5 Ways to Observe Ramadan When You Can't Fast
Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim sisters and brothers around the world! Today is the first day of the holy month of Ramadan in America (it started yesterday for those in the East).
For medical reasons I have not been able to fast during Ramadan for the last few years. Which has often made it hard to feel like I was engaging and observing the holy month in a valuable and demonstrable way. After all, fasting is the number one point of Ramadan. If you can't do that is it even Ramadan for you? Well, yes. It is. In the last two years I have taken the time to apply the term of "fasting" to other areas of my life. Fasting is meant to be a discipline in a sense. A purposeful deprivation to allow one to focus on something bigger in purpose. The point is to abstain. And that can be from other things besides food.
1. Refrain from gossip
This is something we are supposed to do anyway. But let's be honest - most of us fall short on this. I know, I do. Ramadan is a perfect time to self-correct when it comes to gossip. To be aware of it and to make a concerted effort to not engage in it.
I have a confession: I'm a potty mouth. I freely admit this. It's not something I am proud of per se but it's not something I give a lot of thought too most of the time. The words just fly out of my mouth and land. It's a bad habit. The ironic of funny thing about this habit is that during Ramadan I am keenly aware of the words that I use and I make a deliberate effort to not swear. And usually (with the occasional accidental slip) I am successful at not letting those words slip out.
There are some that think music in general is unacceptable or haram in Islam. I am not one of those people. But I do feel that during Ramadan, music can be a distraction when we are meant to be spending our time engaging in spiritual reflection. I listen to music literally everyday. It's one of the joys of life, IMO. But there is something to be said for allowing oneself to be okay with silence. To not fill every moment of the day with noise. I find that my thoughts are clearer and I am less easily distracted when I refrain from music during daylight hours. During sundown sometime I may listen to Nasheeds or a podcast but in general I try to refrain.
4. Extravagant Meals and Snacks
Since I must eat during Ramadan, I try to make sure my meals during daylight hours are simple and straightforward. I try not to be extravagant in what I choose to eat. This also has the great side effect of helping one focus on healthy eating habits. I try to refrain from too much snacking or from sugary sweets or junk food.
We are big bickerers in my family. We are super close and love each other but we are one of those families who will always find ourselves griping with each other over something. My mother always made it a point growing up that during Ramadan there would be no arguing or raised voices allowed in our home. That continues now that we are adults. And it always makes us think about what we are actually bickering about - which is usually something silly and inconsequential. Conversations are kept at a lower volume (we are LOUD in my house). As result - my house is quite peaceful and quiet during Ramadan.
Other things to be more mindful of during Ramadan:
As I mentioned in my last post about what I do to prepare for Ramadan; making sure to say my prayers on time, making sure to read a Juz' a day (a chapter of the Qur'an), and spending less time on social media. These are all ways to stay mindful and present during the holy month of Ramadan.