Some Observations for the Holy Month

The holy month is just around the corner. Literally at the corner in fact. 3-4 days away now. And given the temperature rise that takes place in our personalities in general and the way the actual temperatures are going I think we must take stock of things before hand to ensure that we actually live up to the most basic creed of this holy month. It is an ideal time to learn patience, peace, self-control and acceptance. The patience to not just go through the day without food and water. But patience in our dealings as humans with other people as well. In our understanding of other people. In managing our tempers and moods and attitudes. Peace with knowing who you are, peace with the situation and circumstances around you and in your particular world. Peace in achieving spirituality. Peace through spiritually getting closer to our Almighty Allah. Self-control on all forms of temptations. From food to all those addictions to habits and behaviors which are negative or not exactly good. And acceptance of others. Of who they are. Of the fact that not everyone is the same.

From this point on let’s try and be on our best behavior from all aspects for Ramadan and maybe continue those behaviors going forward in life as well.

  1. Remember – We are all human

We are all but humans created by the same Almighty. However we are all not the same and yes some people make errors – in work, judgement and simple day to day tasks. Let’s remember that being human means to err. Let’s not lose our cool on those mistakes made by people no matter how irritating they may seem. Breathe in and don’t let it get to you. People aren’t robots and maybe some people can’t perform to their possible levels during Ramadan. Or well some people are genuinely more error prone but not due to any lack of effort. That’s unfortunately who they are. So maybe instead of losing your cool try and helping. You might just point out something they have been doing or approaching wrong.

  1. Fasting isn’t just about no eating and drinking

It isn’t just about not eating and drinking during the day. It’s also about practicing good behaviors and interactions with people. It’s also about your good manners as a human being overall. Not being rude to people unnecessarily. Not just trying to be aggressive in an effort to establish yourself as a dominant personality and showing your well I don’t know perhaps position of power. Not having ulterior motives. Not back biting. Not gossiping. Not getting into everyone’s business. Not spreading everyone’s business to everyone when everyone is not even concerned. No dramatics.

  1. Live and let live

First and foremost everyone isn’t a follower of Islam. There are people who follow other faiths. And it is not in their religion to be fasting. So they are eating and drinking. You should not have a problem with that. PATIENCE AND ACCEPTANCE. Ok there are people who follow Islam as well and who do not fast. AGAIN – YOU should not have a problem with that. PATIENCE and ACCEPTANCE. Maybe they have health issues which does not allow them to fast or they are currently unwell or in a situation where they cannot fast. Or maybe it was an off day. Or maybe they don’t fast. It is between them and Allah. As long as they are not coming and interfering with you fasting or actually trying to make you not fast then it shouldn’t concern you. Judgement is not for humans. It is for Allah. Yes we may advise – but not judge. And this is not just for Ramadan and fasting. Everyone has their own way of living and approaching life. Their own priorities and their own goals in life. They have their own worries and struggles and happiness moments and achievements. Their own way of celebration and their own way of dealing with stress and grief. People go through circumstances which change their personality. Some people have a change in lifestyle when they have a change in their life – new place, new job, getting married etc. Different things. People evolve and grow. Its ok. As long as whatever is happening isn’t coming and actually harming you physically or getting in the way of your being able to live happily and do your things and duties of life in peace – then it is not your problem. Don’t go out of your way to make it a problem. Live and let live. And be ok with things.

  1. Explore a healthier lifestyle

It might not sound like something that can happen in Ramadan especially given how we are a culture which is big on grand iftars and grand sehris and as a nation love our food. But tell you what – Ramadan is actually a very good month to develop certain habits and routines. You can actually develop a better nutritional balance during this month as long as you are disciplined about it. Choose healthy foods over the jalebis and samosas. One offs are all good but focus on the greens and the fruits and the good proteins made in a good way. You can with discipline get your body used to this eating habit. And this eating habit will definitely help you in the long run. Avoid all the junk as much as possible and stick to as much organic as possible. Oh and home food is king during Ramadan. At all costs avoid the All you can eat Iftar buffets. Please. They are a waste of money and time and health. Also the best time to break habits which you might want to. And addictions if any.

  1. Dates are not just for symbolism and tradition

Dates are actually packed with a lot of energy. They are a good source of various vitamins and minerals. Its a good source of energy, sugar and fiber. Essential minerals such as calcium, iron, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium and zinc are found in dates. It also contains vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin A and vitamin K. So don’t think it is just a tradition for Ramadan or symbolic. There is lots of good in eating dates as can be read above!

  1. Plan a work out, sport or exercise just before or a little after Iftar

I am sure some of you already do this. And some of you are raising your eyebrows saying ‘is he mad! In this heat in Roza’. Granted on the face of it that may be a valid observation. But it is tried and tested. Rest it out during the middle of the day after your school/college or work. And just before Iftar hit the track/gym or field of sport. It will do wonders. You will realize that some latent energy will come through for you and just reaching home and freshening up in time for Iftar will be a great way to make sure you have a balanced iftar also and not over do it. At least that works for me. For those who don’t fancy this can always take the night work out option after Iftar.

