Homestretch

The last bell has rung. All the athletes are throwing themselves out to surpass the rest. They are all using every ounce of their last strength to get to the finish line. The muscles are worn out. Their legs want to give in.

The breaths are long-drawn and sparse. Their throats dry. The end is so far yet so near. Competition. Nobody wants to lose. They know for sure that the suffering is short term. It also comes with recognition, a status and a medal amongst other goodies.

To each one of them, it is a radical activity. It is the marathon.

There are only a few days of Ramadhan left. Few to mean a negligible two or three to be covered out of the total thirty. The bigger chunk has been swallowed. All that remains is washing down the sandwich.

In the beginning, the running is smooth with wishes from family and friends of a blessed month. As time progresses, the times get harder as the excitement wanes off. Nearing the end, excitement picks up again.

Neighbours are assured of a month of feasting from their Muslim colleagues. Unfortunately, that is what the Holy Month of Ramadhan is associated with. Food. Not worship, not good deeds, not remembrance of Allah (dhikr) but food. Plenty and plenty of food.

It is ironical that one would spend all day hungry to obey Allah’s command (one of the five pillars of Islam), attain good health, have in mind those who stay hungry because they cannot put food on the table to end up feasting.

Fasting in these modern times equals feasting. In the times of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam-Peace and Blessings be upon him), they used to break their fast with dates. Dates we dismiss and concentrate on fried and deeply fried. That was all they had, save for milk occasionally.

For us, expecting to fast (avoiding food and drink from dawn to dusk) only to eat a small portion of a type of food is a theory. You will be going against what ‘fasting’ entails. Line up dishes varying from Swahili to Indian and you are on the right track.

The concept of Saum (Fast) has been misunderstood, cooked up. We are concerned with trying out all the recipes for our families, forgetting to invite the poor and needy. But man is to err. We will defend ourselves.

Of the thirty days, the last ten are the most crucial. Just as in races, you are supposed to put your all in these. Go out of your way, break a leg even but earn the mickle rewards that are part of it. Strive more.

Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Power/Decree) falls on one of the odd days of the last ten days. Most people swear by the night of 27th but that is hardly the truth. It can fall on either on 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th.

To be on the safe side, it is better for one to wake up for worship on all the days especially the odd-numbered. That way, one is assured of having landed on the Night of Power and reaping its immense blessings and mercies.

Lailatul Qadr is a powerful night in the history of Islam as it was when the first few verses of the Qur’an were revealed to Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasalam-Peace and Blessings be upon him).

This night is mentioned in the Qur’an, Surah 97: Al Qadr (1-5).

The night in which one who worships is regarded as better than worshipping for 1000 months! That is an estimate of 83 years. That is a mercy bestowed upon us Muslims which we should take full advantage of. Many of us might never end up getting to 50!

Life is not a guarantee so why let opportunities grand as this pass us by for a passive activity like sleeping?

My favourite verse in the Qur’an reads: Fabiayyi alaai rabikumma tukadhibani (For which of the favours of your Lord will you deny?)

Let’s make our Eid-ul Fitr (celebrations after the Holidays Month of Ramadhan) worthy, have something to make merry about. Dressing up in good clothes, expensive shoes and going to fanciest of places yet we have earned nothing the entire month is good for nothing.

The end is always better than the beginning. Let’s do more for the few days left with us. We don’t know whether we’ll be alive to experience the next month of Ramadhan when it comes. Living for the moment should apply strongly here and now.

May Allah accept our Saum this Ramadhan and enable us with strength and good health to see and observe the next one.

Eid Mubarak brothers and sisters in Islam!

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