I don’t know about you, but when I think of Ramadan, I think of sleepless nights and busy days. The day is usually spent waking up early for work and then trying to finish catch some extra ‘Ibadah before having to start preparing for Iftar. For those of us in the West, the break between Iftar and Isha isn’t very long and often find ourselves hurrying to get everything done before it is time to leave. We usually equate this with the spirit of Ramadan. Ramadan only comes once a month so we should be giving 110% at all costs. Although this is true and that we should be striving more than average during Ramadan to make the most of this blessed month, we should also practice ease or the Islamic principle of balance in this blessed month. We should work towards having a balanced schedule, split between worship, work, and recreation. Like everything else in Islam, Ramadan is about ease, not difficulty.
The first example of this can be taken from the verse which prescribes fasting. Allah (SWT) says:
The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful. (2:185).
From this ayah we can understand that Ramadan is not meant to be a time of difficulty but reminds us to practice ease. Allah (SWT) intends ease for us, so we should take this as a reminder to strike a balance in Ramadan.
Secondly, if we look at the technicalities of the words used in this ayah, we can derive a deeper meaning.
يُرِيدُ اللهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ
The word here used is بِكُمُ as opposed to لكُمُ which can mean “through” or “with” as opposed to simply “for.” With this, the ayah can be translated as “Allah desires through you ease,” This can mean that Allah wants us, believers, to be a source of ease for those around us. He desires us to be a means of relief for those who are struggling. Another way to look at it is that Allah places ease through us to humanity. Practically, this means that a Muslim should always be looking for ways to ease the difficulties of those around them, being a mercy in any way they can (Budeir, Bayyinah Blog).
With this in mind, let us try to practice ease this Ramadan. Not only in our personal lives but also in the service of others. This is ultimately the spirit of Ramadan.