Are You Ready for a Different Ramadan?

Salaam Alaykum dear brothers and sisters,

We would like to thank you for joining us in this Counseling Session.

We would like also to thank our counselor, sister Hannah for answering the questions.

If you have any questions, email us at [email protected]

You can find the answers below.

Question 1

I have been attending religious classes at the masjid every ramadan for the past five years. The teacher would answer our personal day to day questions and provide extra guidance that we could start implementing during ramadan. This Ramadan because of quarantine it has been cancelled. I feel extremely lost! How will I get my spiritual high?

Assalamu alikum,

Indeed Ramadan is always a source of spiritual growth for those who actively engage in the process of trying to attain the spiritual high. During Ramadan most masjids offer classes or extra support to facilitate this growth. Unfortunately, due to the current situation, brothers and sisters will not be given this same opportunity this year in most places across the globe. As a result, we must search for alternative ways to get the same kind of support this year. It will mean being creative in exploring new ways to achieve this. Alhamduliah, there are many ways to do this.

If you are able, the internet is a vast resource to get this support you are seeking. You can access a variety of pre-recorded lectures as well as online courses in all things Islamic. These are great ways to increase your knowledge which will in turn help to give you that spiritual boost you are searching for.

As well as various pre-recorded information available via YouTube or the various number of online institutions that exist today offering such courses, there are also increasing number of live presentations being given by scholars of Islam on a daily basis. If there is a particular scholar that you enjoy listening to then this can be a regular event that you turn to each day.

There are also many services online that you can turn to to ask questions and get guidance on matters that you may query. Perhaps, the teacher that you would normally turn is offering alternative services this year and will be available via whatsapp or the like, or perhaps even offering live sessions online via the numerous options available to do so these days. You might ask around in your local community (via phone or message of course) to see if such services will be offered this year. 

Alternatively, if such services won’t be available to you this year perhaps you could try and organize with your local sisters to set up an online group where you can perhaps have live sessions together via apps such as zoom, or some kind of ongoing support via a whatsapp group. This way you can still foster the sense of sisterhood that really grows during Ramadan only in an alternative way. 

On top of this, of course, you can be engaging in all sorts of spiritual activities within your home, the difference this time is that you have to be disciplined enough to get the motivation to do so without being in a face to face gathering. This is where having groups with other sisters can be of great benefit as you can motivate each other every day to do things such as read Qur’an.

These options might not be ideal, or even appealing as they are different to what you have been used to, but in the given situation, it is important to make the most of what we have to gain as much benefit from Ramadan as possible.

May Allah reward your desire to gain a spiritual uplifting during this special time. May He make it easy for you and grant you success in reaching a spiritual high.

*****

Question 2

I do all house chores, cooking, cleaning. I also have young children who are now home due to covid. I am in the kitchen almost all day prepping meals or feeding kids. I feel I won’t be able to do any spiritual stuff this ramadan. I want to take a break from all of this hassle or I’ll go insane. Is this a normal feeling?

Assalamu alikum,

Let me first reassure you by reassuring you that you are far from alone in feeling like this! Many sisters feel like this year after year. This year however is made all the more difficult by the fact that we are cooped up at home, the entire family together, barely able to leave to get some fresh air even. 

It can become quite stressful and choking as we try and accomplish more tasks than we have the time to do as well as the desire to achieve the spiritual growth that we long for during Ramadan. The stress of feeling like this can’t possibly be achieved on top of everything else can leave one feeling hopeless. When this feeling of despair and hopelessness is experienced it is very easy to fall into the trap of simply not doing anything at all to achieve the spiritual benefits of this blessing due to the feeling that it is simply not possible, so why bother?

It is very important not to let yourself fall into this trap, and alhamdulilah since there are a couple of days left before Ramadan begins you can make forward plans and intentions to face this dilemma head on and to makes plans that the worst case scenario won’t happen, in sha Allah, and you will be able to do plenty of spiritual things on top of your normal duties too. 

Since you mention that it would seem the main barrier to achieving this is spending so much time cooking, it would be best to begin by targeting this particular barrier first as it would seem that this is perhaps your most time consuming activity that would be most likely to stand in the way of being able to do spiritual activities.

On a practical level, the only way to reduce the amount of time spent cooking is to look for alternative ways to achieve the same goal. One way to achieve this is to bulk cook and then freeze the meals to eat at various other points during Ramadan. It may mean that there is one day where you will be cooking all day to achieve this, but it will also mean that there are other subsequent days where you will spend little time in the kitchen as meals have been pre-prepared. These are the days when you can really engage in spiritual activities. 

