For the next few weeks, I will be doing a spotlight series on topics relating to Islam in honour of the holy month of Ramadan. This is the first of those topics..
I always find myself both anxious and excited at the advent of ramadan. I’m excited because I love the feeling of togetherness one experiences throughout the month. When our throats are parched from hunger, we’re parched together. When we feel exhausted during the nafila prayers, we’re exhausted together. But I also feel anxious, because I’m always afraid that I won’t be able to make the most out of the month in terms of dhikr, in terms of extra prayer, in terms of engaging in good deeds and that time will simply slip through my fingers until before I realise it, the hustle and bustle of Eid preparations commence.
With ramadan approaching, social media becomes a hub for “advice” – dos and do nots. Drink lots of water instead of sugary drinks at ndogu to ensure that your body gets the amount of liquid it needs. Eat yoghurt and fruits during suhur so that you feel less hungry the next day.
If you weren’t a perfect muslim before ramadan, don’t pretend to be one during ramadan..
Surely I can’t be the only one disturbed by the narrative that tells you that if you did not pray perfectly, refrain from every haram and engage in every form of good deed before ramadan and become more conscientious during ramadan, then it is akin to a facade and is therefore pathetic and laughable.
No Muslim, I repeat no Muslim on the face of this planet is perfect. We all sin, albeit in different ways, but we all do. I’m no religious scholar but I’m quite certain that good deeds performed during ramadan by those who weren’t very “practising” during the other 11 months of the year still has as much value as the deeds performed by those who are near-perfect Muslims all year round.
Neka ibadou goor wala ibadou jigeen johut kenn right pour judge nitt-yi. Nyun nyep ay jaam lenj teh nyun nyep bena Yallah bi lenjor jaamu kon nenj kor bayeh judgements yi.
Before you scoff and go on a rant about the pictures people will inevitably upload on Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat or wherever else on the cybersphere of themselves in hijab, wearing thobes or performing religious deeds, consider:
Perhaps this ramadan is the one that will change their hearts.
Perhaps ramadan is when they have time to meditate over life and it’s turns.
Perhaps they are trying new things in terms of how they dress or how they worship Allah etc.
I, for one, do not advocate for public displays of good deeds. I think that if you’re praying or reading Quran or doing dhikr, it is between you and Allah and sharing these intimate moments on social media is unlikely to be of any benefit. But that’s MY opinion. If people decide that’s what they want to do, it is none of my, or anyone else’s, business.
We should not underestimate the impact these attitudes, even when expressed jokingly, have on others. I don’t know about you guys but as soon as someone makes fun of me for doing something, even something positive, I retreat. Let people live their spiritual lives in their own ways rather than chastising them simply because, at some point, they weren’t being ‘religious’ in a way that you approve of.
Moreover, almost all the Muslims I know, including the ones who label others in such negative terms, become more ‘practising’ or increase their good deeds during this time… In that case, aren’t we all ramadan Muslims?
We need to stop religious shaming. There are people who feel ostracised from the ‘Muslim community’ because of anxiety, because of skin colour, because of sexuality, because of social class and so on.. Let’s not add increase in religious adherence to the list of things we shame each other for.
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