I’m tempted to agree with those who say that silence is the language of the soul, because words are not enough. I’m sitting on my bed, mac on lap, trying think up the best way to express what I’m feeling right this moment, but I can’t find the words. They don’t do the feeling any justice.
After a little hide and seek with the moon, Ramadan 2010 finally came upon those of us in Senegal. Others in France, Saudi Arabia and Ghana started yesterday, but we got another day to “prepare”. But tell me, can you ever adequately prepare for Ramadan? Each year, it is the same, but slightly different. For me the consistency has been a calmness of mind, heart and soul that I can only call peace. I can’t explain it fully, but over the past couple of years, my entire system kicks into auto-gear with the arrival of Ramadan and I just trust. Yes, there are still hopes, there are still fears, but over that month, it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s because of the heavenly presence on earth? 
Abu Hurairah, (may Allah be pleased with him) quoted the Prophet (PBUH) as saying: “When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the Hellfire are closed, and the devils are chained.” (Reported by al-Bukhari)
Just as Angel Gabriel appeared to Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) that night many years ago when illiterate him was commanded to “Read in the name of your Lord”, our heavenly neighbours are said to frequent the earth during Ramadan. And as to the question of whether the devils are really chained up during Ramadan, I must say I believe they are.
Coming home hot and tired around 10pm, after a long first day, I was highly tempted to go straight to bed after showering. “You have all those prayers to say,” a voice whispered. “It’s hot, you’re tired. Take a break.” Maybe if there were more mischievous creatures making trouble on the land, I would have. But I didn’t. And guess what? It didn’t feel half as hard as my mind was making it out to be. With each prostration, I felt lighter. I know this probably sounds mumbo-jumbo to some of you, but like I said, even these words cannot adequately describe it.
All in all, I can only say Alhamdulilahi (thanks be to God) for seeing us through day one. It was so hot, by 3pm I thought I would faint. Now to my Ghana peeps, yes, Ghana is hot. But the heat doesn’t compare to Senegal, trust me. To my U.S. peeps, yes, the length of day is longer, but it’s about the same length of day here coupled with all this heat. To my Senegalese peeps, all I can say is I admire your fortitude. On the way to Dakar, people were going about their usual business. There were construction workers on the roads, working. In the burning heat, no air conditioner, no water. It could almost be regarded as impossible. I think it has to do with community. Knowing that just a stone’s throw away, there’s someone who is experiencing the same hunger pangs as you are makes all the difference.
Before I end, here’s a Qu’ranic verse I found in this HuffingtonPost article earlier. It spoke volumes, and the way I see it, it could be in any religious or spiritual book, not just the Qu’ran. Stay blessed all!

“True piety does not consist in turning your faces towards the east or the west — but truly pious is he who believes in God, and the Last Day; and the angels, and revelation, and the prophets; and spends his substance — however much he himself may cherish — it — upon his near of kin, and the orphans, and the needy, and the wayfarer, and the beggars, and for the freeing of human beings from bondage; and is constant in prayer, and renders the purifying dues; and [truly pious are] they who keep their promises whenever they promise, and are patient in misfortune and hardship and in time of peril: it is they that have proved themselves true, and it is they, they who are conscious of God.” (2:177 [Asad])


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