I have waited for Ramadan the whole year round and it just went so quickly when it passed. I have realised that for some non-muslims Ramadan may sound like a torture because you are not allowed to eat and drink during the days of the month. It may feel a bit difficult on the first days when you are not used to fasting at other times of the year, but for most fasting becomes normal when the month progresses and you actually become sad when the month is nearing its end and wish that the whole year would be Ramadan. However, one of the purposes of Ramadan is to abstain from lawful matters such as food, drink, and intercourse with our rightful spouse during the holy month in order to train us to control our desires from prohibited matters in other months. Ramadan also teaches us to experience first hand the sufferings of the poor in the form of prolonged thirst and hunger. And well, it has been pointed out scientifically as well that fasting a full month within a span of one year has several health benefits as explained here, here, and here.
But what makes you long for Ramadan most, the whole year round? For me there are several things. One of them is the ambience during Ramadan itself, there is something indescribably different. May be because you are more aware of yourself due to the prolonged hunger and thirst, or because satan is chained during Ramadan (according to muslim beliefs) that you feel some sense of intense tranquility and a higher sense of khushoo’ during Ramadan. Khushoo’ is a term for ability to deeply concentrate and focus during prayer. The time while breaking the fast and while prostrating during obligatory and recommended prayer are times considered as having high probability of acceptance (maqbool) for our supplications and these times are abundant during Ramadan. During Ramadan long evening obligatory and recommended prayers (with at least 36 prostrations per evening in total) in congregation are offered in masjids and musallas. For me those are the best time to pour my heart out, plea to God about my problems and worries, repent for my sins and shortcomings, do internal introspection, and make supplication for the best solution for myself, my family, and the umma. Ramadan is also a month when charity is encouraged and social awareness is raised. Within the last ten nights of Ramadan there is The Night of Decree, a night better than a thousand months, where you hope your good deeds would be accepted and the rewards multiplied in abundance, and your supplication granted generously.
And then there is also the community experience. Performing Ramadan activities such as fasting, breaking the fast (Iftar), and congregational prayers together during the evening strengthen the brother/sisterhood (ukhuwah) and makes you feel having an extended family with faith bonding you together. The experience is enriched by members of the community coming from different parts of the world, exchanging cultural experience, coming together to do acts of worship that does not know any cultural boundaries, as well as socialising during Iftar and dinner. This year me and another sister had the honor to develop and supervise a schedule for more than thirty sister volunteers during Ramadan for daily Iftar and prayers at the uni musalla. We tried to make the schedule as flexible as possible according to available times of the volunteers. One thing I was certain of was that it would be easy to carry out the schedule and that the sisters were reliable and would not back off at last minute unless for really strong reason, because I believe that they were people who operate on kindness, not motivated by worldly matters such as praise and acknowledgements. I have been in the community for almost three years now, and members of the community have always been kind, gentle, and caring. They refrain from backbiting, being judgemental, as well as ill, aggressive, and offensive speech. The community has been my sanctuary, my feel good and runaway place after facing a daily dose of lab stress and office social dynamics.
So in summary, Ramadhan is a month full of blessing. It is a month of relief, a month of recharge for the body, the mind and the soul. May Allah SWT make us experience the next Ramadhan in an improved state, amin.