Thursday, 20 August 2009

An Auspicious Time

Confession time. When I was a kid, I used to hate Ramadan. Actually, hate is a strong word but I recall disliking it immensely. I was always petrified during the entire month. I can’t quite explain it, but I always saw 'things' or felt some kind of a presence around me and because I couldn’t identify it, it scared the shit out of me. One fears what one doesn’t know. The evenings in Ramadan used to be eerily silent and it was like I could hear the Universe pulsating. It used to freak me out!

Around the same time, I attended Madressa with my sister (which is like Sunday School, only every afternoon for those who don’t know) every day after school and I hated that too. I hated Madressa because our teachers weren’t educated, they were volunteers, so they tended to favour those kids they liked or knew from associations with their parents and I struggled a lot during my years there. I was very intelligent, but only when I applied myself. The problem was I had no incentive to apply myself in a society where bigotry reigned and one’s self-worth was determined by how much money your parents make.

It didn’t help matters that I struggled to read the Quraan, while it seemed effortless for everyone else. It wasn’t that I couldn’t read, I was actually quite fluent, if I read on my own. But every time I was required to read aloud in the classroom, it’s like I got stage fright and would start trembling and the words would abandon me. Most of my uneducated teachers were ruthless and instead of encouraging me or helping me through this traumatic experience, I was ridiculed incessantly. This did nothing for my self-esteem, already fragile by the onset of a disease everyone calls adolescence and it wasn’t long before I complained to my mother, utterly miserable about my circumstances. Mother, in true form, went to set all the teachers right by threatening to relieve them of their limbs and giving them free ‘facials’ if they so much as looked at me cock-eyed.

The years seemed to fly by, I eventually graduated from Madressa, and as I grew more confident and inquisitive, I began doing my own research into Islam. “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”, that’s what we were taught. I had already memorised several chapters of the Quraan by the time I left Madressa, and then sought to learn several more, with the intention of understanding whatever I had learned in both Arabic and English. I began learning from all kinds of sources, reading up as much as I could and found many inconsistencies between the various schools of thought. At one point, highly confused, I asked Mother what to make of it all and she said that I should use the Quraan and authentic Hadith as my guide. I then rejected every school of thought for what I call, True Islam. True Islam is beautiful, peaceful and loving. It’s not ugly and destructive.

I’ve learnt so much inside and outside of the Madressa. I've learnt that in Islam we are instructed to respect all religions and ridicule no one, because only The Almighty alone is allowed to judge. I've learnt that we can respect others regardless of their opinions, beliefs and practices, without necessarily accepting their opinions, beliefs and practices to be our own. I've learnt that Islam literally means “Peace” and that any transgression against that, including terrorism, goes against the very nature and laws that govern Islamic practices no matter how fanatics try to justify their actions. I've learnt that Islam advocates moderation, because anything in excess is detrimental to the soul. I’ve learnt that Islam isn’t this big bad wolf that everyone makes it out to be, and that most people are indoctrinated by leaders who believe that they know best. I’ve learnt that Islam is uncomplicated and effortless but people’s agendas and ulterior motives have transformed what is supposed to be beautiful into something that seems menacing and hostile to the outside world…much like the way the Church tried to govern its people during the Middle Ages. Politics and Religion aren't a good combination.

It's that time of the year again, when roughly 1.6 Billion of the earth’s population observe the holy month of Ramadan on the Islamic calendar. These days, I welcome Ramadan with open arms and become so enthralled through the days that I never want it to end. I find a lot of peace in the stillness of the night, when everything seems to stop momentarily. Sometimes I almost feel like I can climb outside our stratosphere and marvel and the wonderment beyond this world. And when I read the Quraan and my eyes sweep through the words, I can hardly believe that I am actually reading it. The power encapsulated in the words wrap around my soul like a sheath. It’s like the real miracles of life and this world are revealed to me during this propitious month.

During the next month, I will be uncharacteristically subdued…which is not a bad thing. I use this month to immerse myself in all things religious and reflect on my life and purpose on earth. I will continue blogging, although my posts will be somewhat different, of a different nature. I want to wish all the Muslims a blessed Ramadan filled with Taqwa and Yaqeen. May Allah SWT grant you strength and Sabr and may His infinite mercy be with you always.

Being forever mindful of everyone else, I’d also like to extend my well wishes to the Jewish community, for Rosh Hashanah commencing after sunset on the 18th of September and the Fast of Gedaliah on the 21st of September. And well wishes to the Hindu community, for those who celebrate Krishna Janmaashtami on the 24th of August and Onam on the 12th of September.

An auspicious time indeed.

10 comments:

  1. that sort of touched me in the nicest way :)
    btw-
    Janmashtami was on the 14th :)
    have a great fast :)
    take care of yourself..
    and eat lots of sevaiyyan at night

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ameen to your lovely duaa Azra baby :-) beautifully written as always- but evenmore so this time!
    Ramadhan mubarak to you and your family- i pray its a blessed one for you and all of us. Ameen.

    ReplyDelete
  3. i wish you well azra. may you and your loved ones be blessed!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ramadhan mubarak to you and your family :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Mash - Thanks

    LL - Thank You.

    Niyati - Thank you, and thanks for letting me know, I think I typed it up wrong :)

    Zahera - Ramadaan Mubarak to you and your family too & Ameen to that :)

    Prixie - Thank You...hope you're enjoying your birthday :)

    Dreamlife - Ramadaan Mubarak to you and yours too.
    May we all be blessed and in The Almighty's favour during this time.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Marshallah post...Aameen Thummah Aameen to your Dua'as.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Madrassah wasn't very kind on me too.I hate to say it, but I actually learnt more OUT of madrassah than IN madrassah. Sure I knew the basics, my kalimah's, my surah's, etc. But it wasn't a great environment as people often waited to ridicule a person.

    I love Ramadaan. Simply because it refocuses my energies and makes me take stock of my life so far and how I want to live it for the rest of my life.

    Ramadaan Mubarak to you too :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Princess - Thanks :D

    Fatima - The energy in Ramadaan is so magnetic...it feels like the one month everyone is on the same page and I think that sense of unity fosters another sens eof kinship. And theres no better time to take stock :) Hope alls well.

    ReplyDelete