Greetings of peace,
Ramadan is upon us, and I have never felt more in desperate need of its succour and replenishing sustenance than I do now. It is as if the darkness of our humanity has withered my spiritual resilience and the ability to grapple with the provocations of our time. I am in dire need of this communal spiritual retreat, to step away from the tribulations and suffering of our world which mirrors the agony of our own souls calling out for meaning and nourishment.
Ramadan is the prescription my soul has been longing for, a time where life as I know it will pause… at least for thirty days. But perhaps that’s all I need to realign - thirty days to disrupt my everyday routine, to dull the endless toxic noise in all its forms and to bring conscious stillness to the fore.
Of all the spiritual practices in Islam, nothing cultivates mindfulness more than Ramadan. It orients the mind, body and spirit in every moment in a holistic way. From the commencement of Ramadan, one’s spiritual state and actions are made obvious to the observer of the fast: keeping vigil on one’s ego, and ensuring it respects the sacrosanct boundaries of the month. This vigil of self-awareness extends to every aspect of our being, language, behaviour and even thoughts. The senses are heightened, and these too are observed.
This observation is the practice of cultivating awareness of the moment and is intensified further by the gnawings of hunger. All forms of pain, discomfort or challenges demand our absolute attention, forcing us to be cognisant of the present. Fasting is a teacher of many lessons, but nothing more powerful than bringing consciousness to every minute of the day; if your mind lapses, your pangs of hunger will surely prompt you. And yet, it is through this emptiness of the physical that we are able to create the space for the spiritual to be cultivated and nourished.
The month of Ramadan is laden with gifts for the soul: from the tawareeh salat (nightly prayers), the recitations of Quran, and the festive family and community iftars, these devotional rituals and practices remind us of our higher purpose and of our sacred human potential. We are reminded as individuals and as a global community, for Ramadan is personal as it is communal.
As the community prepares itself for the most anticipated month in the Islamic calendar, let us ensure that we are prepared for the spiritual journey ahead. The Prophet (peace be upon him) reminds us that, “Many people who fast accomplish nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night accomplish nothing from it except wakefulness.”
As we welcome this precious guest overflowing with blessings, my only hope is that we give it the due honour it deserves, so that upon its departure we are transformed by its noble and intimate company.
Wishing you all a blessed Ramadan!
With love and light,