Ramadan is a holy month starting with a crescent moon and continues till the next. Now we are in the period of a Ramadan. This year my intention is understanding Ramadan rituals and symbols for me.
Ramadan is a month full of rituals and symbols
In Sufi tradition, God is called Lover. God is believed to live in our hearts. My invitation to you is imagining all these rituals of Ramadan, a special way to meet with your Lover. It is a special date for your Lover so for you.
Can I give 1 month every year from my life, for a deep journey inside me? 1 month of slowing down and being mindful, of showing my gratitude, rituals, celebrations, feeling the sacredness, ceremonies, witnessing, prayers, purification, feeling, and being.
During Ramadan fasting, one becomes slow, slowness makes the witnessing ability sharper. This gives us the possibility to witness life in another way for us. It is a journey; it is an experience. You do not eat nor drink, from the time of the dawn till sunset. It starts when you see the crescent and continues until the next crescent, for 1 month.
Can you imagine stopping for the whole day, to witness the beauty around you? Can I stop from the time that Sun comes up till Sun goes down so that I can witness all the beauty more deeply? I can hear the birds, I can see the movement of the leaves, I can realize the shine inside the eye of my little ones, I can cook with prayers, I can feel the touch of the water on my body so that I can convert every moment to a ritual and live the life as a ceremony.
All spiritual books I have read, mentioned all the time, connecting with the One at the time of the dawn. I have been lazy to experience it on my own. Sahur is the name of the meal during dawn time, eaten before Fasting. The idea here is not the meal itself. The idea is to start the ritual, with your intention. Sahur is the starting point of the ritual of fasting. Stepping to that sacred space, slowing down, clarifying your intention, feeling the One, and then just letting go. Without your intention, you can not fast. What else can be the meaning of sahur at that time of silence of the dawn? Maybe my Lover wants me to witness something inside me, waiting silently just before the dawn? Maybe there are some secrets of the Life that I can witness just at the silence of the dawn? Whatever it is, I am here to witness.
This is the time just after Sunset when you can close down your daily ritual of fasting. Ritual is a mark in space and time for yourself to bring your attention to the sacredness of the moment. The starting point of this ritual Fasting is sahur and closing of this ritual is the iftar. It is a ceremony, a celebration, with your family, with your friends, relatives, neighbors, with your loved ones. I always remember how I was waiting on the balcony when I was a kid. Everybody was waiting. We were waiting to hear the sound of the cannon altogether, as they were throwing it. Once the cannon was thrown, then the Ezan was singing and the lights of the mosques were on, all bright and shining. We were running inside saying that ‘cannons were thrown, cannons were thrown’, so announcing to the whole family that it was time to eat. The most important job of giving the news for the closing of the ritual was ours, the kids.
During the day you prepare the food to eat. You appreciate the food, you cook the food with prayers. While eating, you appreciate the food, you really feel the gratitude that you are eating. It is a joyful ceremony. It is the purest ceremony of celebrating the simple way of living life; eating all together as a family with gratitude in your heart. Being humble, being in gratitude, being in Love.
Abdest (Purification ritual with water before prayer) Ritual
Imagine you slow down, stop, and touch the water, and with this water touch gently different places in your body. Your hands, mouth, nose, ears, head, elbows, arms, legs, and feet. You do this 5 times in a day to show self-care. Abdest is a purification ritual before daily prayer and daily prayer is a ritual to meet the One. It is like a ritual, inside a ritual. Prayer ritual should be so important that we need another ritual just before that. In Sufi tradition, one is called the Lover. So, you take care of your self before meeting the Lover, you are getting ready for it.
Daily Prayer (Namaz) Ritual
Finally, you meet with your Lover. You can do it 5 times a day. It is a ritual full of symbols. Morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night prayers. Each is part of a calculation almost showing the perfect and infallible order of life. You have the time of each prayer according to the movement of the world and the Sun, and each time you have different numbers of movements and prayers defined as well.
It makes it possible to create a scared space and time to just be. To meet my inner self, then when I go again to the outer world, my inner and outer intentions and actions can align, then maybe, I do not have to struggle in this dual world that much.
In my last blog post, I have explained how daily prayers in Islam have inspired me to prioritize my daily rituals in my everyday life. I have always been interested in spiritual life and I was practicing different rituals as well, but then I realized that I was not giving permission to myself to separate some time every day for these practices. I was seeing it as extra. Then when I have realized it, I gave myself permission to do so. Thinking that daily prayers of Islam are 5 times in a day was encouraging me. It is funny, because in today’s world maybe we need more time of spirituality but it is harder to give permission to ourselves even a bit of those time that they were giving our ancestors.
Reading the Quran Ritual
Ramadan is the holy month, as it is the time when the Quran came. Quran is a holy book, containing all the secrets about the truth. One can see each time another reality reading it, as each time one is a different person. During fasting, reading the Quran can be more powerful because of the sacredness of the month as well as all the other rituals supporting the person. Is it possible to see the Quran as a book written by my Lover for me?
What are your Ramadan rituals? What they mean for you? Share with me in the comments.