I’ve blogged about this before, but I think it’s worth rehashing. I had a period of time once a couple of years ago when I stopped watching TV. It wasn’t because it was Ramadan, it was for no real reason that I can remember. Maybe I just got busy having fun in real life and doing the work I needed to do for the semester. I have no idea how it happened but it did. I’m normally a TV “addict”. “Addict” in quotes because it’s not that I can’t live without it. I can. It’s because I don’t want to live without it. When I eat breakfast/lunch/dinner, I’d rather be doing it in front of the TV watching some mindless show than at the kitchen table. I watch TV to relax, same as a lot of people, but it’s become a really bad habit. Even if I’m sitting down for a 15 minute break in between tasks, I’ll turn on the TV and watch something.
Anyways, where I was going with this is that at some point in the past couple of years I broke out of this habit. I honestly cannot remember why, but I do remember how it felt when I turned on the TV several months later. My first re-exposure to TV came when my dad came back from overseas and sat down to watch TV (the TV habit is hereditary, it’s true). He picked up the remote, turned on the TV, and the first thing that popped up was a commercial. As this less-than-thirty-second commercial came to a finish, I remember being amazed at the…stupid-ness of it all. Did I really used to watch this stuff? Do people actually buy into the unbelievable commerci-ality (sounds better than ‘commercialism’ to my ears! :P) that is TV? I was in complete and utter disbelief.
Then, of course, I gave it some time and was once again hooked.
My point is this: it’s easy, way too easy, dangerously easy to get sucked into things that don’t matter.
My junior year of high school, I was talking to a classmate about how Ramadan no longer feels special. As if it’s lost something. It’s no longer as exciting as it used to be. Of course, what had happened was that we had simply grown out of it and our childhood experiences of Ramadan, that special feeling all holidays have when you’re a kid, that magic, had left. Somehow, that feeling came back to me today. As sunset drew closer, as Ramadan approached, I became giddy with excitement. And I can feel that excitement coursing through me as I write this and remember. I walked out 20 minutes before maghrib and spent half an hour staring up at the sky in all directions, looking for that tiny sliver that would only be visible for a couple of minutes and that would tell me that Ramadan had indeed arrived.
I didn’t see it. But Ramadan is here, and I can’t remember the last time I was this happy about it. Two years ago, even last year, my approach to Ramadan was that I would no longer allow myself to listen to music, watch TV/movies, or spend more than half an hour or so reading for pleasure. It would be work/school, and then time spent at home or at the masjid, doing ibadah or sitting with family. But my approach was a negative one. I spent the last day before Ramadan, the last hours before Ramadan, watching a movie in a theater as a final “reward” before lock down. It’s similar to the way Christians celebrate Fat Tuesday before the start of Lent. And it’s disgusting.
My attitude going in to Ramadan was that I would be missing out on certain things I loved and that I therefore needed to over compensate before hand by stuffing myself (figuratively) with these things. The wrong approach to Ramadan, yes, but even more than that, it makes me sad that I so missed out on the spirit, the beautiful, beautiful spirit that is Ramadan. The Sahaaba, the companions of the Prophet SAWS would pray, months before Ramadan arrived, that they would get to benefit from the immense blessings of this month, that they would live long enough to do so. And here I was, not just oblivious to these blessings, but reassuring myself that once Ramadan finished I would get to listen to all the music I wanted, watch all the movies I wanted. In other words, stray as far as I wanted from the arms of My Beloved.
The Spirit of Ramadan is something that can only be felt, and those who feel it are fortunate indeed. Those who do not; those who are unable to, those who are unwilling to, are missing out on something so magical it breaks my heart just thinking about it.
May Allah grant us all the Mercy that this month and all of Islam encompasses, and may He grant us all the highest level of Jannah, insha’Allah, through this month. May our duas that are best for us be granted, and may those that are harmful for us be denied us. May we gain His rahma through our rahma for our family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and strangers, and may we gain each and every blessing that this month holds out for us. May we continue to better ourselves and humble ourselves and lift ourselves up, and may He, Subhana Wo Ta’ala, forgive us our shortcomings and our sins. May He create ease for those in hardship, and may He help us to help those who need our help. May He keep us forever with Him and never abandon us. May He make this Ramadan truly, truly blessed for all of us. Ameen.