Generally, anything is easier when you have a team behind you. The community spirit, the joint effort and strength in numbers that gives the extra push to your motivation. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why fasting during Ramadan is so much easier than fasting at any other time of year. The strengthened energy from social excitement and community encouragement can only push you so far, however, if your community is only theoretical, distant, or digital.
For many Muslims, and particularly converts, Ramadan can actually be an incredibly lonely time of year. Being without a Muslim family with whom to share iftar or wake up with for suhoor, your solo midnight munches soon lose their novelty appeal.
I am someone who really enjoys my own space. My moments of solitude are where I find ultimate tranquility and I’m certainly not afraid of being left in my own company. But after eating the majority of my iftar and suhoor meals alone for a few years in a row, last year I made a sincere plea to Allah that it be the last Ramadan I spend alone. As the month came to a close, however, and – as we all do – I began to look back on how I could have made more of our beloved month, I remember saying to Allah, ‘OK, I could do one more Ramadan alone if I have to’. Because I realised that, although I had no one to share the excitement of iftar with, I also had no one to disturb the peace whilst I was concentrating on my du’as leading up to Maghreb. And while I had no one to share the strain of forcing ourselves out of bed at 2am, striving to catch the last hour of night before dawn came up to lock the fridge, I also had no one to worry about feeding other than myself, and therefore no one waiting to steal my time whilst I indulged in extra minutes in sujood.
And so, as Ramadan rolls around once more and I find myself just as solo as I was the year before, I feel excited and motivated to really make the most of being selfish this Ramadan, as it may be the last opportunity I get. I absolutely can’t wait to have my own little Muslim family with whom to start our own Ramadan and ‘Eid traditions, but while that’s not been written into my journey just yet, I’m paying focus to the best things about spending Ramadan alone. As we prepare ourselves to enter the final 10 days of Ramadan – which I like to think of as the ‘sprint finish’ – here are a handful of ways you can really make sure you put your low and lonely feelings on the shelf, and really reap the benefits of spending Ramadan by yourself:
Switch Off Your Phone
You’re already alone, so why not totally absorb your aloneness and perform an act high in potential reward, and actually requires solitude – itikaf? Maybe for just a day, or even for just an hour or so, with the right intentions your itikaf will be rewarded heavily inshaa Allah.
Truly Befriend Your Qur’an
Everyone who’s experienced times of loneliness will know that books are a loner’s best friend! So why not befriend the Book of all books; the one that talks to you from the One above. Settle down in a comfortable spot, choose a surah or an ayah each day to really pour over, read, reflect upon, and even study further by reading notes on tafsir or lectures online.
Do Some Dawah
I’ll admit, eating alone night after night at such an unsocial time can really get boring, and not to mention lonely. So if you’re lacking in Muslim friends or family to dine with, why not invite non-Muslim friends, family or neighbours to enjoy an iftar meal with you. Make an event of it – go sunnah and set up an eating space on the floor, prepare a feast that involves tearing-and-sharing to really build the community feel. You will enjoy the benefits of having some company for the night, and your guests may leave feeling more enlightened about the joys of Ramadan.
Turn Your Home Into A Spa Retreat
My (non-Muslim) Mum was quite excited when I told her about this idea. Ramadan isn’t all about deprivation and limitations; it’s also a time for us to strengthen our souls, which requires rest, recuperation, and a bit of self-love. If your home is a place of empty quietness, revel in that and really allow yourself to relax. A hot bath, candles, face masks and treats – pamper your body with the intention of looking after your wellbeing for the sake of Allah, and you can even make it an act of worship!
Focus On What You Want To Change
Ramadan is a fantastic time for increasing our du’as – it’s easier to pray with sincerity when in a state of fasting, and right before you break your fast is one of the well-known most powerful times for a du’a to be answered. Therefore, if you’re unhappy about being so alone, now is the perfect time to request from Allah the best of companions with whom to share your struggle for Jannah – and don’t forget to request the same for your other brothers and sisters who might also be struggling with loneliness.
Look For Laylat al-Qadr
The Night of Decree. The night when Allah’s pen writes what will shape our journeys for the coming year, and this fate is revealed to the angels. We don’t know the exact date of this night except that it is on one of the odd numbered days, and we know that Prophet Muhammad SAW used to pray for the entire night, and keep his family awake to do the same. If you are alone this Ramadan, you don’t have anyone but yourself stopping you from reaping the benefits of this significant night. Make fresh wudhu or ghusl, put on your best clothes, comb your hair, douse your perfume (if you’re staying home) – you don’t have a spouse to take you out for iftar dates? Alhamdulillah! You have the freedom to immerse yourself in preparation for the most important date of your life – a meeting with your Creator. You’ll be so busy connecting with Him that inshaa Allah you’ll completely forget that you’re the only person in the room.
Make Du’a For All Our Brothers And Sisters Who Aren’t So Lucky!
Being alone can be hard, but so can being a member of a busy, demanding family. Every Muslim who goes through Ramadan with no one to share it with can experience moments of real loneliness and sadness, but we must remember that there are positives and negatives to every situation, and there are people who are envious of our solitude. There will inshaa Allah come a day when we will have a spouse and an unruly handful of offspring, who will fill our homes with the joy and companionship and purpose that we dream of every day. But they will also take from us a large chunk of our time, our flexibility and our freedom. Alhamdulillah that we currently have the opportunity to practice in peace, and may Allah bless all of our brothers and sisters who are also trying to increase their worship, connect with their deen, recuperate, relax, and pray through the night, all while little mouths demand to be fed, and little hands demand to be held… Let’s remind ourselves that the selfishness us singletons are able to indulge in is long forgotten luxury for many!
Alhamdulillah for Ramadan, whichever way you manage to utilise it. May it be a month of accepted fasts, increased rewards, and total forgiveness for you all. Ameen.
A proud revert to Islam, Yara usually blogs at www.yarahaswings.com. The majority of her work takes inspiration from the combination of joys and challenges faced as a British Muslimah, following a religion that is so widely misrepresented and misunderstood. Her aim is to channel her experiences into an honest celebration of the true beauty that Islam provides to our lives and to this world, sharing the wonderful way of life that Islam truly is. As our beloved Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wasallam) once said: “Islam began as something strange, & will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers.”