The days leading up to it, the discussions with family and reminders in Friday khutbahs of its arrival, awaiting the moon-sighting, looking at the time charts to get an idea of sunrise and sunset, setting alarm clocks for super early hours of the night, the feeling going to sleep the first night.
The first wake up, eating suhur until the last minute, the feeling of fasting all day, breaking fast with family and friends, our loved ones waking us up and making sure iftar is on the table, the one day you oversleep and worry how you will last all day, the random times you feel sleepy throughout the day, feeling like a zombie after waking up from a nap while fasting, the amazement at how your body adjusted to physical changes this month.
Going to work while fasting for professionals, explaining to co-workers and fellow classmates we’re not eating all day for 30 days and we’re completely okay with it and actually enjoy and look forward to doing so, their reactions, enjoying Ramadan during summer vacation for students, staying up until suhur and Fajr, sleeping in until 1pm.
Getting sick during month and not fasting, the feeling of “great, there goes my momentum,” for women for one week during the month only to somehow get it back and then some after, the feeling of missing out for nursing mothers who aren’t fasting, the feeling of missing out every year for those who can’t ever fast due to permanent illnesses, keeping track of days you have to make up after.
Special Ramadan only food items, discussing what you eat for suhur with others, strangely spontaneous daily cravings, finding yourself food photo-grazing food blogs and Food Network and eerily enjoying every second of it, somehow ending up at the grocery store while fasting where everything looks absolutely amazing, struggling not to buy something you never would have bought if you weren’t fasting, the moment when you realize there are still two entire hours left before sunset, breaking your fast with joy no matter what you ate.
Becoming masters of calculated daily sunrise and sunset timings to the minute, comparing your app/calculation of sunrise/sunset with someone else’s, contemplating eating or praying Maghrib prayer first, the rush after iftar until tarawih, the quietness of those who stay home after everyone leaves, the feeling for new moms being unable to go as they could during life before kids, the zeal of new grandparents and empty-nesters becoming super tarawih masters.
The miraculously organized chaos that is Ramadan masjid parking. the moment of waiting for the between the two sunnah of Isha and the beginning of tarawih, falling in love with your local imam’s recitation, the “short” talk after four raka’at that is way too long, the announcements from the announcements guy, the smelly burper to your right, the toe-toucher with way too much perfume on to your left, seeing someone a few rows ahead of you that you know during a break and the feeling of absolute awesomeness when they somehow magically turn around ever so slightly and make eye contact with you afterwhich you both smile, wave, and feel amazing.
The masjid organizers working tirelessly unnoticed and often unappreciated, transforming the facility to accommodate the worshippers. Kids crowding masjid gyms and classrooms having 30 nights of continuous play, finding some kids being too loud or causing trouble wondering where their parents are, finding that one kid that behaves so well, prays better than you, and is insanely cute. Masjid hopping, attending tarawih at another masjid because you were invited to iftar at family or friend’s close by, seeing how another community does things so differently, yet so similar.
The countless opportunities for charity, experiencing hunger of those less fortunate, the extra generosity and charity, the feeling at the start of a tarawih fundraiser, the feeling at the end of one as you get back up to continue praying. Calculating your zakat, finding that you actually have relatives that need it and truly reflecting on your situation, moved by how generous a religion we have, paying sadaqat al-fitr for your whole family amazed how little it takes to feed someone a day.
The return home realizing how soon you have to wake up again. The scroll through Ramadan social media posts as you lay in bed, pics of food and someone getting mad that their friend posted them while others are fasting, pics of various masjids’ tarawih prayers, phases of the moon, pics of masjid qiyams. Shared videos, retweets and status updates for the soul.
Increased short talks and tafsir in the masjids. Qiyam programs for young people. Personal changes, behavior changes, and vice aversion throughout the month proving you can do it outside of it. That one khutbah, talk, or lecture that just nails it, giving you exactly what you needed.
The passing of someone during the month, some by age, others tragic, and the thoughts that come to mind when you realize it could be you next.
The days flying by without any sign of slowing down, the mid-month lull, the end of the month approaching and then showing up almost out of nowhere, the last 10 nights, the prayer “O Allah, you are for sure a pardoner, you love to pardon, so please pardon me/us,” praying for that family member or friend who you know needs it more than you, finding out who is performing i‘tikaf this year, khatm nights, searching for laylat ul-qadr, wondering every night, “is it tonight?,” the overwhelming feeling of community the night of the khatm and the night of the community qiyam, resolutions and reflections for the year ahead, asking and hoping for forgiveness, the amazing khatm du‘a that somehow in the end of the month bring it all home.
Awaiting the moon sighting for Eid, the feeling of sadness that Ramadan will soon end, wrapping up things at work for the days you take off, buying and wrapping gifts, reading about the arrangements of your masjid for Eid prayer, picking out an outfit to wear for you and for the kids, the excitement while falling asleep the 1st night of Shawwal.
Finally, the morning of Eid, the takbeerat reciting on the mic by that one uncle or young volunteer, arriving at Eid prayer and seeing everyone, your phone exploding with congratulatory Eid texts, some from numbers you don’t have in your contacts, actual personal texts that make you feel special, praying the special Eid prayer with its extra takbeerat, listening to the bittersweet khutbah mourning the passing of Ramadan and the partying that is just about to begin, meeting everyone afterward, and a day of food, family, gifts, open houses, feeling weird eating in the day time, reading an overflowing amount of Eid related updates on social media that day, making sure your brothers and sisters who accepted Islam and don’t have Muslim families join you for Eid, calling relatives out of town and overseas, eating impossible amounts of food given your stomach was not eating anything for hours on end all day for the past thirty days, the sun setting and unlike the past 30 days you had absolutely no idea, ending the day of so much fun with family and friends.
All this and so much more because of something so special: the Qur’an.
The final book You sent down to Your final messenger, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, after sending other books down to other Prophets, as well. As You say in the Qur’an Yourself, “Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was sent down,” explaining that the reason we celebrate Ramadan and all the experiences and joy that comes with it is because of the very Qur’an we are reading, reciting, hearing, praying with, connecting to, and getting closer to You with throughout the month.
So, Allah, thank You for this Book. Thank You for what it does to and for us during this incredible month. Thank You for allowing it to help us get closer to You, and guide us on a path that leads to a better life and an ever better afterlife in such a unique and beautiful way each and every Ramadan.
Please help us show thanks and appreciation for this generous book. Help us continue reading it, understanding it, living it, re-memorizing what we’ve forgotten of it, memorizing what we don’t know of it, learning how to properly recite it, making it regularly recited in our households, teaching it to our families, becoming better human beings because of it, playing YouTube videos explaining it, making time to take study or take classes on it, subscribing to podcasts discussing it, setting goals to do khatms of it again before the next Ramadan, all while getting closer to You in the process. Whatever works best for us each individually that You know so well. As You helped us do it this month, please help us throughout the rest of the year show thanks for this amazing book.
That, and help us live until the next Ramadan to do it all over again.