A month of fasting from all food and drink from sunrise to sunset may not sound like anything to look forward to but Ramadan is the most beautiful and most anticipated month of the year for many Muslims, myself included. It is the month in the Islamic year that unites all Muslims from all ethnicities and social classes, a month that reminds us all that the only thing that makes one person better than another is their piety, not their wealth or status. It is the month in which we humble ourselves for the sake of our Creator, abstaining from the things that give us pleasure with the hopes and prayers that our souls will be purified and our prayers accepted and fulfilled by God.
The fasting itself is a hardship for most of us but it is meant to be so. We are meant to feel the hunger and the thirst to soften our hearts and make them more compassionate towards our brothers and sisters who feel that hunger and thirst in ways we will likely never experience every day of their lives. For many of us Ramadan is a special month in which we expect physical changes due to a lowered consumption of food, but sadly, for others it is a month like any other. To a person who barely makes the equivalent of one dollar a day, who lives on bread and can only dream of meat, the month of fasting isn’t much different from any other month. We go home or to the masjid after sunset for iftar to break our fasts with our family and friends, one of the highlights of our holy month, but the hunger and thirst we felt through the day should rest on our hearts and in our minds even in the midst of our joy as a reminder of those who break their fast with a small morsel of food and drink that does little to alleviate the hunger pangs. A reminder to us of those who rise and set with hunger gnawing at their insides yet still rise with strong hearts and faith in Allah.
For me Ramadan is a time to reflect on the state of my faith and worship in God, a time to evaluate and repair my soul, a spiritual “tune-up” so to speak. With the coming of the month of Ramadan I say ‘Alhamdulillah,’ thank God that I am alive another year and fortunate to experience another Ramadan. I have learned over the nine years since I became a Muslim just how important this month is, how much it is a blessing and a mercy from Allah. The arrival of Ramadan means Allah is giving us another chance to make things right, to make things better. It means He has not given up on us or turned His back on us. It is a gift to us from God, the gift of another chance to improve ourselves spiritually. If Ramadan only means going without food for a portion of the day for one month, then we haven’t taken advantage of this blessed month’s full potential. I use this month to see where and what I am lacking in my religious life. Am I consistent with my five daily prayers? If I am, alhamdulillah, but what else? Am I doing my extra prayers? Am I making my personal supplications? Am I reading Quran regularly? In essence I am asking myself how can I be a better Muslim because how I am as a Muslim informs how I am as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc. If at no other time in my life, Ramadan should be the time that I dig deep within myself and pull out my flawed bits and lay out my game plan to improve them. I plan to improve spiritually with each Ramadan, and I expect that each year I will find plenty to work on. Insha’Allah, by God’s will I will always be a work in progress. I thank God I am a Muslim and I have this blessed month of Ramadan to remind me of what is most important in life.
Ambata is a native New Orleanian and mother to a two year old son. She is currently working on a master’s degree in English Literature. She has just started blogging at MORmama.