[RAMADAN NOTES] ‘Ramadanification’ of our entire lives

August 24, 2011, Wednesday/ 17:14:00/ KERİM BALCI

Ramadan is a period of purification; however, it should not be followed by another period of contamination. We are not angels, either; we will certainly make mistakes, but resignation to this human reality can create a feeling of self-intimidation. Muslim strategy in the face of sins is a “we may, but we won’t” strategy. The best way to adopt this strategy into our lives is to continue on with the good deeds we have internalized during Ramadan.

One cannot fast continuously for an entire lifetime, but neither should one eat excessively during the rest of the year. During Ramadan we have fasted and learned that we are sitting at the dining table of the Supreme; however, the foods we eat don’t necessarily come from Satan during the rest of the year, either. We are always at the same table and we are always being watched over. In Ramadan we have learned the manners of taking meals at that table, and during the rest of our lives we are supposed to maintain those manners. Starting every meal by mentioning the name of God, restraining ourselves while eating, sparing some of our resources for the poor and the needy, remembering God’s graces and at the end of the meal thanking God for all His bounties are all part of this list of Ramadan manners.

In order to keep our Ramadan manners alive throughout the year our Prophet suggested that we should fast 10 more days during Shawwal, the month after Ramadan and to also fast on Mondays and Thursdays each week during the other months of the year.

As Ramadan manners also include a type of “fasting of other organs,” the manners we should mind at all times include a kind of fasting of the tongue, fasting of the eyes, fasting of the ears, fasting of the feet and so on. We may not be able to spend all our nights in recitation of Quran but neither does that mean we should sleep every night without making any appeals at all to the Gates of the Heavens. We may not be able to be as benevolent as we have been during the days of Ramadan, but feeding the hungry, giving to the poor and supporting good deeds are always good and always godly. In short, we must do everything in order to make the ordinary days of our lives more Ramadan-like.

Grandpa came up with his own neologism for this: Ramazanlaşmak (Ramadanification). For him this was not merely a linguistic endeavor. He would even change our names to Ramadan for some time. In fact Ramadan is a fairly common name among boys in Turkey and after Ramadan, for a few weeks Grandpa would turn all the boys and girls of our village to Ramadan. For girls he would prefer a feminine version of the name: Ramazâne. He was trying to show to us that we have already formatted ourselves in Ramadan and that we should from now on all stay with our newly obtained dispositions.

Time passes and we are lost in the necessities of our daily lives. From time to time it was once again Grandpa who would remind us of our Ramadan days and nights. “Let us ‘Ramadanify’ our day tomorrow,” he would say sometimes. This meant he wanted us to fast, not because it was ordained upon us as Muslims but because we wanted to send a gift to our God. The “Ramadanification” of our nights meant spending a whole night with prayers, supplications, meditations and deep discussions.

I remember that mom used to support him by offering us flour halva during sahur. Flour halva had a power of waking all the children in the family in the middle of the night. Then my father would take the lead and “Ramadanify” the rest of the night with shadow theater and stories about the lives of the saints of Islam.

For years “Ramadanification” has not been a part of my life. But occasionally, I hear Grandpa’s voice calling me Ramadan. It is such a strong call that I cannot resist.

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