Alternately, try looking for recipes that require less time in the kitchen. This might mean eating something new and different to what you are used to, but it will give you the time that you need to engage in spiritual activities, which is particularly important at this time. And, you might even find that these are new recipes that you and your family come to enjoy very much and you incorporate it into your main more often in the future.

The other option is to involve others in the cooking process to help out. If your children are old enough then you can ask them, or your husband, or anyone else living in your house. If it is that they can’t or won’t cook, then you can ask them with the other tasks that take up time in the kitchen such as cleaning up or tending to the easier parts of the cooking process such as preparing the vegetables or something.

These are various solutions to lessen your time in the kitchen to free up time for spiritual activities and they may not be ideal or appealing to you or your family, but you must remember that your spiritual growth, especially during this special time, is more important than spending so much time cooking. This is especially so when you have children who will be looking to you as a role model. If you are not involved in spiritual activities then they will have little motivation to do the same. So, even if only for them, it is of utmost importance that you embrace ways in which you can get the most out of Ramadan.

By looking at the situation from this angle and seeing that it is possible to find ways to still have meals prepared for the family and achieve spiritual growth and thinking about this and planning ahead it will make you realize that it is possible to achieve both and you can do it.

May Allah guide you to do what is best for you and your family and may He grant you the peace and blessings that you search for during Ramadan.

*****

Question 3

I live in a non-Muslim country and have teenage kids. I used to take them to the masjid in Ramadan. The environment in the masjid really helped them, hearing the Quran, praying together with their masjid friends, also playing sports with them. They would experience a spiritual change. Now due to covid-19 all masjids are closed. I don’t know how to help them feel the same way?

Assalamu alikum,

This unfortunate scenario has placed most of us in the same dilemma where we must look to alternative means to achieve the same spiritual changes that we search for and achieve each Ramadan. This is particular concern to parents with children as we fear for lack of involvement due to masjid closures also. Since you mention that your children’s spiritual change is primarily achieved through engagement in activities held at the local masjid, this will naturally lead to heightened levels of anxiety and even feelings of hopelessness about how you can support them in achieving the usual benefits that they usually get each year. This is particular important to our teenage children that thrive on social interactions with other brothers and sister their age. especially when you live in a non-Muslim country like you do.

Fortunately, there are many alternatives available at present to assist in achieving the same type of connections. Perhaps they are not as ideal as face to face contact, but in times like this when there is simply no other solution we must be content with what is available to us and make the most of them. This could primarily be achieved through interactions in online surroundings, but equally you can have a big impact in the home too.

Given that we are for the most part forced to remain in our homes we must utilize this time with our loved ones in the best possible way. Sure, it can be stressful being around one another all the time, it is also a great opportunity to foster strong bonds in ways that otherwise would not be possible so cherish this opportunity to be with your children that might otherwise be spending plenty of time outside of the home as this particular time in their life. Perhaps you wouldn’t usually do spiritual activities together if it is that they would usually go to the masjid to do the same, so, do something different and do these things together as a family. Teach them and allow them to teach you too. This will help to empower them and give them a sense of responsibility in teaching you something new too. You might also watch lectures together and learn something new together.

As well as using your extended time at home together as a source of strengthening your relationships and spirituality you can support your children if finding alternative ways to be connecting with other people their age through online means. Again, whilst not ideal it can be another way to help them experience the spiritual changes that will be good for them during this time. Do ask if your masjid has any online options being offered at this time to temporarily replace what is now unavailable, otherwise encourage them to be in touch with their friends from the masjid. Encourage them to interact in such a way that will encourage a boost in their spirituality. Encourage them to discuss matters related to the Quran and to encourage each other to pick the Quran up and read each day, perhaps even reading together via telephone or video call. Sometimes it can be difficult to self motivate to do this but having others from the same age group, other than family regularly check in on a daily or regular basis can help to keep the motivation going as well as encourage them to support others too.

May Allah reward your concern to support your children in achieving spiritual growth during this time and may He guide you to the best way to do so.

*****

Question 4

We used to have many social gatherings in ramadan. We would go to the masjid over the weekends to break our fast with the Muslim community.  Also friends and family would visit us and we visited them in return.  It has been a very festive time of the year for me and my family. I feel depressed because we can’t have those gatherings and have to maintain social distance. Also I’m not good with doing things virtually.

