Ramadan comes around every year, and every year it’s the same hype. The same old HYPOCRISY. “we love Ramadan, can’t wait for Ramadan, this Ramadan is going to be better than ever.” And yet, nothing changes. Instead, we’re worse off for it. Ramadan makes us fatter, unhealthier, lazier and hypocritical. So really, what’s the point?
People say Ramadan brings out the best in everyone (because Shaytaan is locked up and because of the barakah of the month), but I’d like to argue to the contrary. Ramadan brings out the worst in all of us and that too without the help of Shaytaan.
Here’s why I think you SHOULDN’T look forward to Ramadan.
The #1 reason why we shouldn’t look forward to Ramadan is the attitude of Muslims towards food. During Ramadan we become obsessed with food. All we think about and talk about and do, is food. What will we eat today, what will we cook, what will we have for our daily feast? We are extra hungry, extra voracious, extra particular about what we eat. That’s not the spirit of Ramadan.
This is a major issue. During Ramadan, we give up basic things like food, and this should be teaching us abstinence and gratitude. But instead, we spend more, and waste more. We spend more money on food during Ramadan than any other month throughout the year.
Just look at our mosques. Mosques make extravagant arrangements to feed their congregation and the amount of food that is wasted in these gatherings is unbelievable. More food goes into the garbage than into the bellies, even though our appetites are ravenous. And no one seems to care about the environment. There’s no concept of composting wasted food (which may make up for the wastage somewhat) or even recycling water bottles.
In the month when a person is supposed to avoid “arguments” by saying “I’m fasting,” as Muslims we have the greatest number of disputes and arguments during this month. Whenever you think of Ramadan approaching, the fisrt thing that comes to mind is, oh man moon sighting arguments again. Discord within the community. The community splits into factions according to which day you started fasting, which mosque you attend, and how many taraweeh you pray.
The month that should be full of reflection and solitude has lost it’s spirituality. Ramadan is a festive time for Muslims around the world, but is that the purpose of Ramadan? Or was Ramadan meant to be a month of reflection and solitude. A month where we should focus on spending some quality alone time between us and our Lord. Instead, we’re partying every night, we eat so much we’re too full and sleepy to stand in prayer. And we sleep all day because we ate the wrong foods and don’t have enough nutrition and energy to do anything else.
If this is what Ramadan is going to be, then how can we say Ramadan is our spiritual boot camp of the year. How can we say that Ramadan helps us attain taqwa, helps us to detox both physically and spiritually and helps us come closer to Allah. Unless and until we truly live Ramadan according to it’s intended purpose, all of that is just a delusion and a lie we tell ourselves.
So, what’s the solution? How do we rectify this situation? How do we bring back the real Ramadan?
Ramadan is supposed to be about purging ourselves from the attachment to our base desires. It’s about controlling those desires and not letting them control us. It’s about conquering our hunger. We fast from dawn to dusk in order to overcome our physical needs and desires and learn self control and self restraint. When we let our hunger drive us to an over obsession with food, we are doing the exact opposite and being controlled rather than practicing self control.
This Ramadan, let’s focus on eating better, not more. Let’s focus on allowing our bodies to attain the physical benefits of fasting by eating simpler and eating healthier more nutritious foods. Instead of cooking all those fried, indulgent foods, let’s try and substitute with more fruits and vegetables. Foods that will nourish and hydrate our bodies, give us the energy we need to worship Allah properly as well as to physically detoxify our systems and give them a break.
Also, let’s focus on allowing our bodies to attain the spiritual benefits of fasting by letting our hunger make us grateful for the provisions that we have. And by spending more time worshipping Allah than on cooking and preparing daily feasts.
This Ramadan, let’s save more and spend less. Or better yet, spend in charity instead of being extravagant with yourself. Spend on the less fortunate.
Whatever iftaar we do attend, let’s help out by recycling and composting appropriately. And encourage those around us to do so as well. Let’s be responsible citizens of the Earth that Allah has blessed us with.
This Ramadan, let’s remember that a difference in opinion can be a beautiful thing. Just like Allah has made us with different cultures, physical attributes and languages, He also allowed us to have differences of opinions in certain matters. Let’s embrace these differences rather than being hostile to one another because of them. If we’re fasting on different days than others in our community, or celebrating Eid on different days, let’s celebrate with them as well. Ramadan is a time for us to come together and unite under the banner of Islam. It’s a time for this ummah to grow stronger as a community, but this requires effort from each and every one of us. This Ramadan, let’s reach out to those who hold different opinions from us and rather than arguing, come together and celebrate.
This Ramadan, let’s try to focus some of our time on reflection, contemplation and private worship. There is nothing wrong with coming together with family and friends to break fast and celebrate, but in doing so, we should not neglect building and strengthening our bond and relationship with Allah. Let’s remember that the time before breaking our fast, is a time of accepted dua, so instead of allotting that time for socialization or food prep, let’s allot that time for private discussion with Allah. Let’s prepare our food early and remind our family and friends of this special time as well.
Ramadan is a month that passes by faster than any other month. And at the end of it we are left sad and regretful. Sad at its departure and regretful of the time that we wasted and didn’t take full advantage of. But it doesn’t have to be this way, sure the sadness will always be there, but we can change the way we feel about Ramadan by changing the way we live Ramadan. We can make the most of Ramadan by living it with its intended purpose and values. And that’s when we will feel fulfilled, nourished and bettered by our Ramadan experience.