I suffer from a lot of anxiety about my health in which I am always anxious about getting sick and therefore take care of my eating and health quite a lot.
I want to fast during Ramadan; however, I am very anxious about this as I am worried about how this will affect my health. I suffer from migraines and stomach pains when I do fast.
I am also very anxious while fasting and cannot focus on anything else during this time. Besides being anxious about getting sick, this is a problem as Ramadan is during my exams.
I don't know whether it is okay for me not to fast and whether it classifies as an illness?
As I find it very difficult to fast due to my anxiety and the effects of fasting on me.
What should I do?
In this counseling answer:
If you are told not to fast given that your IBS may deteriorate or that your migraines may worsen, Allah (swt) has placed no obligation on you.
You need to fill your mind with positive thoughts, such that there is no space for negativity to flourish.
Plan out your day and stick to the schedule.
Anxiety can be reduced by exercising, healthy eating and relaxing.
Assalamu Alaikum sister,
Thank you for placing your trust in our ability to propose a solution to your current situation.
Firstly, I would advise you to consult a physician with your health history to determine if you’d be able to fast this Ramadan given that you have IBS and migraines.
Sometimes, certain health conditions render us unable to fast. If you are told not to fast given that your IBS may deteriorate or that your migraines may worsen, Allah (swt) has placed no obligation on you.
In the Quran, Allah (swt) tells us,
“[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day].” (2:184)
Therefore, under a doctor’s examination, if you are unable to fast, then it is not an issue for you. However, for the expiration, I am not the one who can guide you on that matter. Please write to our Ask the Scholar or Ask about Islam section regarding this.
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Next, with regards to your anxiety, there are certain ways through which you can control it.
Your anxiety can certainly be controlled such that it does not interfere with your worshipping, fasting and studying for exams during Ramadan or even outside it.
Judging from your question, your anxiety seems to be the result of you thinking too much about the future and thinking negatively about it as well.
The future is not in our hands. Although we are completely aware of it. We as humans tend to think that our constant worrying and stressing about the future, will somehow be beneficial.
If anything, the stress brought about as a result of constant worrying makes the situations worse and makes us unhealthy along with the way.
It was narrated by Anas bin Malik that the Prophet (saw) used to say the following often:
“ اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَعُوذُ بِكَ مِنَ الْهَمِّ وَالْحَزَنِ، وَالْعَجْزِ وَالْكَسَلِ، وَالْجُبْنِ وَالْبُخْلِ، وَضَلَعِ الدَّيْنِ، وَغَلَبَةِ الرِّجَال.
“O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” (Bukhari)
Hence, dear sister, please read the above invocation in abundance as used to be the practice of Prophet (saw) himself. Read this invocation every morning, afternoon, and evening.
And every time any negative thoughts about exams or your health or sickness occupy your mind.
In order to eliminate negative thoughts from your mind, you need to fill your mind with positive thoughts, such that there is no space for negativity to flourish.
Stop Worrying about the Future!
One of the first ways to stop worrying about the future is by understanding the omnipotence of Allah (swt). We worry because our capabilities are limited.
We do not hold the knowledge of the unseen. However, Allah’s (swt) abilities are far beyond what we can imagine. He is able to do things in ways we cannot even imagine.
Therefore, whatever issue or thought comes your way, confront it by thinking about Allah (swt). Tell your negative thoughts that they are merely thoughts and Allah (swt) is in control.
Tell yourself that your worries are a figment of your imagination, and not real. You are not in control of your body, of your sickness, or of anything.
Only Allah (swt) can change the condition of the people. He (swt) is in absolute control. However, you are in control of the conditions you create.
Your negative thoughts create negative conditions, but you can offset them by being positive and having trust in Allah (swt).
Be stress-free and relaxed. Hand over your worries to Allah (swt) and be confident that you will be taken care of in the best possible manner.
This way, rather than worrying about the future and what seems possible or impossible, you will feel much more optimistic. It will definitely be hard at first, but you need to have faith and trust.
In addition, rather than worrying about your capabilities, plan out your day and stick to the schedule.
Make a realistic schedule of things that you can do in a given day. Scheduling will remove some of the anxiety and stress as you are planning what you need to do and can program yourself to get the certain work done.
This way, you will not be overwhelmed by the loads of work which can potentially bother and pressure you.
Lastly, anxiety can be reduced by exercising. I cannot possibly stress the importance of exercise on an individual’s body, mind, and health.
Humans were not made to be sedentary, and it is the result of a sedentary lifestyle that we are victims of a myriad of health conditions.
A simple walk or jog in the park will significantly reduce your anxious thoughts.
In addition to exercise, eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and try to avoid loads of sugar and deep fried food.
In Ramadan, many cultures indulge in overeating unhealthy food which not only impacts their level of worship but also negatively impacts their health.
Ramadan is a means to cleanse ourselves spiritually and physically. Therefore, make a special effort to limit unhealthy food intake and increase workout after opening the fast.
Remember, it is your faith in Allah (swt) which will keep you strong.
I hope my answer provided the answer you were looking for. I pray that you will successfully ace your exams, and fast peacefully, in sha’ Allah.
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.