Ramazan and its blessings

Published: July 21, 2012

Let’s look forward to this month; let's feel fortunate about having to spend it with a million of other Muslims around us. PHOTO: AFP

Living in the second biggest ‘Islamic Republic’ country of the world, we inevitably take this title for granted. Furthermore, being born in a Muslim family, we tend to neglect all opportunities to explore our religion. Since Ramazan is here, let’s examine what it’s thought of from the views of all kinds of Muslims.

  • A 7-year old: “Mama, can I keep one fast at least? All my friends are allowed to keep two”.
  • A 16-year old: “Mama, do I have to keep all fasts? I have sports practice after school and I get really de-hydrated”.
  • Fitness lovers: “Can’t wait for Ramazan; it’s the only time I can shed away those extra pounds”.
  • The optimistic: “I can party all year, miss my prayers because eventually in Ramzan I will pray five times a day, not drink/party, and all my past year’s sins will be forgiven. Allah is very kind to Muslims, like mama says, “Rahim-o-Kareem” (All-forgiving)
  •  Student Abroad: “Wish I was back home for Ramazan, no azaan here, no fajr or iftari time without a computer telling me the timings and everyone around me is eating.”
  • Born Muslims/not practising: “Oh no, it’s Ramazan soon! I can’t eat McDonald’s for lunch any more and everyone at school will give me weird looks when I go to the canteen to eat. Sigh, hate this time of the month”.
  • The show offs: “I’ll keep all 30 fasts in Ramazan because all my friends barely keep 20, so I’ll beat them this time. Challenge accepted!”
  • Islamic view: “Ramazan is the month of ‘Barakah’ (blessings from God in the form of prosperity, protection and happiness). I will utilise this month to the fullest for prayers, remembrance of God and abstinence from all evil. I will be a better person starting this month inshAllah.”

These examples are a highlight of the major kinds of people we are surrounded by and I’m sure each one of you, who is reading this blog, can categorise themselves in one of the types mentioned above.

I, being a Muslim by birth, followed the Islamic practices because I was told to do so. However, moving abroad for studies changed my perception entirely. As the month of Ramazan is coming up, I feel a surge of excitement – one which I have never experienced before. Things like praying as much as I can, observing peace, sitting with the entire family having our iftari and sehri together, listening to the beautiful azaan, and asking Allah for his blessings, were all things I had overlooked before.

As Muslims, we don’t realise how fortunate we are to be living in a Muslim surrounding or country.

I remember, upon starting university, I missed a lot of my fasts, and gave the excuse of ‘culture shock’ to whoever asked me about it; not hearing the azaan made life really convenient as I had a reason to avoid praying. The best restaurants on campus gave me all the more reason to eat. Using abusive language was yet another reflex action and ‘clubbing’ was the new experience I looked forward to every weekend after a stressful week of tests/assignments. Music was a stress reliever and movies was my alternate to depressive phases. Chicken was readily available everywhere; finding halal food was next to impossible so I took the easy way out and overlooked this matter too.

Life couldn’t get better!

During a visit to a Muslim gathering at university in Ramazan, I was asked a general question about how I coped in my non-Muslim surroundings while being in the state of ‘Roza’(fast). To be honest, I had never been so embarrassed in my life; I completely blanked out, however, the question was beautifully answered by a friend of mine – a practising Muslim, who had lived in Canada all her life unlike me. It was that moment in time which changed me.

I realised there was no difference between myself and any other non-Muslim. Ramazan is not about finding a way out to have my past sins excused; it’s about making sacrifices in order to attain the blessings and forgiveness of Allah. Having achieved clear direction now, I promised to follow the rest of my days and this coming holy month properly as a steadfast Muslim.

This month is yet just another month for everyone else in the world, but for Muslims, it is a very important and distinctive month. It is the month in which we increase giving in the way of God, acquire the greatest level of humility and abstain from all evil committed through our eyes, tongue, hands and so on.

