Ramadan has always been a delicious time both for the mind and soul. The calmness one feels internally seems to linger in the air, like fresh blooming flowers. It is truly a time of reflection and the heightened worship and awareness feels like magic as there is a palpable connect with your Maker.
It’s been the strangest Ramadan of my life. A Ramadan where I truly fear if I will make it to the next Ramadan with my near and dear ones. Oddly, it doesn’t invoke any fear or feeling of hell or heaven in me. I feel numb, blank, and void of emotion.
Sea of Thoughts
Every year I post my thoughts in my productive Ramadan diary and reading the previous year’s logs just before next Ramadan gives me an Iman surge. I start reading the Quran to complete the Khatham with renewed energy. This year, there is a shadow so dark in my heart that I write my first Ramadan log on Day 10.
There is no Ramadan surge and my Iman levels are dipping dangerously low. I am still on Juz 4 and waddling through a sea of to-do lists.
I haven’t made any of our family ‘Ramadan-only’ dishes and my children are not even reminding me of it. It’s as if they both grew up too soon and understand the gravity of the situation in the outside world. I just wish they didn’t. I can’t sleep at night and it’s not because I have to wake up for Suhoor at 3.30am.
I am trying hard to remain confident and stay above all the bad news floating around me. There is no moment when my heart stops reciting ‘la hawla wa-la quwwata illa bi-llahi l-aliyi l-azimi’ (‘There is no power nor strength except by Allah.’). Yet, my depression seeps deeper and seems difficult to pacify. Every ambulance siren from outside the window triggers an ‘Ayat al-Kursi’ (the verse of protection) on my lips. I beg Allah to save every single suffering person. It is said that Allah does not return empty a hand that is raised in Dua.
This growing sense of desperation is overwhelming. What all will we worry about? The unpaid rent, the lost job, the inability to find a new job, continuous site work of your brother, his daily exposure to the dreaded virus, pay cuts, cousin of a friend fighting for life ... death of known people, one partner desperately in search of a job, another partner working all night to complete the mounting workload ... Amid this chaos inside the household and outside the household, what all will you worry most about?
The Mind Wars
It’s a different kind of war. Inside your mind as well as outside. Families confined to homes, starvation of people without homes or jobs, parents who need to be on the front line to keep their families in homes and out of starvation.
A small sneeze by your younger one keeps you awake at night. You wash grocery bags and the plastic covers of food items obsessively. We are fighting a war and it is against an invisible enemy. Its possibilities are at a higher level than what you watched in many science fiction films.
We can dream of a day when we will all be carefree once again. A kinder world, a calmer world. A day where man will be more aware and harmonious with nature and one another. “It’s not in a distant future,” says hope.
It’s time for Magrib prayer. Take a moment to breathe deeply and slowly. The thirst is gone and the tongue is moistened. The hearts will be quenched too, in time. Make that Dua while breaking your fast which will surely be answered. Inshallah, this too shall pass.
Feby Imthias is a freelance writer based in Abu Dhabi.