My Ramadan challenge

By Imraan Assim

A few years ago I gave some of my madrassa students a checklist of a few tasks that they would commit to during Ramadan. They listed things like “not being mean to my siblings, helping mommy in the kitchen, and lending a hand in the kitchen.”

I thought about what things can help me and my spiritual state during this month, since all of us can stand to gain. I thought I’d challenge myself and put it out there for all to see. This way if I’m caught slipping, someone out there can help remind me.

1. Abstain from the perennial moon-sighting debates

Follow the qualified opinion that you subscribe to, with the understanding that the opinion you’ve submitted to has done its due diligence and arrived at a correct and valid conclusion. Remember that differences in this community are a mercy. The discussion surrounding calculations, naked-eye sighting, and international observances, etc. are matters best left up to the scholars.

2. Accept that some people pray 8 Rakats of Taraweeh

When you go to the mosque to pray your nightly prayers, focus on you! Be spiritually selfish and don’t try to police other people’s observances. Be happy that they stayed for eight or that they only believe 8 is required. Better yet, have a good opinion of them and assume they’re making up the additional 12 at home. The 20 vs. 8 annual debate is boring, lame, and unnecessary.

3. Don’t critique the Imam’s recitation

If you feel that the Imam you’re praying behind is too fast, too slow, or too young, please feel free to find another mosque. There’s no shortage of those in Greater Toronto Area! Why complain and make a scene to interrupt and put other people’s spiritual states in jeopardy, when you can quietly exit and join another congregation? Don’t you think there is a reward in the extra steps that you’re taking to find that solace in your prayer?

4. Rejoice to see additional brethren at the mosque

Far too often, do we hear of Muslims criticizing other Muslims calling them “Ramadan Muslims”. Why not recognize the magnitude of this month? Why not be happy to see that this blessed month has caused people who may otherwise not pray, to come out and pray? This month has the power to turn sinners into saints – so you can gripe about these new faces or be happy and greet them.

5. Enjoy food

Yes, that’s right, this Ramadan you should enjoy your food. Realize that food is a provision from the Almighty and not the result of your earnings or hard work. Thank the Lord for this blessing and quit complaining about the lack of salt or seasoning. If you happen to be at a mosque Iftar, you shouldn’t complain about the lack of second servings or the time it took the volunteers to serve you. Be thankful, appreciative, and loving to your wife (or mother, or sister, or daughter) for their preparation and the secret ingredient in their cooking – love!

When I think about all of these points (that will be a challenge for me to adhere to), I realize that my mother and father taught me all of these things as a young child. However, sometimes, back to the basics isn’t such a bad thing!

What’s your Ramadan challenge this year?