It’s that month of the year, a month that allows us all to improve our health, our lifestyle, fix not just our dunya (worldly affairs) but also our deen (religious affairs). It’s Ramadan and today’s the first day we’re fasting here in Pakistan!
Ramadan for me is a time for reflection. To acknowledge and accept my flaws and work towards fixing them. I aim to correct at least a few such flaws each year. For this year, I’m focusing on improving my health, especially because I’ve had a few episodes of getting really sick in the past few months (I might post about it later). Most importantly, the reason behind focusing on health is that our bodies and our health are amanah to Allah swt and we are answerable to Him in terms of whether we take care of this aspect of our being or not.
My aim is to eat a more healthy diet, although I had leftover pizza for Suhoor, not the healthiest option but I compensated with a few fruits (taking baby steps towards a healthier lifestyle) bananas and dates to be precise (extra reward for following Sunnah of having dates for Suhoor), plus I want to exercise (even if it’s just walking the daily recommended steps per day) and getting my 8 hours of sleep and fixing my overall schedule. Whew! Doesn’t sound like a lot but it actually is challenging when you get down to doing it! Let’s see how much of this I can accomplish.
In terms of Deen, I’m focusing on praying more regularly and on time, along with a few extra voluntary prayers (tahajjud for starters) to make up for any mishaps or wrongdoings I may have done knowingly or unknowingly (Sorry, Allah Mian!).
My mama-in-law gave an awesome idea that is to pray tahajjud as soon as we wake up for Suhoor; all that needs to be done is to do wudu instead of just washing the face and brushing the teeth for Suhoor, like we usually do so praying Tahajjud literally takes five minutes but is so rewarding and gratifying! Speaking of gratitude, the next point is something I really cherish about Ramadan!
A Renewed Sense of Gratitude
Not eating or drinking, for 10 hours to 21 hours (depending on where you are in the world) sure does establish a renewed sense of gratitude. The hunger pangs and parched lips, in spite of having access to ample food and clean water to drink, enables us to think about those who think of these basic necessities of life as luxuries because all they have is one meal per day and murky water to drink.
So after 13 hours of fasting, when I sit down with the whole family to open my fast with a date, that date seems like such a blessing. A sip of water becomes so much more valuable than any other luxury in the world and I realize how blessed I am and that there’s so much that can be done for those who are less privileged.
Pakistan might be a developing country and the majority of the people might not be the wealthiest but they do have hearts of gold. This is why Pakistan is one of the most charitable countries in the world! The amount of charity that is given out here is astounding.
According to Express Tribune, a study conducted by Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy shows that Pakistanis give around Rs. 240 billion (more than $2 billion) annually to charity.
The report indicates that about 98 percent of people in the country give in one form or another – if not with cash, then with in-kind donations or by volunteering for needy causes.
Fueling this culture of generosity is the Islamic emphasis on giving – in the form of Zakat, Sadaqa, and Fitrana – as well as other moral and social factors and a deeply rooted sense of compassion toward community members. – Source
Although, when it comes to charity, it’s best to look around in your closest circle and see who is in need of it the most (such as relatives who might be struggling with financial issues, house help, guards, peons, etc.) but if you want to go above and beyond that then some charitable organizations that I trust the most for donations are Edhi Foundation, Shauqat Khanum, SIUT, 141 Schools and most recently Robinhood Army (I will be sharing a detailed post regarding Robinhood Army soon).
One of the things I cherish the most about Ramadan is family time. The fact that the entire family wakes up at the same time for Sahoor and sits together at iftar, prays together, the meal preps, the chit chats, the catching ups, all make Ramadan so much more special and a month I look forward to the entire year. It’s like a whole month of festivities! I’ll take this moment to ignore what I said about healthy eating for a minute and give a shout out to pakoras that bind the family together or wage wars at the dining table! Joke apart…I think having a few pakoras now and then even as part of a healthy lifestyle is alright!
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not the branded clothes, lavish dinners and the never-ending selfies that are the most important aspects of Eid ul Fitr, it is actually Fitr that is the most important aspect of Eid. While trying to find a way to explain what Fitr stands for, I came across a very thorough yet simple description on Imran Khan’s Cancer Appeal website:
Zakat al-Fitr, also commonly known as ‘Fitrana’, is the compulsory charity paid by every Muslim at the end of Ramadan. It is a way for Muslims to give thanks that they were able to complete the month of fasting.
What beautiful way to mark the end of a month full of blessings!
Yes…I absolutely love the festive feel of Eid with everyone dressing up, mehndi being almost mandatory for all the female members of the household and get-togethers that allow us to catch up with family members both close and distant ones. However, let’s not forget the true spirit of Ramadan and Eid and become the giving hand so much so that perhaps someday there won’t be anyone needy left that needs a giving hand.