May 7, 2021
As we approach the end of Ramadhan, it felt appropriate to reflect on this blessed month for our Muslim colleagues, clients and community. As a firm deeply rooted in Tottenham we are surrounded by the spirit of the Muslim community throughout the year. Whether it’s the numerous restaurants serving food from Turkey through to Somalia, or the hustle and bustle before and after Friday Jummah prayers.
Before the pandemic I would try to make it to the mosque on Friday. I loved the diversity of the congregation, men, women and children, all rushing to make it on time for prayers, coming together for the same purpose. That moment of calm, the weekly escapism from our everyday life; work, chores, family, friends, whatever it was preoccupying us, to take that time out. To reset ourselves to our ultimate aims and be grateful for our current blessings.
The opportunity to reset ourselves and practice gratitude is a theme at the core of Islamic principles. The five daily prayers, the weekly Friday prayers and the annual month of Ramadhan are all opportunities for deep reflection; to keep us on track in world where it’s sometimes hard to hear our own thoughts through the noise of everyday life. The month of fasting is not supposed to cause hardship (and indeed those who are ill or infirm should not fast), but actually acts as ongoing strength training for the soul. As Rumi said, “there is a hidden sweetness in the stomach’s emptiness… if the sound box is stuffed full of anything” the music of our souls could not vibrate into the world.” By eliminating your base desires, what does it free you of? Our attachments to things in life can enslave us, and when we fast we must face our weaknesses and the voices of temptation. Every year we try to improve ourselves in a way that we hope to continue for the next year. The purpose of this period of inner contemplation is exemplified in this Cherokee parable:
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.” The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Every individual has their own journey and approach to Ramadhan, but it’s also a time to come together and share blessings. People often break their fast with family or friends and attend night prayers at the mosque until the early hours. So as the pandemic continues to impact how we all experience this Ramadhan I am practicing my own gratitude; I’m grateful for a job aligned with my faith, where I am able to assist disadvantaged individuals and contribute to improving systems for those who need help, where I have colleagues who seek to understand and embrace my personal beliefs and practices, and last but certainly not least, where I have a plethora of delicious halal food options nearby!
Jummah Mubarak, Ramadhan Kareem, and Eid Mubarak for next week!
Nusrat Uddin is an Associate Solicitor in our Public Law department
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