. At Edhi center, we saw them making Fruit Salad just lots of that which was followed by dinner. That was pretty basic, & literally, when I came home I couldn’t take that picture out and for almost two weeks I wasn’t able to eat or waste food. It didn’t make sense to me that how can 500 people eat one dish & we need 5 dishes for one person.
5. Get Closer to Faith:
There is no doubt that Ramadan brings us closer to our faith and religion. We start living our lives with more submission & focus towards the day of judgment than the current life. Ramadan tests the best of us. But put your faith first & give that priority. Try to pray on time, if you want to finish the Quran focus on that and do it in the beginning of the day. Read books that will increase your knowledge of religion or listen to online lectures. Do everything that helps you enhance your faith & stick to it.
If you want to change your help around and want to feel truly blessed, you must visit a shelter once in a while. It makes you understand that this life is not given to us to run around after meaningless things, it was given to help, to understand, to share, to spread joy, to be kind to others and to spread lots of love wherever we go. You don’t have to be a billionaire to do your part, you just have to be a human. Before opening your fast every day just be thankful that you are surrounded with your loved ones, have food to eat, have beds to sleep and a roof over our head. Alhumdulilah
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