As a non-practising Hindu, Ayushi Devraj (22) of Shallcross, Durban, reverted to Islam on January 1 this year. She writes about her first Ramadan.
As soon as Ramadan began I noticed an incredible change in the atmosphere…that’s when I knew this was going to be a beautiful month.
My first Ramadan is not difficult as I feared it might be. I was worried about how I would manage not eating for several hours or whether I would be able to wake up that early as I’m NOT a morning person, but Alhamdullilah, everything is going smoothly.
I truly believe that Allah has made my first Ramadan fasts easy for me. Technically, this is not the first time I have fasted for Ramadan: I did fast for a week long before I embraced embraced Islam. At that time, I knew someday I will revert to Islam, so my purpose for fasting was to gain meaningful experience from it – and I truly felt a difference in my daily life.
When the hunger pangs hits me, I remind myself of the reason behind fasting. I ponder how blessed I am to have been given this blessed opportunity to fast. This makes me think about the hadith where the Prophet S.A.W said that Allah says: “All actions done by a human being belong to him except fasting; it belongs to Me. I shall reward it accordingly”. Knowing that fasting was singled out from all other deeds in this hadith truly shows the weight of the boundless rewards and benefits a Muslim receives.
This blessed month brings about a balance – it balances the year out, one’s daily routine as well as life itself. It also shows you what you’re capable of doing for the rest of the year, instead of during this month only. If you’re struggling with waking up for Fajr, the Holy month of Ramadan gets you into that routine as well as acts of ibadat, reading Qur’an on a regular basis, performing salat on time and so much more. Everyone experiences highs and lows in imaan from time to time, yet Allah has blessed us with this month in order for us to get closer and come back to Him.
Ramadan has taught me Sabr and has made me feel what the homeless and the poor would experience on a daily basis. This has increased my empathy even more towards the poor. It’s made me realise how we should be thankful to Allah of all he has provided us which many people tend to take for granted. I’ve made it a habit from the time – while I was non-Muslim and still learning about Islam – to say Alhamdulillah just before I go to bed every night.
I believe Ramadan saves us in so many ways. It saves us from a rut we might be in, whether it’s emotionally, physically or spiritually. Emotionally, it helps us be more patient, kind and to refrain from bad habits such as lying and gossiping. Your taqwa increases as you become more conscious of Allah. It also changes your mindset and brings you a sense of tranquillity no matter what challenges you may be going through. Physically, there are many health benefits of fasting such as you giving up bad habits and overcoming addictions like smoking. It also trains you to eat healthier and to wake up early. The spiritual benefits are endless because this is a perfect time to connect with Allah.
I was recently having a conversation with one of my non-Muslim friend about fasting and she told me that ‘it’s amazing that Muslims were able to fast for so many hours, and admired the self-control and discipline’. I know exactly what she meant.
For me, reverting to Islam was the most fulfilling moment of my life.
“Even though, I was never consciously searching for a religion to follow, I had a very strong pull towards Islam – this was something that came from within. It’s a very unique feeling to put into words; it’s something that can only be felt within the heart and soul. I knew I had to start learning about Islam so I read many books, watched many Islamic lectures, and did a lot of other research. When I also started listening to Qur’anic recitation, it gave me a sense of inner peace. This reminds me of the verse, ‘Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest’ (13:28).
As a new Muslim, my first Ramadan is special, and I thank Allah for blessing me with this treasured gift, now and forever!
*Ayushi holds degree in political science and currently studying towards her honours in (Media and cultural studies at UKZN),