The familiar smell of incense sticks being lit in each room reminds me with pleasure that the auspicious month of Ramadan has finally arrived. Naturally, the atmosphere becomes more relaxed and subdued as focus turns to ibaadat and how to strive to make the most of the month of Barakah.
Each day starts with a familiar pattern, mornings are divided into two parts for the women folk at home – with any early iftaar preparations taking place first, after the everyday essentials have been bought. I notice with amusement that as always, the grocery shopping contains an overload of fruit – only in Ramadan is the kitchen stocked with so many different varieties of exotic fruit! Unconsciously, I envision the fruit platter decorated prettily with jackfruit, fresh kiwi slices, and pomegranate seeds which will no doubt be glistening away like rubies.
The second part of the morning consists of Quran reading – whether this involves one following the beautiful script of the Almighty’s words themselves, or listening to audio recitations whilst continuing with domestic duties.
Despite there being unity within the community all year round, I notice that the togetherness during Ramadan is closer than ever. Family members can be seen returning from Masjid having given out (as well as received) iftaar invitations from fellow Muslim brothers. This sense of belonging not only stirs up feelings of being special but it also makes me feel proud to be part of a strong and ever-growing Ummah.
The afternoons during Ramadan are usually very calm as importance is given to family and spending quality time with each other. Special lectures given by great scholars, as well as charity fundraising programmes are usually broadcasted on the local Radio stations during this prime time therefore most afternoons are spent gaining knowledge and understanding on how to reach our potential so that we can all benefit fully from Ramadhan.
The fasting days in the UK this year are relatively long, with iftaar starting at 9.30pm at the very beginning of Ramadhan. Understandably so, youngsters can find these long days tiresome and draining; however, I find that a little bit of encouragement and reassurance goes a long way. Keeping children busy and involving them in all aspects of this holy month through hands-on participation is extremely effective in helping them manage their day.
With my niece and nephew (who are still too young to fast), we have found that keeping a tasbih chart is a simple yet efficient way of involving them in ibaadat as well as providing them an incentive since they are rewarded depending on the targets that they have reached.
Regardless of whether it is the first day of fasting or the twentieth; as iftaar time nears, the hubbub within our household also rises.Trays upon trays of samosas, kebabs, bhajias, puri’s, pakoras, fried chicken, battered shrimps among much more are piled high, ready to be dropped into hot, bubbling oil. The mayhem – or ‘organized chaos’ as I like to call it (!) continues until the remaining few minutes left till iftaar. The calm after the ‘storm’ includes the whole family sitting around the table quietly reflecting on how the passing day was spent and how to improve on this for the fasts that will Inshallah follow. Feelings of gratitude and deep appreciation build as our eyes wander the wealth of food that we have been blessed with. As we give thanks to the Almighty and break our fast, no one remembers their earlier promises of eating less for fear of not being able to stand during Taraweeh Salaah(as expected)…!
Any leftover iftaar food is always shared out between grateful non-Muslim neighbors who always remember to ask how our fasting day has passed. Doing so has been a long tradition in our family; therefore neighbors who enjoy eating Indian food now await Ramadan as eagerly as we do!
With the final days of Ramadan looming ahead, this all-important time to ask Allah (Swt) for forgiveness also slips through our fingers. The excitement over Eid approaching doesn’t last long due to the wistfulness over Ramadan ending. Looking back, each day was just as special as the last. May the Almighty bless us by bestowing many more Ramadan’s onto us; I pray that we can take advantage of the remaining few days and that we all continue to increase our patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness.
By: Sister Rohima U.K