It’s hard to believe, but Ramadan is almost halfway over. This holy time of the year brings with it an experience unlike no other. For Muslims all over the world, this month marks a moment where worldly pleasures are subtracted, and spirituality multiplied.
You can feel this purity as family members, friends, and loved ones share well wishes for a blessed Ramadan; Facebook pages and WhatsApp groups become a hotbed for inspiring quotes and heart eye emojis. The spirit of Ramadan also touches our food pantries. Suddenly the kitchen transforms into a utopia filled with snacks, spices, and drinks that will soon be devoured by friends and family coming together for iftar (the meal to break the fast). But the focus of Ramadan is not just about the food, or lack of it. The essence of this holy month centers on rebuilding and working on a connection with Allah (SWT). Nights spent praying at the mosque lift spirits high as beautiful words from the Holy Qur’an fill our ears and touch our hearts.
The beauty that is Ramadan, unfortunately, is met with a set of challenges that are often hard to overcome. There are of course the obvious hardships of abstaining from food and water from dawn to dusk. But, there are also those hurdles that life throws at you, leaving you with only two options: Trip or jump. For Muslims living in non-Muslim majority countries, especially in America, jumping and tip-toeing around lunch invitations and seemingly never-ending annoying questions are interwoven into the fabric of their Ramadan experience.
Every year around this time, the internet’s new buzz word is Ramadan. Articles explain, again and again, why Muslims fast during this holy month. Thankfully, the sounds of grumbling bellies provides great coverage over all this noise. If the external questioning and probing is not enough, Ramadan also invites well-wishers who may not have the best intentions. Come the first day of Ramadan and your phone notifications are on fire, but you notice that your ex-best friend or your ex-halal boyfriend has sent you a “Ramadan Kareem” message.
Surely, Allah (SWT) is already testing your patience and generosity. But do not fret, because there is a wonderful meal waiting to reward you for all the drama you gracefully maneuvered. Unfortunately, not everyone during this month has the means to provide a meal at the end of their fast. For underprivileged Muslims all over the world, fasting for Ramadan is not far-removed from how they live year round. Truly, this is by far is the saddest of all the hardships that Muslim face during this holy month.
The disheartening challenges that accompany the month of Ramadan should not define this holy time. But, they should also not be ignored as if they have no effect on the lives of Muslims everywhere. As much as we would like to side step all of life’s troubles and only live in blissful spiritual moments, the pillar of being Muslim holds us accountable for all aspects of life.
That being said, the key to bridging the gap between the beauty and hardships of Ramadan is to find a balance, and lead this month with a sense of generosity, understanding, and inclusivity.
Such nice words, right? Well, rose-colored hopeful words must be joined with action. Perhaps, your well-intentioned, yet slightly annoying co-worker, genuinely admires the act of fasting and wants to know how you have such strength. Certainly, admiration never hurt anyone, so a conversation could be worth having.
And maybe, just maybe, the exes in your life come back around this time of year hoping for a chance to right their wrongs, so risk opening that door again and let Allah (SWT) guide the way from there. As for the hardest of all truths to face, providing for those in need brings together all that Ramadan stands for. The bountiful snacks, spices, and drinks that welcomed their way into our full kitchens can certainly be matched in quantity and quality. Our gifts to others — food or otherwise — has the power to change lives.
So, to help you through this complex balancing act, here is a three step guide to handling challenges with the spirit of Ramadan.
1. Put down your phone.
When you are hungry, and have not had water, emotions can run quite high. Now add that to the high intensity and pressure of social media, texting, and other millennial social obligations. Ramadan, at it’s core, teaches us to think clearly past all our emotions. But, since we are human, we first need to feel these emotions and let them pass through us. It’s easier to focus on betterment without the distraction.
2. Evaluate the past.
It is important to know where you once stood to understand where you will be going. Rationally revisit the past situation and ask yourself if you’re acting upon feelings or if you’re really looking at things the way they were. It’s hard not to jump to conclusions or impulsive decisions, especially during an already tense period. Looking at things through clear — rather than rose-tinted — glasses can help you determine what your needs really are to move forward.
3. Practice the spirit of Ramadan.
The holy month is focused on being patient, level-headed, and, most of all, generous. Let us not forget these values in the face of an annoying hurdle, such as by the name of an ex bae. Try to use this time to find your center and realign what’s important. Ramadan comes once a year so we can take inventory on our lives: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. It’s only through that recharge that we can continue to evolve and grow both for ourselves and the people in our lives.
Rising above the drama to embrace spirituality elevates not only your spirits, but also your self-worth. With that, we are ready to welcome Ramadan and all its challenges with open hearts, minds, and appetites!