Chanelmama blogger Ouiam Charkani El Hassani shares her thoughts on this special time of year.
Ramadan is the month in which the holy Quran was revealed. It is a month when Muslims around the globe fast from sunrise till sunset. Yes, no food, no water the whole day, until we hear the Adhan of Al Maghrib prayer [the call for the evening prayer, which is at sunset]. Fasting from food and drinks is certainly the most obvious and well known aspect of Ramadan, yet this is not all. Ramadan is much more than this. It is the foundation that any Muslim lays for the rest of the year. The time to develop and strengthen the powers of self-control, and to be able to resist desires and bad habits. By refraining from the natural human urges to satisfy one’s appetite, Muslims all over the world are exercising their ability of self-restraint, for everyday life.
Ramadan comes from the Arabic word Ramada which means the scorching heat. So, for example, when you want to clean water and make it drinkable, you boil it with heat in order to bring it to its purest form, and this is basically what Ramadan is. It is the month where we purify ourselves from all the toxins that we have been accumulating, and all those sins that have been slowly creeping in on our souls all year long. The main purpose of this Holy Month is not just refraining from food, drinks or other things, it is actually to be aware and conscious of God’s presence. In whatever act you do during the day, you should be aware of God and of this Holy Month. It is a chance to be your better self, because now you have a great constant motivation: God IS with you.
I often get questions from non-Muslim friends like: So you can eat nothing during the day? You can’t even drink? With this heat? And you have to do it for over 12 hours? Even if you work? Can you chew gum? How about smoking, it is technically not food or drinks? …. And the list goes on. My answer is always the same: If you just knew how easy the fasting part is, compared to what is really being asked from us here! We are asked to be the best versions of ourselves, every day, for 30 consecutive days. Even if no one is physically watching us, we still do it! We are asked to keep a smile on our face, even when we have no energy, in that burning heat, in those last few hours of the day, when all you can think of is a glass of refreshing cold water. We are asked to look out for people in need, and make sure they have food on their tables even before we do. We are asked to visit the sick, and check on family members that we haven’t seen for a long time. We are asked to do our work the best way we can. We are asked to be kind and compassionate. We are asked to be what we aspire to be, and you know what is the best thing in all that? It is that we know that we are not alone in this. There is something about going through challenges with family, friends and fellow Muslims; an incredible sense of winning and pride that comes from achieving hard goals with others. And because you do it for a whole month, you know that you can do it every single day of the year if you want to! You can keep all those beautiful habits and strengthen them with every passing Ramadan.
Despite the seriousness of this Holy Month, it is not a boring time for sure. It is a time of celebration and joy. We take pride in decorating our homes, patios and gardens with lights, stars and crescents. We enjoy certain foods, that are only made in this precious month, we spend time with our loved ones and make special bonds and precious memories that will last forever.
Ramadan is much more than saying “No” to food or drinks, Ramadan is the time where our hearts – as Muslims – face a greater challenge, and we get the chance to purify our souls.
May your hearts always win, and may all the blessings of this Holy Month be upon you and your loved ones.