Welcoming Ramadhan To The City of Cape Town – South Africa
(Ramadhan-Month Of Fasting And Abstinence From Desires)
Almost a month before the arrival of the holy month of Ramadhan, the atmosphere among Muslim communities indicates some subtle changes, signaling the onset of one of the holiest months in the Muslim Calendar.
That feeling of anticipation and that craving for peace can be likened to awaiting the hug of a special guest. Ramadhan to each and every believing and practicing Muslim feels like this. It is a month of abundant mercy and blessings.
In many countries, Ramadhan is just another day like all others. In Muslim countries only, we find people making a big hoohah out of the fasting month. Wrong! Some cities and countries do acknowledge Ramadhan. Those who exist within these cities that welcome Ramadhan are indeed blessed. Cape Town, South Africa is one of those cities. Most people in this city are already so used to Muslims and their month of fasting, that you cannot get away easily with doing something un-islamic during this month. Everyone knows that it’s Ramadhan. Everyone knows that Muslims must be well behaved. Haha. Knowing about other religions is part of self-development. Don’t you just love those who know about Islam and are sweet about it?
Some people in Cape Town seem to know that they should not tempt you and eat in front of you. When I used to work in a corporate company, some time back, I had non-Muslim friends who would actually fast with me. This is how awesome it is to live here, in Cape Town!
Besides, every neighbor knows, Muslim or non-Muslim, that they will definitely be getting a plate of goodies come sunset. Respecting and understanding Islam and other religions means that you know about tolerance. It also means that you are working on your personal development.
How do we know its Ramadhan?
The sighting of the crescent moon, but off-course!
Did you know that Muslims follow an Islamic calendar and not the usual Gregorian Calendar? So you want to know the difference between a Gregorian calendar and an Islamic calendar?
The lunar calendar is slightly behind the Gregorian calendar by a few days. (around ten days)
The Islamic calendar is basically a lunar (moon) calendar.
Our year consists of twelve months and 354 days. It is called a Hijri calendar due to migration of the Prophet Muhammad s.a from Makkah to Madinah, Saudi Arabia. This calendar was inaugurated in the year 622 during the migration.
What Exactly Do Muslims Do In Ramadhan?
It is so simple.
We wake up way before the sun rises in order to have a small light breakfast. We call this breakfast suhoor or sehri. We do not eat or drink or engage in sexual intercourse or activities for the rest of the entire day, up until the sun sets. (Maghrib)
We pray an hour before the sun rises, a prayer called tahajjud. (We believe that the Lord of the universe listens to our requests and grants our wishes especially during certain hours. Prayers are guaranteed to be accepted.) We pray fajar just before the sun rises. This is our morning prayer after suhoor/sehri.
We abstain from all forms of sins while we fast. We also abstain from sexual intimacy, food and drink – not even water. We do this from dawn till dusk. We do this for one month continuously. This month is called Ramadhan. This is how Muslims fast.
We break our fast when the sun sets. We then pray our evening prayers called Maghrib, Esha and Taraweeh. We recite the holy Quraan during our prayers. One Quraan is completed during the taraweeh prayer and the 30 days of fasting in Ramadhan.
Wow, you say… That sounds difficult!
To be quiet honest, it is not that difficult.
Well..today after centuries and decades non-Muslims, are beginning to see the benefits and merits of fasting. Fasting was taught to us by our prophet Muhammad s.a hundreds of years ago. Also we recite bits of the quraan, one chapter a day thus, this how we complete the full and entire quraan within one month. So so so simple!
So yes, back to abstinence. It teaches us to control or desires. Abstinence differentiates us from animals. We all have desires, it is our natural instinct for human beings to have certain desires!
HOWEVER, as Muslims we tame and discipline our desires. Whether its food or intimacy, we are strong enough to refrain. Even our children of certain age and abilities, fast during this month, so why can’t any adult do it?
So You Want To Know What is The Purpose Of Ramadhan?
Have you ever played the game called Mario Brothers? Do you know that feeling of excitement that you get when you come across a mushroom which you bump only to reveal endless points?
Ramadhan is similar to this. It is the month to top up your blessings! However, it should not end there. Its purpose is to renew your faith. Its purpose is to form new spiritual habits.
It is a month to reflect, a month to bathe in humility and to forgo one’s desires. Ramadhan is a month to do a spiritual cleanse. It is a month to take stock of your life in order to try to change bad habits. Ramadhan is a month for repentance. It is a month to gain the mercy of one’s creator. Ramadhan is a month to attain taqwa (piety)
What is taqwa exactly?
Taqwa means to abstain from that which your Lord and my Lord has prohibited. Ramadhan is there so that we can get close to our creator. Ultimately the month of Ramadhan is to get close to one’s creator through good deeds and abstinence.
Fasting is also a month in which we are one and the same with the poor people. We understand hunger and difficulty; we understand the pain and hunger pangs of those who are less fortunate. Our senses are dulled, and our levels of spirituality are at its peak.
