Ramazan and its blessings

I was asked how I cope in my non-Muslim surroundings while fasting; I had never been so embarrassed in my life.

Neha Arif July 21, 2012
Living in the second biggest 'Islamic Republic' country of the world, we inevitably take this title for granted. Furthermore, being born in a Muslim family, we tend to neglect all opportunities to explore our religion. Since Ramazan is here, let's examine what it's thought of from the views of all kinds of Muslims.

  • A 7-year old: “Mama, can I keep one fast at least? All my friends are allowed to keep two".

  • A 16-year old: “Mama, do I have to keep all fasts? I have sports practice after school and I get really de-hydrated".

  • Fitness lovers: "Can’t wait for Ramazan; it’s the only time I can shed away those extra pounds”.

  • The optimistic: “I can party all year, miss my prayers because eventually in Ramzan I will pray five times a day, not drink/party, and all my past year's sins will be forgiven. Allah is very kind to Muslims, like mama says, “Rahim-o-Kareem” (All-forgiving)

  •  Student Abroad: “Wish I was back home for Ramazan, no azaan here, no fajr or iftari time without a computer telling me the timings and everyone around me is eating.”

  • Born Muslims/not practising: “Oh no, it's Ramazan soon! I can’t eat McDonald's for lunch any more and everyone at school will give me weird looks when I go to the canteen to eat. Sigh, hate this time of the month”.

  • The show offs: “I’ll keep all 30 fasts in Ramazan because all my friends barely keep 20, so I’ll beat them this time. Challenge accepted!"

  • Islamic view: “Ramazan is the month of ‘Barakah’ (blessings from God in the form of prosperity, protection and happiness). I will utilise this month to the fullest for prayers, remembrance of God and abstinence from all evil. I will be a better person starting this month inshAllah."

These examples are a highlight of the major kinds of people we are surrounded by and I’m sure each one of you, who is reading this blog, can categorise themselves in one of the types mentioned above.

I, being a Muslim by birth, followed the Islamic practices because I was told to do so. However, moving abroad for studies changed my perception entirely. As the month of Ramazan is coming up, I feel a surge of excitement - one which I have never experienced before. Things like praying as much as I can, observing peace, sitting with the entire family having our iftari and sehri together, listening to the beautiful azaan, and asking Allah for his blessings, were all things I had overlooked before.

As Muslims, we don’t realise how fortunate we are to be living in a Muslim surrounding or country.

I remember, upon starting university, I missed a lot of my fasts, and gave the excuse of ‘culture shock’ to whoever asked me about it; not hearing the azaan made life really convenient as I had a reason to avoid praying. The best restaurants on campus gave me all the more reason to eat. Using abusive language was yet another reflex action and ‘clubbing’ was the new experience I looked forward to every weekend after a stressful week of tests/assignments. Music was a stress reliever and movies was my alternate to depressive phases. Chicken was readily available everywhere; finding halal food was next to impossible so I took the easy way out and overlooked this matter too.

Life couldn't get better!

During a visit to a Muslim gathering at university in Ramazan, I was asked a general question about how I coped in my non-Muslim surroundings while being in the state of ‘Roza’(fast). To be honest, I had never been so embarrassed in my life; I completely blanked out, however, the question was beautifully answered by a friend of mine - a practising Muslim, who had lived in Canada all her life unlike me. It was that moment in time which changed me.

I realised there was no difference between myself and any other non-Muslim. Ramazan is not about finding a way out to have my past sins excused; it's about making sacrifices in order to attain the blessings and forgiveness of Allah. Having achieved clear direction now, I promised to follow the rest of my days and this coming holy month properly as a steadfast Muslim.

This month is yet just another month for everyone else in the world, but for Muslims, it is a very important and distinctive month. It is the month in which we increase giving in the way of God, acquire the greatest level of humility and abstain from all evil committed through our eyes, tongue, hands and so on.

Let’s look forward to this month; let's feel fortunate about having to spend it with a million of other Muslims around us and move a step forward to tell everyone that we are proud of being Muslims, whether living here or abroad. Not everyone is lucky to be born a Muslim, so let's make the most it.

Follow Neha on Twitter @ArifNeha
Neha Arif An Economics major at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


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