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What Ramadan in isolation means

By Ayunan G. Gunting-Al Hadj

ramadan

Image from Unsplash

 

Ramadan 2020, the month-long observance of an Islamic spiritual reflection, is unprecedented.  For centuries, this major pillar of Islam, which runs through May 24, was characterized by deepening the kinship with other Muslims.

We celebrate the time when Allah conveyed the holy scripture, the Qu’ran to our beloved Prophet Muhammad[ pbuH ]. With the worldwide lockdown due to the pandemic, we are immobilized to pray and eat together.  Mosques have been shut down as governments banned mass gatherings. Although we continue with Ramadan precepts of discipline, control over the sense organs, and compassion for the less fortunate, our sunrise-to-sunset fast will be broken in isolation. The iftar, the evening meal that breaks the fast at the mosque, will no longer be had. But I remind myself that those luxurious blessings were never what made Ramadan Ramadan. Its legacy is one of devout worship in the face of crisis. The goal of fasting is taqwa(fearing Allah), the goal of Ramadan is gratitude.

For many Ramadans, I was motivated by the power of our congregational prayers. I was inspired to see the devotion in the tahajud, the nighttime prayer, tarawih(night ritual prayers), and our discipline. With the extended community quarantine, I fast alone. There are fewer temptations for me as I am sheltered from the outside world.

Since the lockdown, many have been faced with unemployment and financial worry. I can sense fear in the atmosphere caused by the disruption of routine. People have gotten used to being in control of their lives.

My usual routine was to go to Kerry Sports, do my obligatory five times a day prayers and exercise and spend the rest of the day meeting up with clients in restaurants. During Ramadan, I would go to the mosque to pray.

The lockdown made me realize we can’t control the future. Some people are blocked by fear of the unknown. They can’t think clearly and become vulnerable to all kinds of news.

On the other hand, the pandemic has been a blessing for me. I was fortunate to collect from clients. The funds could sustain me for a few months.

The quiet atmosphere helps me to stay focused on the prayers. I have more time to reflect on the verses of Qu’ran. I have come to appreciate the power that Allah has given to me. Instead of worrying about the future or feeling useless as projects have been frozen, I look at possibilities. My routine of praying five times a day and exercising around the garden makes me feel safe regardless of the confinement. After my dawn prayer, I set an intention for the day and make a to-do list of activities. In the past weeks, I’ve learned to use gadgets, picked up a few recipes and shared insights on the Qu’ran with the Muslim religious community over the phone. These helped me overcome boredom or anxiety. When there is nothing to distract you, worry and wasteful thinking will go into your head. I don’t need to think about the suspended projects.

In other words, I take baby steps. I don’t make ambitious projects like communication strategies and project proposals. They can wait till after the lockdown.

Every morning, I work out into a sweat and move around the garden. This releases the happy hormones and calms me down.

Ramadan reminds us to be compassionate to others by sharing our time or resources. Helping others is what defines our humanity. I quietly make donations to those in need like the orphans.

Then again, friends and relatives call me up to express their fear. I assure them that everything will be okay. We may be physically isolated, but we enjoy the connection to God and the sweetness of life and faith.

I have realized that other people are struggling in worse situations. I am grateful that I can still live comfortably and catch up with much-needed sleep.

My gift for this Ramadan is to accept the reality of a different world. None of us can change it.  Fear makes the lockdown worse than what it is. It creates darkness. We can’t see solutions. History has shown that man has overpowered difficult times. This is something we can overcome. The pandemic has given us possibilities if we open up to them.

 


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/04/23/what-ramadan-in-isolation-means/)

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