My Favourite Month

It’s Ramadhan, my favorite month of the year. A month that I eagerly look forward to. Not because of the many buffets and Ramadhan markets that abound, but because of the peace and serenity it brings to my soul. Ramadhan goes far beyond skipping meals and planning what to eat for breaking fast or iftar, though it is a meal we look forward to.  There is joy in sitting down together for dinner as a family, something we don’t do often enough.

For Muslims, it is a holy month of fasting. From dawn till sundown, we abstain from food and drink. Fasting goes beyond mere physical fasting of going hungry and thirsty. But also spiritual cleansing, purity of thought and avoiding the temptations and desires of flesh and mind. Ramadhan is a month of charity, of giving and mercy. It is a month to strengthen our faith, our commitment and relationship with God. An opportunity to purify our soul and seek forgiveness.

For me, thirst and hunger aren’t the most demanding aspects of Ramadhan. The gnawing hunger pangs generally go away after a few days of fasting, though the thirst remains constant. But like everything else, you get used to it and you find ways to compensate. With low blood sugar, energy levels dip, tempers are short, patience runs thin. During Ramadhan, we temper our words and thoughts. This to me is the hardest part of all, to abstain from malicious thought, unkind words and uncharitable feelings.  We are also required to keep our emotions in check, for we are to abstain from anger, sadness, jealousy, lust, malice and other negative or overly intense emotions.  Negative emotions which we are frequently a slave to at times, preventing us from achieving inner peace.

During Ramadhan, I feel closer to Him, I feel that I can transcend every challenge that comes our way just a little bit easier. In the tumultuous path of autism, I look to Allah for the strength and inner peace we need to go through this journey with dignity and grace in the face of all the challenges and obstacles thrown our way.

The girls are too young to fast, however Min Min wanted to try it out, just like Mummy. I tried to discourage her, but she insisted. So I told her she can start by fasting for a quarter of the day (which was how I learnt to fast as a child) By the end of it, she was tired, thirsty and hungry, but she waited patiently till it was time to break fast without complaining. She felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment, I was impressed with her will power and self-discipline, and I praised her lavishly for it.

At the end of Ramadhan, we will celebrate the new month of Syawal with Eid celebrations, or Hari Raya as I call it. We will be with my family to salam my parents, kiss their hands and ask for forgiveness, a traditional ritual we practice in my family every single year. On the first day of Eid, it is customary for us to wear new clothes, usually it’s the Baju Kurung, a traditional Malay outfit.  This year, Eid will be an absolute joy compared to the previous years. The girls love wearing their silky baju kurung, joining in the big family feasts and enjoying the celebration.

I wish I was as good a Muslim as I must seem on paper. The reality is far from that. I’m just trying to be a better person, at least for 1 month out of a year. So what does Ramadhan, autism and recovery have to do with one another?  It’s a stretch, but bear with me please. Fasting during Ramadhan seems to magnify every turmoil and negative emotions I have. Just like autism, when there’s autism in the family, how you choose to deal with it shows your true nature. Do you go through it filled with negativity, resentment and anger? Or with positivity, grace and dignity? Ramadhan comes every year, it is a firmly entrenched part of my life, just as much as autism is now a part of my life. My family and I can never deny how autism has left and still leaves a deep scar in our lives, even years after recovery. I can choose to endure it grudgingly, with intense hatred and grief in my heart, or I can choose to make the best of it, with inner peace, grace and serenity.

Ramadhan Mubarak!

~ Dragon Slayer

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7 Responses to My Favourite Month

  1. Sue Cranmer says:

    Thank you for educating me at least on this aspect of your religion. I think we could all use a period where we were more focused on disciplining not just our physical selves but our emotional and spiritual selves.

  2. BB says:

    Your honesty and humility are your strengths.
    I hope your family finds peace from this most important holy season.

    The ability to keep emotions in check is not easy ever.
    Forgiving parents:
    How will our children forgive us for autism and other preventable tragedies?

    I am happy for families who have realized recovery and it gives me hope.
    Why is this not everyone’s victory? Why is it not my family’s happy ending?

    Could you endure this season year after year with honesty if your family did not realize recovery?I am sincere in asking for it is my and our family’s greatest sorrow to not have found recovery regardless of all that we have done and do.

    I/we try so hard to be happy and optimistic and it is so exhausting, for myself and our family and I do so for all our sakes so as to be able to live life as best we can with some joy and peace.

    Blessings to us all.

    • dslayerTMR says:

      Thank you BB.
      Guilt can be a toxic emotion. We can’t force our children or other people to forgive us, but we can try to forgive ourselves. I hope. I don’t know if our kids will grow up to resent us, I hope not. All I can do is show Mei and Min Min how much I love them and fill their days with happy memories, in the hopes that it overshadows the darkness that they had to live through.

      We don’t know where the future leads us, but I have faith that the foundations we lay down now, will set the path for us. Your story is far from over BB. And happy endings comes in many different forms. Happy endings are not exclusive to recovery. And yes, past Ramadhans were excruciatingly hard. It made me realise just how much sorrow, anger, resentment and all the other toxic baggage I dragged around with me, slowing me down in my quest to recover my girls. Happiness was not my natural state in those days. There were times when I was surrounded by happiness, but I didn’t see it. I couldn’t and wouldn’t see it. I’m still working on it.

      • BB says:


        I love you for saying with so much grace what I hope to be living out as we push on seeking for the truth and mercy that God provides to all His children.

        And yes, God’s love shows up in different ways and at different time for each living being.

        God may be late in our mind, but He is always on time.

        I love Mother Teresa’s sentiment:
        “I know God won’t give me anything I can’t handle. I just wish he didn’t trust me so much.”

        Peace and blessings to us all.

        Barbara Biegaj in Chicago

  3. Marco says:

    Eid Mubarak to my fellow Malaysian compatriot. I knew it was you or Killer from the way you spelled “favourite”.
    As we are always under tremendous adrenal stress, autism parents could use a time when we anticipate being short tempered and prone to greater emotion. In many ways for me, it’s always Ramadhan (I can’t believe spell check doesn’t recognise the word!). Every major argument or fight I have ever had has been on an empty stomach. As a Buddhist I have learned to meditate and level my rage. I have learned to anticipate the stress of hunger, and by extension the stress of autism.
    We can all learn from Ramadhan.
    Terima kasih!

    • dslayerTMR says:

      Marco, your perception is astounding. I remember way too many moments going through the day hungry, even though it’s not Ramadhan. For years, I skipped breakfast AND lunch because life was too hectic caring for 2 girls on the spectrum. I never had time to eat much less sit down. And yes, rage was ever present. I believe all faiths espouse charity, kindness and peace. Now if only it was as easy to achieve as it sounds. Thank you Marco.

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