In this counseling answer:
•Consult her doctors whether she is allowed to fast due to her condition.
•You could take this a step further by observing if there is anything in particular that seems to get her most aggravated.
•Perhaps she does not realize how harsh she is whilst she is fasting. Let her know how painful her comments are towards you, even if she does not mean it.
•Responding calmly with kind words or walking away might encourage her to respond more calmly too by mirroring your own behavior.
•This increased level of remembrance of Allah will help to bring peace into the heart and, in sha Allah, contribute to a calmer nature.
•Refrain from responding back harshly and instead try to help her engage in activities that will keep her distracted and busy doing something productive. Ideally, these things will be those that help her to keep the remembrance of Allah in mind as a means to deter the use of harsh words for fear of Him.
Wa alaikum salaam wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh sister,
Ramadan is a blessed month where people experience a sense of spiritual reformation and closeness to Allah. Whilst it is a difficult and testing time, we should not look to it with such fear, as it seems you experience during this time. This is unfortunate. Even breaking fast together as a family has become a burden rather than a joy.
Identify the cause
The first thing to do when trying to help someone with angry outbursts is to try to locate the cause. It would seem that you have already been able to identify this; she is angry when she fasts and calms down once she has broken it. This would quite clearly indicate that the source of her angry outburst is due to the fasting.
However, you could take this a step further by observing if there is anything in particular that seems to get her most aggravated. If you can identify a particular thing that seems to make the situation worse, then you can try and figure out ways to either avoid this thing altogether or at least try to manage it when it occurs to minimize her reaction.
Consult her doctor
I am not sure of her diagnosis, or whether she is on regular medicine, but as it seems fasting makes her condition worse, I would recommend consulting her doctors whether it is good for her to keep fasting. Remember that sick people are exempted from fasting – and mental illness is included as well.
Talk to her
It is not unheard of for fasting to cause people to have emotional disturbances, but this does not make her abusive words towards you acceptable. Since she is not approachable during the time when she is fasting, perhaps you might begin by talking to her during the hours when she is not. Perhaps she does not realize how harsh she is whilst she is fasting. She needs to know this.
Let her know how painful her comments are towards you, even if she doesn’t mean it, and how it is spoiling your iftar to have to hide away until she is calm again. Ask her to imagine how she would feel if it was the other way around.
Remind her gently that it is not only for your own sake that you are telling her this, but for her own too.
Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)” (Sahih al-Bukhari 1903)
Respond with goodness
When your mother is having an outburst, be cautious about how you respond to this so that you do not work her up anymore. Of course, her abuse is not acceptable, but neither would responding the same back to her.
Instead, responding calmly with kind words, or walking away might encourage her to respond more calmly too by mirroring your own behavior. After all, it can be quite difficult to be harsh to someone who is being kind to you.
Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported: “When any one of you gets up in the morning in the state of fasting, he should neither use obscene language nor do any act of ignorance. And if anyone slanders him or quarrels with him, he should say:” I am fasting, I am fasting.” (Sahih Muslim 1151 a)
“And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend.” (Qur’an, 41:34)
Engage more in religious activities together
When keeping Allah in mind, it is more difficult to do the things that will displease him such as being emotionally abusive. During Ramadan, it is encouraged that we do engage in more acts of worship and certainly, she should be encouraged to do the same as this can help increase the level of Allah-consciousness. This increased level of remembrance of Allah will help to bring peace into heart and, in sha Allah, contribute to a more calm nature.
“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” (Qur’an, 13:28)
These things can be quite daunting if faced alone, but if you encourage her to join you and other family members to, for example, read the Qur’an together, then she will feel more motivated to do the same.
It will also let her know that you are supporting her during a time that you know is tough for her. This may also serve to soften her heart towards you even during the day in the knowledge that you are looking out for her best interests at a time that you both know she is finding difficult.
Check out this counseling video
Keeping busy doing tasks in the day that will keep the mind busy. This will distract her from the feelings that may be causing her outbursts. This doesn’t have to be physical tasks that may make the fasting even more difficult for her and, therefore, could exacerbate her feelings. It could be something else; ideally, a religious activity like reading the Qur’an, watching a lecture or reading educational materials, etc. This will keep her focused on things other than those that are causing her outbursts.
Alternatively, or additionally, other fulfilling activities to keep her busy in useful tasks could prove to be beneficial such as writing, reading, sewing, etc. Perhaps she might even fancy trying something entirely new and exciting.
These types of activities will help to take her mind off what she is going through physically and allow the time to pass without continually thinking about the fast.
Do not take it personally
Amongst all this, even though her words are harsh and it is spoiling your own Ramadan to some extent, it is clear that her outburst are a result of her fasting and not a problem with you, or even herself since she returns to her usual self after breaking her fast.
Understand that as the ones who are closest to her and around her more often, you become a much easier target for her to take her emotions out on. This is not pleasant for you. However, whilst you try to find ways to help her at this time, do not let your own rewards be lost.
Make sure to give time to yourself also to focus on your own spiritual growth. This will also give you a helping hand in managing your own emotional response to her behavior.
Ramadan should be a time of spiritual uplifting, but your mother’s verbally aggressive behavior during fasting hours is making things very uncomfortable for you. There are, however, some thing you can do to try to change this, in sha Allah.
Firstly, try to identify if there are any specific triggers during the fasting period that set her off and then either find ways to avoid such things or manage them.
Maybe she does not realize the extent of her behavior, and how much it hurts you, so try to talk to her about it at a time when she is not fasting.
Also, refrain from responding back harshly and instead try to help her engage in activities that will keep her distracted and busy doing something productive. Ideally, these things will be those that help her to keep the remembrance of Allah in mind as a means to deter the use of harsh words for fear of Him.
May Allah reward your patience and effort to help your mother. May He guide her and make things easier for you all as a family.
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