The 1.8 billion Muslims around the world are about to celebrate their second religious festival ‘Eid-ul-Adha’ in about a month and this very thought has taken me back to the Ramadan we spent during this Covid pandemic
Ramadan 2020 was one of a kind, what with mosques closed due to the pandemic and no chance of praying in congregation. It was a true test of our Iman (faith) and our commitment to our religious practices during Ramadan.
Things were very different yet extremely spiritual during this Ramadan and here are my experiences.
Ramadan, the 9th month in the Islamic calendar is the most sought after month for us Muslims. We eagerly look forward to it to regain the spiritual connection with our Lord and to bang in some good points by following strictly our prayers and fasting ritual. We also look forward to contributing to our society by giving our yearly Zakat (charity) to those who are in need.
As the pandemic spread across the world and things got worse we worried whether we would be able to spend Ramadan 2020 like all the Ramadans gone by. With strict regulations in place and as the decision to close the mosques was announced, we were stunned and pondered on how we could spend this auspicious month. Praying in congregation and listening to the beautiful recitation by the Imam (the one who leads the prayer) were essence of a wonderfully spent Ramadan. And then just like that we all turned our homes into little masjids (mosques).
It was truly a Ramadan like no other.
There were no nightly prayers at the masjid (mosque), no breaking fasts with the entire extended family and even the large congregational Eid prayer to mark the end of the month was cancelled. Many of us would travel to Makkah in Saudi Arabia to perform the pilgrimage of ‘Umrah’ during the last ten days of Ramadan but that too was not possible.
Every Ramadan my little family would break our fasts with our extended family and as we all met everyday and walked to the masjid (mosque) we would spiritually reconnect with our Lord and each other. This is something that was missed tremendously this year. But, all these cultural traditions and customs were given up for the safety of the entire community. And yet, this was the first year that just the four of us spent everyday breaking our fasts together.
This Covid Ramadan was special for our family as we connected with each other. The kids enjoyed Mamas home cooked meals, while Baba became our Imam (leader in prayer). Everyday as we prayed together, recited the Qur’an together and even started to memorize the Qur’an together, it was a realization that we as parents were investing in our ‘Sadaqa Jariya’ (charitable acts that carry on to reap rewards after death).
With work now converted into ‘Work From Home (WFH)’ it now became easier to stay up at night for doing ‘ibadah’ (worship). Having to go to work early in the morning used to limit our nightly worship but this gave a chance to all of us to stay up late at night and make good use of the last ten auspicious nights in a much more fruitful way. Tahajjud and Qiyam were made more easy now since we didn’t have a strict work schedule to follow.
Social Distancing and isolation turned into the best time for reflection.
Self reflection and reflection on our religious practices led my family to realize how our religion encourages us to practice cleanliness in our general daily life. Muslims believe that ‘cleanliness is half of faith’ and we are encouraged to perform ‘wudu’ (a ritual of cleaning our hands, face, arms and feet) before every obligatory prayer which is five times a day. All this talk of washing your hands all the time made my family realize how our Lord has already given us a mechanism to keep ourselves clean. In many ways us missing our daily prayers deprived us of the opportunity of keeping ourselves clean all day long.
This Covid Ramadan we ditched the practice of fancy iftars to show of our cooking skills which ended up in a lot food wastage. We would frantically prepare huge iftars but with the lockdown being enforced the iftar turned into a more low key affair where everyone helped and the food was kept simple, in turn causing almost no food wastage at all. We thanked Allah for having a wonderful little family and realized how important it was to gain up on spiritual points rather than worldly praise points.
We were forced to reconnect with the Qur’an on a more deeper level. We were able to dwell on the translation together as a family and this time Alhumdulillah the children learnt more duaas than they did during any other Ramadan.
During this Covid Ramadan we focused on deep connection and building a a more direct intimate relationship with our Lord, our Creator. It was truly a fruitful journey of all round growth and connection.