Ramadan guide for those who are exempt from fasting


Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu, I pray you are in the best of health and Emaan.

The Holy month of Ramadan is fast approaching and as someone who has not been able to fast for the last two Ramadans, I have compiled a list of activities for those who like me cannot fast, can do during the Holy month of Ramadan.

It is very easy to lose sight of Ramadan when you are not fasting. The act of abstaining from food and water is a constant reminder to a believer to do good deeds and refrain from sin. When you are not fasting, it is very easy for the month to go by you because it feels like any other month in the year. When in actuality, it is not, the opportunity to stack rewards and build good habits still exists for those who are exempt from fasting. Though we may need to try a little harder to keep momentum and not lose sight. One thing to remember is that Ramadan is a month in which you are cultivating the habits and creating the lifestyle that you strive to have as a Muslim. Create that schedule that will aid in your spiritual growth and enable you to carry out your religious obligations.

Before I list the different things that can be done during the month, I would like to remind those of you who cannot fast to not despair. Sawm is one of the pillars of our Deen and huge importance has been placed on it, the barakah in fasting is tremendous with it aiding in one’s spiritual and physical health. When I first found out that I would be unable to fast in the summer of 2017 due to my new diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes, I was distraught. As someone who had been fasting since age 10 every Ramadan, suddenly I felt like my Ramadan would not be as fulfilling. To be told that you cannot fulfil an act of worship is one of the hardest things to swallow. However, one thing a dear friend had told me that has never left me is that it is more pleasing to your Lord that you don’t fast than if you were to. Be kind to yourself and to your body. Our bodies do not belong to us but they are gifts from Allah SWT and we will be asked how we treated them. So, be gentle with yourself and look for alternative ways to gain the barakah of this Holy month and ask Allah SWT to accept these deeds from you with a sincere heart.

  1. Be present


One thing that helped me during Ramadan was eating with family during Suhoor although I was not fasting. Waking up for Suhoor mentally prepares you for the day ahead and allows you to have an hour or so to set your intentions and perform acts of worship like reading the Quran or praying Tahajjud, not to mention ensuring you pray Fajr on time. Being present also means being present within the home, making sure you’re around loved ones and involving each other in acts of worship. Ramadan is a time to come together as a family. Read and study together, encourage each other and look out for one another to make sure you all are reaping the benefits of the blessed month.


  1. You are exempt from the physical aspects of fasting but… not the rest


Remember that though you may not be abstaining from food and water, you should still have the mentality of a fasting person. What I mean by this is that your eyes, ears and mouth should be abstaining from ill acts. Build habits of listening to the Qur’an, parting good speech from your lips, watching videos that are beneficial to your mental and spiritual well-being.



The Qur’an was revealed during the Holy month of Ramadan and this month is truly the month to build a friendship and love with the Qur’an. Many people attempt to read the whole Quran during the month by reading a certain number of pages a day. There are a number of articles and websites that have a breakdown of how to attain this goal of reading the whole Qur’an so make that one of your goals in sha Allah. As well as reading the Qur’an in its original Arabic text, it is also beneficial to read the translation in your first language to understand the words of your Lord and grow closer to it. I remember one night I understood a few ayats in Suratul Baqarah in its Arabic form and began to cry because it made sense to me. The Qur’an was sent down to us in Arabic purposefully and not knowing the meaning does not take away from the fact that merely listening to it has brought non-Arabic speakers to revert to the Deen. But, to have the words in the language you can understand only builds that love and affinity towards the Holy text.




There is a wealth of knowledge on the internet, in Islamic bookstores, in the minds of our Islamic counsellors and scholars that there is no excuse to not seek it. Our Deen promotes seeking knowledge and there is no better month to develop a study habit of learning more about our faith and preparing for our ultimate exam. Whether it is looking at the Seerah, Fiqh, Aqeedah, the women in Islam or learning stories about the Prophets AS, spend a portion of your day learning more about your faith. As someone who was born and raised as a Muslim, I realised that at some point Islam needed to be a lifestyle I CHOOSE to live by and not one that I merely inherited from my forefathers. Studying the Deen makes you fall more in love with it, suddenly it becomes more apparent to you why this religion is the truth. If you don’t know where to start, pick an area of the Deen that particularly interests you. Maybe you love history; learning about the different stories of the Prophets AS may be of interest to you. You can look at how the society functioned and build up context surrounding the Prophets and their journey through Prophethood. You might want to build on your current understanding of Aqeedah and look to lessons and books that discuss it. You may want to look at the conditions of wudhu which is an act that many overlook though it is vital in our daily lives so studying Fiqh maybe an area that you can look into during the Holy month. In essence, seek knowledge and most of all, implement it into your daily life bi’ithnillah.


  1. Duas


One thing that has transformed my life has been learning and implementing duas in my life. I truly believe that what personalises the Deen to each individual is the implementation of making dua. There is a dua for everything and learning them will increase one’s Taqwa. Our Lord is there to listen to our pleas and guide us no matter what time of the day; it is up to us to call out to Him. Once you learn and memorise a dua, you begin to see yourself reciting it daily and you begin to see a shift in your mood. Problems that were massive to you before become easier to deal with because you leave everything up to your Lord. God-consciousness is a weapon and once you strengthen it, no calamity or misfortune can bring you down. Strive to memorise and implement as many duas in your life. Make it a habit to read your morning and evening adhkar and in sha Allah you can see this through the month and beyond.


