Muslim Girl in America

I'm an American girl, born and raised, and a Muslim.

Tempering Emotions in Ramadan

on July 29, 2013

Ramadan is not only a time for abstaining, but also a time for prayer, reflection, and restraint. Typically, for me anyway, it also a time to:

Keep Calm and Carry On

Yes, all those pesky little annoyances that peeve you to no end on a daily basis must, for one month at least, peeve you no more. One example would be those irritating drivers (as a driver on the DC Beltway, this is especially hard for me) who drive like maniacs around you and force you drive defensively. The worst, though, can be the actions of family, friends, and loved ones.

Ramadan for me has also become a time to not only temper my emotions towards others, but also to temper my emotions and reactions to the way others treat me.

Consider last night. I went to a big iftar (an iftar is the meal eaten to break fast in the evening during Ramadan). This was a big get-together (maybe 75-100 people) at a restaurant. And it was a very lovely evening, once the crowds arrived and I didn’t have to spend as much time speaking with certain family members.

“What happened?” you readers may ask. Well, basically, I was taken to task for not dressing up enough, not wearing enough makeup, wearing jewelry I had worn before, and for not wearing my contacts.

A lot of folks complain about the commercialization of Christmas, but few discuss the commercialization of Ramadan (at least I haven’t seen it much). And I don’t just mean the greeting cards and commemorative items, but the insane dressing up that occurs at times. Ramadan is about sacrifice, not the amount of makeup you’re wearing. Nor does it have anything to do with how expensive your dress is. You should strive to dress nice, with new clothes on the holiday after Ramadan, if you can swing it.

And for this iftar, I was dressed up – it was a gorgeous dress of purple with gold embroidery all over it. Certainly not as dressy as others, but it was dressy all the same. And I was wearing makeup, though apparently not as dramatic as some would like. I personally try to cut out any extraneous drama in my life as it serves no purpose. In short, I was criticized and, it being Ramadan, I had to hold my tongue, take a deep breath, and Keep Calm and Carry On.

I know one reason I was criticized was because I’m currently unmarried (though, as you faithful readers know, it’s not from lack of trying). I’d forgotten my contacts at home (and honestly, I can’t drive with them and this iftar was 2 hours away from where I live and I had to drive back afterwards, too), so the combination of “not enough” makeup, glasses, and a “not quite fancy enough” dress made it seem like I had given up. But all of the people there have seen me all done up at weddings and the like and, as they have never recommended a potential suitor to me, are not likely to in the future. And some of them are spreading not-nice and very untrue rumours about me, which will ensure they never recommend a potential suitor to me.

AND IT’S RAMADAN!

At the first Ramadan, do you think the women were worrying about their jewelry or clothes? No, they were likely reading Quran and praying for an ease to their burdens as I have been doing.

Is Ramadan the time to judge others? NO, it’s not. It’s a time for reflection, and to consider your actions of the past year because you will be judged by those on your own Judgment Day, and if you don’t fear that then you should.

People will always be judgmental. Sadly, it’s not something that you can change in others; they can only change it in themselves. But what you can control is your reaction to them.

I’ve developed a thick skin over the years, but I still wear my heart on my sleeve. It can be hard. It IS hard. You’re hungry and thirsty and working crazy hours and exhausted from a lack of sleep. And on top of this, someone’s being mean to you. You just want to snap and say something biting back. You want to hurt them as much as they’ve just hurt you.

It took me several years to prevent these hurtful statements from affecting me emotionally. I had to realize that some people are never happy with what they have, no matter how much they are blessed. They can only feel happiness when they bring other people down. They feel powerful and alive; it’s really like a form of substance abuse and they just can’t stop. But that is their problem, not yours.

I am secure in who I am as a person, much more so than I was several years ago, and I know that’s one reason why these words don’t affect me as much as they used to. I say certain prayers, which also helped a lot to keep their evil thoughts from touching me.

But it is still Ramadan, a time for family togetherness. And they are still family, period. So, during and after Ramadan, I will strive to Keep Calm and Carry On.

Thanks for reading!

-M

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One response to “Tempering Emotions in Ramadan

  1. […] Remember that I cannot change how others treat me or how much they judge me, but I can control my reaction to them. Keep Calm and Carry On. […]

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