Peaceful Ramadan During COVID

Question 1

If I can’t fast Ramadan due to a medical condition, but others are fasting around me, how can I enjoy the spirit of Ramadan like they do?

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

When one is not able to fast for whatever reason, it can often feel like we are missing out on the positive spirit of Ramadan. It is normal to feel this way, however, it doesn’t have to feel this way as not being able to fast only takes away a single element of the whole experience.

Ramadan is a great time to increase acts of ibadah so you can use this time to focus on developing your relationship with the Qur’an, reading it more and pondering over the meaning. You can also offer more voluntary prayers and give more in charity at this time.

It’s also important to remember that fasting does not only include refraining from eating and drinking, but is about being more cautious about your own behaviour as well in terms of controlling your tongue and so on. Being more mindful of these things during Ramadan is a great exercise in spiritual development in the same way that fasting is.

These are important skills to learn and remember and purify ourselves and Alhamdulilah, Ramadan gives us the opportunity to focus on this. This is a very important part of Ramadan that can be done whether or not you are able to fast. Ramadan also encourages us to remember those that don’t have food and drink.

Fasting can help us to appreciate that, but even if you don’t fast, this does not stop you from remembering those in need and the struggles they face and using this opportunity during Ramadan to remember them and give more in charity, especially at this time. Additionally making dua for people in this situation can be very humbling and instill a sense of gratitude in you as you remember those with less.

Aside from the spiritual elements addressed above, there is also nothing stopping you from enjoying the same festivities as everyone else just because you can’t fast. You can still be involved in helping out with preparing suhoor and iftar and sharing food with others. You don’t have to separate yourself from those who are fasting.

You may join them when they take their suhoor and iftar and be part of it all as much as anyone else. This will help to maintain the family spirit during this time as you embrace a sense of togetherness for the same purpose.

Do also remember that since you have a medical condition that prevents you from fasting, you will still be rewarded for it as if you had. In fact, you will be rewarded for safeguarding yourself by not fasting.

May Allah make it easy for you and reward you every efforts during the month of Ramadan. May He grant you the sense of spiritual connection that you search for at this time.

Question 2

I hate fasting, it fills me with dread. How do I not convey this feeling to my children so that they see it as a beautiful thing.

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

It is unfortunate that you have negative feelings around fasting, but Alhamdulilah that you are aware that this is not something that you want your children to be aware of. Of they become aware of it, then they will likely develop the same dislike towards it which will be very discouraging for them in the future so you are doing the right thing to seek advice regarding this.

The first thing is to try and understand yourself what it is about fasting that fills you with dread? Did it always fill you with dread, or did something happen sometime that turns things around from a positive to negative experience?

If this is the case then you should try to revisit that moment and address with yourself at least how it turned fasting into such a terrible experience for you. If it was related to a singular event then acknowledging the fact that it happened and there’s nothing that can be done to change it again, but you can use this to better you present experience by learning from what happened previously.

It perhaps may be more likely to something that relates to the experience of Ramadan as a whole as this is something that affects many. For example, many people, especially reverts, or those living apart from their extended family find Ramadan to be a lonely time.

If this is the case, then this can be eased by focusing on what you do have around you, rather than what you don’t. You have your own children around them so do all you can to make this a fun and pleasurable experience for them even if at this point you don’t feel you can experience the same joy.

You will find that when you observe them enjoying Ramadan that naturally you will experience the same level of joy as you feel happy to see them so happy.

If it is not about Ramadan as a whole, but about the difficulties you face going without food and drink, then  use this time to focus on other things to increase your level of eman. Connect with Allah through reading and contemplation of the Qur’an, praying and making dua more.

Many events are organised during this time (most likely online at present) to connect more to the benefits of Ramadan aside from the actual physical act of fasting. This will be good for you at this time, but also in terms of character development moving on. These are all things that you can do with your children too, to involve them in the spirit of Ramadan too.

If it is that you find yourself becoming frustrated and displaying dislikable characteristics as a result of withholding basic needs during this time (it’s not uncommon, it happens when we are deprived of these needs) then the above can also help with this as it keeps you busy in meaningful activities that will be beneficial in overcoming such thoughts and emotions.

The important thing is that however frustrated you may become, Ramadan is a great opportunity to learn self control. It is difficult, especially at the beginning of the month as we establish a routine, but we also know that Ramadan is an obligation upon us so we must learn to get over these difficulties and embrace a level of self control. Always remember why you are doing it, for the sake of Allah, and in sha Allah that should be the biggest motivation to control your frustrations.

