💗 Living Heart:full

Whatever happened to Ramadan?

Lights. Decorations. Lavish Food. Grocery shopping frenzies. Lively family gatherings. ‘Ramadan Nights’ festivities. Suhoor outings. Countless TV series. Catchy TV commercials. Relatable internet memes. Never-ending social media trends. Did I mention countless TV series? We are all familiar with the social forms surrounding the holy month of Ramadan; my contention here is that perhaps we have become all too familiar.

I’m fine with all these forms; social forms in moderation never hurt anyone, right? As long as the essence of Ramadan remains untouched, without compromise… But is that currently the case? Are we able to maintain the balance between the essence of Ramadan and its social forms? Or is it that the more we indulge in the forms, the more we lose touch with the essence? Is the essence gradually being hijacked by the form?

Whatever we seem to be doing during the holiest of months is becoming increasingly commercialized, commodified and consumerized with each passing year by the media, the market, and whoever else is invested in the circulation of capital in the system. Increasing our rate of consumption during Ramadan has become their ultimate profit metric. Drowning ourselves in a sea of distractions has become their ultimate marketing strategy. Amusing ourselves until we’re numb has become their ultimate sedative to maintain the status quo. Feeding on our perpetual whims and desires becomes their ultimate aim in production. Capitalizing on our spiritual vulnerability and weaknesses has become their ultimate business opportunity. The only quasi-freedom being encouraged becomes the freedom to consume and the only end to seek becomes profit. The only quasi-religion being promoted is now Capitalism, the only reward available for the masses is consumption and the only form of worship acceptable is their own labour. The rise of consumerism has become a silent disease seeping into every single aspect of our lives and sadly the realm of spirituality is no exception.

Everything around us is calling us to forget, while this holy month is calling us to remember. Everything around us is pressuring us to let go, while this holy month is reminding us to hold on. Everything around us is encouraging us to consume, while this holy month is commanding us to refrain. The contrast between where we are now and what we are called to be is astounding. Just imagine, if there were no Ramadan at all, where would we be?

We are slowly but surely losing something; something precious and irreplaceable; something we cannot afford to lose. And it’s becoming harder to hold on to the rest of whatever it is. We cannot keep pretending that our surrounding social reality has no effect on our spirituality or that our habits of consumption come at no cost to our psyche. Those of us who deeply care cannot turn a blind eye to the signs. Some part of the essence of Ramadan is slipping and being channeled into the form.

One thing we can do to escape these distractions is by closing our eyes and turning inward to the world within; by seeking to revive the essence and curb the form; by rediscovering the Divine treasures we have already been given; by transcending the sea of irrelevance; by realizing what we are truly missing out on and returning to the essence of Ramadan…

A gift beyond reckoning. Another chance. A detox from worldliness. A course correction. A spiritual ascension. A reawakening of the spirit. A revival of the heart. A subjugation of the ego. A glimpse of one’s spiritual potential. A reminder of one’s servitude. An unmatched opportunity for self-reflection. An ultimate reality check. A time dedicated for seclusion from the crowd. A space designed for retreating from the chaos. A nudge from one’s sleepwalking. A door out of space and time, and into the infinite and timeless. A restoration of one’s dwindling state of presence. A transcendence over the body. A suspension of the senses. An awakening of the conscience. An unfolding of an inner reality. A miraculous source of inner peace and calm. An invitation to draw closer to what truly matters in this life. A summoning to what is beyond. A deliverance from error and shortcoming. A redemption from regret and fallacy. An immersion in Divine Love, Grace and Mercy. A gentle wake up call to remember. A window to all prayers. A door to all bounties. A clean slate. A new beginning; one better than ever before. A recollection of our purpose of origin. A return to the Divine.

Maybe it’s just me, but to lose the infinite eternal gain in exchange for the finite temporary forms is not nearly as worth what is truly at stake. I fear that a time will come when a precious day and night in Ramadan becomes just like any other day and night of the year; like nothing special. And so I have vowed to resist the excess of forms with every breath I have left in order to hold on to the essence.

Because to go against the flow nowadays is an act of courage. To break the shackles of consumption is an act of rebellion. To rise above the endless flux of trends is an act of resistance. To say no to distraction is an act of bravery. To resist indulging in the forms is an act of discipline. To challenge the dominant status quo is an act of defiance. To know when enough is enough is an act of wisdom. To stay true to the essence is an act of sincerity. To stay engaged with one’s state of faith is an act of inner jihad. To awaken from sleepwalking in life is a moment of victory. And to finally come to witness the Divine in everything one encounters is to live in a state of ecstasy.

I hope these words are not interpreted as coming from some moral high ground. I am not amongst the best of believers nor the worst on the spectrum of faith. I too am dwelling in the in-between; torn between the sacred and the profane. I am walking paradox of contradictions; slowly striving towards a coherent whole. I am undefined and refuse to be defined; my essence cannot be encompassed by any form. I am just another believer trying to keep their faith in modern times. I am just another body trying to find peace amidst the chaos we call life. I am just another heart trying to embody the sincerity of the pursuit. I am just another soul on a path to find the Divine; to live by His terms, not mine. I am just another spirit trying to become worthy of the ultimate Encounter. I am just another human in the making; making every journey a journey within.

May He guide us all to Him (SWT).

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