Ramazan: Mercy and Togetherness
It’s hard to believe that Ramazan is already here and it’s so strange as a convert to be celebrating Ramazan in the month of March, in the springtime. All praises due to Allah SWT that we are following Guides who insist on keeping high the Islamic calendar and proceeding, according to its wisdom and blessings. Ramazan rotates throughout the year as do all Islamic holidays because we use the lunar calendar as the governance of our hours and days and months. This is a great blessing as our Sheykh Efendi HZ often reminds us: there is a different flavor a different taste, a different feeling that comes with fasting at the different times of the year. Of course fasting becomes easier when the days are shorter and cooler than the hard months of the summer for someone like me who has always struggled with fasting in one way or another. This is a blessing and helps me feel more confident in my fast and maintaining a patient and God conscious state all the way up to the time of the breaking of the fast. The winter time will host Ramazan in a few years, and the days will be even shorter. What is perhaps most amazing about that, is the reward of fasting is not reduced, even though the days will be quite short, and might even fly by if we’re not watching the clock and keeping ourselves busy with what is pleasing to Allah. There’s also great blessing in fasting the long days of summer, when sometimes your thirst might feel unbearable. These different tastes and flavors of Ramazan are indeed miraculous, and even when the fast days are short, it makes your nights longer for more worship and remembrance. May all of our Ramazan be accepted, and our good intentions be rewarded for the sake of our Sheykh Efendi Hz amin.
Fasting is an opportunity to train our egos, and to keep control of our desires. When I first converted before I made the leap and became a Muslim, I tried fasting with some Muslim friends for the first time. I couldn’t believe that they went whole days without eating or drinking any water, which seemed far harder to me than the Orthodox Christian fasting. I had grown up with. But it’s also full of mercy and blessings, because fasting all together from food and drink, frees you from yourself, from daily routines, from the fascination with filling our stomachs and following our bodies every whim. The body is indeed a tyrant to us at times. It is a trust that we are given by Allah, but it is also something we cannot control in so many ways. Fasting from food, and drink is not only a powerful control for our body, but it strengthens our spirit and prioritizes our worship and remembrance of Allah. Ramazan is a time to be together in demaat, as our Sheykh always says not to be separate, and not to just be focused on our own families. This is not the tradition of Islam: to make a personal, exclusionary, and only “our family” oriented version of celebrating. It is incumbent upon us to live as Muslims had to fulfill the command of being in cemaat in Ramazan and extend that togetherness to other times throughout the year Ramazan affords us a greater opportunity to build community. Yes with our families, but more importantly, to connect our families together as a community, as a cemaat, and to strengthen the ties of neighbors and friends, brothers and sisters. When we’re fasting all together and worshiping all together, we are forming a bond between believers that InshAllah will remain until the day of judgment and beyond. Amin.