Hyderabad: Come Ramzan and things are never the same – at least in the Muslim world. Lifestyles see a spiritual transformation even as the daily routine goes for a toss. Not just the eating habits, sleep and working schedule too undergoes a change. Worship takes precedence over everything else and other tasks are adjusted accordingly.
Muslim majority countries see working hours reduced by two hours – starting late and ending early. Elsewhere also the work load gets eased. While government allows its Muslim workforce to leave early, private establishments too hire extra hands to ease the burden. Women, of course, are the most hard-pressed as they have to catch up with the household chores and yet find time for additional prayers. For working women it is much more taxing.
The 30-day lunar period is a time for repentance, renunciation, prayer and sacrifice. There is a discernible change in many with speech becoming measured and conduct refined. It is also the time to delve into one’s religious and spiritual sides. Fasting is not about a diet of burning calories. It’s about burning ego, pride and sins. As such in most houses the idiot box goes into the hiding for a month as Ramzan is the time to take a break from the pursuit of the material to focus on the spiritual. It is also the right time to quit bad and unhealthy habits. After being off from your addiction for a month you might not feel like going back to it again. “Ramzan is the time to move beyond the body and cater to the spirit, the essence of human being”, says Maulana Obaidur Rehman, who leads the prayers at Masjid-e-Teen Posh.
It is amazing how the daily routine in Muslim households goes topsy-turvy with the sighting of Ramzan crescent. One can see lights switch on as early as 3.30 in the morning when in other days one is usually in deep slumber. There is a hectic activity for preparation of ‘sahr’, the pre-dawn meal. This is essential to help one cope with hunger and thirst in the long hot day ahead.
It is literally a race against time. The food has to be prepared and eaten before the siren goes. Waking up bleary-eyed youngsters is a task. Even small kids, for whom fasting is not obligatory, do not want to miss the experience. Of course doting parents cajole them into taking their regular meals during the day. “Ramzan calls for being more sensitive to situations and feelings of others”, says Nikhat Naaz, a housewife.
What exactly is the Ramzan recipe? It includes a glass of care, a plate of love, a spoon of peace, a fork of truth and a bowl of ‘duaas’. Most persons try to adopt these golden principles. Even otherwise the bonhomie that prevails when the ‘dastarkhwan’ is spread at the time of shar and iftar is touching. There is an immense sense of sharing and caring. Many find it difficult to eat so early but nevertheless do partake of the ‘sahr’ as it is considered an act of worship. There is no going back to sleep after sahr. The men leave for the mosques for the ‘Fajr’ prayers while the women pray at home.
Every member of the household tries to devote more and more time for the recital of the Quran since the month of fasting is the period when the scriptures were revealed. At the end of the 15 hour long fast, the delight felt by ‘rozadars’ at iftar is indescribable. Never does a date or a slice of apple appears so tasty and brings such joy. Fasting is essentially denying the body to elevate the soul. But of late commercial interests have driven the traders to turn the month of fasting into a period of unabashed eating and shopping.
Iftar over there is no time for a large meal yet. One has to head for the Maghrib prayers. Thereafter, there is just enough time to finish the meal and head for the regular Isha prayers. Ramzan nights are marked by special prayers called ‘Taraweeh’ where the chapters of the Quran are recited during the month. This takes at least two hours. As one returns tired and falls asleep it is soon time to wake up for the sahr again. And the cycle goes on for 30 days.