DOHA, Qatar (MindaNews / 04 April) — The sounds of banging, cracking and grating coconuts in the early hours of the night during Ramadhān are invigorating and are one of my best childhood memories.
This coconut is used for “sabaw maimu’” or sweetened soup, which is common for the old folks, especially for pre-dawn meals during Ramadhān. As our neighbors prepared their food as well, the same sounds resonated with them.
It makes me nostalgic to remember the time when, as we ate our predawn-meal, we could hear the call of our neighbouring masājid resounding throughout our place.
“Bati’ na kamu! Bati’ na kamu! Sahur! Sahur! (Wake up! Wake up! It’s time for pre-dawn meal).
This practice is common in some Muslim-dominated communities during the whole month of Ramadhān to awaken and remind people to prepare and take their pre-dawn meal so that they cannot be reached by the Fajar time.
While I could not fast yet because I was still a child then, my elders would let me join them to eat.
“I know you can’t fast for now, but come eat with us. I’ll let you have lunch by noon. At least you’ll become used to fasting. When you get older, you get accustomed to it,” my maternal grandmother explained.
At our early age, our precious elders planted in our hearts the value of fasting in the month of Ramadhān. They taught us that as Muslims, we are obliged to fast during Ramadhan when we reach the age of puberty because this is one of the pillars of Islam as our comprehensive way of life. Likewise, we must be as obedient as possible to the “authentic” teachings of Islam. This is how my elders raised me when I was young.
A few days from now, Ramadhān 1442H is about to commence. (Ramadan is estimated t to start on April 13 – ed.). This is the second Ramadhān to be observed by Muslims elsewhere as the world continues to face the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, certainly, not this health crisis that still engulfs the world would stop Muslims around the world to fast during the blessed month of Ramadhān. In fact, we are all exhilarated for the arrival of this noble guest on the second week of April.
Ramadhān is the ninth month of lunar-based Islamic calendar. During this month, every able Muslim who has reached the age of puberty is obliged to abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Yes, we are not allowed even to sip a small amount of water for at least more-than 10 hours every day.
Fasting during this month has one major objective: for the believer to be fearful to their Rubb. Allāh said: “O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed upon those before you in order that you may attain taqwaa.” — Qur’an, chapter 2, verse 183.
On this blessed month, the Qur’an, as the fundamental source of Islamic Law and a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion was revealed. Allāh says: “The month of Ramadhān in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).” — Qur’an, chapter 2, verse 185.
Fasting is not just about abstaining from eating and drinking. It’s more than that. The one who is fasting is prohibited to slander, to spread gossip and to do any other bad behavior. Every righteous deed that is allowed by the Sharia on this month is of immense virtue and earns greatly multiplied rewards in the hereafter. To mention a few, providing iftar for a fasting person, especially the less fortunate ones; helping the needy by any good means; and promoting peace and harmony, especially during this time of health crisis.
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadhān out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, his previous sins will be forgiven. Whoever stands in prayer during the Night of Decree out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, his previous sins will be forgiven.” Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 1802, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 760
Ramadhān is not a month of punishment for us because we couldn’t eat and drink for a certain period. But rather it is a month of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual rejuvenation which is crucial for one’s health and well-being. Many health experts say that fasting has enormous medical benefits for an individual.
Noteworthy to mention, during this month, every house of Muslims is filled with unexplainable happiness. Even kids who still couldn’t fast are also elated. This is also a great opportunity to strengthen the ties between and amongst kinship. Indeed, Ramadhān is a month of love and mercy.
During this pandemic, there are many Muslim frontliners worldwide, who, despite fasting, continue to render invaluable humanitarian services to the people regardless of faith, creed, race, color, or gender. Let’s include them in our fervent prayers to make things easy for them.
May the advent of this blessed month of Ramadhān 1442H mark the end of the agonies of everyone in the world as a result of this pandemic crisis.
Allāhummā Ballighnā Ramadhān. Aameen Ya Rabb.
(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano of Sulu is a registered Radiologic Technologist who works in Doha, Qatar. He was on his way to Sulu supposedly for vacation with his family when the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in mid-March 2020 in Zamboanga City. He is back in Doha)