Ramadan is recognized as a holy month by millions of Muslims across the globe. It is characterized by daily fasting from dawn till sunset and is also known as the month when the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad S.A.W (pbuh). Ramadan is a time where Muslims can reconnect spiritually with their religion and reflect on their growth and faith in Allah. This is done by frequently reading the Quran, praying extra salah, such as Taraweeh and Tahajjud, reciting more dhikr, and giving zakat, which is also known as yearly charity. For the past two years, Ramadan has been celebrated under the looming shadow of lockdowns, ceasing all the traditions that were once enjoyed with the presence of others. This is how I celebrated Ramadan before and during this pandemic.
Back when life was normal, I was observing my daily fasts as a high school student. Seeing my fellow Muslim peers fast with me was an encouraging sight to witness, especially since we were dealing with the stress associated with studying for the NYS Regents Examination but at the same time we were fulfilling our religious duties as Muslims. The warm camaraderie that followed when we enquired each other about the previous day’s iftar or ways to increase our Deen made our lengthy tedious days a tiny bit more tolerable.
One of the customs my family has is preparing iftar and sending some to our neighbors (this applied to both our Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors). The main dishes my mom would cook for everyone were haleem and her signature pakoras. Then she would organize a plate where she placed all the food with some fruits and dates. Once she was done, she would call me over and tell me to run upstairs and give the platter to one of the families. Every time each neighbor opened their door and saw the food, their faces lit up with bright smiles. This was one of the few ways we were able to spread joy during this occasion.
Once the virus took control over our lives, our yearly routine of ecstasy diminished. I never got to spend my last Ramadan of high school with my friends and I remained cooped inside the recesses of my home instead of delivering food like I always did. Yet, there are still some positives that came out of this.
For one, I began to take initiative to learn about my religion and work towards making the most of the thirty days I had. After all, if you have free time, you might as well spend it wisely. Some days I was reviewing hadiths and memorizing essential duas. Every day I read the Quran for at least an hour (sadly I still haven’t managed to complete the Quran during Ramadan but I’m working on it). I even read a book on the life of Muhammad S.A.W. (pbuh). Finally, I had time to help my mother in the kitchen and share all the knowledge I have acquired from the day with her. These were all things I’ve done during the first pandemic Ramadan.
This year now that I’m in college things are slightly different. Once again I have assignments to submit and lots of studying to do. However, unlike high school where I prioritized my education over Ramadan, this time around I put emphasis on my religion and made it my resolve to find more time to commit to Islamic rituals.
Although I’m late, Ramadan Mubarak everyone! Enjoy these last few days of this holy month and an early Eid Mubarak too!