This Ramadan is the first I’ve actually fasted since 2014. Due to pregnancy and nursing, for years I have been enjoying Ramadan as a non-fasting person.
To begin with, it was extremely difficult. I felt like a complete outsider. I felt like I wasn’t quite benefiting from Ramadan like everybody else was, and that any worship I did was less than that of the people around me. As far as I was concerned, I was being out-worshipped by everyone.
So I acted like I was fasting. I woke up for suhoor like a fasting person, and I sat down just before Maghrib and made dua like a fasting person. I even ate iftar like a fasting person! I felt like it wasn’t really Ramadan if I wasn’t fasting – so I curled into myself and accepted defeat.
However, I was wrong to feel like that. I found a silver lining that I hold onto to this day: I could eat and drink! That didn’t mean I was happy I got to enjoy food, It meant that I was full of energy and I was blessed not to feel tired from having to fast all day. Pretty quickly, I realised that what I thought was a weakness, was actually a strength.
I had the ability read (which requires a lot of energy when you are fasting) and to do as much non-fasting worship as I could. Once I’d accepted that I couldn’t worship Allah (swt) through fasting, I was able to see that this one limitation had given me limitless opportunities. I stopped thinking about what I couldn’t do, and started to think more about what I could do.
Ramadan isn’t just about fasting. So what else could I do?
Well, I could read Quran – reciting in Arabic and reading a translation I could understand. I could give to charity, ensure I prayed all my sunnah salawaat, prayed the night prayer, and made more dua not just for myself, but for the entire ummah. Overall, I could focus on performing good deeds to bring myself closer to Allah (swt).
Also, since Ramadan is as much about giving up bad habits as it is establishing good ones, how could I worship Allah (swt) by not doing certain things. How could I exercise self-restraint if not through fasting?
Well, there’s restraint of the tongue, the eyes, and the ears too – so I needed to be careful regarding what I spoke about and with whom I had conversations. Were they beneficial exchanges or were they just a waste of everybody’s time? I could cut down on the Netflix and swap Nasheeds for Quran. I could listen to more lectures and fill those small pockets of free time with learning opportunities.
The truth is: Ramadan is not just for the fasting person. It is for everyone who wishes to be a better Muslim and a better person. You only get out what you put in, and Allah (swt) has given non-fasting women concessions for a reason. He (swt) knows you want to fast, and He knows that you would if you could. Therefore, He’s provided lots of other ways to worship Him during this month. He (swt) has not closed off any doors of dua to you, or any of the gates of Jannah. You have just as much chance of having your Ramadan accepted as any other person.
The quicker you accept and understand the things you won’t be able to do, the quicker you can move on to focusing on everything you can do.
The most important thing is that once this month comes to an end, you should have no regrets. You can only have no regrets if you tried your level best. Do what you can, and ask Allah (swt) to reward you for everything you wanted to do but couldn’t.
Be kind to yourself, but know that your Lord is even kinder.
~ Eman Ismail