Friday, 30 August 2013

by Alisraa Aldin Bakar, Form 3 Cempaka, Class of 2015


To many Malaysians, Ramadan is an annual, highly significant event in their calendar. What is Ramadan? Well, your quick Google search would probably tell you that Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar in which the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is during this month when Muslims all around the world abstain from food and water, from dawn to dusk. 

Many people assume it is a trying task to fast for many hours over such a long period of time. Well, perhaps it is to some. However, Ramadan is so much more than just giving up your favourite dish or your daily dose of caffeine. If it was, it would probably have become the latest diet fad.

In truth, Ramadan is a month where Muslims are fully content to be Muslims. It has always been strongly recommended for us to read the Quran on a regular basis, but it is even more emphasized during this holy month. Many Muslims believe that their good actions will bring a greater reward during this month because it is a month that has been blessed by Allah. 

There are extra prayers every night during this time, which last for about an hour and a half each. The actual night that the Quran was revealed is called 'The Night of Power', and to stand in prayer on that night is said to be better than a thousand months, which surpasses the length of 83 years of worship! One might think: "Who would want to miss such a blessed night?" Well, the catch is that the actual date is actually unknown - it could be any of the last ten nights of Ramadan. Generally, it is believed to occur on an odd numbered night i.e. the night of the 21st, 23rd and so on. Therefore, if we absolutely cannot pray on all the ten nights, we should at least make it a point to pray on odd-numbered ones, or risk missing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

For those of us who are not used to a lot of worship, these extra practices may seem quite daunting at the beginning. Although I'll admit I did not commit to those practices every single night, my perspective of things have totally changed. Somewhere along the halfway mark of Ramadan, I began to feel excited, giddy with it even, whenever I walked with my mum to the nearby mosque for prayers. 

When I reflect on it, the month of Ramadan represents a huge opportunity not only for self-purification, but also provides an opportunity to rekindle our faith and to understand and appreciate the blessings we have been given. We are able to stop and reflect on everything we have and have had, gradually deepening our relationship with God. At the same time, it can be an opportunity missed, where one just gets hungry and thirsty without really asking ourselves why we are fasting. That’s the thing about today’s society; so many of our days become routine that we stop thinking about why we do what we do - we just do it.

I often find myself explaining to non-Muslims how I manage to survive each day without lunch, snacks and water. These concerns are completely understandable because these are the things most taken for granted. 

Admittedly, the first few days of Ramadan can be really long and hard. I remember feeling hungry, thirsty and a little weak; I remember watching seconds pass by like hours; and most of all I remember not having the mood to do anything. However, it was during one of these days that I came to have another realization. I grasped that there were people out there who go through this everyday. I asked myself: What if poverty was forced upon me? What if regardless whether the sun was up or down, I had nothing to eat or drink at all? And that's when I truly began to comprehend and appreciate what I was learning from my actions the past month. 

Even though I didn’t fully make the most of this Ramadan, this time round it seems to be the most meaningful Ramadan I've ever had. To an observer, this may seem hypocritical, but it is faith that pushes us to try harder for His forgiveness and blessings during this month each year. The hope that maybe some of this effort will rub off into our daily lives, and we wouldn’t completely 'de-evolve' into the same ungrateful human being the moment we celebrate Aidilfitri, which is the day celebrating the end of fasting. I certainly hope that it has for me. Now, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that more than once have I used schoolwork as an excuse to skip Tarawih prayers, but that's an attitude I plan to change from now on.

Just like years past, Muslims all over the world, myself included, will abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise until sunset during the next Ramadan. Everything that renders our fast to be valid will stay the same - it is our attitude that will make our Ramadan different. So, with a little more faith and maturity to my name, I can only hope that those components will be enough to make Ramadans-to-come even more magical than its former.
by Wye Mun Chin 08:42 8 comments | in , , , ,

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