I celebrated my first Ramadan... hm... let's see...oh, it's already been six years by now!
Time is running, subhanAllah!
I remember it was mid-September, the high school just started. The sun lost from his burning summer power, the days were bearably long.
At that time, I was a Muslim only for half a year.
The Funny Story of My First Sohoor (Pre-Dawn Meal)
I already saw in my community Muslim sisters before making up their days of the last Ramadan and honestly, they looked just fine, none could tell looking at them that they're actually fasting. I was quite surprised. I also tried it for a day back at the end of the winter, when days are short, how it feels to fast.
New Muslims in Ramadan
Well, let's say that one lesson I really learned that day: don't eat too much for Sohoor (Pre-Dawn meal)! What happened to me is that I didn't know what to expect exactly from a day spent fasting. So, I decided to be on the safe side and make some more sandwiches than usual. Instead of one bigger sandwich, I made three!
I guess, I don't need to tell you how I felt the rest of the day; I didn't even touch my iftar that night. But at least now I knew that the same amount of food you eat for breakfast will be completely enough for Sohoor in Ramadan. Not too bad as a start!
However, I felt so happy to successfully complete my first day of fasting, Ramadan still scared me a bit. Fasting a whole month when days are still long and the weather is still hot seemed so hard, let alone that Ramadan is not just about leaving the food and drink, it is much more than that: you need to really control your anger, your tongue, leave any minor sin and do more good deeds which please Allah.
Ramadan is not that easy; you have to work hard and utilize every moment of it to get closer to Him. So, it meant for me that I must be more patient, no more arguments or quarrels with my parents or my sister, and now it is really time to get rid of every other minor sin I was trying to procrastinate till that time due to my lack of courage to face them such as listening to music or the unnecessary chatting with my male classmates.
My Ramadan Schedule
|The community, whose lectures I used to attend, prepared a very special iftar on the first day.|
When Ramadan finally arrived, I felt myself fully prepared with the schedule in my head; Waking up to eat Sohoor (the lesser the better), praying Fajr, reading some Quran translation till the time comes to get prepared for school (between them it was only about 45 min.), praying each prayer on its time, avoiding any haram in the school as much as possible, listening to the Quran while riding the bus or walking.
At home, studying for the next day then reading and listening to the Quran at the same time at least two pages per day, (I already knew how to read and write in Arabic), and read any other book about Islam to increase my knowledge. If there was any lecture on the afternoon, I took the chance and attended it. At night, eating iftar, praying Taraweeh (extra night prayers) at least 4 units but the goal is 8+3 units. That was my Ramadan plan which I had succeeded more or less at the end, alhamduliAllah.
The First Special Iftar
The community, whose lectures I used to attend, prepared a very special iftar on the first day: they invited many knowledgeable speakers who gave us very interesting and informative lectures on different topics since the early afternoon, we listened to a beautiful live Quran recitation, we broke our fast and prayed all together the Maghrib (sunset) prayer.
As a new Muslim, I felt I couldn't be in a better place than this; the unity of Muslims, which I hadn't truly experienced before, was really touching and delightful. Let alone, of course, the appetizing dishes and sweets from the Turkish and Arabic cuisine. SubhanAllah, in Ramadan I can really feel the hadith of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) saying:
“When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the Hellfire are closed, and the devils are chained.” (Al-Bukhari)
In my first Ramadan I was a high school student. It was still the beginning of my last school year, no tests, no exams. I wasn't working, my mom was the one cooking for us, I wasn't a wife yet; all in all, no further responsibility was lying on my shoulders, I was completely free to only focus on worshipping Allah and to get closer to Him. The whole afternoon was there to read and listen to Quran, go to lectures.
Of course, such conditions make Ramadan much easier than when you are actually working 8+ hours and running home for iftar being exhausted or when you must fulfill other duties of yours such as cooking, cleaning the home, looking after the children,...etc.
I felt Allah made fasting really easy for me, alhamduliAllah, and it didn't bother me for a single moment that people are drinking, eating next to me, because you're fasting only for Allah, so why would you care what other people do around you? I can say, my first Ramadan really brought me closer to Allah.
The Teachings of Ramadan
During fasting, I didn't feel hunger at all, maybe just the thirst which was a new experience for me. I mean, of course I felt thirsty before, but definitely not for a whole day. But you know what? We, people, usually don't appreciate the gift of Allah's provision. We get used that almost any kind of food or drink is available in the hypermarkets 24/7.
We eat even if we don't feel hungry; family gatherings, BBQ parties with friends or colleagues are full of delicious meals which we can't resist to not taste them all, right? Or when we crave some chocolate or a piece of cake on the afternoon, we can simply just walk to the nearest supermarket and buy it. So easy!
|In each Ramadan day, Allah reminds you to appreciate every single piece you take into your mouth and every sip of water you drink...|
We eat besides the laptop surfing on the internet, while watching the TV until the plate empties without actually sensing the taste of the food. It seems that nowadays we completely forgot what the original function of food is: giving power and energy to our body for functioning as the hadith teaches us how to eat in a healthy way:
"No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath." (At-Tirmidhi)
We totally forgot also that it is a gift from Allah which is not given to every one of us. We have absolutely no any idea how it feels not being able to eat or drink at the time we want to. But in Ramadan you can taste these moments; how those millions of people out there live their everyday life-without food, without water.
Appreciate Every Little Gift of God
In each Ramadan day, Allah reminds you to appreciate every single piece you take into your mouth and every sip of water you drink which are just one from His countless blessings. But that is how we, humans, are: when we have something, we usually don't appreciate it until we've lost it.
Ramadan is a perfect time to realize the millions and billions of blessings Allah has given us and continuously giving each and every day, and in Ramadan He reminds us to thank Him for all of them in our daily du'as, so let us never forget it, inshaAllah!
I love Islam for many reasons and one of them is that it taught me not to just walk on the earth and live your life, but think about every single thing you see around yourself or experience on a daily basis, because truly everything, even yourself, reflects the power and mercy of Allah.
May Allah accept our fasting, our du'as and all our good deeds in Ramadan, and make us be among those believers who enter Paradise as the hadith says:
“Paradise has eight gates, and one of them is called Ar-Rayyan through which none will enter but those who observe fasting.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Related Links:Establishing Brotherhood in Ramadan
New Muslims in Ramadan’s Last Precious Ten Days
Ramadan Countdown: Ready? (Folder)
From “Fifteen Minutes for God” to a Lifetime
The Sunnah of Planning in Islam