It has been 5 months since I updated last, I’ve been focused on developing my faith more for Allah than for myself. Now it’s a perfect time to start writing again since I had great fasting experience during my very first Ramadan in Japan as 7 months old Muslimah.
Preparation for mental pureness to receive blessings from Allah
Preparation for my first Ramadan starts in Rajab month which is two months before Ramadan. Alhamdulillah when I attended to Muslimah class on April at Tokyo Camii, Ustaz (Islamic female teacher) taught me what I should do in Rajab and following Shabaan month for coming the holy month of Ramadan. I learned Rajab is called a month for Istighfar which asking forgiveness from Allah so I initiated recitation “Astaghfirullah” (I seek forgiveness from Allah) not only what I did wrong but also the fact that I can not always appreciate enough for Allah. Later on the Shabaan month, I tried to reflect myself what I have done for 7 months as Muslim from the day I reverted. Listed up positive and regrettable actions/outcomes on the blank paper, apparently regrettable reflection was more than a positive one. It brought me a great reminder what should improve to be a better Muslim during the Holy month of Ramadan. The act asking forgiveness for Allah is to cleanse my soul indeed and it reminds me that we are blessed in the everyday life by him.
Meanwhile, I set my first fasting trial in the Shaaban month which was on May, early summer in Japan. Alhamdulillah, I was able to complete the day spending the time to learn what is fasting for and the benefit that Allah provides us through the commandment. On the day before welcoming Ramadan, Ustaz holds a personal class for new recently revert Muslimahs to go through Dos and Don’ts during Ramadan fasting so that I was able to fully get ready for my first Ramadan. I felt so lucky that Allah provided me chances to learn and start fasting in the special month from the first year of my revert.
Ramadan in Tokyo
We welcomed the Holy month of Ramadan on 5th June 2016 in Japan. As I mentioned it was early summer, Tokyo had 16.5 hrs to fast starting from Fajr around 02:30 am till Magrib about 19:00 pm. While trying my best to fast during the daytime, first few days was full of excitement to observe what Muslims do in this special month. When I visited Tokyo Camii for breaking fast on the 2nd day of Ramadan, there were lots of brothers and sisters praying Magrib and join Iftar served by the Masjid. When I was eating Iftar I looked around the venue and it was full of people and I found out they were happily enjoying their meal together regardless of their nationality, race, skin color and languages. It was a breath taking moment for me to capture Allah’s mercy that he equally created us. After Iftar finished they were having a good time by chatting with brothers and sisters over tea and sweets, I saw the relaxing time was floating there. During Isha surprisingly there were still lots of people to join prayer, totally different view from Isha prayer on weekdays that I saw before. It was my first time to conduct Terawih (Ramadan special prayer) and special feeling comes to pray together with lots of brothers and sisters in such a late night.
Fasting required me physical and mental stamina and patience. Physically, I had very drowsy days during the daytime, woke up in the morning from Suhur (meal before fasting starts) around 2:00 am and Fajr prayer around 2:30 am. It was in the middle of the rainy season towards early summer, a temperature was quite changeable. Due to the weather condition and the sleepless nights I caught a cold on the half way of Ramadan for a few days and it was the hardest time for me. Yet Alhamdulillah, after recovered from cold, my fasting days was going smoothly little by little by been through the awkward moments that I didn’t order anything during the cafe meeting outside the office with my project partners or my stomach glowed loudly in the serious meetings.
Meanwhile, the most challenging part was feeling alone to fast. My family was supportive yet they are not Muslims so that it could not be a joyful dinner with them at home like at the Masjid. Also, I basically pray alone at office or home during the daytime and I had to breakfast alone when I was not able to drop by Tokyo Camii. As it seems gratitude and enjoyment were all over the place among friends and families from my experience to observe Ramadhan in Malaysia couple of years ago, these were something missing for me. However, thankfully I have revert Muslim friends who struggle similar situation around me to cheer up each other. Also thinking of Muslims around the world who fast under difficult circumstances socially and politically, Allah made me think that I am not alone. This drove me to do my best in this holy month rather than being pessimistic on my situation. The solution was to pray and make Dua for Muslims around the world to get more blessings from Allah. It kept my firm ties to Allah for the rest of month.
This first Ramadan for me definitely contributes to growing my Imaan (faith) to Allah as I become to pray 5 times or more spontaneously in a day. This is one of the greatest progress compared with myself last few months. Therefore, there were more Doas and wishing to Allah not only for personal wishes but also for Muslims around the world and even for non-muslims such as our family, friends too. When I make wishes and prayers for others, Allah surely reminds me he is the one we seek for our help and he is the one has the answer and it makes my heart calm and warm during the prayers.
As a Japanese point of view, fasting seems to torture people by training themselves severely and looks something not enjoyable but I found out fasting in Islam is not supposed to be. It turns out more rewards come after sunset with the joy of the day by meals and prayers at night. This mental satisfaction and united atmosphere in Muslim community make me feel happy to be part of the big one family and gratitude for every single thing Allah provides us. Throughout the fasting experience in a month, I’ve got self-confidence that I archived what Allah wants us to do for the sake of him. This makes me feel simply I want to do more to get closer to him. I also saw a positive result in my health condition. I lost weights with healthy and proper portions of meals to keep fasting days smooth. As my weight got lighter it encourages me to raise productivity during daytime activity to focus on what do to. Simply I found I ate too much previously. It was good change to review and improve my diet for keep myself health for Allah.
For next Ramadan
Throughout the holy month, I was able to see what I should improve by next Ramadan. For me especially learning Arabic for reciting Quran and good deeds in Islam is the essential things to archive. I’ve learned that reciting Quran is one of the things will be highly rewarded because Ramadan is the month which Quran was given from Allah, yet my current Arabic language level is still not enough for reciting. Even I read Quran in Japanese, I got motivated to recite in Arabic in the near future when I saw brothers and sisters reciting Quran beautifully at masjid. Delivering good deeds also will be highly rewarded in the Holy month. I did what I’ve learn to do good such as being kind to my family, parents and others. etc. I found that my knowledge covers very basic (yet important) things of good deeds. I often got a moment to think “What should I do?” when I try to do good, so that I want to learn more about what is good in Islam. Inshallah I will be able to welcome my second Ramadan next year and get ready myself on my way towards it.