When thinking about Ramadan this year, I could not help but think about the phrase “May you live in interesting times.”
Robert Kennedy used this phrase in a speech in 1966. We are living through interesting times, this Ramadan is certainly unprecedented. The whole world is under a global lockdown or on a stay-at-home order.
There was a somber note in the air as Ramadan commenced in such trying times for the whole Ummah. But Ramadan was never meant to be easy.
The first Ramadan for the Ummah took place with a battle looming. The Muslims had little or almost no resources and they were facing a powerful and wealthy enemy.
Hunger and thirst are a way to earn the reward and the pleasure of Allah. It’s also a test of our endurance.
This Ramadan is one that holds great potential for all of us and we need to envision that this Ramadan will probably be our closest Ramadan to our Prophet’s (PBUH) Ramadan.
Here are 4 reasons why this Ramadan has so much opportunity for us to follow in our Beloved’s (PBUH) footsteps and rediscover the original spirit of Ramadan.
1 – More Focus on Worship
Gatherings and socialization are good and we do need them, but Ramadan is a special time for worship and spiritual growth. There were no huge Iftar gatherings in the time of the Prophet (PBUH). They didn’t partake in elaborate iftar dinners with starters, mains, and desserts.
The Prophet (PBUH) and the Sahabah had a simple Iftaar of dates, water, and a few other staples in their homes with their families before they would come out for the Magrib prayer.
With so many travel bans and borders that have closed, we won’t be seeing many Ramadan favorites on our tables.
Many of us are leaving our homes only once a week for essentials and that would mean that we have to do with what we have for the most part. All our meals this month will be in our home with our close family.
We’ve created a culture that Ramadan is about gathering together and partaking in huge meals. Perhaps it’s because we are neglectful of coming together during the other months of the year.
But maybe with COVID-19 we can flip this around and make Ramadan a month of worship again. Let this be the Ramadan where we don’t gain weight, where we keep our meals simple but our worship elaborate.
2 – Tarawih at Home
Ramadan is associated with going to the masjid for making the sunnah prayer of Tarawih. The masjids are the focal point for our communities in Ramadan.
This Ramadan mosques are shutdown. Many feel that the essence of Ramadan is going to be lost. However, we have to be brave to acknowledge the fact that the Sahaba did not have Tarawih in the masjid but would make Tarawih at home.
While three of the main schools of thought prefer for the Tarawih prayer to be performed at the masjid, there is a Maliki school of thought that prefers the Tarawih prayer to be performed at home, in order to avoid hypocrisy. So this encouragement to pray at home in normal times exists in our tradition.”Shaikha Anse Tamara Gray
Tarawih being performed at home instead of in the masjid should not leave us feeling less. Anse Tamara continues,
“we need to shut this idea down that we are missing out, shut the FOMO, and instead use this opportunity to improve our relationship with the Quraan.”
3 – No Distractions
The Prophet (PBUH) and his companions prepared months in advance for the holy month of Ramadan. These preparations were not about stocking up the pantries and freezers. It was about getting their minds, bodies, and souls ready for this month.
As if welcoming a long-awaited guest, Ramadan was celebrated in their homes. Leading-up to Ramadan was such, that by the time Ramadan set in they were not distracted by anything except what they needed to do.
This month we have the right set of circumstances to welcome this month without any distractions.
We are at home, we might be working but we can be more flexible with our routines. We don’t have to travel anywhere or sit in traffic for hours and that frees a huge chunk of our time.
Anse Tamara says, “Imam Shafi’i used to make an entire khitma of the Qur’an, sixty times in Ramadan. One in the day and one at night.”
This would mean his day was not filled with cooking, or shopping trips, TV, or even Iftaar gatherings. He was binging on the Qur’an only. Our pious predecessors always saw Ramadan as a month of worship, not a social month by .
4 – Seclusion
Before the revelation, our Prophet (PBUH) would go to the cave of Hira and meditate and seclude himself from society for days on end.
He used this time to think about what was happening around him and to make sense of the world. The blessed revelation of the Qur’an came down during these quiet times of reflection and deep thought in Ramadan.
After the revelation, our Prophet (SAW) would use Ramadan as a time where he would worship as much as he could especially in the last ten nights of Ramadan. Our homes have become our cave of Hira; A place we find comfort and solace from the heartbreak and the disaster of COVID-19.
This year while we won’t be able to make Itikaaf in the masjid, we will have this chance to seclude ourselves in our homes. Let’s use this time to reflect on what Allah wants from us during these strange and uncertain times.
Embrace the opportunity
This is going to a completely different Ramadan, perhaps one we will not see again in our lifetime.
A believer is someone who finds the positive in everything. We are out of the prying eyes of everyone except our families. The main goal of Ramadan is to attain piety. This is a blessing in disguise, an opportunity for growth. Our circumstances might have changed, but we should focus on what our hearts can attain during this month of Ramadan.