This is a guest post by Taha M. Raja.
Here we are in the middle of summer, dog days of August knocking on my door step and with it Ramadhan! For the past decade plus, living in Houston, we have been lucky due to the lunar calendar, Ramadhan has mainly fallen during milder weather months.
But finally this year, it has started smack August 1, 2011. Now mind you this has been slowly inching towards summer for the past few years, but for some reason it is hitting hard this year. Part of me is kind of not looking forward to this difficult task of fasting. The emotional side of me like every other American, continues to want to eat , drink and live happily ever after. And why not, right?
So my life is about to dramatically change for 30 days. The morning will start early to have breakfast approximately 90 minutes prior to sunrise. Yes sunrise! That will make it around 5AM in Houston. I know for some northerners that is late because I know some of you may have to wake up far earlier than that. With my sleepy eyes and a massive headache from the previous long day, I will scramble up something and eat in a few minutes. Right after, it will be time to get ready and go to Masjid (mosque) for Fajr (early morning) Namaaz (prayers). Aaah….but let’s not forget, this year the Houston Congregation of the Dawoodi Bohra Jamaat does not have a masjid! Our masjid was demolished last week in preparation for the reconstruction of a new Masjid.
Yes our Masjid in Houston was too small and in 2008 the Jamaat created a Master Plan to redo the Masjid, Mawaid (Dining Multi Purpose Hall), and Madresah (religious sunday school). The Jamaat completed the Mawaid building – a state of ther art facility of 40,000 sq ft last December. Now that the Masjid is demolished, Ramadhan will be observed in the Mawaid building.
So this year will be different…after all….hot weather, no masjid, long days, and of course lots of changes in my personal life…continuing…..
On the personal front, this year is the year of major change. The past 3 years I have gone through the meat grinder and now the process of rebuilding has started. Ramadhan is about sheding the old and building a foundation of new…new ideas, new starts and beginnings. Its a month where we reflect back. Thirty days of Ramadhan can be split into three sets of ten.
The first 10 days is about reflecting back and see what went wrong and how I could have done things differently. I am definitely more wiser and more deliberate in my decisions. My risk profile has changed and I am humbled in more ways than I can remember. Humbled by realizing that I should have heeded the wiser experienced advise, humbled by the fact that the experience from our elders is worth considering. Maybe it is because I am just getting older, or maybe because I now have children approaching the age where they are starting to make the same mistakes I made? Either way these first ten days are a way to start earning this wisdom by first looking back and realizing the errors of my ways.
The second 10 days are to start formulating a new plan by spiritually connecting with my maker. The long fasts provides a meditative state that provides plenty of times to dig deep into ones spiritual strength to start coming up with ways to move forward from the realization earned in the first ten days. The first ten days are the hardest as your body acclimates and so by the second third, your mind, body and spirit are starting to align and your focus and your perception starts becoming clearer. Thus it will becomes a great time for me to start creating a road-map for myself. This year I am hoping to be able to get clarity on what I can do to execute this recovery for myself, my family and my business.
The last ten days are going to be the last stretch! Like a marathoner, the finish line will be a reality. My mind is clear, my body has shed the excesses. The fat of gluttony, greed and selfishness will be minimized. Physically my body will have completely adapted to the fast and my body will be in a groove! And spiritually I will be in a groove too! Clarity of vision, victory will be close, the mental victory of having accomplished a task and therefore my mind becomes free of the shackles of the past. Rebirth of the mind will provide the motivation to move forward and seek a new beginning. It will culminate with a victory lap on Eid-Ul-Fitr when my lips will touch the moist flash of a date early morning of Eid-Ul-Fitr marking the end of a thirty days of fast piety and prayers. Inshallah, I will emerge a new man with a new beginning.
Till then… these are only the first days… I can only ask the almighty Allah to give me strength, health and the sound mind to execute these thirty days as best as I can….in hopes to earn the wisdom to be reborn again….Ramadhan Mubarak to you all! Pray for us all to have a spiritually fulfilling month.