The End of Ramadan
We’ve arrived at the last few days of Ramadan. A quiet melancholy is inexplicably attached to this moment. Sadly, Ramadan will be over soon. Some people might wonder, “Aren’t Muslims ecstatic that Ramadan is ending? They can go back to eating and drinking in the day.” NOPE! Ramadan is one of the best months of the year. It is hard to explain why to someone who’s never really experienced it. But here are 10 things I’m gonna miss about Ramadan. Maybe it’ll paint a better picture.
Yes, those deep-fried goodies pack a punch and are delicious. Samosas make an appearance every Ramadan in Muslim households of Pakistani / Indian descent. These Ramadan delicacies have been a constant part of my family’s traditions. And they’ve only gotten better over time. Farewell, samosas. You will be missed. Most cultures have their own special food or desert that is specific to Ramadan.
#9 Racing to Finish the Quran
The month of Ramadan is when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). In this month, some Muslims literally race with family and friends to finish reading the entire Quran. Others focus on memorization or the translations. There is a unique sweetness to the Quran – whether reciting it melodiously, listening to someone else’s recitation, or simply reading it quietly. We believe each letter that is read is promised to be rewarded ten-fold by God.1
#8 So Much Extra Time
In Ramadan, we usually have a pre-dawn meal and then break the fast at sunset. That’s 4am to 8pm on the East Coast. And in between? No snacks to munch on. No lunchtime. Not even a sip of water. Thus, there’s a sharp drop in bathroom breaks. Plus, after cutting out entertainment like shows and movies, I have much more time in Ramadan. I’m more productive and active. And if I stay up after breakfast to work – the day feels three times longer.
#7 Iftar Time
The happiest time of each day in Ramadan is Iftar, the meal taken at sunset to break the fast. My family is usually gathered round the table eagerly watching the clock. The delicious aroma of dishes displayed artistically increases the anticipation. We’re encouraged to silently pray to God for whatever we’d like. But we also sneak in stories from our day and giggle. When the call for Maghrib (sunset prayer) rings out from multiple phones, we dive into the meal with a special hopeful prayer, smiles all around.2
#6 Sehri/Suhur aka the Giggle Hour
Sehri or Suhur is the pre-dawn meal we eat before fasting to help give us energy for a long day of fasting. It is a practice of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that has been ingrained into my family’s Ramadan traditions. Picture this. The family just woke up from a couple of hours of sleep. Someone is bleary eyed and still groggy, inciting the more energetic crew to poke fun at him. Another one is bursting with stories, joyfully yelling ten-year-old anecdotes. I’m the self-appointed timer running a tight ship. A large screen counts down how many seconds are left to scarf down that extra waffle and drink the last drop of chai. There’s usually a lack of a filter, a dash of sleepiness, and a whole lot of laughter.
#5 The Devils are Chained
One of God’s favors in Ramadan is the devils being locked up. These devils, led by Satan, seduce people to sin.3 However, since the major devils are locked up this month, there is less temptation. Any mistake we make this month is from our own weaknesses. It’s a wonderful time to be introspective and improve our character.
#4 Community Camaraderie
Before the quarantine, Ramadan used to be a month of daily communal gatherings. Around the globe, Muslims congregated in mosques for special nightly prayers called taraweeh. Each night felt like a block party. I’d bump into friends who’d lost touch over the years. Kids would be running to catch the next brain freeze from ice-cream trucks parked conveniently right outside the parking lot. Inside the mosque, it would be packed – people waiting quietly, happily chatting, or shushing others to stop chatting. During taraweeh, a specially melodious Imam would recite the Quran and lead hundreds of silent congregants in prayer. Muslims would also host Iftar parties. Loved ones would gather before sunset, break the fast together, pray, and catch up over delicious home-cooked meals. This year, the Ramadan Camaraderie has shifted online. Mosques are doing all their events and lectures virtually. Friends are hosting Zoom Iftar parties. The nightly prayers have become more private and solitary.
#3 Social Media Bonanza
With the extra time in Ramadan (plus the quarantine), many of us are swiping on social media. Besides having an excellent collection of memes, Instagram is a surprisingly wholesome source of spirituality. So many imams, scholars, and activists are doing IG Lives, mini lectures, and fundraisers for charity every day. I’m going to miss this side of IG – spiritually enlightening and informative.
#2 The Gates of Paradise are Open. The Gates of Hell are Closed.
The mercy of God is amplified this month. In Ramadan, the gates of Paradise are open, and all the gates to Hell are closed.4 Even if our sins reached the sky, God would forgive us if we’d just ask sincerely.5 He wants to accept us into Paradise – lush gardens with gushing rivers, delicious fruits and delicacies at our reach, and everything else our purified hearts could desire. It is a place of serenity – no fear, no grief, no death, no heartache, no envy or animosity. Only sayings of peace, from our Merciful Lord.6 Ramadan reminds me of that ultimate goal – Paradise.
Yes, I’m going to miss fasting in Ramadan. I could tell you about the many health benefits (weight loss dependent on samosa intake), psychological boosts (the mental capacity to do what I’ve been procrastinating all year) or maybe even some beauty side effects (our eyes lose their redness and become whiter OMG!). But that’s not the point. Fasting, especially in Ramadan, is a uniquely spiritual experience. It makes me whole and returns balance to my life. I value all the blessings He has gifted me with – a loving family, food, water, shelter, safety, health, faith, the Quran, a community, free time, and so much more. I feel grateful.
O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous –
[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.
And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.
(Quran 2:183-186) Sahih International, https://quran.com/2/183-186