Thursday, July 25, 2013

Ramadan Reflections

Salam aleikum, folks. I know that we're halfway through Ramadan already, but I figured I'd jot down a few notes to reflect on the month thus far.

Ramadan is the month of the Qur'an. I set a goal to read through the whole Qur'an in this month, because what better way to get close to Allah than to read His Guidance, right? Well, I've failed pretty miserably in that goal, but I am reminded that every day is another chance to set and meet my goals, inshAllah. While reading the whole Qur'an in this month would be totally cool, is it really necessary? What good does it do for me to read the Qur'an during Ramadan if I don't so much as take it off the shelf the rest of the year? (For the record, I do try to read even one ayah per day, so my Qur'ans don't collect dust.)

I know this month is supposed to be one of reflection, of evaluating my life and relationship with Allah, and seeking to improve both.

Frankly, I don't get that spiritual connection. I get hungry. I get thirsty. I get tired and have headaches and bizarre sleeping patterns. But that "amazing spiritual renewal" that you read and hear everyone talking about? I don't get it. I never have. What I *do* get is a feeling of depression. Not "I'm a wee bit blue", but a full-blown "getting dressed is too much work" kind of depression.

I'm sure that this situation is partly to do with lack of food/water (let's be honest, I spend a lot of time munching on snacks and drinking assorted beverages - something I don't realize until I'm fasting). And partly to do with the fact that I quit a job I hated, moved halfway across the country, and am now (once again) unemployed - this time in a tiny town where jobs are scarce - and have too many bills. Ramadan started just in time for me to spend it alone again this year. The closest masjid is an hour and a half away, and I was far less than impressed when I visited it the first jummah of Ramadan.

So I find myself spending my days sprawled on the couch -- sometimes in my pajamas the whole day -- watching torturous tv (have you seen "Man V. Food"? NOT the show you wanna watch while fasting... but I can't look away. FOOD!), maybe napping, and generally doing nothing beneficial or remotely related to spiritual things. I count the minutes until iftar, and wake up to eat suhoor in the dark by myself, then go back to sleep for a few hours. My life essentially revolves around the time that I can eat and drink again.

I had a brother tell me last year that he thinks perhaps Ramadan is less a "month of fasting", and more a time period of variable length in which we hit rock-bottom emotionally and spiritually and get to the point where we simply have to lean on Allah to make it through. I find his theory rather fascinating -- it would definitely explain how I feel during Ramadan -- I tend to be more literal and less philosophical in my approach. For my part, I don't like to analyze everything for deeper meanings. I think that, sometimes, a month is just a month. Fasting just means not eating or drinking. Salah just means praying. That sort of thing. I admire people who can take their study to such a deep level, but I like for some things to just be simple.

So, in the light of the depression I've faced both Ramadans I've attempted, how do I get that "Ramadan feeling" that everyone else is so elated about?

I don't know. But I've no doubt Allah will help me get there. When the going gets tough, the tough needs to crack open a Qur'an and just read.