There I was all by myself, supplicating earnestly in my du'a, praying that Allah allows me to reach yet another Ramadhan in my 25 years of life. Living with cancer has made the du'a even more profound to me, as one becomes more uncertain as to whether he gets to live for yet another day. Having said that, such thought shouldn't just be borne in the minds of people with life-threatening disease but rather every Muslims. We all know that death can come to us at any point of time and without any preceding signs. Thus a perfectly healthy soul might just miss this upcoming Ramadhan when ironically a terminally-ill patient might embrace yet another.
I am currently still making up for the fasting days I had to miss last Ramadhan when I was having my chemotherapy treatment in late August 2009. I missed more than half of last year's Ramadhan as a result of my treatment. When people asked me how does it feel to fast in my current state, I admitted that it was slightly harder than normal at the beginning. The body just feels a bit weaker, and I could feel quite hungry even though it was just 12 o'clock in the afternoon. Nevertheless, I can only thank Allah that I am gradually adapting with time, and I just have to tell myself to slow down slightly during the day whenever I'm fasting. Insha Allah, come Ramadhan, I hope I will be strong enough to embrace the blessed month, just like anyone else!
As I was chatting with my mom during sahoor last Monday, I was reminded of the fact that this will be the first time after 6 years that I will be celebrating Ramadhan in Malaysia, insha Allah. A fact I had almost forgotten, and I must admit that it is an experience I really look forward to, having celebrated the fasting month in a foreign land for a relatively long period.
I genuinely feel that the opportunity to embrace this upcoming Ramadhan will provide me with the extra strength I sorely needed in my battle against this nasty cancer. The physical strength I needed to get on with my daily routine, and more importantly, the spiritual strength I needed to protect me from giving up against my relentless adversary, the big C. I wish I will be able to take strength from the fact that fasting in Ramadhan has never been a factor to slow Muslims down, as history has shown of the glittering success we achieved during this blessed month:
1. Muslims battled to glory in the Battle of Badr in spite of their numerical disadvantage. The battle took place on the 17th of Ramadhan, in the second year post-Hijrah.
2. The conquest of Makkah (Fath-ul-Makkah) happened during the month of Ramadhan, 8H. 10,000 Muslim soldiers, spearhead by our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, battled against the Mushrikeens of Makkah.
Alhamdulillah, yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend an enlightening talk in KGPA, Damansara by Imam Suhaib Webb, a renown scholar based in America, entitled "What if this is my last Ramadhan?". Suffice to say, the talk was very inspiring and insha Allah should spur everyone who were present to increase their deeds come this blessed month of Ramadhan. Thus, before I sign off, I thought it'd be a great shame not to share some important tips the shaykh has left us with:
1. On top of the specific ibadahs (ie solat, reading the qur'an, qiamullail, etc), don't forget to consider performing some of the other recommended acts including rekindling familial bonds and visiting the sick, among others.
2. Stay away from being involved in arguments, as such acts can prompt us to speak foul of others. One interesting argument that often occurs during Ramadhan is the number of rakaats one should perform in his/her Tarawih prayers. On whether it is 8 or 20. Avoid getting yourself entangled in such arguments, as it will bring few benefits and only bitter relationships of one Muslim brother to another!
3. To sincerely seek repentance (tawbah) from Allah. Encourage oneself to wake up during the early hours of the day to perform Tahajjud prayers, and seek for the forgiveness of Allah from the major sins we have committed. Being all alone with Allah during the darkness of the early hours should hopefully increase the khushu' (concentration and humbleness) in our ibadahs.
4. Set at least a few to-achieve-objectives during this blessed month. For instance, I want to be able to memorise the whole of Surah As-Sajdah and Surah Al-Mulk by the end of this month. Or I want to finish reciting the whole 30 juz of the Quran by the end of Ramadhan. Or I want to wake up for Qiamullail at every other day during this Ramadhan. Outlining objectives that need to be achieved should provide us with the extra motivation to increase our 'ibadah during this month of Ramadhan, insha Allah.
O Allah, let us reach this Ramadhan!