Another Eid celebration done and dusted, marking the end of an auspicious month in the Islamic calendar, Ramadaan. For non-Muslims, the common association or understanding of the month is that Muslims abstain from food and drink. Oh, and that we drink boeber on the 15th day of Ramadaan. 😉
But for Muslims, the meaning of the month runs so much deeper. It’s beyond not eating or drinking a thing from dawn until dusk. It’s a month in which we make a concerted effort to improve ourselves, to cleanse our hearts and purify our soul through prayer, remembrance of Allah, acts of charity and kindness, and mending & strengthening relationships with family and friends.
For me personally, Ramadaan is a month that has come and gone too soon. It was with a bittersweet taste that I welcomed Eid, feeling like I’d not capitalised on all of its blessings.
- Not reading the Quran as often as I’d intended to. I barely had time to do this. Correction: I barely made time to do this. There always seemed to be something that needed to get done, and I’d tell myself “later, I will recite later”, and later just never materialised, leaving me with missed moments.
- Letting day-to-day stuff take priority over making time to pray, to reflect, and to just be. Between work and kids there always seems to be something to do and my mind is always on getting that done first, like getting the kids’ bags packed for the next day first. The problem is that the rush from one little thing to the next just saps my energy and brings me to my next point.
- Giving in to fatigue at the end of the day. Going a full day with no fuel in the form of food or water left me thoroughly exhausted after getting the girls in bed at the end of each day. I’d most often give in to the feeling and fall into a dead sleep instead of making a point of staying up to pray, to be thankful, and to just breathe in the sight of my girls while they sleep.
- Feeling upset when my husband leaves for evening prayers because he is getting time for spiritual activities and acts of worship while I am home getting the girls ready for bed. Acknowledging this feeling was a tough pill to swallow, because I know I am not upset with my husband. I am more upset with the mad rush of working full time, a long drive home and spending some time with my girls before bedtime. It wasn’t easy to feel this way knowing that I could very well do something about it, but chose to let the fatigue consume me instead!
What I learned
Time is a rather important factor, especially during Ramadaan. Extra effort is made to get up earlier for Suhoor (the early morning pre-dawn meal before the day of fasting begins) and being home in time for Iftaar (the evening meal marking the end of the day of fasting). In making this effort, I learned the following:
- I am capable of getting up (not just waking up) when my alarm goes off early in the morning.
- I am capable of getting to work early (I’d be more capable barring traffic, but that’s really a different discussion, isn’t it).
- I am capable of leaving work on time! Wanting to get home in time to be break my fast, and be with family at that auspicious time, was motivation enough to leave work on time. This is something I often struggle with – always wanting to finish that one little thing or resolve an issue before heading home – but leaving on time (most days, anyway) became fairly easy to do during Ramadaan, and has taught me that regardless of the workload I can close my laptop and head home on time.
- I am capable of putting in extra time for my spiritual well-being when I put my mind to it and set other mundane things aside.
What I’d do differently
Ramadaan is an odd combination of a mad rush between work, getting home in time for the evening meal, and family, and a sense of tranquility and simplicity. Looking back on the month that has gone by, on what I was able to do and what I wished to be able to do, there are some things I would definitely want to change next time around.
- I would get laundry out of the way! My hubby does the laundry and I do the packing away, so getting all of the current load out of the way would mean less laundry to worry about during the month. Booooorrrring, I know, but you gotta do what you gotta do.
- Get the house cleaned. With kids the house is always a mess – there are always toys and clothes where they don’t belong. But it makes a huge difference to walk into a clean house as opposed to one where the floors need a vacuum and the furniture is desperate for a dusting. Getting most of the cleaning out of the way beforehand (or outsourcing it!) makes it easier to just keep things tidy during the month.
- Get Eid shopping out of the way before Ramadaan kicks in. I’m usually pretty good about getting most of the Eid shopping sorted in the first week or two of Ramadaan, but not needing to hit the stores for anything except the basics would cut back the time of standing in queues and looking for goodies in stores filled with people looking for Eid items for themselves and their families!
- Prep meals in advance. The eating element of Ramadaan has never really been a big issue for me. Thank the Almighty for blessing me with parents who offer support in the way of an open invitation to eat with them every night so that I don’t have to rush home just to cook. Some nights I made it just in time to get to my parents’ place, so their gesture is one I welcomed and am eternally grateful for! That said though, it would be nice to save my dad (yes, he is the family cook) the time of cooking every now and then, so I’d try to prep some meals and savouries for the table beforehand that can be frozen and just defrosted on the day. | Side note to self: Invest in a chest freezer.
- Don’t let the mundane matter! I really need to work on this one – I get side tracked by needing to get things done, from packing snacks for the kids for school for the next day, to refilling nappies in my baby’s daycare bag, to getting clothes out for the next day, to… well, whatever other stuff comes up on the to-do list in my mind. While these are all things that need to get done at some point, I need to focus on what is most important – quality time with my family, time to connect with my Maker, and time for me. I can pack a school bag anytime, but those lost moments during Ramadaan for self-improvement, prayer and realising immense blessings I cannot get back.
Ramadaan is always such a beautiful period – it’s as if there is something magical in the air. So here and now is my not-so-New-Year’s resolution to catch more and more of that magic as one Ramadaan weaves into the next! ♥