Let’s look forward to this month; let’s feel fortunate about having to spend it with a million of other Muslims around us and move a step forward to tell everyone that we are proud of being Muslims, whether living here or abroad. Not everyone is lucky to be born a Muslim, so let’s make the most it.

Follow Neha on Twitter @ArifNeha


Neha Arif Riar

An Economics major at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sane

    Great write. Holy month of Ramazan and Azaan five times all days in the year, Eid ul Fitr, Eid ul Azaha all these are blessings of ALLAH the greatest. You find the value only when these are not there. Basically this becomes responsibility of parents to make their children familiar of these days and make them Muslim with true (not bound to sectionalism) and practicing beliefs. Recommend

  • Parvez

    Be careful, in the process of becoming a good Muslim don’t forget to become a good human being as well. Luckily in the West the laws and society will guide you in that direction but in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, its a personal struggle. Recommend

  • Wajahat

    An interesting read indeed! Keep up the good work!Recommend

  • azhar88

    now that i look back it seems that i never even went through one single ramadan with proper intentions of it. it seems that all i did was experience hunger. May Allah make this my first real month of ramadan. i wonder how mich we have all changed from the time of Rasul Allah (S.A.W). the Sahaba used to cry with greif when this blessed month passed and what we do is go back to our old misguided ways. and then we wonder why Allah does not listen to our duas. how ashamed i will be when I meet Rasul Allah (S.A.W) at the end of my life who used to weep for even the ummah to come. Recommend

  • Neha

    A good muslim, more than performing religious practices, first and foremost learns to be a good muslim in Islam. Forgiving, believing, acts of generosity, trust, abstaining of lying and hypocricy, helping fellow beings like brothers are a few acts Islam teaches us. However, unfortunately, Pakistan has forgotten the beauty of being an Islamic Republic and follows a path we aren’t really taught to follow by our religion. Ironically, being abroad for quite a while now, i have observed plenty of non muslims following what Islam teaches us to follow as human beings. Following religious practices can only be implemented with true meaning if one becomes a good human being.Recommend

  • Rehan

    Not everyone is lucky to be born a Muslim, so let’s make the most it.
    So, according to your logic, Hindus, Christians, Jews are unlucky to have been born in families that practice each of those respective religions? Please, young woman, spare us this holier-than-thou, anti-intellectual drivel.

  • Razaq

    Just saying, the viewpoint presented is a tad bit hypocritical. If you want to be a practicing Muslim girl, you’re going to need to wear a Hijab, accept your Husband beating you if you agree to never having any divorce or property rights in a marriage. Can’t be running around with them Punjabi boys in Canada while unmarried, either.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    In Islam no man is allowed to beat his wife. Even the prophet never laid a hand on any of his wives. Also the matter of divorce is settled upon the time of Nikkah and the girl has the right to demand it. Also a wife has complete property rights. There is one school of Islamic law in which permission of husband is required, in the rest of the three, there is no permission needed.
    So please take your twisted thoughts somewhere else.Recommend

  • Razaq

    @Shadytr33: See the following link (it has references to specific surahs and hadiths as well). Or, better yet, research on your own. May you see the light some day and finally begin to utilize the human mind.

  • Ali

    Very beautiful write-up! It feels good to read a soulful piece in the blogs section every now and then! May the blessings of this Ramadan unite us and allow us to represent Islam in its truest fashion.Recommend

  • H

    Razaq, I have a bad feeling I am one of these punjabi boys you have talk about. Recommend

  • Razaq

    ET edited my link. Please add underscores each word. And, well, easily searchable on Google as well with key words of the website and article.Recommend

  • Ahmedullah

    “Not everyone is lucky to be born a Muslim, so let’s make the most it.”