There are many reasons that fasting could be disliked and without knowing the exact cause in your case I hope that I have managed to cover it at leas to some extent in the possibilities addressed above.

May Allah make things easy for you and make Ramadan a source of spiritual growth for you and your family.

Question 3

Without being in the mosque, without having a proper Eid, how will I make these Ramadan days special for my children? We live in the West, i am a convert, and honestly, Ramadan for me is still a lesser feasting than Christmas. I just really do not feel the “vibes”. My children are the same…

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

This is a common struggle for many of us reverts and can make Ramadan actually a very difficult time, especially when the connection is not there.

It can present an additional inner struggle when we feel guilty that we don’t yet feel a sense of connection on the same level to what we once did with Christmas. Do remember that you have fond memories of Christmas because it was so special to you as a child. It was part of your life for such a long time, probably more than Eid has. As a result you should realise that it could take some time to develop the same relationship with Eid as you had with Christmas.

Fortunately for you and your children, you have the opportunity to make Eid something just as special to your children as Eid was once for you. This process may first begin by doing everything you can to make their experiences pleasurable by decorating the house together, preparing their favourite food, connecting with friends and family and the local community (perhaps online at this time), playing games, dressing in new or their favourite clothes… Etc.

At this point, take the focus off yourself and more towards your children and you will find that they will soon come to love Eid. Get them involved as much as possible, let them decide how they will decorate the place and even make their own decorations. Let them decide what to they want to eat and make it together with them. You can even search online for different and new things to try.

Through their own joy you will find that your feelings towards Eid will also change as you experience happiness through their own happiness. In time this will gradually increase your connection to Eid also.

May Allah reward your efforts to improve your relationship with Islam for yourself and your children. May He make it a journey that will be spiritually uplifting and joyous to you and to them.

Question 4

I used to suffer from multiple eating disorders, sometimes I did not eat for weeks, sometimes I made myself throw up the food….Thus, my stomach is really sensitive; any frustration and my stomach stop working. If I do not eat well or especially drink enough, it stops working for days. I usually take pills or tea during Ramadan to be able to go to the bathroom.

Due to this, I hate fasting. I still have days from the last Ramadan. Do you have any tips to not feel guilty for hating the fasting part of Ramadan? Although I enjoy the long prayers, reading more Quran and visiting the mosque…

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuh,

Firstly, you have done the right thing to reach out for advice as it seems that you are aware that this is a problem not only to you physically and psychologically, but that it has an impact on your relationship with Ramadan.

This is a step in the right direction. The next step I would suggest is to get ongoing professional support for your eating disorders. You may need psychological support to deal with the ongoing psychological effects of these as it seems you may still have the residual effects present reflected in your current eating habits.

Additionally, you may need support with physical consequences of your previous eating disorders as it seems they have resulted in a sensitive stomach. Your doctor may be able to prescribe something to help with this.

These steps may not directly or immediately help you with your current issues relating to you relationship with fasting at this time, but they are necessary steps to take to reach the next stage where you can address current issues. I

t can often feel tempting to just cut straight to fixing the current issue without dealing with the underlying problem, but this can have detrimental effects in the long term. Dealing with existing issues first will place you in a strong path to deal with the current problems and have positive lasting effects.

You need to understand that your current feelings towards fasting is a natural consequence of what you have been through to this point so guilt is a normal response to this.

Guilt is a very nasty thing to feel, but at the same time there are benefits to this. To feel guilty about something means you know that something is not right. For example, feeling guilty about disliking fasting can be a good thing because these feelings let you know that disliking fasting is not a good thing because it is an obligation and it therefore pushes you to do something to minimise these uncomfortable feelings of guilt by taking action. Alhamdulilah, in your case, these feelings of guilt have encouraged you to come forward and seek help in overcoming your difficulties.

As mentioned before, I would suggest taking the steps to tackle the problem from the very root first. Beyond that, and in the present, rather than focusing on the things that are not going so well at this time, instead focus on the things that you can get benefit out of and use this as a platform to build on.

Seek benefit from the things that you do enjoy at this time. Don’t let you dislike of a single element of Ramadan spill over into the others, don’t let this difficulty prevent you from attending the masjid, making linger prayers and attending the masjid. These will be key supports to you emotionally and spiritually as you overcome the ongoing effects of previous difficulties.

May Allah be your guide in overcoming your struggles. May He continue to guide you on the right path and be the source of spiritual growth, especially at this special time of year.

Monday, Mar. 22, 2021 | 09:30 - 10:30 GMT

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