If one could personify Ramadan, it would be an individual from whom you simply could not remove your gaze – hypnotised by its magnanimity. This individual would command the presence of a legendary hero, a champion, that single-handedly imprisoned the devils of this world, and has now arrived to free us from the pits of hell. Ramadan, the only guest that visits millions around the world yearly, yet never overstays its welcome. That one guest for which innumerable slaves pine, cry and surrender for. And at last, eleven months later, it arrived at our door-step. After it had spent two-thirds of its destined time with us, it was well under-way delivering its end-game: The Night of Power. That same night during the last ten on which our worship is worth a thousand months.
Imagine that, a guest, an iconic figure, that stays with us for a month and leaves us purer, stronger and more honourable. Free. What a beautiful gift that accompanies it. This same hero, sits in our houses, listening to the hums of our prayers, the rhythm of our recitations. It never sleeps for the duration of its stay. It enables us to stay up late at night in worship, and renders us energetic enough to tackle our worldly duties in the morning. It unites the disunited and controls the uncontrollable. It empties the pockets that have long been hidden under the veil of miserliness and lessens the weight of guilt.
Somehow, its presence gives us that strength to persevere through the incessant thoughts of desire and the unavoidable stitches of hunger in the toughest of climates and longest of days. Whilst it resides with us, it teaches us how to become the hero it is. How to become survivors. How to nurture our homes into examples so that when it inevitably leaves, we are able to hold our own till it returns. And it most certainly will return – every single year – till The Day Of Judgment, though we may not.
As far as allegories go, a hero needs an antithesis. A figure that morally opposes it in every way; a villain. If indeed all devils are incarcerated, where do these villains exist? What could possibly propel this hero in to visiting and bringing along its promises of purification and redemption? Us. We are the villains of this story. Ramadan arrives knowing very well who we are and what we are capable of. It knows what pleasures we indulge in after dark, behind doors and within the crypts of our souls. It is well aware of how we treat our own kind online/offline and it knows our dirty secrets. Perhaps that’s why it comes fully prepared. The stage is set and the metaphorical weapons have been drawn in what can only be described as ‘The Battle With Ramadan’.
It arrives as a saviour, yet many of us fight to not be saved. Unlike conventional story arcs, this is not a straight-forward battle between a hero and a villain. Here, the villain knows it must be defeated. We’re meant to be on the same side, fighting the righteous cause. We want to embrace Ramadan open heartedly because we feel our hearts rotting and we feel ill with ignorance, sick with sin.
Yet, perhaps our invitations are insincere; we don’t want this imposition on our lives. We have become addicted to the status quo and are now only enemies to ourselves. Ramadan has nothing to lose; only we do. We have a hero that has arrived to help the villain destroy itself and re-emerge victorious. A rebirth of sorts; yet we soon turn on ourselves and violate the generosity of Ramadan. The battle takes an insidious turn. At some point we dither and start fantasizing about the day Ramadan leaves. Perhaps finally we can be guilt-free and start feeding our desires once more, which have also been regrettably fasting for a whole month. As Ramadan is about to leave, we hear the devils clanking their chains louder and louder – a chilling reminder that they’re coming for a reunion. The devils of rivalry, pride, arrogance, addiction, temptation, slander, falsehood, laziness and injustice. Salivating. Secretly, we leave the doors of our houses ajar the moment Ramadan sets foot outside. We turn our backs and hold our breaths – maybe, just maybe, a devil may find its way back. And we’re ok with that.
The question is – what is freedom for us? When Ramadan enters our lives, or when it leaves? Is this guest enforcing itself on our lives, imprisoning us? Here lies the opportunity for spiritual rehabilitation but are we truly welcoming what it brings? Our answer to this indubitably dictates the outcome of our story. It really is predictive and symbolic of our will to change and our will to succeed. If you feel imprisoned by what this beautiful month brings, contemplate on your similarities with the devils that are cast away during this month. Ramadan arrives to free us from our own traps, but we sadistically crave our self-inflicted suffering. Do we really love it? Ramadan, the best of months and our iconic hero, comes to save us. It smiles upon us and showers us with opportunities. In all honesty, I don’t know where I belong, but I know where I want to be. Who I want to be. The devil within the man writing this article needs to cease to exist. What I am certain of is that I dread the departure of Ramadan, lest I am left alone and hungry for another eleven months. So either I fight this battle till the end, or I temporarily wrestle for show. Truthfully, I don’t know if I’ll be able to fight again.
It may be a short relationship that we re-kindle with this guest, but our yearning for it sustains us. We need to recognise the opportunities for redemption and seize them, for we battle on the same side. We simply cannot, and should not, succumb to the voices within that have convinced us that we’ve already lost. Know who the real enemy has been all along, because if there were to be anyone or anything else more responsible than our own selves, perhaps they would have been questioned in The Hereafter – and not us. This time when Ramadan leaves, let it shut the door firmly behind it once and for all. Let it take captive the evil within. Let it be known to the freed devils that will once more attempt to ambush our lives, that in ‘The Battle with Ramadan’, there can only ever be one victor.