    This notion of my path is the best path is the real reason the Arab and other middle eastern religions (including christianity) have caused much mayhem in this world. As if someone had a privileged phone line to the secret of the universe and created a revelation. I am sure the author is not a bigot or a terrorist. But this type of thinking is the root of all the religious mayhem that we have witnessed over the past millennia.Recommend

  • Learn to appreciate

    Trust someone to COMPLETELY miss the point. Carefully picking out that one line to criticise the writer. Grow a spine. She’s proud of being a Muslim, that’s what that sentence meant. For the love of humanity, learn to appreciate things and quit constantly having your claws out to scratch other people’s eyes out. May God, Allah, Jesus, Ram, whatever it is you believe in etc bless you and enlighten you at the same time.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    As defined by Hadith, it is not permissible to strike anyone’s face, cause any bodily harm or even be harsh. What the Hadith qualifies as “dharban ghayra mubarrih”, or light striking, was interpreted by early jurists as a (symbolic) use of siwak! They further qualified permissible “striking” as that which leaves no mark on the body.
    and this is the last option available before divorce when a wife is involved in “LEWDNESS”. This is to be done when the wife has not listened to the previous complaints from the husband.
    Also when LEWDNESS is involved, spouses commonly slap (even if once) in foreign TV shows. Even SLAPPING is NOT ALLOWED.
    I’m sure you just took the verse out of Surah Nisa out of context and are now exploiting it like all others.Recommend

  • Minto

    Beautiful blog Neha! Although I missed my home during Ramazan abroad, but the student Islamic societies at UK/USA/Canada universities make you feel at home.

    And the author has every right to say that she was lucky to be born a Muslim if she loves Islam. Being an economist (and I love this discipline), if say I was lucky that my father was also an economist and encouraged me to take this career path, will I be belittling my colleagues who are accountants, chemists, biologists or doctors? Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    And I don’t know why people are pissed off at Neha’s new found peace. If you hate other people gaining peace, then you need to get a life. Good Day.Recommend

  • spacedoutwriting

    @Learn to appreciate:

    Dude, seriously! Its not the pride that one has an issue with. Its as another commentator put it so well, “notion of my path is the best path”, that one finds problematic.

    I welcome anyone’s path to God and spirituality but this notion of being special – be it religious, ethnic, nationality – is the root cause of trouble. Its like Americans thinking not everyone is lucky enough to be born in the good old US of A. Recommend

  • Awais

    Try looking for excuses not to fast whilst being the only athiest in a house full of ultra conservative Muslims.Recommend

  • J Khan

    @Shadytr33: A well researched and eloquent response to the hate monger. Kudos.Recommend

  • Lahori

    Wow… Masha’Allah! Amazing read! Really enjoyed it! Keep it up sister!Recommend

  • Mj

    A Sheikh telling it like it is. Watch the whole playlist.Recommend

  • Learn to appreciate

    Wait so you’re no longer allowed to feel special either? I totally get that everyone is equal, but what’s wrong with being able to celebrate the differences, while being made to feel special? I don’t see her writing being militant in anyway, nor has she ordered any fatwas against other trains of thought. It’s human nature to think that your way of thinking is the right way of thinking, it’s when people fail to open themselves to dialogue is when the problem starts and Rehan pulled out his guns straight away. If we all stopped thinking we were special: screw birthdays (people are born every second, what made you think that yours is any different?)….on a larger scale boycott national holidays and patriotism too (14th August anyone?). On a cliched note: celebrating our differences is what unifies us. She’s doing just that, she hasn’t put anyone down.Recommend

  • http://doomedlionsinstarlight.wordpress.com Doomed Lions

    Glad you found the right path.Recommend

  • Usama

    Neha here is just appreciating her religion guys, whats this attitude of finding a flaw in any single line that you want to criticize? Appreciate someone feels lucky/happy to be born Muslim. She isnt criticizing any non-muslim religion here, she is simply putting forward the love for her religion and we should support that.
    Loved the piece Neha ! living abroad, i can relate to this completely. Waiting to read more from you. Recommend

