16 October 2004, 1 Ramadan 1425
Time. It’s a big problem for many people during Ramadan – including for me; there just doesn’t seem to be enough of it. Suhur kinda starts messing up my day. And then all the other Ramadan rituals… Add to that my various organisational responsibilities and I find that there's too little time in the day for quiet reflection, contemplation trying to strengthen my relationship with Allah and sleep, in between all the other stuff.
And today, my first fast of Ramadan (yes, some people started fasting on Friday, I today), disappeared into a two-an-half hour rally and march in the South African summer heat (and it was a hot day!), a halqa and a brief nap to try and recover from these.
The march was one of three held in different cities in South Africa today in protest against the imminent visit of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Tuesday. Olmert is due to arrive with a delegation which includes 23 company executives in order to strengthen trade links with South Africa. He is also expected to sign a protection-of-investment treaty with South Africa. The Palestine solidarity movement here is calling for the South African government to be in the forefront of a sanctions campaign against Israel and not, as is happening, to strengthen trade links. And while Israel continues assassinating and arresting Palestinian leaders, it looks to South Africa to ‘learn about its peaceful transition’. Since I was fasting, I didn’t puke when I mentioned this in my speech.
So, it was quite an exciting morning of toyi-toying, sloganeering, media interviews, etc. As usual, the Muslim community was largely absent from the Joburg march (although Muslims were the main contingent of the Cape Town one).
Fortunately, the time thing is not a big issue for me as far as iftaar preparation is concerned. Between my kids and I, we are able to prepare a decent iftaar for ourselves within about 45 minutes. And, for me, one of the many good things about Ramadan is that my two teenage sons are much more enthusiastic to assist with cooking during this month than at any other time of year.
Pity, though, that we are not going together for taraweeh. They have just gone to the mosque down the road (about 50m away), which I won’t attend because there are no facilities for women. And since I don’t have a car right now, I’m unable to get to my regular mosque. Sad, I enjoy the post-taraweeh socialising at the mosque.
But, the day’s not over yet. As soon as I’m done with this post, I need to start preparing for the radio tafseer programme I will be doing daily after taraweeh. It’s a great deal of fun. But it also helps to reduce the time I have available to myself, to be with Allah (and for sleep).