Monday, 7 July 2014

Ramadan and Family

There's chaos at home with mum dashing back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room, making sure the plates are set, the lemon juice is chilled enough, the dates are ready and the guests are alive. Meanwhile, my brothers and I strain our ears to hear the Maghrib adhan.
The whole family- with the grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins- is seated around the table, hands hovering around their choice of snack/drink to open their fast with. My grandfather is concentrating on his watch and at 6.27 pm lets us know it's time. Dig in.
It's a sultry Malaysian evening. The chatter in the Masjid slowly dies down as we hear the Imam clear his throat. Then as the melodious call to prayer reverberates, we take a sip of the sweet rose syrup drink and bite into delicious 'curry puffs'.
It's 9.23 pm on a cool summer night in London. I am in my small student room, keeping an eye on my mobile screen as I make a few du'as. 9.24: a date and a sip of water. Iftar by myself.

I am a social person (on good days) and love surrounding myself with people. However, I have grown to love moments of solitude too. I enjoy spending time alone just getting to know myself (sounds so narcissistic). I have travelled alone and loved it. Explored a new city by myself and loved that too. So I wasn't too fazed by the prospect of fasting in Ramadan by myself. My dad had mentioned once how he found fasting alone quite dull, but I never gave it much thought.
This is the first time I've had to go about Ramadan without a fellow- faster (?) and I must say it's not as easy as I thought it would. Of course, the fasting bit is not the problem as everyone has to do it on their own. What got to me was not being able to sit with someone and share my suhoor/ iftar.

This Ramadan I realize the value of family and community. Spirituality in Ramadan is not just a matter of working on your relationship with God, but also about strengthening your bond with the people around you. I hadn't realized what a difference it makes to have one more person with you to share a simple meal at an odd hour. Or how much I regret not going to all the Taraweeh prayers (night prayers) at the mosque. I miss the quick iftar, Maghrib, light dinner and the walk to the masjid. I miss meeting and greeting people there, then standing as a congregation and praying. I miss being surrounded by the warmth of my family at the end of the day.

So when I got a chance to spend two days with my cousin, Salma, after a week of fasting alone, I was reminded once again of the unacknowledged role of our family in our mental well-being. We need them. I need my parents and my (pesky) brothers. Though I don't make it clear always and don't say it often enough, my family makes life more meaningful for me. And not just family, friends too! If it weren't for my room mate Chalani and my wonderful friends back in Malaysia, I am sure I would have gone insane at some point. I think it's the same for most of us- family and friends who are family are the reason we are who we are. They are the reason we are able to get through Monday morning blues and stay alive for yet another weekend. Thank God for them!

Today's Reflection: Ramadan makes me grateful for the people in my life- for a loving family and good friends. You guys are an assortment of oddballs (just like me!), but what would life be without you?

So you, reading this, yes YOU! I am thankful for having you in my life. And I am sure there are others who appreciate knowing you and love you for who you are, so stay that way! 


  1. You've made us, your blog friends, feel important. Thanks a million for that.
    You've also stressed the warmth one feels when we are near to our kith and kin.
    Life then takes on added value and meaning. Your post contains much food for thought or rather food for the soul.

  2. This solitude is often experienced by new Muslims. They spend Ramadans by themselves and even Eid alone. Eid often turns to be the day they dread as they long for Muslim families and fun many born Muslims enjoy with their near and dear ones. Often Eid to their non muslim family members is the day of reminder of their treason. Very few if any, relatives and maybe even fewer old friends remember to wish them often wondering why anyone would choose to accept this unpopular religion of Islam. InshaAllah if we are able to reach the next Ramadan and Eid , let's invite a new Muslim or a brother or sister who is new in town and away from family to spend time with us for Iftar or for the Eid lunch. It would be a beautiful gesture which would mean alot to them and InshaAllah be a source of abundant reward for us.