Part of the Ramadan magic that takes place is seeing how full masjids get.
For most of us, visiting a masjid daily is next to impossible with our regular work and school schedules. Every once in a while we may take the time for an event or a lecture but for the most part, visiting the masjid is like a luxury – you can’t always afford it.
Sounds terrible, I know.
Yet when Ramadan rolls around suddenly the masjid parking lots are full and the crowd is so dense that accommodations to pray outside have to be made – it’s quite wonderful if you think about it. This is the one month where so many people are putting forth extra effort to be the best versions of themselves.
Now growing up I would hear criticism about the ‘seasonal Muslims’ – the ones who only showed up to the masjids during Ramadan and were only active during certain events and holidays. I would feel guilty when I heard this term because it defined me exactly.
Outside of Ramadan, I only ever went to the masjid to fundraise for my MSA (Muslim Students Association), or to volunteer for seasonal events such as carnivals and family nights. I felt almost hypocritical previous Ramadans because I knew that once the 30 days were over, I’d go back to my busy schedule and put masjid visits on the back burner again.
Yet my guilt and feelings of hypocrisy didn’t stop me from going everyday during the month of Ramadan – mostly because I’m naturally rebellious and would think to myself ‘hey at least I’m here now!’
Unfortunately I realized that not everyone could think like that. I learned by listening to some of my peers, that when they were called ‘seasonal Muslims’ it actually hindered them from going to the masjids – even during the most holy month.
I realized that when the older ladies at the masjid told us to ‘move forward,’ or ‘pray this way,’ or ‘do that’, or’ don’t do this’, or ‘you’re wrong’ – it didn’t bring out the rebellious streak in everyone. In fact it was a catalyst for a lot of people to feel ‘unmosqued’ to such a degree that they would stay away from the masjids altogether.
What astounds me, and not in a good way, is that the snide behavior that turns people away seems to increase particularly during Ramadan. Some men and women (the most vocal ones, of course) who are blessed enough to be able to visit the masjid everyday and make it a focal point of their activities, look down at the massive crowds during Ramadan. Their snide comments make you feel as if you’re not sincere.
I say this out of experience – I used to feel that way but my rebellious nature kept my seasonal activities consistent.
However it is this year in particular where I have sat back and really reflected over the term ‘seasonal Muslim.’ I have read posts and statements by various imams and teachers and I have to ask – what’s wrong with being a ‘seasonal Muslim?’
Everyone’s lives are busy – usually because we’re all trying to stabilize and survive in this crazy world. Yet beyond that some of us find a way to take time during this special month to attempt being a better version of ourselves than usual.
That seems like something that ought to be commended, or at least acknowledged – it’s definitely not something that should be looked down upon.
Besides, Ramadan is the month in which we are supposed to fall into practice of daily prayers and Quran readings and charitable actions, so that it’s easier to continue after Ramadan. Essentially, Ramadan should be viewed as starting point - a ‘new year, new me’ kind of motto. So this is the perfect time to go from making our seasonal activities to full time activities.
And hey even if we can’t, at least there is one month in the year where we can attempt to right all our wrongs and be the best we can be. Forget the haters – everyone has the right to take full advantage of this month.
Internal struggle of the day: Did I already say traffic? Because YALL, Houston traffic is the devil trying to escape during the holy month!
Internal affirmation: Sometimes just looking up at the sky and appreciating the beauty of the world will put your soul at ease for a little bit, at least until the traffic light turns green again.
The 30 Days of Ramadan blog is written by Sobia Siddiqui, CAIR-Houston’s Operations Coordinator.