“O ye who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al- Muttaqun” (pious) (2:183)
Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.”
Its beginning is “Mercifulness”, its middle is “Forgiveness”, and its end is “ Liberation from Hell”….That what I always heard about that month. Ramadan* is the month where everyone abruptly tends to revive their faith again. Maybe because of the lack of food/water resources, it’s not like we don’t have either food or water, but because in this exact month, we tend to fast. Fast from dawn till dusk, it was not a choice that we neither made nor even chose, but God marked it upon us. For me, I was just hungry. Always!
“Subhan’Allah*, Alhamdulillah*, La Ilaha Illa Allah*, and Allahu Akbar*” Those were the three common words that you would hear people say as they pray. I still remember my first Ramadan, I was 10 years old, and my mum finally granted my long lost wish, Fasting. First week, the excitement overtook me, made me forget about my growling stomach and my dry mouth. Second week, me and my brother were screaming in the balcony either the Maghreb-Adan* or at the Muezzin*. Third week, I was sneaking food into my stomach behind my parents back, not knowing that there is a greater power watching me. By Fourth week, I said am never going to fast again. I was a kid, it didn’t occur to me what the real meaning of Ramadan.
As I tried to block out these famished memories, I couldn’t help but wonder why. Why would we all put up through this food banishing month, who could stand not to eat through dawn till dusk. So I started to get to know Ramadan on a much closer and deep tide. I started asking. What is so special about Ramadan? Why was it created in the first place? Was it all just to banish us from food and show us who the boss is? Maybe it is one weird month?
Years and Years have passed from this first memory and I find myself yet again, living these four weeks, whishing when it is going to end. I found the answers, to everything about Ramadan. As it turned out, Ramadan is the month where compassion surrounds it. Compassion towards people who are not fortunate enough to keep their own stomach half full for days. Ramadan is also the month of finding that rusty old connection with your God again and turned it into a youthful child. Finding it through the many prayers that you fulfill and carry out, it doesn’t matter how small or big it is, because the reward of the prayer is much bigger than normal days, it is the Holy Month and the demons are locked up in hell. It also known as the month in which we try to block our daily minor sins, such as cussing and lying. I still didn’t get it, I mean us as Muslims, pay for the poor whenever we have the chance, we know their stories, and we give them what we can. That what God told us through his messenger (Peace Upon Him). I can’t deny the spiritual breeze that I feel swarming around this month, as well as the social breeze that bring families and friends together. But yet I couldn’t understand Ramadan, he is still the food banishing month.
Twelve years of fasting Ramadan passed. Have I found the meaning, No! But am about to. On my way back from college to the road that leads me to a walkthrough under a bridge, I took one quick look in all my directions just in case I was being followed, and found a man. A man who seems that he hadn’t had a bath for years now; A man who is only wearing a torn out a beige Egyptian Galabiya imprinted with dirt. A man with a huge afro and a hairy beard who was curled up next to a corner, camouflaging with the beige cornered wall. I thought he was dead. I came to slowly inspect him from reasonable distance. I saw his chest moving, one of the acts of breathing, he was alive. Next step was to search for any belongings of his, more reasons to imagine and create what happened to this poor creature, unfortunately there was nothing. All of the sudden his wide eyes pop open, staring back at me. It took me a split second to run as fast as I can in the middle of the street, hoping that he won’t follow me. And I never saw him again under that bridge.
I kept over thinking about my first interaction with a homeless guy. What happened to him? Why did he leave home? What happened to his family? Did he runaway? And in that instant I knew what Ramadan stood for. It stood for feeling the pain that this man went through, the insecurity that he must have felt, the inevitable hunger that is always haunting him. That’s why it starts with mercifulness, filling our hearts and eyes towards people who don’t what is the meaning of sleeping in your bed with a full stomach. The middle is forgiveness, trying to find forgiveness in the heart of these people, due to our actions that lack affections and understanding. We do these actions just because God asked us to, not because there are people who truly might die during the next hour from starvation, a deadly disease, or something as simple as a hygienic problem. And it ends with libration from hell, because our merciful actions and these forgiving behaviors combine through society creating an understanding society, who knows the needs and wants of the social class. And in that moment, in the pure innocent understanding we reach libration.
Ramadan: It is the Muslim month of fasting, in which Muslims refrain from dawn until sunset from eating, drinking, and sex.
Subhan’Allah: Glorious is God.
Alhamdulillah: Praise to God.
La Ilaha Illa Allah: There is not God but God.
Allahu Akbar: God is the greatest.
Maghreb-Adan: The Islamic call to prayer during sunset.
Muezzin: The chosen person at a mosque who leads and recites the call to prayer.