The First Ramadan in the life of a Muslim is indeed an unforgettable experience. No matter how old you are - five or even fifty, the first Ramadan can be quite hard to tackle through but once it is successfully completed the happiness and pride that you get is simply amazing. Not only do you feel a great sense of accomplishment in your heart but you also immediately feel closer to Allah.
The month of Ramadan is the time of the year where blessings are simply showered upon us. To be able to participate in all the religious observance during the holy month of Ramadan and to gain those blessings and merits brings so much happiness.
The first time I completed the entire fast without cutting it short or taking breaks in between was when I was about six years old. I don’t remember the whole experience vividly but one thing that I surely know is that it was not a walk in the park. My mother talks about it often with pride. She would always mention how I would count down the hours till it was time for Iftar and I would close my eyes and nose tightly when I walk past the kitchen to avoid the sight and smell of food. To a little kid, fasting is simply staying away from food and water.
Most of the time a little child does not understand what fasting in the month of Ramadan is really about and the ultimate aim that Islam as a religion requires of it. Rather than sharing my experience of the first Ramadan, I would like to share the first Ramadan experience of a dear friend of mine which changed his life and my life forever.
When I was about 16 years old, I was sent to my aunt's house to be taken care of till my mother and sister got back from their visit to the United Arab Emirates. I was not able to come along them due to my exams.
That year, I got to meet Haren. Haren was from a poor family, and he was living with his widowed mother and a sister who was 10 years younger than he was. Due to hard times, he supported his family by working at a garage. I met him when I took my uncle's bike over for a repair. He was just months younger than I was but he was so skilled, and his knowledge about bikes and repairs was impressive. Personally, I felt sorry that such a kindhearted and a skillful boy like him was not able to go to school to get an education, but there was nothing that I could do to change the situation.
He and I grew closer and we would often meet after Iftar, and we would talk about various matters that interested us both. We would often talk about religion and the world. For a non-Muslim he had a huge respect for Islam, he would talk about the bonds and the brotherhood he saw among Muslims and he would go on and on about how much he admired it. His interest in Islam made me feel happy, and I made sure to answer all his questions about Islam with care when he asked them from me.
One day, he questioned about fasting and its value. We talked for a long time about what the month of Ramadan was about, and when the conversation ended, he told me that he wanted to experience what fasting. I was amazed, because in normal cases even Muslims consider fasting to be a hard and tedious task, and this boy who's not a Muslim yearns for that experience. Without thinking twice I agreed to help him. I spoke to my aunt regarding this, she smiled and told me to bring Haren over for Suhoor. During Suhoor, both my uncle and aunt shared about Islam. They were happy as I was about him for having so much interest in Islam and agreed to help him further if he needed any assistance. All of us hoped in our hearts that this incident would cause a big change in his life.
The day was pretty rough for him. He still had to work, and working without water for hours gave him a pretty rough time. I took a break from my studies to help him out with his work for the day. We limited our chats since I knew he was exhausted. I constantly reminded him that he could always break the fast if he found it too difficult, but he never swayed. He kept his fast till it was time. He had Iftar with us, together with his mother and sister too. I knew from their faces that they were grateful for all the food and the hospitality that was extended to them.
Haren continued to fast the remaining days of Ramadan. Within that short period of time, his interest in Islam grew deeper and he would question me and my uncle endlessly about our religion. We extended all the help that we could provide to him.
Even when I return back home, I would constantly keep in touch with him and support him as a friend. The impact of that day was brought to the surface when Haren visited me around 3 years later with his mother and sister. He revealed to me that he has embraced Islam along with his mother and his sister. Mashallah! He told me that meeting me was a crucial part of helping him make this life-changing decision. There were absolutely no words to describe my happiness that day.
It is sometimes unbelievable that a small incident in life can make a rippling effect and change a person's life for the better. Haren who now goes by the name Hakeem is a man with a complete devotion to Allah, his faith is so pure and he loves the religion with all his heart. This is the extraordinary impact that can be caused in the month of Ramadan, and we are indeed blessed to be able to able to experience it.