I walked past the bookstore, willing my feet to move faster. The tantalising smell of roasted coffee beans from the attached coffee shop infiltrated my senses, and I risked a quick glance in the direction of the store. It was relatively empty, seeing as it was a weekday morning. I was currently on study leave and had decided to do a quick mall run to get some toiletries that I needed, so that I wouldn’t be forced to traipse through the malls during Ramadhaan. There was exactly a week left before Ramadhaan was due to start, and I absolutely could not wait. But I had to admit that my planning for this month had been lacklustre, not only because I didn’t have much time, but because when I did have free time, I’d spend it procrastinating instead of studying or doing anything remotely productive. My closet has been a complete mess for months now, yet I haven’t bothered to clean it up. Seeing as Ramadhaan is about to begin though, I know I’ll have to do a bit of Spring, – er, Winter – cleaning actually, so that I can take out some items for charity.
I am Leena, and I am a terrible procrastinator. But that’s not to say that I don’t do anything. I study, and I help with house chores and I run an online store. But at the same time, doing things doesn’t mean that I actually do them on time, if you know what I mean….
Which is why I am currently trying to discipline myself from this year onwards. My goal is to stop being so lazy. I’m not passing the bookstore for no reason; I’m trying to get accustomed to the idea that Ramadhaan means no more regular bookstore and coffee runs. It means less time spent reading fiction and more time reading Qur’an. It means training my body to eat less and my mind to focus on the things that really matter.
I’ve just drawn up a list of goals that I’d like to try to achieve this Ramadhaan. I know it’s late (as always) but better late than never, right? And InshaAllah, one of these goals is to plan ahead so that subsequent Ramadhaans will be better. That’s if I’m still around, of course. InshaAllah.
Something that’s really worrying me is that I’ll be writing exams during Ramadhaan, and some of them have to be written through Maghrib time. It’s surprising that after all these years, an educational institution that has had thousands of Muslim students pass through their gates has not made provisions to accommodate them. But then again, who is to blame? Us Muslims for not taking a stand, or the University for not acknowledging our needs? I don’t know. I guess both parties are at fault.
I’ve really gone off on a tangent.
It’s Friday morning. Tonight is the first Taraweeh salaah, and tomorrow is the first fast, depending on the sighting of the moon. The house is being scrubbed from top to bottom. The windows are wide open and the scent of bukhoor is drifting through the house, carried along by the crisp Winter breeze. After dusting the furniture and tidying up a bit, I take a shower and get dressed, before heading off to campus for my 10:30 lecture; an ethics class which is my favourite. I don’t dally around on campus when my lecture is finished; I just submit an assignment and head home again.
After Jumu’ah salaah and lunch, I settle down in my room with my laptop to do a bit of exam prep. I lose concentration after an hour, at 4 pm. It’s Asr time anyway so I make wudhu and perform salaah, then read Qur’an for a while. Before I know it, it’s time for Maghrib. When the men return, we all crowd onto the balcony to search for the moon. We don’t find it so we switch on the radio instead and wait for the official announcement on CII.
It’s been announced that tonight is indeed the first night of Ramadhaan! The phones ring non-stop with calls from family, and my WhastApp blows up with messages from friends. The streets are alive with cars rushing to the Masjid, and people chatting outside. It quietens down after a while; meanwhile, we rush to clean up the kitchen, washing dishes, wiping down the counters, and emptying pots as fast as we can.
There’s a dash for the bathroom when we’ve completed our chores. Eventually, everyone has made wudhu and is ready to begin their salaah. We all congregate in the salaah room but each person focuses on their own prayer. Younger sibling Iman completes her salaah first, as always, and I find her perched on the sofa in front of the TV, watching the Taraweeh prayers from the Holy Lands. I join her when I complete my salaah, watching for a bit and then heading upstairs to my room to begin my “Ramadhaan Qur’an”. When I was younger, I could manage to complete 3 Qur’an khatams, but it becomes more difficult when we girls grow older. So, I’ve made my goal more manageable I think – I’d like to complete at least 2 khatams this month inshaAllah.
When the men return after Taraweeh, we get into action again, heating up the food for their supper, and then laying the dastarkhaan with tupperwares of biscuits and cakes, in preparation for Suhoor the next morning. The atmosphere is beautiful. We chat a bit about the first Taraweeh, and then retire to bed in anticipation of the first day of this blessed month ❤
My alarm blares with the words of the Adhan. I switch it off and reluctantly yet excitedly throw my blanket aside and swing my legs over the side of the bed. The first thing I do is reach for my gown, and then slip my feet into my slippers. After brushing my teeth, I join mama in the kitchen, and get to making everyone’s hot drinks. Iman stumbles bleary-eyed into the dining room a few minutes later. Everyone eats in silence, with Radio Islam playing softly in the background. We clear up the dastarkhaan and then rush to brush our teeth before the time for suhoor expires. Iman and I crowd around the bathroom sink, taking turns to ‘mmhmmm’ when we need to spit :’)
The men leave for the masjid for Fajr and I walk around the lounge, listening to Fajr salaah live from Madinah. Once it’s over, I go to make wudhu and perform my salaah. I missed Tahajjud this morning because there wasn’t much time when I sat down to eat, and I’m generally a slow eater. InshaAllah tomorrow I’ll try to wake up a bit earlier so that I can perform Tahajjud before going to the kitchen.
It’s Saturday so no one has to go to school, campus, or work. The day seems to pass by slowly, with everyone doing their own thing. After Dhuhr is when we begin to pick up the pace of our Ibadah. There’s barely any time between Asr and Maghrib because it’s Winter, so we set to preparing for Iftar and sending out plates of savouries for our neighbours immediately after Asr. When that’s done, there’s a bit of time left so everyone heads to their rooms to read Qur’an or make dhikr and du’a.
I’m the type of person who likes to perform their Ibadah in private. If I’m reading Qur’an or performing salaah, I’ll close my room door. When I’m making du’a, I make sure to shut my door tight because that is a completely private connection between me and my Allah and I don’t want anyone to witness it.
I try not to spend too much time at the Iftar table. Since I try to avoid eating dates during Ramadhaan (because it’s hot for the body), I break my fast with a tiny piece of date, some zam zam water, and a savoury. After performing Maghrib salaah and reading our nightly surahs, we have a light supper. The rush is on again to clean up the kitchen so that we can begin our salaah as early as possible.
Thus passes the first ten days of Ramadhaan. I keep referring to my goal checklist and checking myself to see if I’m keeping to my goals, and making adaptations where necessary. Sometime during the first ten days, I get off from salaah and fasting.. In a way, it’s good because I have a bit of extra time to study for my exams, but I hate it anyway. I feel useless and unproductive.
My first exam goes well Alhamdulillah, and I’m back on track with my Ibadah before the rest of them. With the help of the MSA, we manage to negotiate with the University board to allow us to bring water and/or a date into the exam venue and to break our fast at Iftar time while we write. Although it doesn’t help the fact that we don’t get to read Maghrib on time…
TO BE CONTINUED…