Making up for a whole month

“I’m making up for a month of fasting,” she said, humorously.

Eeeek. :/

The day of Eid arrived, signifying the end of a month of daytime fasting. Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims who spend it (primarily) by abstaining from food and drink from sunrise until sunset (among other nitty gritties). But from sunset until sunrise, all (halal) food is allowed. So when people are stunned at the ‘no eating for a WHOLE MONTH?!’ thing, I’m kind of confused. Like, huh? You missed the part in the memo about ‘from sunrise until sunset’? It’s not thirty (or twenty-nine, depending on the moon) straight days of no eating.

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…Wa ballighnaa Ramadhaan

And let us reach Ramadhaan

The above line is part of a longer du’a (prayer) recited from the month of Rajab, which is two months before the month of Ramadhaan, the beautiful and blessed month of fasting for Muslims, up until this month of Ramadhaan. The complete du’a is as follows:

اَللّهُمَّ بَارِكْ لَنَا فِى رَجَبَ وَ شَعْبَانَ وَ بَلِّغْنَا رَمَضَان

Transliteration: Allahumma baarik lanaa fee Rajab wa Sha’ban wa ballighnaa Ramadhaan

Translation: O Allah! Make the months of Rajab and Sha’ban blessed for us, and let us reach the month of Ramadhaan (i.e. prolong our life up to Ramadhaan, so that we may benefit from its merits and blessings).

[Narrated by at-Tabarani and Ahmad]

Earlier this week, one of my close friends’ grandmother passed away. While going through that day, greatly affected by the loss and reflecting on matters and days passed, as is a habit of mine at times like these, I recalled a sombre observation made by one of my teachers a couple of years ago around this time. He said something to the effect of:

Now, in these months before Ramadhaan, you’ll see how all the elderly people are going to die. That is why the pious people of the past made this du’a: Oh Allah, let us reach the month of Ramadhaan. They would make the du’a up until the month of Ramadhaan.

My memory is a bit sketchy, and the words above are most probably not his exact words, but it was along those lines. This was said at the time that an older man in our class had passed away, which was shortly before the month of Ramadhaan, and this caused all of us in the class to reflect.

I don’t know why my teacher’s theory highlights old people, because, as I remember also pondering at that time two years ago, I felt that it could have even been me that had died that day. Death knows no age. I remember being consumed with this thought, that ‘it could have been me’. Sure, the man who had died was much older, and probably afflicted with the usual illnesses that old age brings, while I had the health and vigour of youth–but has no young, healthy person ever died? Has no twenty-something’s life ever been taken ‘too soon’? There is no ‘too soon’, there is no designated time, except the time that Allah decrees. So, two years ago, it could have been me. Earlier this week, it could have been me. Today, it could have been me. But, alhamdulillah (all praise is to Allah), it wasn’t. Alhamdulillah, Allah gave me another day.

Nonetheless, while I do not understand the ‘why’ of it, I do see the truth in it. The elderly people in our community are dying, just a few weeks before Ramadhaan. My friend’s grandmother passed away earlier this week. My brother-in-law’s grandfather passed away last week. My colleague’s friend’s mother passed away the other day, and a respected elderly member of our community passed away yesterday. These are more deaths in the space of two weeks than I’ve ever heard of before, and there are possibly more to come. I do not understand this phenomenon, but the words of my wise and esteemed teacher ring true.

However, this doesn’t exempt the younger ones amongst us from making this du’a, because certainly our Prophet (may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) had great wisdom in making this du’a, and we should follow his example. So, let’s make du’a, for ourselves and for each other, that we reach the month of Ramadhaan, that we receive the beautiful gift that holds within it multiple chances for forgiveness, for reward, for introspection. Oh, Allah, let us reach the month of Ramadhaan, ameen.