When a person doesn't have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity.-Elie Wiesel
A couple years ago, during my period of ignorance, I lost Ramadhan and then Syawal went missing. The best thing is that, I didn’t even know that I was miserable until the night before 1st Syawal. I was so caught up with material things that I didn’t know what I was missing until the 11th hour.
What am I babbling about? Simple….it is something that I found most of us went through at some point of our lives….losing the spirit of Ramadhan and Syawal. The most important question is, do we know that it is missing? If we do…then when did we lose it and why?
When I was small, Ramadhan meant Eid was coming soon. Eid means new clothes, lots of pocket money and firecrackers. My family was just a middle class family so my sisters and I, would only get to buy new clothes before Eid, so of course we look forward to it. But, as I grow older, the novelty of having new clothes for Eid, started to wear off. I was too old for my uncles and aunties to be giving money or ‘duit raya’ and I have definitely outgrown playing firecrackers plus….the police had actually banned fireworks!
One year, I found that I had completely lost my spirit of Ramadhan. I physically fasted but other than that, I didn’t do anything different. I used to follow my parents to the masjid for terawih prayers when I was in school but when I started college, I stopped. Even after I got married, I didn’t feel the urge to perform terawih. I was indifferent to the spirit and purpose of Ramadhan and because of that Syawal decided to leave me.
Ramadhan and Syawal left me for quite a few years until one day I commented to my hubby that I just don’t feel anything towards Ramadhan or Syawal. Both months has lost its meaning to me. It was also because I was caught up with my own problems and work related stress that I didn’t bother to try understand Ramadhan and Syawal, as how a true Muslim should. My hubby told me then that I had better look for both Ramadhan and Syawal.
The thing is…I wanted to but I didn’t how or where to look for them. I was just a Muslim by name but not by conduct. I couldn’t enlist the help of the police to help me find them both and I couldn’t report them missing without appearing like a lunatic but find them I must. Nobody could explain me why I had lost them in the first place.
Then, I met the Wise Owl and the Wise Old Man. Since both are ‘wise’, I decided to try my luck and told them that Ramadhan and Syawal have been missing from my life and that I needed to find them. I expected them to laugh at me for being silly because how can a person lose not one, but two months? It was just not possible ! Instead, the Wise Owl smiled at me and the Wise Old Man peered at me seriously and both said, “sister, don’t worry. You will find Ramadhan and Syawal again.”
What both of them have taught me was that I needed to go back to basic. I started with looking up about fasting in the Quran.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,”
Surah Al Baqarah 2:183
“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.”
Surah Al Baqarah 2:185
Fasting is a commandment from God Al Mighty, pure and simple. The question is, why am I doing it? It is out of habit because I have been doing it all my life or am I doing it to please God? If the answer is the former, then fasting has indeed become a meaningless yearly ritualistic thing for me.
If my answer is the latter, then, the way I was fasting, was it enough to please my Creator? Fasting is not just the physical act of refraining one’s self from eating and drinking. Fasting has a deeper meaning than that. It means refraining physically, mentally and spiritually from committing sins and other acts that might displease God Al Mighty. I must also increase my good deeds and charity and perform more sunnah prayers. Even then, there is no assurance that all my deeds will be accepted as everything boils down to intention.
Ramadhan is a holy month where all the devils are tied up hence it gives us the opportunity and breathing space to reflect on our lives.
“Allah’s Apostle said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Bukhari]
This holy month is the month of opportunities where we can cleanse our heart and soul and try to come closer to our Creator without satan being in the way and diverting us but, most of us do not take the opportunity during this month of peace, to service our hearts and edge closer to God but instead we busied ourselves in getting material things to prepare for Eid.
The Wise Owl also said that maybe the heart is full and covered with sins that it has darken and no light can penetrate through it. Then, the heart doesn’t beat to the rhythm of blessings nor blossom under the light of mercy. When that happens, the heart needs to be thoroughly cleanse. One way is for us to seek forgiveness for our sins and Ramadhan is one of the best time to do so.
“Narrated Abu Huraira(r.a): The Prophet said:”… whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.”
Messenger of Allah (may Allah bless him and grant him peace) says, “Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Narrated by Tabarani]
If we reflect upon all the blessings that has been bestowed to us by God then we will have gratitude. When we have gratitude, we will treat Ramadhan as how it should be treated. That, i found, was the source of my problem…..I did not have gratitude hence I mistreated Ramadhan…Astagfirullah…may God forgive me…
Syawal on the other hand, is closely related to Ramadhan. They both come hand in hand. They are like twins, I think. If you mistreat Ramadhan, then Syawal will retaliate and will definitely leave you. Eid, which we celebrate in Syawal, does not mean new clothes or new sofa or even getting money. Eid means victory in treating Ramadhan in accordance to the Quran and sunnah. If we did not treat Ramadhan as how it should be treated, then we have not attain victory, hence, the spirit of Syawal will not enter our heart. Syawal then leave and may never return.
After listening and arguing back and forth with the Wise Owl and the Wise Old Man, I slowly started my quest to hunt down Ramadhan and Syawal. I also tried to get rid of the black spot covering my heart by jet spraying it with good deeds, charity, sunnah prayers and begging for forgiveness. It was a painstakingly slow process but Alhamdulillah, Ramadhan and Syawal decided to come back to me.
It has been a few years now that all three of us are together. Our journey has had its ups and downs but the connection is still intact. I now constantly remind myself not to mistreat Ramadhan again and to keep Syawal very close.
I pray that they will stay with me till the day I die and will intercede for me when I am summon before my Lord on Judgment day……Ameen….
Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” [Ahmad]