– Fasting and aitekaaf, even during the year- can help us in many ways.
This blog is all about how you can try out aitekaf even at home. The other point is that it is good to do it during Ramzan; However, it is possible to do it even during the rest of the year, and for short periods of time. Life in today’s world is so stressful that we need these little windows of spiritual strengthening. No matter which religion you belong to, it is good thing to meditate and try to detach from our lives and connect with our Maker.
Sorry everyone. Ramzan somehow brings out the zombie in you. Twenty eight days of fasting and feasting has taken its toll. Sleep being the biggest victim, you spend more time trying to sleep than actually sleeping. No matter what you do, you are always short on sleep. So, now, with 28th day of fasting sixteen hours a day, behind me, I’m feeling better in many ways. Even though, I’m quite lethargic. My fault this time was that I didn’t do any exercise. Previously, I’ve always walked the last half hour before iftari, but not this time.
I believe that in every religion there is this option of spiritual connection with one’s Maker. Do, try whatever way you can have within your own religion.
How do we fast? – For my non-Muslim readers, a fast is like this: We fast daily, by waking up at 2.30 am (most of the time, one has been awake all night.) – Then preparation of breakfast or sehri. Having lots of glasses of water and starting the fast at around 3.15 am. Ok. No more drinking water or eating till 7.15 in the evening. (The exact time changes daily.) By the time, we go to sleep after sehri and prayers, it is at least 4.00 am. The generous breakfast or sehri makes it harder to sleep. Many times we sleep around 4.30 to 5.00 am. Of course, most of us wake up within a few hours for our daily chores or job.
Hence this zombie state.
Yesterday, I felt like I was about to collapse. But then I thought, ‘just three days left.’ So I’m dragging myself on. This morning I treated myself with achar gosht, paratha made with desi ghee and tea, just to make myself happy, and bribe myself into another fast.
Fasting is a battle with one’s own self. There are some people who fast twice a week throughout the year, just as Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did. …. This is the recommendation by many dieticians too. I really admire such folks. My friend Seema and uncle Jafar have done it for years. I’ve never been able to fast afterwards. This is why I hate missing out any fast during this blessed month.
So, I wanted to tell you about my aitekaaf: Men usually do it in mosques, (far from the maddening family.) The women and girls can only do it at home.
Aitekaaf – spiritual awakening session:
In my last blog, I wrote about my ‘mini aitekaaf’, – in 2006 – I felt ashamed that I’d never tried it again. – Even though I had gone through so many harrowing experiences.
So, I did it the other day.
Really, it feels so good. I’d recommend it to all. Here is how to do it at home:
- Keep a time slot for your aitekaaf and announce it to your family. (Ignore the raised eye brows!) You can do it anytime, yet the time between Zuhar and Asr prayers is highly recommended.
- Choose a place where you won’t be interrupted. Your bedroom, library, drawing room, or your guest room could be a good option. It should have the prayer mat, prayer books, rosary (if you use it) and any other reading material. I had my diary with me, as I like to write my feelings and ‘conversations’ with my Maker. It is good for future reference for me.
- Preferably have an agenda. Or just go with the flow.
- Starting with special naffals or non-obligatory prayers for matters of your concern. Here is the time to pray for that job, your teenagers, peace in world, parent’s health, one’s own health, rishta for child, rishta for self, passing in exams and so on. You get the gist.
- Special prayers for each of ones’ loved ones, praying for their health and well-being. Praying for those who helped you during your hard times. Do it with names and pray for their health, long life, and well-being.
- Praying for one’s own health, long life and well-being.
- Then prayers for all those who keep asking me to pray for them. (I wonder why they have faith in my praying for them.) However, I too have a lot of faith in my prayers. I’m not an angel, but I have total faith in my Allah, who is perfect and so Capable. When I pray, I don’t look at my unworthy self. I look at His great Magnificence, His Benevolence, and how He has helped me in the past. (I mean just look at His capabilities; making the sun, moon and stars is phenomenal, what are my problems in front of Him!)
- Then just meditating my favorite one: ‘Allah’.
- Saying prayers like:
- La haula wala quwwata… there is no strength except the strength of Allah.
- La illaha illa, anta subhanaka…
- Hasbi Allah o wa neimal waqil. My Allah is sufficient for taking care of my affairs.
- No counting, just repetitious praying. Till a deep peace settles in one’s soul.
- Then reading my booklet of prayers from the Quran. I’ve shared these with you, in one of my recent blogs.
- Just the luxury to pray without hurry is phenomenal. To be able to think a prayer or a thought to the end itself is a luxury. It is an amazing mental activity.
- By the end of my two hours, I didn’t want to end it. So, I continued it for another half hour. I realized, this can be done more often in one’s life. To spend some uninterrupted moments in His presence and with full attention to Him who is the giver of our lives and all that we are blessed with. There was such a feeling of peace and tranquility afterwards, I cannot explain.
- Of course, I had a conversation with Him, the God Almighty. But then, I do keep having them. He also answers me. In His own way. There are so many ‘eureka’ moments in my life, when I know it was Him, otherwise, who else knew this? Only Him!
- As I keep my ‘channel’ open to Him, I can feel Him telling me something. There invariably a message from Him to me. An enlightening. A realization of something important.
- I realized one thing; That our bodies are also His gift to us. How else can we execute our plans? I’ve really failed miserably in taking care of my body. Somehow, while rushing all over trying to do this that or the other, my body got left behind. I’d fall, and get up and get going again. Not stopping to see where I had got hurt. So, this time, I’ve realized I’ve been extremely neglectful; Recently, I was advised to get my heart check-up, I didn’t go. I need to go to the dentist, again I’ve dilly dallied. My knees are literally crying out to me to sleep more. But I’m so short on sleep. Whose fault is it? Yes, mine of course! Fasting is a good start for controlling diet, and doing exercise, mental, spiritual and physical. I asked forgiveness for this big flaw in myself. While I run to hospitals for my parents, staff and children, I completely ignore myself. So, I’m going to mend my ways.
- Finish off by repentance and asking forgiveness for all the short comings.
I realized, this aitekaaf thing can easily be a regular effort.
So many people are going into depression, anxiety and the recent increasing suicidal tendencies are all caused with lack of spiritual connection and a big lack of faith.
May Allah help us help ourselves and those around us. Ameen.
Aitekaf and regular prayers with fasting need to be combined with zakat and charity work. Only then can it be effective. It is a fact that in life we need to take care of ourselves from physical, emotional, social, intellectual, financial and spiritual point of view. This is my blog to help you with your spiritual awakening. Only then can a person be a complete individual.
Stay blessed my lovely and handsome Readers.