7. Be as charitable as you can and help the needy

I can’t stress on this enough. People are needy and poor out there. They are suffering and are facing challenges on a daily basis. Help out as much as you can. Switch on the charitable side of your personality and never turn it off. Help children who are being deprived of their childhood eat meals. Distribute as many iftar as possible. Help people not just through money and food – but in any way possible. This is one of the best ways to appease Allah and also to attain a sense of spirituality and inner peace for yourself. And also for your after life. Help people to eventually help yourself. A few hundreds everyday will not affect your wallet. I am talking to the affluent ones here or in the very least people who have some privileges in their lifestyles. Distribute help this month and beyond. Donate to a charity. Spread the word. Physically help out with tasks if necessary. Aid those who are of special needs perhaps. Or those who are medically not doing well. There are many ways you can do this and must.

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The First of Many Firsts

The first Ramadan, the first Eid, the first Birthday, the first anniversary, the first happy event. There will be many firsts from here on. In fact they have already started but its on the big-ish ones that it starts to really hit home. In 29 years this was the first time that I had Eid without Amma, that I came back from Eid prayers but not to Amma at home. Just as it was the first time in 25 years in 2010 with Abbi. The firsts are bound to be there, utterly unavoidable. But we still carry on. Life goes on. With every step we hear that little voice tell us ‘This too shall pass’.

The thing for me is that there are already a whole lot of obvious firsts and constants that will now be there without either parent. My brother has said on a couple of occasions about how he not for even a split second would have thought our mother would not be there when for example he was turning the decade. Or that she wouldn’t be there for other events like his first born entering teenage years. Or starting University for that matter. Family history and average life kind of plays its part in that thought process too. And it’s not just for him – it is for all of us. Also I think given the age set / life cycle part that we are all at right now – it is uncommon to have lost both parents at these junctures. We are not questioning it of course because that is Allah’s will. ‘From Allah we came and to Him we shall return’ – there is no doubt in that. But it still something that is natural for us to wonder about.

As for me – I will never have the opportunity to give this bit of life’s happiness to either parent while they were with us of having settled down. Of becoming parents. Of adding to their grandchildren. Unfortunately for me the one chance that was there in Amma’s life to see me settled didn’t work out. Of course there must be some ‘maslihat’ in it that I as a mere mortal cannot fathom right now. Maybe I can at some point in time in the future. Near or distant. But for now I am but a mortal and it is but natural for me to feel the fact that neither parent would be there when I find someone. That my children would not have the pleasure of knowing their paternal grand parents in person – only through the stories that they will hear from me or their uncles and aunts (and there will be many). But not in person. My better half to be (whoever she is) will not know the love of an added set of parents. They will not see me head into a more senior roles, more senior achievements in work and life. I have had a few of my posts published online on various websites (express tribune and chowk.com) so my parents saw that happen. But I recently got published in print for the first time. But alas. Many things…

Again – Allah’s will … the betterment in this plan is something that I will have to wait to be able to see. But betterment there must be for Allah knows best and does what is best for us.

Today was the first of many firsts. There was rejoice and comfort of course in being with loved ones on holidays. There were of course smiles. There were eidis distributed. There were lunch get together plans, there were old stories shared and laughed upon, there were those memorable and funny moments that become stories of the future. There was love. But there was no Amma. First time without her. The first of many firsts.

I have said it before and I will say it again – our parents continue to live through us as their reflection. I love Amma and Abbi. They might not be with us physically but they will always remain in our hearts and in our spirits. May Allah grant them maghfirat and the highest points in Jannah.

And I hope they are able to see us and feel happy. Love you Amma and Abbi.

Of Death

Life is just a stage and we the actors playing are parts till the script demands our presence. And then when we are done we exit the stage.

Death is the most real and absolute reality of life. It is the final reality. Birth being the first. And these two being the only ones shared by all humans. It is our belief (Muslims) that the time and place of someone’s death is pre determined, it is of Allah’s will and no force can change that reality. It is inevitable. It is final. It is the interval between life and eternity.

It is a fact that we are all aware of that all must go one day. Yet when someone close goes it seems as if this information had eluded us all these years. To make us more human in dealing with a loved one’s or a close friend’s departurein the plethora of emotions that follow, perhaps the most frequent, most felt one is the ‘what if’. Because that’s when we tend to start asking what if we would have been a little earlier? What if I got another day with them? What if that wasn’t the last thing I had said? What if I could have just had the chance to tell them how I felt for them? What if? But of course these questions will never have answers and we have to deal with that and move on. We have to deal with the void created.

After all is done and dusted (the shock, the emotional overflow, the reminiscing etc) we just move on. We have to. It’s part of life. Those gone cannot be replaced but can’t be brought back either. That’s the way it is. It’s the deal that was given to our unconscious, unborn souls.

‘Indeed to Allah we belong and indeed to Him we will return’