Ramadan is just a few days away and people are busily gearing up for the blessed month in happy anticipation. Fortunately, people here in Saudi Arabia have the luxury of revised and more relaxed work schedules and conveniently matched school timings. Whereas, other Muslims around the world have to manage with the usual cartload of work and regular year round clock-ins. But irrespective of where they are and in what circumstances destiny divines and divides them, the enthusiasm and zeal for Ramadan is almost the same.
I have already started receiving those cute Whatsapp messages with a big samosa gif and a coming soon caption to it since two weeks now. After all, fasting and feasting do have only an ‘e’ to differentiate their scripted selves. With all the spiritual energy radiating forth from the month ahead and the whole idea of compacting a deeper connection with our creator, the overly enthusiastic food drive does seem a little out of place though, doesn’t it?
We tend to strictly associate Ramadan with the concept of fasting and the almost overindulgence in food later during iftaar (the time when we break our fast). This isn’t a blanket verdict about all Muslims, it’s merely about a good deal of sidetracking that a few of us have given into. And this significant inclination towards the feasting aspect has actually muddled our perspective about the holy month to a great extent. When fasting actually begins we control ourselves and hold on to those hunger pangs till Iftaar only to unleash the glutton inside as soon as the Azaan (call for prayer) begins. Suddenly all the virtue and self-control a single day of fasting instills washes off in the next 10 – 15 minutes and food becomes the only worthwhile obsession. I am equally guilty of all that I mention here and sincerely wish to work on my food fanaticism.
And how can we talk about Ramadan and not mention iftaar parties. Those are the most meticulously planned out events during this month, considering the loads of good deeds that one can earn when you offer food during iftaar for those fasting. The sad bit is when we lose sight of the actual goal and only concentrate on outshining our neighbours and friends by the wide variety of delectable goodies and the unnecessary dainties to deck the iftaar table. Wasn’t it supposed to be about sharing blessings and being thankful for everything we have in our lives? Iftaar is such a beautiful and blessed time when families, friends and sometimes complete strangers get together in gratitude and food is definitely an important and gratifying aspect but not the main objective.
Ramadan is the holy month that reestablishes and reinforces our spiritual life. It helps us learn about discipline in all aspects of life, teaches us how to get a grip on our anger, helps us resist temptations, nurtures solidarity and fosters feelings of empathy in us for those less fortunate. We discover the joy of sharing and extending goodwill regardless of caste, class, race and religion. These are the most important and valuable lessons that are honed in us through this blessed month.
We all know it is not just about abstaining from food for an entire day but about not giving into immediate impulses. It’s the month of the Quran, the means of guidance for all humanity and not just Muslims. It’s a means of empowering the soul and reacquainting ourselves with the true meaning of being a productive and valuable member of society by practicing kindness, tolerance and good virtue.
There is nothing wrong about planning out yummy treats for iftaar but it’s unfortunate when the entire objective of Ramadan gets swamped by this food fest agenda. Even the hours and hours of precious time getting drained behind all the food preparation could be better utilized gaining a better perspective and real understanding about religion. I personally plan to keep my iftaar treats stress and fuss free this year and it’s not going to be the easiest thing with me being the insanely perfect foodie. I seriously start hallucinating scrumptious dumplings lazily drowning in fragrant rose flavored syrup right before iftaar at times. We all have our weak moments.
My Ramadan wish list is pretty simple this year. I want to gain a deeper understanding of the Quran, discipline myself, rework on my priorities in life, and hopefully try to be a more mindful individual. I don’t know much about my religion and I think I really need to take the time to learn more and most of what I put forth in writing are but strong reminders directed at me first.
Do let me know what you are looking forward to this Ramadan? What are your goals and what does your ‘To do list for Ramadan’, look like?