I've always knew Ramadhan is a very special month, even during my ignorant days. I used to hear how magical things happened to some people the moment Ramadhan arrives. I was lacking in many ways back then but still, I wanted to experience the 'euphoria' some people experience during the holy month.
I remember once many years ago, I was standing in prayer on the 1st night of terawih at the masjid and thinking to myself, "Ok God. Hit me! I'm ready to embrace ramadhan". I stood, in anticipation of a miracle happening; squeezed my eyes shut and tried very hard to feel something in my heart as the Imam recited the verses of the Quran. I thought to myself, this is it!....it's gonna happen! The euphoric spirit of Ramadhan is gonna descend down and envelope me like a lover's embrace and I would be sobbing my heart out. As I waited and waited, nothing happened. I then told myself...wait for it...wait for it....still...nothing happened. I ended zoning out in between the prayers and my mind wandered off. There were absolutely no tears....no sadness....no miracle....zilt!
After many years and many books and many lessons, only then that I understood I can't simply jump into Ramadhan like how I jump into the pool.
A dear sister told me that, Ramadhan is like running for marathon. You need to prepare yourself ahead before the race. If you expect to be able to do your best and win the race when you run on the day of the race without any prior preparation, then you are sadly mistaken. That was my folly. I didn't make any preparation but instead just jumped into it and expected to come out triumph.
I also realised that everyone receives and reacts to Ramadhan differently. The spirit of Ramadhan is not like snow that will blanket each and everyone at the same time. Whether we will be touched by the spirit and experience the 'euphoria' or peace and calmness of the holy month, very much depend on the state of our hearts, our imans and also His Wish.
For me, I had to repair my heart first and understand the true spirit of Ramadhan before I could shed a single tear. There were many night before when I felt that my heart was made of stone because the person next to me was sobbing uncontrollably in response to the recitation of the surah by the imam in the terawih prayer and there I stood totally unmoved and unfazed. I thought for certain that my heart was dead. I thought that I was beyond help.
Prophet pbuh said, “There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoiled, the whole body gets spoiled – and that is the heart.”
And then a few nights after, I was the one sobbing uncontrollably while others maintained their cool.
Over the years, I've learnt not to have expectations about how your Ramadhan should be. It will not happen according to our plan or wish but according to God's Will. Sometimes, we get too caught up in doing the physical act of worship that we neglect the spiritual part of it. You know, like an empty vessel.
I also understand now, that even if I'm not consumed by overwhelming sadness or feeling of high on the first night of terawih or first Ramadhan, it does not mean that I'm beyond redemption. It just mean that I have to re-examine my heart and trace back my footsteps leading up to Ramadhan. I need to discover my 'miss-step' and rectify it.
For some people, the spirit touch them in the first few days of Ramadhan and for some, the last 10 days. Some might not even get 'touched' at all. Everyone's experience is different from each other. The last things you should do is compare your self to others. There's no ruler for piety. Only Allah SWT is the Judge of that.
With Ramadhan just around the corner, let's start preparing for our spiritual marathon. Slow and steady wins the game....