  • sherry

    brilliant , its not so eazy to deal with such lunaticsRecommend

  • sherry

    very well written,
    keep weeping liberalsRecommend

  • http://doomedlionsinstarlight.wordpress.com Doomed Lions

    Where the heck is my comment? Recommend

  • jamil

    Ramzan is the month of blessings..i believe that we should try our outmost best to do good in the name of humanity be it Zakat, Our prayers, fast, good thoughts and so on. i was very pleased to see that people are making generous efforts to help those people who are unable to meet their daily basic necessities. i found out that the young generation which is highly influenced by the digitization are trying to read online Quran. Recommend

  • Rex Minor

    Well choosen and well expressed article. Those of you who do not know should know that fasting is done by christians and jews as well. The blessing from God almighty is that during fasting the cancer cells get disoriented since they do not receive feed, and therefore die if one were to realy fast a week or so without eating but maintaing drinking water or a vegetable soup. Please do not ask me for references but have it confirmed from your local cancer speialised clinic or the internist.

    Rex MinorRecommend

  • Shadytr33

    I will follow what I believe is correct. I have done my research and the link you sent goes against it. You will try to find what ever possible to feed your anti-Islam beliefs. That’s called confirmation bias in Psychological terms. I know how you haters think because i’ve studied psychology. You can take your hatred somewhere else and bang it against the wall.

    Islam has NEVER allowed the beating of women and NEVER will. Period.Recommend

  • Rehan

    @Shadytr33: Refusing to accept facts and living in a world where fairytales take the place of scientific knowledge and evidence… Hmm, I believe there’s a term somewhere in Psychology for that too.
    My word, the ignorance and paranoia of our people knows no bound!
    Warmest Regards,

  • Sara

    “That’s called confirmation bias in Psychological terms. I know how you haters think because i’ve studied psychology.”
    Wah, madam ne Kanada se Pyschology parhee hai! That must be enough to combat every scientific fact emanating out of the study of evolution for sure! Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Stephen Hawking – sirs, you have finally met your match! Recommend

  • Abdullah

    I’m a Hafiz Muslim man and I know in Islam that I would have the right to scold my wife if she misbehaves with me or my mother/father. There is nothing wrong with that and you must not argue against Islam and Islamic teachings. It is wrong. Recommend

  • Raw is War

    happy id to one and all.Recommend

  • Shameel

    Interesting fact: Fasting during the month of Ramazan was a custom that people in the western part of the Arabian peninsula, where Islam supposedly originated, followed long before the advent of Islam. It is a pre-Islamic custom of the Arabian people of a couple cities located close to each other on a particular peninsula. Recommend

  • fizzasaleh

    Thnx for sharing this precious site with all of us online Quran. i think in this month of ramzan we can take the most advantage out of it…and not only in ramzan but throughout the year.Recommend

  • Sane

    You are definitely paid to malign Muslims and Islam as whole and I am sure you use fake Id to pretend as Muslim.Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    Please don’t give us your holier-than-thou speech. Judging from your last line, you declare that Hindus, Jews, Christains, etc. are unlucky? Why because of thier beliefs? Either increase your English skills before making such false and offensive statements or spare us your holier-than-thou act reserved only for Ramazan in days that end with a ‘y’. Yes, that is according to the Georgian calendar to you.Recommend

  • Muneeb

    No point of your “foreign education” if you cannot learn to be patient and respectful to people who are different from you, and not as “lucky” as you.Recommend

  • Muneeb

    @Learn to appreciate:
    I think Rehan was absolutely right. The whole point of the article was nullified by that line. If she hasn’t learnt how to respect others, she needs to do a lot more than fast!Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    I believe in whats written and meant in the religious book. Thats the fact. Period. While you believe in some other “twisted” fact and you use that to launch your own hate campaign, that’s your personal agenda.
    I never went against any religion or people’s personal beliefs. I just want to remove the weird perception of Islam that people have gained from wrong sources. While on the other hand you and others seem to be on a “hate rampage”. Who’s the arrogant fundamentalist here.?Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    LOL.. and i think you haven’t studied at all. Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist. Christopher Hitchens is a journalist and a writer. The Sunday Times described Hitchens as “Usually armed with a glass of Scotch and an untipped Rothmans cigarette. Hitchens admitted to drinking heavily; in 2003 he wrote that his daily intake of alcohol was enough “to kill or stun the average mule”. And Stephen Hawking is a Physicist.
    Now I don’t get what Human Psychology (The study of the mind, occurring partly via the study of behavior.) has to do with evolution. LmAO.Recommend

