Time has squished together during the last 10 nights of Ramadan.
And so, my post today squishes together many blessings into a single post.
When you abstain from seeing things that you shouldn’t see, hearing things you shouldn’t hear, eating the foods you normally love, and touching things you shouldn’t touch during the month of fasting, you experience your senses differently. The following senses of sight, hearing, touch and taste are particularly relevant during these last days of Ramadan.
Last night, at an iftar party at my friend’s house, one of the guests had a son who was autistic. The person did not have total control of his hands, his speech, or his hearing. I put my head to my prayer mat and just prayed an extra 2 rakat of thanks to God. How easily that could be me, or you. I saw how much the mother and father had to do to care for this son, and these freedoms we experience in being able to sit still, or stay quiet, or even do as our parents tell us to do is such an awesome task for an autistic child. May God have mercy on his parents, and may they enter Paradise without any questioning.
Day 24: Gratitude for Sight
The way that we experience the world is mostly through our sight.
The sunrise from my kitchen window never ceases to captivate my heart. The break of light comes so suddenly each morning, even though I know exactly what time the sun will rise, I experience that beauty anew each day.
The last couple of nights I saw things I could not believe.
After two years of mostly empty masjids, I saw on the 27th night the most packed masjid of my life. I saw on the 27th night so many familiar faces, and new faces too. I saw the sky, and the wind in great force that night. I saw the rows and rows of believers sitting together, waiting to break their fast together in a community. Sight is what allows us to experience so much of our day and our night. And the fact that 2AM, 3AM and 4AM the masjid lights up with remembrance, and you don’t feel sleepy even though your natural bedtime is 9PM is nothing short of miraculous. You see things differently.
Day 25: Gratitude for Hearing
I hear the sounds of a snoring kid in the masjid. I hear the naats of Qari Zahid, and the recitation of the Quran. It is such a gift to be able to hear the sweet sounds around us. It is easy to forget this one, because our days are full of sounds. I get to hear the beautiful voice of my mother or my father, however briefly. I listen to the duas of friends, or scholars from gatherings that I’ve attended. The ears with which we hear are so precious. I stopped listening to music, even nasheeds this year because I felt like it was taking time away from more important things I could listen to.
Day 26: Gratitude for Touch
Having limbs and functioning nervous system allow us to feel, to experience the physical world. There is so much that goes into the nanosecond it takes my eyes to think something and the next second, for letters to appear on my screen. It is an extraordinary thing, almost magic how the we can make sense of our world through touch, and how we make meaning from touch. My kids are doing a lesson on Helen Keller and reflecting on the names of God as the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
Day 27: Gratitude for Taste
We spend so much time feeding each other during this month to earn invisible rewards.
Over this blessed month, the joy of food and water is something you experience all over again every day when you fast for 16+ hours a day.
The first sip of water is the sweetest taste of all. Our bodies consist of 70% water, and it is the only thing we miss even though we spend hundreds of dollars on foods, cuisines, meal prep, etc. each week. Our bodies can live entirely on just water for many days. Water has tasted sweeter than watermelon. I swear sometimes water has a sweet smell to it.
I’ve broken fast with so many different families, and neighbors over this past month. Ramadan 2022 was a record because our circles expanded because we made an effort to know our Muslim neighbors and other homeschooling families. We usually get invited by friends, but this year we also got invited by neighbors and people we normally don’t hang out with. What a blessing that is, to get to know new people.
I actually wanted to reflect on food insecurity. Almost every night during the last ten nights, in our masjids, people are feeding people. The cost of an iftar one night at the masjid is almost $8,000. Someone is paying $8,000 to feed the several hundred people at the masjid. We often think that nothing is free in the world, but the food is free at the masjid. It’s not a soup kitchen! It’s not a hand out. It’s food that we normally eat in our homes, being provided in a community setting with strangers. Breaking bread together is so profound.
Where else in the universe do people take this much time feeding other hungry people? If you are from another faith tradition, I would love to hear this.
I learned a lot about food insecurity in my work, especially for children, on the same portfolio that was trying to combat childhood obesity. I think some $500M was invested in reversing this societal problem. To me, as simply a mother, I think food insecurity and obesity are somehow manifestations of the same issue. Children have lost the importance and blessing of food. Maybe they eat alone when no one is watching; maybe they have nothing to eat except the processed foods. Maybe we forget what a huge blessing it is entirely to have anything to eat. When someone else provides a meal for you — like there were so many days when warm meals were dropped off by kind neighbors — I tear up at the blessing that we still as a community cook for each other, and share whatever we have.
One night my husband had brought home Thai which is my favorite, and I had also cooked so the abundance in my mind meant that I should give what I love away (thai food). We ended up eating my home-cooked food which somehow tasted better because it was my only meal of the day.
And the person who accepts the invitation from another person is also rewarded, because we are making the intention to be together, despite the distance, inconvenience, etc.
If you are catching up on my gratitude series, here are my other posts: