Why Ramadhan Means So Much To Me
It’s that time of the year again. You will ask your Muslim friends if he or she would like to go out for lunch and it’s the same response, “I’m fasting”. But before I dive deeper into why I love Ramadhan, allow me to briefly explain about the holy month of Ramadhan and why Muslims fast for a whole month before your coffee gets cold!
Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. Every day, during this month, Muslims around the world spend the daylight hours in a complete fast as is commanded in the Holy Quran in chapter two verse 184 where it’s written: “Oh ye who believe fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may attain righteousness.”
This means fasting has been a religious tradition even before Islam in religions including Buddhism, Judaism, and even Christianity. Fasting, or in Arabic, literally means to refrain and not only are they abstaining from food and drink but also actions such as smoking cigarettes, talking about others behind their backs or using foul language. It is even commanded in the Quran that if someone comes to a Muslim in anger, the fasting Muslim should simply say, “I am fasting” and strive for peace.
As a general guideline, Muslim start the fasts before the start of the morning Fajr prayer and fast until the setting of the sun or the call of the evening Maghrib prayer. Muslims don’t eat or drink during this time. It was the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon Him) himself who said during the month of Ramadhan, the gates of Heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed. In his words, “One’s fast in the name of Allah removes all previous sins”.
Fasting does not mean Muslims retreat from their daily routine. Rather, they are encouraged to continue at normal in their work and usual activities. In fact, this where the challenge of patience comes in. Muslims believe that fasting is not merely a physical ritual but primarily a time for reflection and spiritual recharging. Muslims will try to increase their levels of good deeds and understand how those that are less fortunate than them feel. It is considered to increase one’s patience, closest to God and generosity towards others.
It is a time to soften our souls and focus our attention towards any weakness one may have. Even though the month of Ramadhan may be challenging, children, people who are sick, elderly, travellers, and women who are pregnant are excused from fasting. Instead they taught to strive towards God the best they can.Their fast that they have missed can be replaced later or compensate by feeding the hungry in proportion to the fast they have missed.
Ramadhan is simply a guideline on how to live every single day of one’s life in peace, harmony, and love. Every day should essentially be a day of Ramadhan where one strives to become a better person through building a connection with God and with His people. Now that you have understood the meaning of Ramadhan, allow me to explain why and how this month puts me in such a terrific mood!
Ramadhan can be different for everyone; it comes through and it comes fast. During Ramadhan, the streets can be completely filled with lights and decorations, bazaars with various delicious local delights and garments worn on Eid; you would feel a sense and a change in the season when Ramadhan is coming.
Like Christmas, people without a doubt would know that it is indeed Christmas time. In Malaysia, we will often come across the phrase “Hari Raya Aidilfitri” and traditionally, what ties in with Raya are the ketupat, lamp oils, lemang, and even the classic songs we often hear being played in almost every mall in Malaysia.
You will see huge decorative ketupat hanging from ceilings and colourful lights that fills the room everywhere, and instantly, it will put you in a good mood.
The bazaar can be categorised into food and clothing. Throughout the month of Ramadhan, all over Malaysia, sellers will set up stalls in specific areas to sell meals and other favourite items for everyone to enjoy. And for the most part, they often sell it at the most affordable prices!
As for the clothing, we all know that once Ramadhan is over, Muslims will then welcome Eid Al Fitr, also called the "Festival of Breaking the Fast", an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan. So what better way to celebrate Eid than to dress to impress with family and friends! I always make it a point every Ramadhan to visit these Raya clothing markets each weekend to not only have a variety but to hunt for the best deals.
And with the Holy month comes forth a Holy character we as Muslim would like to achieve. This is more than just the terawih prayers that we perform in congregation every night, but the sense of renewal in ourselves that we like to hold on to as the month of Ramadhan comes to a close. There are certain goals Muslims would normally set for themselves each year during Ramadhan to accomplish. For example, quitting some bad habits like procrastination and laziness.
It is a wonderful feeling to have as we try and manage to accomplish these goals knowing we are doing it for God’s sake. And it doesn’t get any better than that.