Voices of Simmons

Ramadan, a Time for Revitalization

A message from Sumaira Afzal, Muslim Advisor.

When you pull back something in a slingshot, that object gains a lot of potential energy as well as the ability to travel far distances when previously it was immobile. For Muslims, Ramadan is a period of time that acts like a slingshot, catapulting our spirituality for the rest of the year.

We yearn for this month all year long; the authentic spirit of Ramadan is one of self-discipline, introspection, self-discovery, and self-development. We refrain from even the permissible (Halal) so that it becomes easier to refrain from the prohibited (Haram). We go without any food or water from dawn through dusk for 29-30 days. It’s almost like a boot camp for our spirituality. We test the limits of our patience and push ourselves to be the best version of ourselves. We direct all our energy to be positive, caring, kind, and better Muslims.

Ramadan is also known as the month of the Qur’an, as this is the month in which the Islamic scripture was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). We Muslims place a heavy emphasis on connecting to the Qur’an during this month, through daily recitations and reflections or attending the Mosque for congregational nightly prayers (Tarawih). 

The month of Ramadan unites Muslims all around the world in learning patience and strength in times of adversity, while also centering ourselves in resilience and hope, surrendering ourselves to God through detachment from worldly desires. It is a time to come together and to celebrate what it means to be Muslim. Those of us who are able, look forward to sharing our meals and our wealth with communities in need. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) urged us to remember that charity is one of the best and most honored deeds, and also clarified that charity never reduces one’s wealth; rather, it increases it. Muslims are reminded during this period to be generous and increase their charitable activities.

However, this year’s Ramadan started very differently due to the global pandemic and policies of social isolation. For 2 billion Muslims around the world, the cultural traditions and customs of this sacred month had to be forsaken for the safety of the global community. Although we could participate in the many online Islamic lectures, workshops and reminders made available by various Islamic platforms, no matter how much we believe that Zoom and other online platforms can replace actual human interaction, we must take this opportunity to make the most out of this Ramadan in isolation.

It is easy to get caught up in the negativity of the world around us. The anxiety of living with many predictions but no answers is certainly overwhelming. The knowledge that all we can do is wait until the world slowly begins to move through this time is itself a test. However, finding the silver lining and the sliver of hope in every situation should be something we practice and aim to achieve on a daily basis. A source of comfort for us is the Qur’an. The Qur’an says:

“And be patient, for the decision of your Lord, for indeed, you are in Our eyes. And exalt [ Allah ] with praise of your Lord when you arise.” (Chapter 52: Verse 48)

A Ramadan in lockdown has given us the perfect opportunity to truly reflect. Many of us will look back at this Ramadan with longing for this time back in the future.

It is much harder in times of uncertainty to remember the things we should be grateful for.

I’m grateful for my health and the health of my family and loved ones. I’m grateful for the time that I can spend reflecting on the Qur’an this month. I start and end each day with a list of gratitude – five things I’m grateful to God for. There is always a positive aspect, depending on how we choose to look at things.

As Muslims, we try to remain as positive as we can and make the most of what we have. This time is a test, so we try our best, and to God, we leave the rest!

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