And so we welcome once again the blessed month of Ramadan. It seems to arrive so quickly, but I know that it will finish just as fast.
|'Welcome Ramadan. May you be as full of blessings as possible. May you teach and inspire. May you unite and motivate.'
I am always a little apprehensive before the start: will I be able to fast? Will I be able to complete the month? Will I achieve all that I aspire to in this blessed time?
This year our pre-Ramadan preparations were wonderful as we went to Umra (lesser pilgrimage to Mecca). Visiting the Ka'ba was so invigorating and inspirational that on our return to London the desire to make this Ramadan special is very strong.
I'm always worried about the warning that for some of us fasting will give us nothing except hunger and thirst. Imagine that! But it is easy to see how it could be possible. Ramadan can so easily become focussed on the absence of food and then the eating! Spiritual reflection and building one's relationship with the Creator can get lost amongst the samosas. This is always my fear. However, at the same time I am hopeful of God's reward for He said in a hadith qudsi (saying of God transmitted through the Prophet Muhammad):
`He who has left his food, drink and desires for My sake - the fast is for Me. So I will reward the fasting person for it.'
Given that it is a month of fasting it might be presumed from the outside looking in that the onset of Ramadan is to be dreaded. The opposite couldn't be truer. One of the things I love about Ramadan is how much people look forward to it. I am always thrilled by the enthusiasm that Muslims have for it calling one another up to congratulate each other on the months' arrival. This is one of the powers of this time it truly is a unifying experience. Even the children get involved. Obviously small children can't fast but they like to get into the atmosphere and we personally try and encourage this with our three in many ways.
We have already welcomed Ramadan into the house with two rooms full of paper chains and a window of lights. Some may think it peculiar that we have decorated the house for Ramadan and not just for Eid, but our children were so excited that Ramadan was coming that I didn't have the heart not to agree to their plans. We also made 30 special mini-bags filled with goodies. After Maghrib (sunset) prayer, which marks the end of the fasting day, the three of them can open one and share out the contents. Hopefully these small things will be joyous memories that will remain with them and make Ramadan something to greet with love.
Welcome Ramadan. May you be as full of blessings as possible. May you teach and inspire. May you unite and motivate. May you be a source of great happiness now and in the Hereafter, for as the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah shower him with peace and blessings) said,
`There are two pleasures for the fasting person - one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord."