Romaan Basit, Student, Jamia Ahmadiyya UK
With Ramadan fast approaching and Covid-19 not showing any sign of moving out of the way, this blessed month dawns upon us shrouded in many uncertainties; uncertainties we had never imagined. No more Tarawih prayer? End of iftars at the mosque? What about Eid prayer? Can we still reap the same blessings? These are a few questions on the minds of Muslims, who have always enjoyed Ramadan for its spirit of collectiveness.
Mosques around the world have had to close their doors to curb the spread of this coronavirus, and countries have been sent into unprecedented lockdowns across the world. Staying at home all day is proving a challenge for many. However, as Muslims, it is incumbent that we stay positive and see the glass half full rather than half empty.
Spending Ramadan at home can be a blessing in disguise, but only if we choose to make it so. While there are many vices and evils that are prohibited in Islam, fasting is a practice that teaches us to give up even that which is permissible, i.e. food and drink. Why? To excel spiritually, develop self-control, relate with those less fortunate and, in turn, progress in gratitude.
Interestingly, the coronavirus lockdown is teaching us the very same thing. We have given up our freedom, our right to socialise and our usual means of entertainment. These are only but a few examples of abstaining from what is usually permissible or even encouraged. All this became possible and endurable because of the end-result in mind: the greater good of humanity.
This really puts life into perspective and makes us realise just how lucky we usually are; to have the freedom to do whatever we want, whenever we want! See how a small shift in mind-set can work wonders!
Nevertheless, lockdown does not mean that we must sit at home during Ramadan just thinking about food and freedom. Why not put all the negativity aside and make this year’s Ramadan a very special one; that too from the comfort of our own homes.
All year round, every Muslim yearns to comprehend the meanings of the Holy Quran, understand its message, get to know the one to whom it was revealed and above all, fall in love with the One Who revealed it.
But packed schedules and busy timetables have always stood in the way of doing so; a challenge that many of us have always complained about. Now, with more time, opportunity is at our doorstep; to read, study, understand, enjoy and absorb the warmth and radiant light of the most majestic and revolutionising word in the whole of the universe.
The special connection between Ramadan and the Holy Quran is a well-known fact, as it was the month in which this Holy Book was revealed:
“The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind.” (Surah al-Baqarah, Ch.2: V.186)
Every year, we strive to complete a full reading of the Holy Quran during Ramadan, but with all this time, isn’t it a golden opportunity to take this connection with the Holy Book to a new level, where we know and understand what we read?
Everyone, irrespective of age, can invest this extra time into this blessed activity. Beginners can start to learn to read the Quran; those who can read can now learn basic Arabic; those who know basic Arabic can now focus on the translation and tafsir (exegesis and explanation of the Quran).
This lockdown is the perfect time to finally make the Quran a companion in our lives.
Let’s turn this Ramadan, which will be significantly different in its outlook, into an experience significantly different from any previous year.
Then there are Tarawih prayers, which are a great socio-spiritual aspect of Ramadan. We are all accustomed to making our ways to the mosque every night, standing shoulder to shoulder, and listening to the Holy Quran being recited. So, with Tarawih now being taken out of the picture has left many of us wondering how to fill this vacuum. Well, let us have the Holy Quran come to the rescue again.
Although Tarawih can be offered individually, in the early or late parts of the night, but what makes the congregational Tarawih so special is that we get to listen to a greater portion of the Holy Quran every night. So why not offer Tarawih in congregation at home and prepare for it during the day by memorising a small part, or even a few verses to recite before the family.
The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, said that the most beloved deeds to Allah are those done consistently, even if they are small. Just imagine the end-result of committing a few new verses every day to memory. We will have learnt new parts of the Holy Quran by the time we approach Eid; what more happiness can Eid bring with it!
Last but not the least is an aspect of Ramadan observed in the final ten days, called E‘tikaf, a spiritual exercise where one willingly decides to self-isolate from the world and live in a mosque for the sole purpose of gaining nearness to the Almighty. This is no easy task, but then again, in life, no reward worth attaining comes easy. I am sure all of us have wondered, “Would we really be able to do sit E‘tikaf for ten days? Would we really be able to stay away from technology, friends and work, all whilst being confined within four walls, all day and night?”
Well now, we do not need to wonder anymore. This lockdown is allowing us to experience a type of E‘tikaf in our own homes. So why not use this God-given opportunity to get a feel of what E‘tikaf is really like. Instead of aimlessly scrolling through Twitter and Instagram timelines and binge-watching Netflix, why not spend our time doing things that will benefit us in the long run?
Though we all wish this lockdown would end and the horrible suffering would come to a swift halt, spending time at home is allowing us to stay away from things we never thought we could live without and is finally giving us the opportunity to do the things we never thought we actually could.
“The month of Ramadan is that in which the Quran was sent down as a guidance for mankind.” (Surah al-Baqarah Ch.2: V.186)
Being the month in which the Quran was revealed, this Ramadan, why not let the word of God illuminate and enlighten our hearts, our souls and our homes during this period of uncertainty.
In life, staying positive and optimistic in any situation comes down to perspective; the glass isn’t half-empty after all, it’s half-full. Isn’t it?