Assalamu alikum,

It certainly is a challenging time for all and now we face the anxiety of entering Ramadan unable to follow the same routine as usual, especially when it comes to spending time with friends and family. 

Ramadan is typically a time when we spend more time with our loved ones but due to the current situation that cannot be possible for most people due to the restrictions imposed globally at present. A very good solution available to at least alleviate this anxiety to some extent and relieve such anxieties is to maintain contact through other means such as telephone or even video calls now and this is what many are turning to at this time to maintain contact in the meantime until this crisis passes. You mention that you are not good at doing things virtually, but now might be a good time to give it a try for the sake of your own well being. Doing things differently to normal is usually daunting especially if one feels like they simply don’t know how to do something which pushes them away from even giving it a go. For the sake of maintaining social ties via the only means possible for now do give it a go. If you don’t know how then if there is someone in your household who could help out then ask them to help you at least get to grips with the basics. It might be daunting now, but once you get the hang of it will come a lot more naturally and without the anxieties you currently have about it, otherwise you might call someone who could walk you through it step by step until you get used to using it all by yourself. As you experience the benefits of using such methods and enjoy spending time virtually with you friends and family you will develop a positive feeling towards using such things and will be much more eager to use them. Of course, talking over a video call is not the same as seeing them and being with them in person, but it is as close as you can get to it at this time. You can’t break your fasts together from the same plate, but you could do so from behind a screen where you can with each other, only not face to face. If the thought of facing trying to use such technology is too difficult then you can at least maintain ties through regular telephone calls for now. In time you may have more desire to try out the various ways of video calling, but at least start with telephone calls as a means to maintain your well being.

If neither of these are an option for you, or even if they are, do make sure to emerge yourself in spiritual activities during Ramadan to support yourself in your spiritual journey. With more time at home now there has never been a better time for this to be facilitated. Spend more time reading the Quran, praying, making dhikr and reading any Islamic material you have around the house. If you have other people living with you then spend time doing these things together also. This will help give you the sense of social connection that is often boosted during Ramadan, and will also strengthen your relations together as well as being a means to encourage each other to engage in such activities. Again, now might be a good time to learn new skills in making the most of virtual means of accessing the same. With a wealth of materials and groups available on the internet you can explore beyond what you have available at home and learn from virtual sources such as online lectures and courses. It may be that you need to ask others for support in doing this, but these are useful skills to learn even beyond Ramadan.

In sha Allah these times will soon pass and you will be reunited with your friends and family from outside the home, but for now we must make do with what’s available to us. Use this as an opportunity to thank Allah for your blessings because in many cases we don’t appreciate them until they are taken away from us. For example, every year we attend social gatherings for Ramadan without a second thought, but now that has been taken away we come to realize just how important these people and opportunities are to us. This will make us more grateful as people and encourage us to appreciate the things we might otherwise overlook.

May Allah make it easy for during this testing time. May He ease your anxieties and grant you a blessed Ramadan full of spiritual enlightenment.

Question 5

I am an American woman, aged 36. I have been Muslim for 5 years now, Alhamdulellah and I used to spend much time of Ramadan with sisters in the Muslim community. We had also support groups where we used to talk, break our fast together not to feel lonely or isolated during Ramadan. But now, I feel Isolated from now and I will be suffering more during Ramadan and Eid. Any thoughts on how to cope?

Assalamu alikum,

This is a dilemma that many are facing right now as we face the challenge of embracing a Ramadan that will be very different to the others. During Ramadan the majority of people link up with other sisters more than usual as a means to support their spiritual journeys and make Ramadan and Eid enjoyable and memorable experiences. However, we are now in a position where this is more challenging due to the restrictions in place that do not allow for social contact isn’t the way that we have always been used to. 

Being stuck at home will inevitably lead to feelings of sadness and isolation only exacerbated by the fact that a time of usual increased face to face social contact has now been removed as an option at this time. These feelings can still exist even if we have family in the home with us such as a spouse and children. There are however, ways which you can relieve yourself of these feelings and support yourself in achieving the usual sense of sisterhood that is usually enhanced during Ramadan. Whilst not the same or even the most ideal, alhamdulillah that today’s technology allows us to maintain social contact only via alternative means. Perhaps the sisters in your local area might set up a whatsapp group or the like as a means to having group discussions much like you would in Ramadan, or if they don’t, you could always be the one to facilitate and encourage the same. You could have regular group calls together as a means to get as close to the same type of social contact that you would have had otherwise. Whilst not the same as face to face contact, it is a way and means of maintaining contact with them and achieving spiritual goals together and encouraging each other to do the same. You might even look to other online communities beyond your normal one. In an online world you can connect with sisters from all over the globe, so this could be an opportunity to meet more sisters. This is an opportunity that perhaps you wouldn’t have looked into had we not be out in this situation.

