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Weeks after Ramadan, Hong Kong young Muslims contemplate upon it, following the footsteps of the sahaba

It’s been nearly 6 weeks since this year’s Ramadan came to an end. Every year, the month of blessings, the month of mercy and the month of forgiveness comes and goes. But, how about our relationship with Allah, during and after Ramadan?

Ma’ali bin Fudail said, “They (the salaf) used to ask Allah the Almighty six months before Ramadan to grant them long life so that they could reach Ramadan and they used to ask Allah the Almighty six months after Ramadan to accept their fasting.”

Do we take some moments to reflect and ponder upon our deeds during the blessed month, like the sahaba used to do? Well this year, MCHK held a writing competition “Unique Ramadan” for our youth in Hong Kong, 16-23 year olds, and below are the top 3 pieces, they will make you smile and be in awe.

Alina Zahid – Champion – Life Changing

I am here to share my wonderful experience of Ramadan 2020. For the first time in centuries, we experienced a pandemic of such an extent that it has brought the world to a standstill it was surprising that Ramadan 2020 was like no other especially for the youth.

I wondered how this would affect Ramadan. After all, dinner parties and communal prayers have long been integral to this month, which began on April 24. But rather unexpectedly, quarantine has enhanced my Ramadan experience. Being at home has made it easier to observe our holiest month and made it a richer and deeper spiritual affair.

Ramadan entails fasting daily from just before dawn until dusk — about 16 hours — for an entire month. As difficult as this is, I’ve never considered it to be the principal challenge of Ramadan. After a few days, you get used to not eating and drinking during the day.

Far more difficult is Ramadan-induced sleep disruption. Observant Muslims rise in the small hours of the night to eat before offering the pre-dawn prayer — which marks the time the fast commences — around 4:20 a.m. It’s always hard to get back to sleep after this breakfast and prayer before dawn, and this routine becomes increasingly exhausting as Ramadan progresses.

Freed from commuting and denied access to all that Hong Kong City has to offer, I have a lot more time to dive deeper into the Ramadan experience. Unlike in previous years, when my observation of Ramadan was mostly limited to fasting, this year I’ve found myself dedicating more time to prayer.

Since Ramadan was when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), I’ve challenged myself to read the entire Quran this month. I thought why not make this Quarantine “QURAN TIME”.

I remember in the past 4 years I was busy working and earning money I don’t even remember when was the last time I read Quran but this Ramadan was the turning point of my life I was free from the deception of this world and indulge into the sweetness of Emaan.

This was the first time I spend my Ramadan with my parents since 2016. I feel so sad to say I was busy working for 8 to 10 hours in the factories of HK and not remembering that Ramadan is like a rare flower that blossoms once a year but I am so glad that this year it was completely different thanks to Allah Almighty.

I’m grateful that I was able to spend this Ramadan praying with my parents and sisters, as I know many others — including friends of mine — are spending this Ramadan alone. There’s something special about praying with others, and having family around has helped to raise my spiritual game.

My mother ensures that we congregate for duas every evening shortly before the end of the fast. This was a regular feature of Ramadan when I was growing up but something I had struggled to maintain as I grew older.

Our YouTube-powered family prayer sessions entail watching a video of a slide show. On each slide is the original Arabic text of the prayer and its English translation. The video glides through the slides as a voice-over recites the original Arabic. Reading the English translation onscreen makes the experience more meaningful and satisfying since none of us speaks Arabic.

Quarantine has also amplified the reflection that Ramadan is supposed to inspire. Being surrounded by family and being able to rely on a steady stream of online grocery and Grub hub orders now makes me feel rather wealthy.

As I think of those who don’t have the same luxuries and those who have been negatively affected by the pandemic, I’m reminded of the wise words of Ali ibn Abu Talib, the son-in-law of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and a seminal figure in Islam, who said, “The nourishment of the body is food, while the nourishment of the soul is feeding others.”

This was the best Ramadan of my life until now especially in Hong Kong which is such a busy city where most labor workers die to spend some moments with their family. I want to spend my Ramadan every year like this I didn’t even imagine that 2020 Ramadan would be so special. It’s brought back the joy of Ramadan.

Seyed Abdul Gaffar Zulaiha Zulfika – First Runner Up – The Best Eidi!

If there is something we, as humans fear the most, it is change. As ironic as it might sound, change is the only constant in our lives. I view change as a sign of redirection from Allah. But, in the midst of all this hustle and bustle of this Dunya, who has time to ponder and reflect upon their actions?

We are “too busy” as we like to call ourselves. Maybe that’s why we reach the month of Ramadan – a time to pause, to reflect, change and redirect ourselves towards the right path.

