How Can I Help You Understand What Ramadan Really Is?

Quran. Image source: Pixabay

Quran. Image source: Pixabay

This is Day 13 of the 2017 #30Days30Writers Ramadan series – June 8, 2017

By Fatima Salman

I need Ramadan, badly.

I think I say this every year the week before Ramadan rolls around. Somehow my internal clock seems to be set on a lunar calendar, and I always say this statement the week prior to the month beginning. It is a month I don’t just look forward to — I need it with my entire being for my own sanity and grounding.

A few months ago, in fact, I was speaking to my mentor — a non-Muslim woman from Detroit — and after a year of having gone through many hardships and challenges, she said to me, “Isn’t Ramadan coming up? Isn’t that your sanity and moment to recharge yourself?” Even my mentor was waiting for it with me and for me.

Ramadan has always been a month I look forward to year after year. A time to regroup, reboot, reground myself spiritually. And, a chance for me to regain my willpower over food and over my body physically. Even with a crazy work and activism schedule and with kids and family, I have always made it a point to schedule less, do less, be out less during this month.

It is a time where I pay even more attention to the cues around me, the signs that Allah sends on what are those aspects of character and habits that need to be changed. For me, Ramadan has been a deeply spiritual exercise of recognizing and weeding out negative aspects of the nafs (ego) while trying to overcome them through active change, dua and worship.

This year however, has been a little different. Actually, very different. It still holds all those things mentioned above, but this year, with the advent of my new radio talk show here in Detroit, I have gone beyond the usual and started to think about what aspects of Ramadan are important to share with others.

Now, when something happens this month, or if I come to some realization, or even regarding the preparation I did in anticipation of Ramadan, I keep on thinking to myself — Is this something that I can tell others to help them understand this month? It’s funny, because I have hardly been the one to go all out in decorating my house and used to look at those who go full out bling with their decor in amazement. But also thinking a little — what in the world?

This year, I invited those people who are big into Ramadan decorating and did a segment on the show with them on “The Creation of American Muslim Ramadan Culture.” (Which, by the way, is also something I recognized in my nafs as a negative attitude to change.)

With this perspective, I have found a new appreciation for the mundane of Ramadan, the everyday occurrences that I may not have thought about, and the deeply spiritual aspect of this month. And, I have started asking question after question. How can I capture the essence of all these aspects and shout it from the rooftops (or from behind a mic) to show why it is such an important pivotal time in the life of every Muslim?

How can I make others understand what the heck is going on in our mosques with hundreds of cars being parked and traffic problems galore? How can I make the people around me realize that Ramadan has very little do with food, which somehow always seems to be the main focal point, and has everything to do with self-change and connection to Allah? How do I speak about and relay the central role of the Quran in this month? How do I speak about these things to give others a window into our Ramadan world?

This is how Ramadan has changed for me this year.

Fatima Salman is a native and proud Michigander, with a radio talk show on 910 AM Superstation, “Between the Lines with Fatima Salman” Sunday nights at 11 p.m. Her show this month is themed “Ramadan on the Radio” and is available via livestream and the 910 AM app to watch. http://www.910amsuperstation.com/watch-live/