Making The Most Of This Month – 20 Tips
Are All The Devils Locked Up?
- Seek forgiveness from the ones your hurt and go into Ramadhan with a clean heart
- Forgive the ones who hurt you and let things go
- Start giving up bad habits two months before Ramadhan begins
- Stop focussing on food preparations. Focus on your inner demons and how to tame them.
- Keep reminding yourself about the essence of Ramadhan.
- Eat healthily to keep your strength and stay hydrated
- Rest and sleep for at least 20 minutes during the day, preferably after the midday prayer. This will prepare you for the evening prayers and Tahajjud. (Qiyaamul Lail)
- Try not to engage in doing anything that will take you away from attaining the pleasure Allah swt
- Speak less to avoid miscommunications, misunderstandings and arguments
- After each prayer, recite your holy Quraan so that you will complete it on time
- Ponder on the meaning and deeper interpretation of the holy Quraan as you read it
- Do your prayers on time
- Make fresh wudhu to avoid doubts
- Do salawat and adhkaar while you are working, cooking, cleaning and even at work
- Pray your taraweeh salaah and go to bed immediately afterwards – Don’t go scratching in the fridge or surfing online. You need your sleep!
- Focus on your concentration in salaah and build your connection with Allah. Read slowly. Ponder on the words.
- Constantly make istighfaar and ask Allah for forgiveness for everyone even your worst enemy. Pray for the Ummah, not just your sick nani (grandmother). Pray for everybody!
- Give loads of charity, feed the poor with whatever you can afford – You don’t have to dish out gold coins. Give within your means
- Avoid visiting people and places that will hinder your spiritual motivation – stay at home if you have wondering eyes. Rather visit ill people. You will earn reward,
Newsflash: If you think the shayateen(devils) are all gone, you are wrong. While the big shayateen are put to sleep temporarily..like wild rabid dogs, LOL, the other shayateen are not all locked up. Also, what about the devils within us? Our own nafs/desires?
If it was that easy to gain reward during this holy month, with absolutely little or no effort, the rewards would not be that huge. You have to make some effort too! What I am trying to say is, sometimes you and I are our own biggest enemy. That’s right! You are your worst enemy. Why? you ask.
Do I need to spell this out? Are you not a human being with desires and needs? Well, in that case you will still have a huge battle with your nafs if you have certain addictions such as addiction to t.v, women, cigarettes etc among other vices.
Have you ever searched online for some info and then suddenly a half-naked women pops up gyrating her hips to some jamming music?
Did you not find yourself wanting to sing along? If you are anything like me, you would rush to cover the screen and click the back button to get out of there, all the while screaming NO! NO! Noooooo!
Can you resist the next episode of your favorite series in order to listen to a lecture indstead?
I thought so. This is why I have stated above, that you should avoid all distractions and focus on your relationship with your Lord.
Remember that this is not just about Ramadhan and trying to attain bonus points for just one month. You are doing a spiritual cleanse in order to revive your soul permanently.
What you do with sincerity during Ramadhan is usually what you keep with you throughout the year.
Conclusion And Grand Finale
The best part about Ramadhan is that every single person, good or bad, takes something back with them. Everybody including sinners, strive to reform and to use Ramadhan as their turning point.
We Muslims don’t just fast because we have to. We do it because we want to do it. We fast because we make a choice daliy, to be practicing Muslims because we absolutely love our creator and Islam!
Yes, there are some of us who only care about Eid clothes and fancy finger food and savories for Ramadhan. There are loads of women out there who start planning their Eid clothes and activities etc way before Ramadhan begins. I plan on visiting the mosque for Eid salaah. That’s my Eid goal.
Please people, don’t just share this day with people you know. Invite single Muslims and new Muslims into your home to celebrate Eid with you. Eid is about sharing yourself and your home. So many people have nobody to celebrate Eid with. Remember to focus on the bigger picture!
You must be surprised to hear that I dream of attending mosque on Eid day, as most Muslim women don’t usually attend mosque, right? Wrong! Our prophet Muhammad s. a encouraged women to attend the Eid prayers in Eid ghah (congregation).
There is huge and copious amounts of blessings in this. While others prefer to stay at home and doll themselves up for their partners etc and lay fancy tables.
I prefer going to the mosque for Eid salaah. My parting advice to all of you is to plan your day and prepare in advance so that you can attend Eid salaah in the morning. You really don’t know what you are missing out on if you do not attend mosque on Eid day.
That being said, I urge you to make the best of Ramadhan as we have no clue if we will ever get this blessed month again. So many people were here last year. So many people thought they would be here this year too.
So many people did not make it to this year. Life is short. Remember that. Ditch the grudges. Forgive and move on. Walk into Ramadhan with a clear soul and begin again! May Allah (God) accept all our fasts and prayers. Aameen.
How do you spend Ramadhan and Eid in your country? Please feel free to comment on your Ramadhan experiences.