Ramadan Log Day 25: The Luxuries

My week off from school was the breath of fresh air I needed during what felt like a month of being pushed and pushed and pushed.

It finally felt like Ramadan. Without the demands of class work, I took the week to get back to projects I had postponed for months.

One of them is actually something I started last Ramadan. During my time of the month last year, I switched from reading Qur’an to going through a dua book my mom lent me for the week. I found so many prayers, for every moment of life you could think of, and decided to write some choice duas on paper decorated with henna-inspired borders and then hang them on my wall. The goal was to fill a whole wall with these dua notes, but I only managed to finish two last year. There are 28 duas in total that I wanted to include. I got eight done last year, and transcribed seven more this week.

It was nice to get something done that served both as a decoration for my room and a way for me to keep prayer more present in my life. I even had a crazy subhanallah moment. I was just getting started on the page dedicated to duas for when it rains and just at that moment, it started thunderstorming for the first time all day.

.سبحان الله

As much as I really wanted to fill the air with music as I worked, I opted for peaceful silence as I carved each Arabic letter into the paper. I’ll admit, while it was nice to have a chill week, I really missed my music and entertainment. For those who are new – in addition to fasting from food, I also take the month to fast from listening to music and watching TV/youtube. I have a couple of exceptions, like Sid and Dina or Trevor Noah, but in general the fast from music-related content is a significant struggle for me. In the past week, the season finale of one of my Korean shows aired and it killed me to see people online talking about it and knowing that I would have to wait a few more weeks to watch it.

.الحمد لله

Alas, my time off is coming to an end with Summer classes picking up this week.  While I am excited to be starting the next stage of my learning, I wish it could have waited just one more week so that I could fully soak up the last five days of Ramadan. I’ve only  gotten to Surah Nisaa’ in the Qur’an (page 77 out of 600), and I probably won’t have time to get much further with class starting.

Sometimes that resentment creeps in towards having to be in school or work and not be able to just stay home and be one with my past Ramadan habits, but then I remember those moms who chase around kids 24/7 or those people who work 12 hours a day just to be able to afford iftar for their families. I had the luxury the past couple years to have basically the entire fasting day to do as I pleased. Most people don’t have that.

I frequently need to remind myself that I am not abandoning remembrance of Allah when I leave the house. I have the ability to bring Him into my work. It’s all just a matter of mindset, and learning to see my work as another way of loving and praising God.

.الله أكبر

Ramadan Log Day 16: Get It Done

Grad school while fasting is not a joke.

I just finished my last week of classes, and my God it was intense. The last couple of weeks are always busy with papers and assignments. Doing all  of that while fasting was an added layer of fatigue, frustration, and just being done with everything. I don’t know how I did this back in middle school and high school when Ramadan was during the school year.

There was a moment on Wednesday afternoon where I was at a crossroads. I had a paper due the next day, but I had just come home from a full day of classes – running on very little sleep – and I could barely keep my eyes open. Did I give in and take a nap, knowing full well that I would not have time to finish my paper, or did I force myself to stay awake and get writing over with?

I opted for sleep. I was able to get the assignment done after suhoor, and it was by no means something I was proud of. But it got done.

That was pretty much my motto for the week. Show up. Get things done. Sleep.

While being physically present in class was awful, it gave me the opportunity to see such sweet and caring sides of my friends.

Every day, multiple people would come up to me and check on how I was doing. I got expressions of sympathy, words of encouragement, and even texts on days we didn’t have class.

It’s been a while since I have been in a setting with so many new non-Muslim friends who are not familiar with Ramadan. I forgot what it was like to have so many people learn about Ramadan for the first time and express their awe at what we do every year.

As endearing as it was hearing their concern for me,  I almost felt like I was deceiving everyone, or that I was falsely leading them to believe that I was constantly in a state of utter suffering . I’ve been fasting for over 15 years. It’s hard, but I’m used to it after so many years of going through it.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have found myself giving all sorts of new descriptions of what fasting is like. I’m hungry and tired, but isn’t this all-consuming thought I constantly have. I feel hungry, and then I sort of just deal with it. My attention span may be shorter. My tolerance for other forms of discomfort such as fatigue or boredom may be lower. But in the end, it’s okay. It’s an okay feeling to have because we’re meant to feel it and we’re doing it for a reason.