This is a guest post by Zahra Somani.
Day 1 of Ramadan holds a lot of excitement and promise. It is the first day of a month that I, along with so many of my brothers and sisters in faith, have anticipated for the better part of the year. Beyond its significance in Islam as the holy month during which the Qur’an was revealed, the reverential “Night of Power” is held, and the Battle of Badr was won, Ramadan is a time for personal revelations, a chance for each of us to conquer the battles within us. Because, let’s be honest – it’s never really just about the food, is it? That would be too easy!
Every year right before Ramadan arrives, I brainstorm a list of things I should really work on for myself: being nicer to family, saying my prayers in a timely fashion, limiting my Facebook usage, going to the gym a little more often – the stuff of typical New Years’ resolutions, but this time with a plan of action and a one-month commitment (just long enough to form a habit, experts say). This year was no exception – after attending some inspiring qutbas, exchanging ideas with other equally eager friends, rummaging for ideas on the net, and of course taking a good hard look in the mirror, I settled on some challenging goals. By the eve of Ramadan, with my list in hand and priorities in order, I felt ready to embark on a spiritual, reflective journey from which I hoped to emerge as a better version of myself.
This was all well and good until, on the very first day of Ramadan, I awoke one hour after the recommended fasting time had begun. So much for the perfect start to my favorite time of the year! Before I could turn this into another reflection session, the 6:42am clock was begging a more immediate question: what happens to my intention to fast? Do I start my fast an hour late? Do I open it an hour later to compensate? Does it not count if it is not the right amount of hours? Is it about the number of hours or the exact time? Is it neither? Then why bother with the time in the first place? What was the point of this whole month, again?
Right. The one thing I always seem to forget: spirituality and reflection do not trump the technicalities of our rituals. Before I can postulate about my high and mighty prospects for this Ramadan, I must first understand, respect, and appreciate the basics, like waking up on time for sehri.
It is in these 6:42am moments, as I am woken by the blinding sun, hungry and incapacitated that I know there is no magic in the minute, no need to count fasting by the number of hours completed. It is the simplicity of routine, the humility borne from discipline that I always seem to leave out of my lofty Ramadan plans. It is my favorite lesson to rediscover and it leaves me forever thankful that Ramadan graces us, and especially me, every year.
Ramadan Kareem, friends! And may your mornings be filled with darkness, so that your hearts may be filled with light.
Zahra Somani is dreamer by day and a teacher by night. Her allergies to negativity make for a very happy and fruitful existence, much of which is filled by fun activities such as writing on her blog, A Sorta Fairytale, snapping photographs of unsuspecting flowers, and manipulating Arabic letters into cool designs.