  • Sara

    Human Psychology is a banality, a pseudoscience, is pure hogwash, in comparison to Physics and evolutionary biology, when it comes to explaining the origins of the universe. But, sure, if you want to remain ignorant, be my guest. I simply hope that one day you’ll pick up a few science books, compare them with that ‘book of facts’ you keep referencing (the same book that states that salt and fresh water don’t mix!) and finally grow out of your intellectual infancy. Recommend

  • Mj

    Don’t worry, he’s exhibiting a lack of comprehension coupled with deliberate naivete. A dangerous combo indeed.Recommend

  • Rehan

    Shadytr33: Young man/woman, I believe in fact, evidence, proof, as those who are the most intellectually superior in our world do. Do a quick Google search and see how many scientists ascribe to any religion at all. Please, just do so. Or, perhaps, compare the correlation of a society’s literacy rate with that of the percentage of atheist population. Or simply see a world map and examine how your religion is purely a result of which country you’re born. Or, please, at least simply conduct some research into your beliefs again. There are so many inaccuracies and absurdities that you are indirectly ascribing to that even you have no idea.
    And, to be rather honest, your arrogance baffles me. You keep claiming that you possess facts, but the fact is that you can’t prove what you believe in. At all. Ever. And you know it, and so you hide under that revolting arrogance. If you have so much confidence, prove it now. I have plenty of proof and evidence to back up my ‘set of beliefs’ if you can call it that.
    Please learn to question your beliefs. I say this not to denigrate you, for I was once like you, but to empower you to think for yourself–much more beauty, wisdom and truth will come to you that way.
    Warmest Regards,

  • Learn to appreciate

    I CBA with this anymore. This discussion is futile. Obviously the population of bigots is on the rise. Thanks for pushing that message home. Do what you will from now on.

    Shadytr33 is talking a whole lot of sense, mate I wholeheartedly agree with you!! And you’re right this is an obvious hate campaign by people who I am also now thinking are only posting comments to cause argument…..particularly that Rehan guy….watch for the trolls moderators.

    Thanks very much ET for being able to figure out the rubbish from the constructive discussion (sarcasm for those in the slow lane)….what a pile of crap. And finally to the comment moderators, do your job properly….good riddance.Recommend

  • Muneeb

    ^ There is no hate campaign against anyone.
    And if anything the bigot lies in you and the writer.


  • Rehan

    @Learn to appreciate
    I do not bear any ill-will towards anyone. I have no reason to. I believe in fact and reality, which disables me from harboring any bias towards either gender, any race or any creed. I wish you the best.
    However, if I have somehow offended your sensibilities, I am sincerely sorry. I truly did not mean to.
    Best wishes,