The month of Ramadan holds great importance for all Muslims, and each one of us values a different aspect of this holy month. We all have a specific picture that pops up in our minds when we talk about Ramadan.

For some, it can be trying to set goals in terms of worship. For me, apart from personal faith and worship, it is the togetherness and unity. Witnessing people from varying backgrounds gathering in the congregation to pray and fast, is something I cherish. We weren’t just fighting against Shaitaan this time, it was also against a minute, yet powerful virus.

To change the practices that were tailor-made for Ramadan, was almost impossible. This year was not at all like how I had expected it to be. Families dispersed, friends quarantined, classes online, and celebrations canceled.

Though things did feel incomplete, there were a lot of good experiences and habits that blossomed in this quarantine season. With the closure of one masjid, we had found numerous masjids in every household.

Brothers leading the prayer for Taraweeh, praying for world peace and health, and breaking our fast with our immediate family members, was a sight to witness! And for once, every single person’s presence in the family and all over the world was felt. Every life was cherished and age-old Islamic practices of maintaining good hygiene and keeping up with a healthy lifestyle were highly valued.

This Ramadan, was a sign from Allah, to stop what we are doing, take a pause, spend ample time with loved ones, pray, and keep yourself healthy; physically, mentally, and spiritually. As, at the end of the day, it will always be only you whom you’ll have.

As they say, distance makes the heart grow fonder. Now that we were forced not to meet and maintain social distancing rules, those relatives who were long forgotten were called up quite often. Sharing of food for iftar between friends was more frequent. I had come to realize the value of relationships and that they have to be maintained with communication and actions of love.

And when Eid arrived, it was a little difficult considering that our home was not in beautiful chaos with relatives rushing in, and gifts were cut short. But, we have learned to accept and adapt to the new “normal” and redirect ourselves, to finding peace in what we already have. And that learning, for me, was the best “Eidi”.

Rasmiyah – Second Runner Up – Allah’s Tests

“Assalamu alaikum!”, a simple greeting that we have all taken for granted. Prior to this Ramadan, I remember my childhood days spent in the mosque, everyone with the same goal: praying Taraweeh to increase our acts of worship.

As I was preparing to spend my nights in the mosque after my DSE exams would have finished right in time before Ramadan, the coronavirus epidemic quickly became a pandemic, affecting my plans, both worldly and spiritually.

Allah tests those whom he loves most. I guess Allah really loved DSE students this Ramadan as the exams got postponed to be conducted throughout the holy month.

Studying in itself is a tedious task, but combine that with fatigue from fasting all day, and you’ll get lots of anger. Instead of studying, I spent hours on Google searching for fatwas on the ruling on the exemption from fasting during examinations. My lovely mother, who felt so bad to see me struggle, suggested I don’t fast on the days of my examinations. However, I knew that this was a test from Allah. Many scholars ruled against skipping fasts for exams.

Moreover, what barakah would I gain from good examination results that I obtained from not observing one of the pillars of Islam? I had to endure this test and Alhamdulillah, I survived.

Another test was family relationships. With schools and libraries being closed, I was surrounded by my siblings 24/7. There were times when we would get so irritated with one another that we refused to talk to each other for days. That is when I learned about the importance of maintaining family ties in Islam.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, “It is not lawful for a Muslim to forsake his (Muslim) brother beyond three days, and whosoever does so for more than three days, and then dies, will certainly enter the Hell.” [Abu Dawud]

As with every Muslim, we make mistakes, but what is more important is that we repent and ask for forgiveness. Following this difficult time, I vowed to never stop talking to my family members out of spite or anger as Allah is always watching.

Last but most importantly, Ramadan is a time to increase one’s taqwa. Every Ramadan, I would go to the mosque to pray Taraweeh that I almost forgot that it wasn’t compulsory. Since mosques were closed all Ramadan, I had to reflect on my daily acts of worship.

This is when I learned about the story of how the Prophet (peace be upon him) didn’t show up to lead Taraweeh prayers one night to emphasize the fact that offering Taraweeh prayers was not obligatory.

Instead, I focused on my 5 daily prayers and made intention in seeking knowledge for the sake of Allah while studying.

Overall, this Ramadan was a difficult time for everyone, especially when we as Muslims thrive as a community. We need to hold onto faith for Allah knows best.

These words of our youth should inspire all of us to take a moment to contemplate what Ramadan 2020 meant to us and what do we miss from it. We ask Allah to grant us another Ramadan and guide us to an obedient Muslims throughout the 12 months.

Written by Adeel Malik

Born in Hong Kong, grew up in Scotland and ethnically Pakistani, Adeel primes himself to be a multicultural individual who is an advent social media user for the purpose of learning and propagating Islam while is also a sports fan. Being an English teacher himself, he envisions a bright future for Muslims which he strongly believes can only be done with education.

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