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Ramadan Diaries – Part 2

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.

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Fourth day of Ramadan…
I would say today’s fast was moderately difficult. That is I can go for two more hours after the time for breaking, before it breaks me. Trust me, I know. People can be smart in four ways: Book Smart, Skill Smart, Street Smart and Ramadan Smart. I am Ramadan Smart.
We have just “broke” our fast. That reminds me, words of wisdom I should remember to quote during a Ramadan conversation: Break your fast before it breaks you. You have to be Ramadan Smart to know that there is a deeper meaning to my wise saying beyond appearances, which is that Ramadan can make you go broke especially when you host guests for Iftar (fast-breaking). There is a lot of heavenly reward at stake, but being Ramadan Smart also means knowing if you have the capital to venture into that kind of earthly investment with overwhelming heavenly rewards, in multiples!
So, my focus will be on praying a lot instead. And I am utilizing this weekend to offer myself invitation (and acceptance) to Iftars at my friends’ places. That way I save expenses, but I’ll pray more than most of my friends, in Ramadan. That makes us even. If Kenny Rogers was Muslim he would be singing (A Ramadan version of The Gambler):

You never count your Ajar, [Ajar is heavenly rewards]
When you still in Ramada-an,
There’ll be time enough for counting,
When the month is up.
– Muslim Kenny Rogers

Seventh day of Ramadan…
I have accepted another invitation to break fast today, even though it is not a weekend.
I didn’t want to say this yesterday but my theory has been confirmed. I am now more knowledgable in this Ramadan Science. One needs to limit their intake of food at the time of breaking fast, before the 30-60mins prayer (which starts an hour after break-of-fast). That way one may not feel heavy and sleepy, or even sweaty, during the stands and movements. I found out today that you can get mildly sweaty when praying.
Alhamdulillah! I have enjoyed the meal, though not quite full. I need the free space for now, and I’ll get back to my vacant stomach after the long prayer session. We have four Rak’ahs (units) for Isha’, ten for Tarweeh, three for Shaf’/Wutr; therefore we have 4+10+3 = 17 units (Rak’ahs) of prayer. Lets get it on.
We got my friend to lead us; hosts typically lead guests. It’s one thing that gets violated in Ramadan but not today. All that were present voted him to lead. They have a surprising confidence in him.
Talk about speed… I have never prayed this fast, since I was a “whiz kid” whizing my way through my self-led prayers in good time to return to Cartoon Network. The Imam would recite the seven verses of the opening chapter (of Quran)… in a single breath! WhatTheHell! Does he even know what he is reciting?! I can pick out a few words here and there but he sounds like he is chanting rather than reciting. Well may be it doesn’t sound beautiful but we cover more prayer units in less time. And we know, thanks to Ramadan Smart-ness, that a unit of prayer is a unit of prayer, whether it takes an hour or two minutes. It makes for easier calculation of my heavenly rewards because I can multiply my rewards by the number of prayer units (Rak’ahs). And that is subjected to Ramadan’s “multiplier effect”! Ooooo! Talk about making the best of your time.
Until today, when Muslims say performing prayers improves physical fitness, I had thought as in the case of Yoga; you are not really working out, but you are stretching and flexing, and you can later brag that you do exercise. But at today’s speed, it was like aerobics! Its like the difference between going out for a walk and power-walking.
Time doesn’t fly in Ramadan, but prayers certainly do.

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Ramadan Diaries

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.
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A week to Ramadan…
At the mosque. A break from office. The sermon reminded us about the blessings of Ramadan. We were encouraged to become better Muslims, FOR Ramadan. More than half the year is gone, but I haven’t paid the Mosque-dues we (are supposed to) pay monthly. Something has gotten into me, I feel the urge to pay all the months I have missed beFORe Ramadan. I could just pay next week, no harm done; FOR Ramadan. Sizzling with generosity and benevolence I think I will pay for the entire year in advance, next week; FOR Ramadan. That way I get the reward of paying mosque-dues in Ramadan, while others spread their payment through the year, as agreed by mosque officials. Yea right, I guess others weren’t as far-seeing as me; i delay my payment FOR Ramadan

Two days to Ramadan…
The Mosque is such a sanctuary. No noise, no clutter, the only thing missing is breeze of fresh air. We were again reminded of the “bonuses” that come with Ramadan and its “multiplier effect”. Every good deed done is multiplied a thousand times in heavenly reward; during Ramadan. Unfortunately every bad deed is also multiplied in punishment. That reminds me, I need to finish watching my un-watched TV series tonight because with some of these series, you never know when you’ll be ambushed with a sex scene. So I can’t afford to be doing that; during Ramadan. Perhaps I can, I just need to not-watch it during the day, that is before breaking of the fast. Regarding whether I can watch series after break-of-fast, I will enquire if the “multiplier effect” is in effect after break-of-fast. But I won’t ask my Mallam because he’ll know where I’m headed to, and may create an awkward situation. So I guess this is one of those times I will have to search the internet for answers to “Islamic” questions.
One more thing to note is my BlackBerry network. So much goes on behind my phone’s locked screen; clicking my keyboard all the way. Let us just keep locked screens locked, and mouths shut. It suffice to say that unlocking my phone, while subscribing to my Blackberry service, would be like unlocking Pandora’s box, with never ending stream of demons. Anyway flirting and gossiping are simply accusations because how can anyone really prove I do any of that, beyond reasonable doubt.

Second day of Ramadan…
WHAT! The mosque is filled to the brim. The mosque is no more a sanctuary, rowdy as a market. Peering over shoulders, I can see Hassan’s head towards the front row; when did Hassan start praying in the mosque?!
Stop musing… Crowded mosque. No space… Oh there is a space in that rear corner I could squeeze in. I’ll get in there even though it’s a hassle… Shoot! Someone just raced me to it. I guess I’ll pray outside even though this is not a Friday prayer; you don’t want to joke with the “multiplied” rewards of Ramadan, for praying in the mosque which is itself a “multiplied” single-prayer reward. Wow! multiple of multiple, imagine that! How rare! I am packing big this Ramadan.
Its the end of the prayer and the Imam has one or two sermons to share. I would go back to send that important mail but I need to “milk” this Ramadan even more so I’ll stick around for five minutes. The Imam is going on first about administration of the mosque… did I hear him well?! He just said that over 100 members of the mosque paid their dues yesterday. Are you kidding me?! They all waited for first day of Ramadan?! Members are quite smart afterall. The race for gathering heavenly reward is on! I think I’ll stay for the sermon 10 more minutes.

[To be continued]

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