Ramadan comes every year in wonder, without fail. I know it will come. I know it is coming. It has now ended. But what state did it find me in? All I had thought about, in the lead up, was all the appointments I would miss because of my inability to attend brunches, dinners, weddings, parties and breakfasts. I wondered: how would I tell people that I just can’t be there?
And, just like every year, I realized how silly this preoccupation is compared to what I am about to do. As much as there is excitement and angst in anticipation of this month, there’s a bit of dread too: the pain, the sacrifice; the late nights.
How you feel, I think, really does depend on the state you’re in or how the preceding months, since the last Ramadan, has been. This year has been particularly challenging. I am not surrounded by Muslims. I am not surrounded by family. I live in a quaint town with a lot of friends and acquaintances; there is no one close to me who follows Ramadan or the sort of teachings in Islam that ultimately are so universal: honesty, love and respect of everyone including plants and animals, polite conduct.
When I am the only Muslim I know, however, it’s hard to feel inspired and connected. I know that I could be by reading the Qur’an daily, keeping faithfully with my daily prayers, even when I am at a friend’s house or wherever I may be, as much as possible.I could be listening to lectures on Islam, watching inspiring talks — there is a lot that I can do. But I just have not done my part, dissuaded by this world and its many liberties, follies and frivolous occupations.
I know that the word of God is all that counts and all that heals me. Yet despite knowing this, despite having it be an intricate part of my DNA even, I have drifted in prayer, in devotion, in speech, in action and in my heart. It is hard to admit.
Ramadan came and I had to renew a bond, a devotion, a commitment to God. It comes, as it always does, at a time that is always a good time; a time during which I find myself astray from the basics that I know so very well. I am a Muslim but I don’t feel like a very good Muslim. Ramadan found me, as it does every year, and I found it, as I do every year. And I try to runaway; I am not good enough: I cannot pray or fast, it’s too tiring. How can I plunge myself into the devotional acts of worship when I have not been faithful all year round?
I wish I could find people to share Ramadan with me. Show me the Taraweeh prayers that I have not experienced yet in my 36 years and teach me how to read the Qur’an properly with its meanings and enchantments,. I wish I could find people with whom I can experience prayer, devotion and meditation quietly and communally.