Aside from finding alternative ways to maintain social ties with your sisters, use this additional time you have at home to increase spirituality yourself by keeping yourself busy and immersed in spiritual activities. Never did we have more opportunity to do this. Certainly, being restricted to remain at home has come with many downfalls such as not being able to maintain social ties, but it has also opened the door for opportunity in giving us more time to do things that we otherwise have time to. Use this time wisely. Read Quran mire, pray more and study islam. There is always much to learn, even for the one who was born into a Muslim family and has been practicing Islam for their entire life. Sign up to one of the many online courses available to learn more about Islam. This will keep you busy and therefore less focussed on the feelings of isolation, but it will be a means of supporting your spiritual growth too. It will give you food for discussion with other sisters too and will encourage you to interact more with them virtually. 

So, as you can see whilst we might be primarily focused on the negatives of the situation right now, they are alternatives available that will help to recognise the positives in the situation also,

May Allah bring you ease during this difficult time. May He bring you an abundance of benefits during this special time and see you through to the other side of this challenging time in happiness and success.

*****

Question 6

We live in the US. My husband used to run his own business. Now, due to the lockdown, we are facing a big financial strain and it could turn to a real crisis if this situation continues. It’s really stressful.  My husband is very depressed. He fears that one day, we wouldn’t  be able to pay the bills or find money to feed our kids. I keep calming him saying we must have trust in Allah but I myself started to develop great anxiety because of this hard situation. How can we get over this?

Assalamu alikum,

This is the unfortunate situation that many families are experiencing during this difficult time that we are all facing. This will inevitably cause much anxiety and distress to the entire family especially when time is so uncertain and we have no idea of when this crisis will come to an end and people will be able to return to work again.

On a practical side, do make sure to look into any support that may be available to you. Many governments have launched initiatives to help people in your situation to get the financial support that they need at this time. Perhaps since it is a situation that has never been faced before you haven’t thought to check or are simply not aware of what is available. Ask around or look online for organisations that might be able to advise on this. In the meantime try to be cautious in the way you budget so that the impact is felt less.

You are trying to calm your husband by telling him to trust in Allah, but as time goes on with no respite you are starting to feel the effects of the anxiety also. Certainly we can always find comfort in placing our trust in Allah, but as times get more and more challenging this can become quite difficult as one loses the hope that things will ever be ok again. To overcome this, make the most of your extended time at home to engage in more spiritual activities and encourage your husband to join you in the same. This serves many purposes, the more you try to get closer to Allah the closer He will get to you. It will also boost your level of spirituality and therefore trust in Allah and comfort that things will indeed work out fine in the end. Encouraging your husband to join you in the same will support him in attaining that same comforting feeling also.

It can be very easy in times like this to only focus on the negative things which will only exacerbate feelings of anxiety and lack of trust in Allah. However, if you look to the positives in a seemingly otherwise hopeless situation this change of mindset can help relieve anxiety, boost wellbeing and enhance feelings of gratitude and trust in Allah. Certainly, there have been many seemingly negative things that have happened to many people, your husband’s lack of wages in your case which has placed great burden on many, but at the same time, it is a scenario that has forced people to remain at home and spend more time with their families. It is a chance to strengthen bonds. It is a chance to spend more time in worship. People who work full time might otherwise have a hard time accomplishing this, perhaps only just having time to make their 5 daily prayers, if that. Now with being at home they can make their 5 daily prayers as well as having the time to offer additional prayers, make dua and even read the Quran more. Never would such an opportunity be available if this situation had not been forced upon us. On a normal day we overlook many blessings that we otherwise take for granted. When these things are taken away from us, it gives us the chance to reflect and appreciate the same. This will serve us well when the crisis passes, in sha Allah as we will have a new sense of gratitude and appreciation for the many things in our life that we typically overlook.

May Allah bring ease to you and your husband during this difficult time. May He ease your anxieties and bring you relief. May He grant you peace and happiness in this life and the next.
*****

Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2020 | 07:00 - 08:00 GMT

Session is over.
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