Sipping my ice cold drink and staring into the sunshine I realize that this luxury is set to move aside, moving aside for one month when a greater much more prolific luxury and greater treat comes into motion, a month when everything can be put away because nothing is worth more than a single drip of this most beautiful time. Ramadan is on its way and begins tonight.
Ramadan is the most sacred of months for Muslims and most of us will be fasting, fasting from food, from desires from the daily grinds that often take centre seat. A time when we all try that little bit harder and focus on our worship. Worship by means of additional prayer as well as obeying the commands of fasting, abstinence of much more then just food, a time of repentance, re-evaluation and re-charge for our spiritual battery.
Effort is so central to Islam striving towards our goals, working hard and getting through difficulty and it is via effort we get through the month. Fasting isn't meant to be easy and this year the length of the fasting day begins at eighteen and a half hours in Britain, the longest fast I've experienced and the longest for many others. Eighteen plus hours of abstinence from physical nourishment, continuing for a month. For Muslims this is privilege, an opportunity to take hold off and time most definitely not to waste, in what may seem an oxymoronic statement this most enjoyable of times is boxed up with the gift of difficulty, the physical strain of the fast. No eating, no drinking, no fighting, no sexual relations. It is a time when we are able to focus our attention and practice discipline, building a routine to take from for the rest of the year, raising our standards of practice we can continue to water in the months that follow..
I'm sure many who are fasting will be asked aren't you hot?, are you not thirsty, most likely the answer will be yes to both - but the point is not to not feel or desire, humans were made that way - the point is finding patience through the sight of something greater and to have discipline over the over flowing supply of nourishment's we are so used to consuming. Muslims are commanded to fast in the Quran in a clear verse in that it should raise us in piety and work to elevate our status as a result of the fast we are not distracted by the foods of the world and the feeding of our desires - we are enabled to fully concentrate on worship.
You'll notice in the month a resurgence takes place, empty masjids (mosques) filled with people attending congregational prayer and food at the plenty, communities gathering together. I always find I see those I've yearned to see and missed throughout the year, in this so very special time. Recovering messages from missed friends and recognising faces at the local masjid. Children wide awake in the masjids running around looking at their elders, some joining in others not quite there. A time when the community branch out and think about those in less fortunate situations around the world and the so many different troubles that often don't come into sight, one billion Muslims around the world all fasting at the same time. No matter how much or how little is available to you consumption and the feeding of your desires reduced to nil for the best part of your day for thirty days at least.
I look forward to Ramadan in a way by I find hard to sum up. I feel light and airy and smiley but so very quite, I become enraptured by its presence and fill up with so much joy upon its arrival you'd think someone had just bought me couture (autumn/winter 2014), it's not something I would shout of a rooftop - (come on... it'd get stolen) but want to hold onto and to simply not let go. The silent glint, the additional salam (greeting of peace), the aura of peace ever present, sweeping through the air.
A time for inner peace and solitude, during the month of Ramadan the prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) would spend much of his time in seclusion, meditating and nourishing his inner self the man from whom Muslims all over take example from. We have roles to play and duties to fulfill and he (peace and blessings be upon him) a prophet, a messenger, a man of the people, a man with duties towards his people and responsibilities like none other before or after him set the example for us, at this time of year- the priority was personal worship, time for solitude and thought.
For the Muslim this is one very special time, we can get tired, this is true. We barely sleep and have very little time to eat (for some more its still more then I enough I should add) but each day is precious jem and there's no time to to waste. If you're not fasting ask someone Whois to tell you how it makes them feel and if you are make the most of it, Here's hoping this month doesn't pass us by without some positive change and that we all learn something to take forward, passed our soon to come parade. Ye,s it will be goodies galore post the sacred month, the holy festival of Eid follows but its in Ramadan we want to come up trumps.