The smell of sizzling pakoras frying in oil, the juicy dates waiting on napkins, and the sweetened milk tinged pink. Women in full abayas carrying prayer beads, and children sitting quietly next to their elders as they pray. All these things and people are what I see every year at the mosque during Ramadan when it’s iftar time.
And although the atmosphere is absolutely wonderful, and you can practically feel the spirituality in the air, as a child I always had a hard time getting into Ramadan mode. Maybe it was because religion was always something that felt a little forced. It felt like it was more important to please the elders around me rather than to please Allah. Nowadays, religious lessons are made to be fun, and the teaching methods seem more gentle when it comes to ways to connect with Allah.
In the years as I grew into an adult, I have worked on this inner weakness in myself. And although I have been surrounded by excellent practicing Muslims, it’s actually my Christian friends who have gotten me to be more involved in my own faith. I have many friends who attend non-denominational churches, and the way they describe the feeling they have when they worship or read their scriptures, well it sounds a lot like how Muslims are when they are feeling the spirit!
In order to attain the feeling of being spiritual and connecting with Allah whole-heartedly, these are things that I have done in my own home:
1. Quran Verses That Resonate.
When reading the translation of the Quran, I pick out the verses that really speak to me and actually write them down in my everyday planner. It’s as simple as having a bad day and reading these verses that are written in a way that I can understand. I instantly feel better because I know Allah is with me no matter what.
2. Prayer Apps Are Our Friends.
So many times, the day has gotten away from me and before I know it, I realize that I didn’t pray namaaz that day! I know it seems like an obvious thing. Most elders I know have this app, and the Azaan rings loud and clear at the appointed time of prayer. I never had this app before, until now. It’s so easy, and there are so many free ones to choose from, that there really is no excuse (time-wise) for me to miss out on prayer.
3. It’s All About the Visuals.
I have been to many houses where they have gorgeous pictures of the Kaaba, Arabic verses of the Quran, and the beautiful calligraphy of Allah’s name on their walls. And I love all of this. But for me, personally, I like my signs around the house telling me to simply have faith, be thankful, keep praying, etc. Those little sayings are a constant reminder for me to think of Allah in all aspects of life. Because without Him, we wouldn’t exist.
4. The Company You Keep.
I am very thankful because I have been blessed with the most amazing friends. Muslims and Christians who are always happy to give me a little spiritual nudge in the right direction. For example, when I am worried about the future, financially or otherwise, one of my lovely friends simply says, “leave it to God. Give your fear and worries to Him.” I think of these words and don’t just hear them. I take them in and genuinely feel it.
I rely on all of these things in my life to keep me on the path I desire. On top of everything, Ramadan is a chance for me to reach out to my non-Muslim friends and teach them our ways too. Because I am surrounded by such wonderful friends, they are always so interested in learning about this beautiful month. I am encouraged in every way to keep up with fasting and praying. I have invited everyone and anyone to my house to break fast with my family and I. For me, it doesn’t matter what religion the other person is. They have been blessings to me, and have welcomed not only us, but our faith into their own lives.
I write this a little emotionally because this Ramadan, we will not be with family, but with our friends. And while most people might think this hard, I know I have my ways of connecting with Allah and being able to bring other people into it as well. May this Ramadan prove to be a huge blessing to us all, to people from all different kinds of faith. And may everyone be able to reach their own level of spirituality in whatever way is best for them.