When we think of Ramadan we usually have visions of long fasts, prayers through out the night, and delicious fried foods shared with family and friends at the many iftar parties. But for many Muslims Ramadan looks very different. They may not stay up all night in prayer, they may not be able to fast everyday, and they may not be able to tolerate all that delicious fried food.
These sisters and brothers have chronic illnesses that prevent them or make them modify how they experience Ramadan. There are many kinds of illness that can prevent someone from fasting, or not be able to stay up late. For me its an Auto-Immune disorder that makes me do Ramadan my way. About a year ago, after becoming really sick, my doctor asked me not to fast. This was devastating. Not being able to fast made me feel like I wouldn’t get to experience Ramadan the way I had been since I started fasting.
By the look on my face when my doctor told me, she asked if I needed her to call my religious leader. I told her I was sad for myself and not worried about “my religious leader”. Even after this blow, I tried to fast anyway, and immediately regretted it. The consequence of trying to fast was not being able to do anything for a few days except the bare minimum of taking care of my kids and laying on the couch with extreme fatigue and pain. I know now that my body also has rights over me, and that I need to pace myself.
This year I have made some modifications so that I can do some fasts and keep up the Spirit of Ramadan.
Here are a five tips I have been implementing for Ramadan, and I hope they help you too.
1.Setting Realistic Expectations.
We all want to go hard during Ramadan, but whether you have young kids, pregnant and/or nursing, or have a illness that prevents you from fasting, you are setting yourself up to fail if you do not have realistic expectations. We are all know how much we can handle, and what we are capable of. Before Ramadan started you probably made a plan, these last nights of ramadan are a time to revisit that plan so you can succeed in a way that works for you. What have you been eating, was it a part of the plan, how do you feel? How many nights have you stayed up prayed tarweeh? Are these last nights the time to stop going to Iftar parties so you can make the most of whats left of Ramadan? Don’t let these nights pass you in a rush of preparations for Eid either. Enjoy them and Benefit from them inshaAllah.
2. Increase in Other Acts of Worship
What other acts of Ibadah will you do to fill the void? For example, we can all make more dhikr and dua. Re-visit your Dua list so that you can take full advantage of all the last 10 nights and not just the odd ones. We can also give more in charity or provide iftar to those who are fasting. All of these are ways to gain more rewards and help people. Providing food for those fasting can be as easy as just making a few extra servings of what you’re already making and sharing with a friend. You can even sponsor a community iftar. A great example would be providing iftar for new refugees and needy people in your community. Personally, I prefer this to sponsoring a typical masjid iftar because you are feeding those who have a lack of resources.
3.Get your family on board with your game plan.
Sometimes we get upset that we are running around doing everything and expect everyone to be able to read or minds and help us. That’s setting yourself up for frustration and exhaustion which we are supposed to avoid. A better idea would be to tell them exactly what you need help with, especially if you try to fast intermittent days. I like to give my kids specific things i need help with, and let my husband know that I will need to go take a nap if I start to feel sick so he can take over managing the house and kids. So that everyone in the family has a great Ramadan but especially on the last 10 nights.
4. Find Ways to Facilitate more Worship
Listen to and read as much Quran as possible. Pray as much as you can in a way that is easy for you, in a chair, or reading shorter surahs so you are not standing for a long period of time. Many masjid have their programs live streamed, and YouTube has so many beneficial lectures, and even tafsir that you can watch. One of the easiest things to do is play the Qur’an while you are cooking and recite along, or make continuous dhkir and duas even while doing chores like cleaning.
5. Volunteer When You Can
If you can’t pray tarweeh, maybe help the other sisters at the masjid and sit with their kids so they can pray. Buy activities like coloring books, crayons, and games, and leave it the masjid so the kids can have something to do. We all know how hard it is for moms to pray in peace. Trust me their mothers will make dua for you.
Lastly, don’t forget the power of dhikr. When Fatimah (ra) started having a hard time with her housework the Prophet (saw) taught her to say SubhanaAllah thirty-three times, Alhamdulilah thirty-three times and Allahu Akbar thirty-four times. This takes just a few minutes but makes a huge impact on reducing your stress.
Let us know in the comments you’ve been doing to make the most out of your Ramadan so far.
فان مع العسر يسرا
For indeed, with hardship [will be] ease.