Over a fortnight has passed since the Ramadan celebrations ended and the hundreds of Instagram pics of sparkly Eid outfits, Starbucks Frappuccinos and mehndi patterns are long gone. Some are probably still basking in their puppy fat weight loss or bemoaning their unfortunate spare tyre after indulging in too much fried food for Iftar (the post-fasting meal).
For me, I noted a striking sense of sadness among the Ummah (the global muslim family) when the month of Ramadan had finished. It’s quite difficult for non-Muslims to understand how the majority of Muslims can be excited about fasting. When I was 10 I did a 12-hour fast for Christian Aid (with as much water as I wanted) and thought I’d done something incredible. Now I feel a bit cheeky for accepting people’s money for something that Muslims do for free! I remembering thinking that Muslims were crazy for doing something so ‘unnatural’ but here I am two Ramadans later alhamdulillah and probably considered just as crazy by my workmates. For that reason, I always made an effort to smile around my boss during Ramadan and to refrain from complaining so that I could try and convey in a small way the fact that Muslims actually look forward to the challenges and blessings of Ramadan all year. A shared activity such as fasting is such a powerful way of bringing people together and gives a renewed sense of unity to the billion plus people who partake in it.
One of the great things about Ramadan being thirty days is that it is a long enough period for your new routines to become a habit which you can then aim to carry on throughout the year. Whether this means you escape the shackles of caffeine addiction, smoking or even changing your sleep pattern so you can wake up and be productive in the morning. On the down side though, the rest of the year is pretty long too and it’s difficult to keep up the habits you’ve learned.
Firstly, I miss the excitement and group enthusiasm about the five daily prayers (Salah). I think this was indicated in the most modern of ways by the fact that #fajr (the first prayer of the day) was trending without fail for each of the thirty days of Ramadan. Obviously just because it’s not trending now doesn’t mean that people aren’t up and praying but for me at least, I do find it hard to keep up that Ramadan enthusiasm for Salah. Sometimes it feels like just another chore to fit into my busy schedule and becomes a bit robotic. So for myself, my aim for this month to make sure that prayer doesn’t play second fiddle to everything else in my life. Here are some of my main observations from the last month.
Unfortunately after less than a month I’ve found that I’m already addicted to Caffeine again. In fact, I’m more dehydrated now than when I was unable to drink during a 17-hour day! I was happily chugging away 8 pint glasses of purified water through the night whereas now I’m barely having a pint glass in between the ritual caffeine boosts. It's strange that while water was the only thing I could think about last month but only a month later I continually forget to drink all day!
I've also realized that I need to re-focus my mind again to remind myself of what both the mind and body are capable of doing. One thing that surprised me during Ramadan was that my level of Thirst plateaued that you get used to. At work normally, my tummy rumbles after only two hours without a snack but during Ramadan it almost stopped making noise completely (except for brief whimper where lunch would normally be). So now I need to remind myself that there's a big difference between really needing food and just fancying that kinder bueno in the cupboard because it's there (staring at you!)
Finally, a note for those who know new reverts. Ramadan is a time when there is usually a sudden influx of New Muslims, many who were either researching during the month and then decided to make it official or those doing their very first fast. It's a really exciting time to become a Muslim during the fanfare and excitement of Ramadan but it's tough in the following months when you find yourself overwhelmed by so much to learn and often you don't know where to turn, especially if you're family and friends are coming to terms with the change too. So if you do know any new reverts you could always pop in and say hi or just send a quick message on Twitter or Facebook just to see how they're getting on. I'm sure it would be really appreciated.
★ ★ ★
Inshallah (God Willing) this was helpful to some of you.
Please feel free to leave any comments or advice below
Are there are things that you find difficult to keep up throughout the year?