One year back when I was in college, Ramadan happened to take place almost entirely during the winter break in between two semesters. It was nice to be able to sleep in after suhoor, not having to rush anywhere in the morning. I had a rule that I didn’t watch any TV while I fasted, although funny enough, I remember playing Tekken 3 on the Playstation most days to improve my fight game until the sun went down and it was time to break my fast.
I look back at that time and just shake my head. I can’t believe I had all this free time during Ramadan, no worries about anything as I was just waiting for the new semester to start, and I just wasted it. I mean, I can’t even remember any of the characters on Tekken 3 whereas with Street Fighter 2, I can still list off a lot of the fighters. Oh man, I remember back in the summer of ’98 in Pakistan playing Street Fighter 2 and winning 22 games in a row against my siblings and cousins as Ryu.
Wait, where was I…
These days, time during Ramadan is short. Wake up for suhoor around 3:15 (the alarm is set for 3 so I can at least get some exercise in, which has happened approximately twice during this Ramadan), make my french toast, drink coffee and water, and down some vitamins before it’s time to stop eating. After the fajr prayer, I may or may not try to get some more sleep before it’s time to head to work.
Life is so much busier than it used to be and I feel at a loss sometimes about how I’m not taking advantage of Ramadan as much as I should. I’ve been finding myself in a bit of a funk this Ramadan, an attitude that I’m not really used to. I realized that it’s not the hunger that gets to me while fasting – one gets used to that in time – but it’s all the other things I took for granted: drinking a cold glass of water to help cool me when I feel flustered or stressed out, stepping outside to get some air and ending up at a coffee shop, and in general, just having better control over emotions.
I welcome the fact that I haven’t really gone to many iftars this year because I feel like I need more time to myself these day. Even for the community iftar I did want to attend, I broke my fast at home and then ended up going in time to could catch the spiritual talk at the end of the evening so I wouldn’t have to deal with a lot of people trying to get food at once. Also, I’ll be honest, it was also a way for me to shield everyone from the mood that I’m sure I’ve been radiating these past couple of weeks.
Ramadan is almost half way over and I’m not where I want to be, need to be, on a religious observational standpoint.
I feel a bit ridiculous with my boo hoo, woe is me-type attitude when there is so much going on in the world. The Palestinians of Gaza, for example, are fasting under insane circumstances as the residential areas are constantly being bombarded by missile fire, ending in the deaths of many civilians. Here’s an article about Ramadan in Gaza.
There are so many articles out there about the current situation in that area, some balanced, others not so much that it’s becoming information overload and can really propel one into a downward spiral when you realize there’s not much you can do.
And really then, this conflict is one of many around the world – there is the crisis in Syria, the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar, and this list can just go on and on. The Uighurs in China are even banned from fasting from the government, which is nothing new but still something I can’t even wrap my head around.
We all have our own struggles but I still feel somewhat ashamed then of being where I’m at mentally when there is so much “bad stuff” going on in the world and locally too. As much as the people in Palestine and Syria need our prayers, so do the homeless in Oakland and San Francisco, for example.
So here’s the thing, Ramadan is half way over and it’s been hard but I hereby challenge myself to look at things from a different perspective and make the most out of what’s left in this blessed month, InshAllah. I’ll start by offering prayers to those in need and also help financially when I can. I hope you all can too as well.