  • Sher Asim

    I don’t know why you don’t understand. It seems beyond your comprehension. Psychology is not involved in proving the existence of God. It’s the study of human behavior and it has played great roles in helping humans understand itself. From basic behavior to mental illnesses. You seem to have that typical third world mentality that if a person who has not studied science, or become a doctor or an engineer is useless.
    Now where did any one attack your beliefs but you seem hostile and arrogant and you show hatred for other’s belief.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    Source UNESCO for literacy rates.
    Qatar – 98.95%
    Bharain – 90.2%
    Jordan – 93%
    Turkey – 90.82%
    Kuwait – 98.74% (in 2005 it was 99.75%)
    Iran – 85.2%
    Lebanon – 97.6%
    UAE – 97%
    All these countries are Muslim majority areas.
    And you sir, I bet can’t prove the non-existence of God because you can not even prove how the universe was created. When it was created. And why. Now don’t linger on the side issues which you most atheists do. Stick to the main issue which is proving the Existence or non-Existence of God. Also majority of science is based on theories which are constantly dis-approved by other scientists.
    It is said by scientists that the universe was created 13.5. Now Before that moment there was infinite past. After that moment, there is infinite future. Infinity has no beginning or end. The fact that the universe did not come into existence in the infinite past or infinite future is itself a proof of intervention through decision. It is also proof that laws of physics pertaining to the creation of universe either did not exist or were not previously applied. All of the laws of universe were present after the creation of universe. Not before it. The universe and all that we see in it is the result of a chain reaction of causes and effects emanating from the 1st single cause. That 1st cause was the 1st application of the laws of physics. There is no “chance” involved in the universe, there is only conformity to the laws of Physics. This law was applied by an intelligent designer able to act independently. Matter is not living conscious or aware. It does not have the ability to change its destiny or of anything else. only a sentient can change what would have been. An apple falls from the tree, you can decide to let it fall or u can catch it. The choice to change is free will & free will is independent of conformity. In absence of God there would have been eternity of emptiness. This sentient being created the universe. This being existed before the universe came into being. Thus God is not a material being. Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    Also I would like to mention some Theist(God believing) Scientists.
    1 – Galileo Galilei
    2 – Blaise Pascal
    3 – Robert Boyle
    4 – Issac Newton
    5 – Albert Einstein
    6 – Charles Thaxton
    7 – Abdul SalamRecommend

  • Rehan

    Now you’re just stating made up facts. Have you no shame? Just to respond to a few in your list: Einstein was an atheist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AlbertEinstein%27sreligiousviews). Galileo completely disregarded the church in his research (“He displayed a peculiar ability to ignore established authorities, most notably Aristotelianism. In broader terms, his work marked another step towards the eventual separation of science from both philosophy and religion;” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GalileoGalilei#Death).
    And your list of countries and literacy rates contains a very severe flaw. All of those countries, with the exception of Turkey, start the religious indoctrination of citizens from the age of 2, rendering those without a superior intellectual capacity unable to question. Turkey, which is secular, and abstains from religious education until later years, when individuals are more mature, has a decent atheist population (http://richarddawkins.net/discussions/560993-atheism-in-the-muslim-world).
    PS: You’re the one making the enormous and very unbelievable statement about the beginning of the universe. Thus, by simple logic (hope you’ve taken a class in this!), the onus of responsibility to explain and provide evidence is on you. And, by the way, physics can very well explain the beginning of the universe. Yet, the reasonable never rest. They keep studying and questioning to confirm and disconfirm. One flaw noticed and it all falls apart, completely unlike, to quote Sara here, “that ‘book of facts’ that you keep referencing.”
    Anyways, this is my last post here. I am tired of reasoning with the un-evolved.
    May you find ‘peace’ in your beliefs (as they say, ignorance is bliss),

  • Shadytr33

    @ Rehan:
    Einstein said, “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.” – Which you are doing right now.
    Einstein said: our question [about God] is the most difficult in the world. It is not a question I can answer simply with yes or no. I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I not reply with a parable? The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinoza’s Pantheism. I admire even more his contributions to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers, because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body as one, not as two separate thing.Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    @Rehan: Your assessment of the literacy rate and atheism shows that you tend to see atheists intellectually superior with better mental capabilities and better at making life choices. However thinking scientifically and not believing in God does not mean that a person is more literate or will tend to lead a better standard of life.
    In fact theists are way more in number and they live an even better quality of life which depends on the type of society they live in and how good the government provides opportunities to it’s people. The population of atheists in US is hardly greater than 10%. But still majority of the general population leads a quality life. Being an atheist does not “at all” provide greater success in life. There are other factors that influence the quality of life. And RELIGION by the way “builds the moral character of a person.” SCIENCE “DOES NOT”. Period Recommend

  • Shadytr33

    you seem to have little grasp over science actually as you did’t really understand what I said. Yawn. Anyways whatever helps you sleep at night @ rehanRecommend

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