Once upon a time if someone said the word “buzz” I would automatically think they were talking about getting high. That is what it used to mean to me. As a Muslim addict in recovery from substance addiction, that word no longer has the same meaning. “Buzz” to me means totally different things, as I now live in a way that values the natural high, the spiritual cry, the family tie. And that is just the way I like it. And the biggest high of all in this life is that moment when I feel connected to Allah and I literally feel my heart softening and my skin tingling and those moments come most frequent of all during Ramadan.
So let’s take a moment to compare the fake buzz of addiction to the real buzz of turning to Allah.
Buzz 1 – Squad Goals
Fake Mates – So you think you have your crew, the ones that will have your back when the proverbial goes down or hits the fan. You think these childhood mates will be your mates forever and they love you, “I bare love you man”. Wrong! Addiction generally takes us to a solitary place. Not only do we end up losing our families and sober friends but we also end up drinking and using drugs on our own in the end. Addiction takes us to a selfish place, where often those people we thought would stand up for us when we needed them, don’t ever come to our aid. And in those times we try to get clean and overcome our addiction, they pull us back. If they really cared, they would not help us to relapse.
Real Deal – “A muslim is the brother to another Muslim” so our Prophet taught us, loving for each other what they love for their own self. A friendship built on love for the sake of Allah is the strongest. In Ramadan, as we remember that the entire global Muslim community is fasting, praying and making a conscious effort to get closer to Allah it becomes easier for us to also step things up. We are not the only ones who returned back to the mosque, we don’t feel like a stranger when there are so many other new faces around. As we stand shoulder to shoulder with our brothers (or sisters) we feel as though we belong. Warm smiles, hugs and hands shaking salam bring the soul alive – that’s genuine love. The best squad of all is the family. Ramadan is the perfect time to improve ties and seek forgiveness and make amends with those we love and who deserve our affections the most.
Buzz 2 – Guilt Free Prayer
The sinners prayer – So we hear often the people tell us that Allah accepts all prayers, no matter how much we have sinned. So why do we feel so guilty in front of Allah. Some of us feel so guilty about all the stuff we have done that we cannot even go to pray to Allah because we feel so ashamed before him. When we do pray, we might think “Why would Allah want me, why would He answer me, who am I kidding that He will help me this time when I just keep messing up.” Shaitan loves to fill our heads with these thoughts to keep us away from turning back to Allah. Allah does not love sin, but He loves the sinner who repents. We know this, but still we cannot shed this feeling of guilt – often a ‘reason’ to just keep using.
The Ramadan Prayer Ramadan gives us the opportunity for all our previous sins to be forgiven insha’Allah. When we fast all day and make that sacrifice for Allah the feeling of certainty that Allah will accept us is almost guaranteed. We no longer feel like we are different to other Muslims. So many of our friends and family, who are not addicts, start talking about seeking forgiveness and having hope in Allah that He will forgive them. We are all seeking the same goal. Suddenly, those guilty feelings don’t feel so strong anymore and where all those tough emotions lurk in dark places within, Allah allows the light of faith to enter. As we touch our foreheads to the ground we feel closer to Allah than we did outside of Ramadan and our hope in Him as our Forgiver just gets higher and higher.
Buzz 3 – A sense of achievement
Useless Being – Let’s face it, when we are active in our addiction we feel pretty much a waste of space, useless, liability to the rest of the world. We feel lack of purpose and when
we do try to do something good it can often go unappreciated, unwanted or just go terribly wrong. Addiction makes us low in self esteem, feel worthless and all this leads to depression and negativity about ourselves. It can be hard to get out of this mindset and this is often what prolongs us in our addiction and prevents us from finding the motivation to pick ourselves up and try again (and again, and again and again).
A sense of purpose – Ramadan gives us an opportunity to have things to do, people to see. We begin to busy ourselves with the things that we know will help us to gain that spiritual high. We listen to talks, we go to the mosque, we recite or listen to Quran, we meet family for iftah, we pray. We begin to feel a sense of being back “I’m back!” as our mind clears and we start to feel as though we have found a purpose again – we find Allah again. This adds meaning and depth to the things we do and how we spend our time. As we begin to feel a sense of ‘normality’ again and begin to embrace life and faith we start to feel good about ourselves. A Muslim who realises their purpose in life will have increased self-esteem as they begin to understand that Allah has chosen us for something better.
Buzz 4 – The physical buzz
Lost in the fog – Being caught up in sin and addiction is a bit like being caught in the fog and just feeling our way around, looking for a way out. We feel lost and confused. We cannot see or think clearly. The arabic word for “Khamr” means something that “befogs” hence why we often feel that way. The phsyical buzz that we seek out in addiction, is short lived. We are forever chasing the first buzz, the high of the early days when we first started getting smashed. We spend years, some decades, trying to chase that initial high – deceived by the thought that it is possible, yet knowing deep down that it is not. The fake high of our addiction brings only misery with it, what goes up must come down. And we hit the deck hard and manage to smash up all loved ones and everything we own on the way down. The body begins to die, the heart begins to die, the mind begins to die – we die.
I can see! Ramadan helps brings clear skies. The actions we perform in this Holy Month, our efforts to come closer to Allah, help us to start living again. Our bodies begin to detoxify, throwing out all those nasty chemicals that were killing us. We spiritually feed and nurture ourselves so that our hearts are purified and our mental well-being begins to heal. There is no bigger buzz than starting to notice the birds singing again, the colours of nature, the sound of our own laughter. It is like coming back to life with new passion.
Buzz 5 – Hopefullness
The ‘No hopers’ Addiction takes us to a place of such depression and sadness that we begin to lose hope day by day. Every time we have tried to sort things out, we have fallen. Each time we fall, the bump on the way down is more and more painful. Hope begins to vanish. We feel doomed in this life and doomed in the Hereafter. We begin to start giving up on everything and everyone, even Allah.
This is it! Ramadan brings hope back into our lives at a time we thought we had nothing else to live for or even die for! Our spirits are lifted, our faith is increased, our family encourage us. This is our moment! Ramadan teaches us that anything is possible when we have Allah. We begin to think that Paradise is possible for us. We begin to think – maybe I am not so worthless after all and we KNOW yes KNOW that Allah does love us after all.
The Prophet saws said: “…there are two moments of joy for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord…” [Bukhari]
So let us embrace this Ramadan and if we put in the effort and try our best we will definitely feel the buzz! There are a few moments where we can say we can get a spiritual high, and Ramadan is one of the best of them. So seize the moment and do your best!