Ramadan Diaries – Part 3

This series is an attempt to explore how Ramadan is undermined and its spirit demonstrated, through the diaries of a typical Nigerian Muslim. It may apply to other Muslims too. Read the previous posts in the series here: Part 1 and Part 2.

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Eleventh day of Ramadan…
It is about mid-Ramadan and so far, I think I ve done rather well in terms of the prayers after Iftar (breaking fast); Isha and Taraweeh. For instance, I pray thirteen units of voluntary prayer while Musa and Ibrahim pray only eight. May be I should add three to mine so I can double theirs; it is easier for my calculation to know they are only half of me. Its embarrassing to be worshiping at half the capacity of your colleagues. I was happy with my performance so far until Fatima blotted out that she performs twenty two units of voluntary prayers daily (and then adds three). That is impressive; I mean she almost doubles me, almost quadruples others.
But poor Fatima is not Ramadan Smart. She puts all her eggs in one basket. It turns out, that is ALL she does really; she doesn’t recite the Qur’an for an hour like I do. When you think about it, reciting the Qur’an for an hour everyday should be better than the units of prayers she has more than me. Think about it, I get reward for every letter of the Qur’an I recite. And I make good use of my time, so I recite fast.
Rules are there to be broken. Rules are there to be followed. True, not a clever saying. But how can such a clever saying contradict the non-clever saying? This is making my head turn as it is, I’ll continue on this thought later after I break my fast. For now, it suffice to say that I know rules are to be broken. Well because we just broke a rule, and given the situation, it is not wrong. The rule is that one does not brag or talk about their good deeds, but in Ramadan, the rules change. Like the conversations at work that led to all of us mentioning how many units we pray daily. It is not about bragging. Really. Ummm I would say it is about comparing notes. After all I remember the Imam encouraging us to compete with one another in good deeds. How can I compete when I don’t know what my opponents are planning?!

It turns out all my colleagues have placed standing order for Sadaqa (charity) food to be delivered to mosques. The arrangement is simply to deposit the funds with the food seller so that an agreed number of units are sent every day. I’ll join that race too, InshaAllah.

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Fourteenth day of Ramadan…
I am to follow up with Shehu on a pending matter but I am avoiding him. He’s been very judgmental, since last week. I wanted to explain to him immediately but the way he looked at me with dismissive finality blocked that chance. He assumes too much. Does he not allow for the chance that it might have been an accident? I was only flipping through the radio channels, may be for extended duration, then he walked by. The music from the radio station was not even that loud. Typically Shehu would have stopped by and shook my hands. Instead he even hesitated saying hi, to dissociate himself from me, to all witnessing eyes. Why? Because I was listening to music in the parking lot. I mean I was tuned to a radio channel playing music, in the parking lot, in Ramadan. I had nothing to do with it.  It didn’t help that it was Rihanna playing at the time.
Did I do anything wrong? I don’t think so. However, the landscape of wrong is broadened in Ramadan. Is that the effect of devils being chained? Too many judgmental colleagues. It may be why Fatima-the-22-Rak’ah has been updating me with the latest dua’s (supplications) she is doing, which only started when I found her (caught her) listening to music, in Ramadan. Probably that is why Musa takes every opportunity to briefly test my hanging earphones, hoping to find (catch) me listening to music in Ramadan, instead of Qur’an. No way I’ll let myself fall for that. So I leave the Qur’an playing even when the earphones are not in my ears; Musa, ready when you are. I mean even Ibrahim listens to Qur’an in Ramadan, for crying out loud.

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Nineteenth day of Ramadan…
So there might be a little problem this Ramadan. All thanks to one Mallam I heard on the radio, while making effort not to tune in music. According to him the late-night-congregation (Tahajjud) prayer is an innovation to the religion, and so WRONG. You mean to say all these years we have been doing this… it is all Bid’ah?! (Bid’ah is the abominable word for innovation to religion) No way! That is the reason the last ten days of Ramadan is so juicy with heavenly rewards. And I have already taken a chunk of my annual leave to really prepare for this. He should have said something earlier. Well, what to do now?
Actually what he said was that the Prophet never convened a congregation for late-night prayer, but the Prophet prayed the early-night prayer (Taraweeh). So what I’ll be doing is to pray the regular early-night prayer, then take a break, for a few hours, and then I’ll return praying the early-night prayer, late and in a different mosque. That way, I do no Bid’ah and I pray late. I have to say, there is a sense of accomplishment to be able to wake up (or stay up very late) and get busy praying at 1 am, for three hours.

Did I talk about Laylatul Qadr yet? I’ll do later, or tomorrow… or soon.

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