by Marium Abid in Ramadan on 31st March, 2023
I was twelve years old when I apparently committed a sin during Ramadan; I prayed eight raakats of Taraweeh instead of twenty. Young and eager to resume eating and relaxing after fasting, I prayed the shorter version followed by the witr prayer. Proud of my cheeky shortcut, I quietly folded my prayer mat and tried to sneak out of the room. My aunt who had seen the whole spectacle called from behind, “What do you think you are doing and how did you finish your Taraweeh so quickly?”
As you can already imagine, what followed was a bout of scolding about how I won’t be getting any rewards for the prayers because I cut them short to enjoy food and how I’m disrespecting the gift of Ramadan. At this point, I was of course crying from embarrassment of being scolded in front of everyone instead of being ashamed for not praying all the twenty rakaats of Taraweeh.
To this day, I’m still scared to pray only eight rakaats. Even when I pray eight rakaats in a congregation, I feel like I have cheated somehow and would make up for it by doing other forms of ibadaah.
That one episode of not praying enough rakaats has stayed with me for a long time and for years, I would be in this race; pray all the nafls, do all the dhikr, pray all the taraweeh, finish two Qurans and so on. Although, I would be able to successfully tick most of these off at the end of every Ramadan, I would never, however, come out of Ramadan feeling content. The meaning of the Quran and the Ibadah I was doing would still be a stranger to me even after spending a month engrossed in the ibadah.
What I learnt then was to invest my time on the quality of my ibadah rather than the quantity.
It is a very common behaviour embedded in us since early childhood to focus on the quantity of the worship as opposed to its quality. We are always in a race, in all aspects of life.
Who posts the most on social media, who has the most likes, who has the biggest house etc and in Ramadan, this race intensifies. Who finishes the highest number of Quran, who does the most charity, who sends out the most Iftars, how many dishes are you making for an Iftar and oh boy, if you have made only one dish then you’re already out of the race.
I was in this race as well; making sure I was doing everything according to the list curated by my society.
Preparing samosas beforehand, preparing a feast everyday, hastily reciting the 20 rakaats of Taraweeh, praying all nafls, listening to Quranic lectures and doing all the dhikhr. Everything was going well until I burnt out last year as I was juggling all this with my 3-months old.
This is when I decided to pause and rethink. I thought about what was I getting out of this month besides exhaustion and social pressure of being a jack-of-all-trades.
Even after doing all this, I still didn’t understand the meaning of the words of Allah nor did I feel the spiritual uplifting or mental peace which comes with Ramadan. In the midst of this race, I had lost the true meaning of Ramadan.
On the surface, I was doing everything. However, what was lost was my connection to Allah which is supposed to strengthen in this month.
This year, therefore, I have decided to take things slow. This month is my time to increase my taqwa and restore my relation with Allah which becomes secondary sometimes in the hustle bustle of our lives.
This Ramadan, I aim to focus and understand the book of Allah and learn from the teachings of Prophet SAW and to improve my akhirah. This Ramadan, I don’t want to be in a race instead I want to take a breather from this world which has soaked us in its glamour so much that sometimes, even in Ramadan, we feel difficult to come out of it.
As we have successfully finished some fasts by now, we should all be getting in the routine of Ramadan. If something is not working for you, don’t feel pressured to do it. Alternatively, if something is working for you then make a mindset to continue doing it after Ramadan. Make the actions of this Ramadan a permanent part of your everyday life.
Don’t do so much that by the end of it, you’re so exhausted that you don’t have energy to continue. And whatever you do, do it for the love of Allah because your actions during this month are between you and Allah alone.
Marium Abid, mum of a one-year old, a technology consultant during the day and writer all the time. I love exploring coffee shops even though I love chai more than coffee. You will find me with a book at all times because I cannot go even to the park without a book. IG handle: @mariumabid5