Tag Archives: ramadan

Ramadan reflections: On Time

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

From http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Assalam alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatahu, brothers and sisters.

Ramadan Mubarak!

My sincere apologies for letting this blog lapse. My wedding was a whirlwind and thereafter, I was too blissed out to even look at my laptop. I kid you not – I survived without Internet for DAYS.

Which segues quite nicely into what should be on all our minds and hearts (and not in our stomachs) these past 3 weeks.

Where I am in Colombo, it’s the 18th day of Ramadan, the Month of Mercy.

The last ten days are coming up very quickly. In one of their nights is hidden Allah’s Mercy, the Night of Power. That night, if spent in worship, are equal to a thousand months of worship. That’s 83.3 years. A life-time. Almost.

Our life-times seem to be getting longer due to modern medicine. Though frankly, I’m not sure we are any healthier in mind, body or spirit.

I know that I am considered young and that my life stretches ahead of me. That apparently, I have ‘lots’ of time. Yet my most frequent complaint is that I don’t have enough time.

I have been meaning to put away my nafs and study hijaab and stand-up comedy. Really figure out whether I am doing the right thing in those two areas.

But I have not had the time.

What has stolen my time?

Unexpected blessings

Until a couple of days ago, my sister-in-law (my husband’s sister) and her three children were also living with us. Little kids can be REALLY energetic and playful. The fact that they aren’t fasting and I am widened the energy gulf between us. Somehow the two youngest took a shine to me – maybe because my slight frame and round face make me look like a child that by some miracle has adult privileges. A worth ally indeed. So some of my day was spent playing and talking and listening to them.

Truth be told, I didn’t realize what a blessing they were until they were gone. It’s amazing how honest and imaginative and unconditionally loving children can be.

I have also decided to try taking my freelance writing career online. Man, that’s exciting work. I never was very good at closing a sale in person but online, somehow there’s a fire lit in me.  I am chasing and vetting clients and working out pricing strategies like I’ve been doing it all my life.

That entire process has brought up another frightening truth. Money. The possibility of making, losing or spending money drives me crazy.

I am not going to try and justify it by saying I’ve inherited emotional baggage from my parents who had poor childhoods. The fact of the matter is, money has a very strong emotional charge for me.

That needs to change. Yeah, we need money, but making it our ‘ilah’ (God) will alienate our friends and family and give us a hernia. And buy us a one-way ticket to hell.

Unexpected trials

Our maid has left for a week to attend a family gathering, so here we are, saddled with cooking and housework in the Month of Mercy.

Still it’s a good opportunity for me to learn to make the kanji, rolls and patties that everyone loves here and that my husband is so homesick for when he is out of Sri Lanka.

I’ve never been a fan of Sri Lankan cuisine. But I’m growing to quite like it now, oddly enough.

Being away from my mother has been an unexpected trial too. Unlike before, when I was living with her, I have no real-time update on her condition. I have to call and ask her, and like all good mothers, her reports are often only half-truths.

I visit her often but not often enough. I hate being in the dark, but I need to relinquish control and trust that Allah (subhaana wa ta’aala) is taking care of her.

Good old-fashioned distraction

My husband and I watched 3 episodes of Dexter last night.

I just Googled Galadriel for no good reason. Well, actually, the trailer for the new Hobbit movie seems to insinuate that she and Gandalf were having it off. Wanted to check if there was any precedent for that in the books.

There isn’t, in case you were wondering.

Still not really the most urgent matter in the world. Sigh.

There are still 12 more days. I can turn this around insha Allah.

Hope your Ramadans are fruitful and blessed insha Allah. Will see you after Eid.
Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,

The Happy (and fasting) Muslimah.

5 Lessons Screenwriters Can Learn from Ramadan

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

Assalam alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatahu!

So the blessed month is upon me and I’ve been using it to reflect on the things I need the most in my life, both spiritual and materialistic.

To those of you who don’t know what Ramadan is, it is the month in which the Islamic holy book, the Noble Qur’an, was sent down, i.e. the word of God in unadulterated form. The Qur’an is one of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)’s many miracles, as he was an illiterate man, yet he was given words that moved the Arabs (who were great poets). We honor its revelation to us by fasting.

Fasting is about not eating between sunset and sundown, true, but it’s also about controlling your temper and staying away from sin and becoming truly conscious of God’s blessings and guidance in your life (called taqwa in Arabic). The gates of heaven are thrown open and Satan is tied up for the entire month and every good deed is rewarded multiple times in this month. So it is truly a blessed month.

Personally I can well and truly feel that blessing. You see, being a South East Asian gives you an inferiority complex from birth. Being a hardcore practicing Muslim and an artist, well, that just compounds it. In this month, I have no fear being myself. Female, Muslim, an artist – a servant of God in all respects. Whereas in other months, sometimes I worry what people think of me a little too much. The work of Satan and a uniquely Asian affliction.

That aside, I have come to the conclusion that fasting has many lessons to teach us screenwriters. Here are but a few I could think of:

1.       Be prepared.

I went into Ramadan having fasted a few extra days to prepare my body but I hadn’t really prepared my soul to take advantage of the blessed month. I hadn’t made a plan to truly make this month a success. I know what unique tests I face – between jobs, friends, comedy and film, it’s a miracle I have time to breathe. But somehow through all of that drama, in this blessed month, I need to remember to remember Allah (SWT). That means training my soul (nafs). Ramadan is a bootcamp. Screenwriting should be too. And it’s up to us to crack the whip, to dodge the bullets and roll with the punches. And other inane metaphors.

Basically, it’s important to figure out your goals and how you’re going to get there. And if it doesn’t work in practice, adjust.

2.       Follow your leaders

There are people – mentors, friends, colleagues – who are inspiring. For me, it’s our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and Imam Suhaib Webb.

I have yet to find a mentor in screenwriting, though.

3.       Have prescribed times for work and play.

One needs to keep balance in their life. Ramadan shouldn’t be a month where nothing gets done (the most common complaint in the Arab world).  There needs to be a balance between the world and the spiritual. One should not suffer on account of the other. It’s a fine balance and one that differs from person to person. But it’s necessary to walk that line.

As screenwriters, if you’re stuck inside your house writing all day, you might just end up writing the same story about the one-eyed cat who finds a key to heaven in the back-yard over and over again. For decades. Or you just might go postal and kill all the pets in the neighborhood.

The world has a million stories.  At any time, the most mind-blowing stories are running in HD 3D all around – and they’re called human beings!

4.       Learn from your mistakes.

I keep a log to a) make a list of all the things I’m learning b) provide a place to vent c) figure out problem areas I could work on.

5.       Patience in times of frustration

It isn’t easy.  In fact, it’ll probably be downright painful. You’ll lose sleep.  You’ll be hungry. You’ll say no to things you want to say yes to. You’ll be scared. You’ll take leaps of faith as a matter of course.

But it’ll all be worth it in the end.

I’ll see you after the month of mercy, brothers and sisters. Stay blessed.

Wassalam and Fee Amanillah,

The Happy Muslimah.