  1. Learn all 99 names of Allah


Allah SWT has revealed 99 names to us which exhibit His attributes. Each name tells us more about our Lord and how He wishes to be addressed. Learning each of the names will allow us to call onto our Lord with the most befitting name. For example in a dua where you may be asking Allah SWT for forgiveness, it will be most appropriate to address Him as Al-Ghafur, The Forgiver. In a dua where you may be asking Allah SWT for guidance, you may address Him as Al-Hadi, The Guide.



  1. Volunteer


Our Deen promotes charity and one of the many beautiful aspects of Ramadan is the push to do volunteer work and work with charities during the Holy month. Volunteer at your masjid, the local soup kitchen, the homeless shelter etc. Get out there and get stuck in with all the amazing opportunities available to donate your time to a good cause.



  1. Be a source of help for those who are fasting


Whether it is cooking iftar or preparing Suhoor or babysitting for a couple with kids so they may go to Taraweeh, help those around you who are fasting. Helping those around you will make Ramadan a little easier for them and in sha Allah may Allah accept the good deed from you and reward you for it.


  1. Community


Get involved in all the community activities that occur during the Holy month.



Allah says (49:13),

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”


For many of us living in the West, we are from vibrant cities and Muslims vary in culture, colour, class etc. Build bonds and friendships with the Muslims in your neighbourhood. Learn from them and let them learn from you.


These are but a few of the things that you can do during the Holy month if you are exempt from fasting. The one thing I hope you have gained from this is that you should busy yourself with bettering yourself and not let this month go to waste.


We thank Allah for the many blessings that He bestows on us daily. We ask Him to forgive us for our transgressions and protect us from hellfire. We ask Allah to allow us to see the Holy month of Ramadan. May this be the month in which we become better believers, may this be the month in which we learn how to worship our Lord the way that is most pleasing to Him, may our hearts continue to grow love for our Rabb and may the bonds between us as an Ummah strengthen in a time where we are tearing each other down. May Allah have mercy on the souls of our brothers and sisters who were with us last Ramadan and aren’t with us now, may He widen their graves and allow us to reunite with them in the best of ranks in Jannatul Firdaws. Ya Ar-Razzaq, bestow mercy and blessings on our brothers and sisters around the world who do not have the luxury of basic provisions but continue to say Alhamdullilah.  Allahuman Ameen.


Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,


Fahima Hersi


Mango smoothies

That evening, I spent what felt like a lifetime with my uncles who were no older than myself at eighteen years young. We spent the long sweaty afternoon moseying through the halls of Burco university, which they both attended. We saw the classrooms they studied veterinary medicine in. They were filled with wooden tables that browned to a sable colour and cupboards that embraced almost all the walls from ceiling to floor . The campus was like a maze, every building was lined with greenery so lush and sweet, they could fool you into thinking Burco was not an arid town. I could’ve sworn that that bushel of tulips were next to the library and not the science building. Tired, I don’t contest or feed into my confusion. We walked and walked till our ankles clicked with each step. Finally, after an hour of exploring we headed for the car and steamed to downtown.

My dress tripped me up as I stumbled out of the four by four Toyota. Amal as always, began to chuckle fervently to herself and as always, I hissed till her eyes rolled like turntables back into their rightful places, not looking at me. Edero ushered my sister and I into the restaurant that sat nestled between hotels and clothing shops in downtown Burco. Nightfall scuttled us up the stairs to the rooftop as we realised we’d not stomached a meal in well over six hours.

I watched the Sun gracefully settling into herself for a long slumber. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is here, she always sleeps at 6pm. Her light reflected on all the shop windows, pencilling them in a crayola yellow that signalled the people to begin their late night festivities. That’s when the city rumbles into a cacophony of horns beeping from the bustling bajaajs and impatient white toyotas. Young single women stand in small knots along the dusty streets and watch the local boys, making conversation with the flutter of their eyelashes. The streets aren’t named here, they’re known for passed events or landmarks or old men that sat their long enough to claim that spot their own.

The city is young in age and population. Everyone spills into downtown and eats all the delectables the city has to offer: bariis, baasto, xilib, assortments of juices and smoothies, the one flavour of ice cream and shaah spiced with the finest cardamom doused with many cupfuls of sugar. The latest hits from BK and Fiska boom from car stereo speakers and combat the gentle sounds of the Adhan that call from every masjid in our vicinity. Shops with marble floors decorated with rows of abayas and khamees’ invite the young into their dungeons of consumerism. I peered over the edge of the rooftop watching the young lambs being lured in.

Edero snaps his fingers and my attention returns back to the menu.

‘Chicken or lamb?’ He asked.
‘Chicken or lamb? Which would you prefer?’
‘Ooh and a mango smoothie!’

Glimmering pearls greeted me as we laughed at my sudden excitement for a mango smoothie.

Ali, sat to the left of me with his arms outstretched on the rickety table and shoulders leaning in. His eyes sat like two blanched almonds and were framed with thin brows so black they looked blue. I watched his face try to make sense of me like an old CRT television finding a signal. Finally, he inquired, ‘So, do you watch Law and Order?’



Like the flint that sings in the dusty breeze on rocky hill landscapes over late night fires.

The fires that hummed us to a sweet solemn quiet .


Like dark alley strolls in late November evenings

hoping the flickering lampost won’t leave you in the unsurity of this pursuit.


Like the warm gentle smile on a pregnant mother’s face

when she let’s her head somersault itself backwards into a roaring laughter as she looks up at the sky


what her baby will love like.


Like a firefly whose wings applaud in the summer lull of a radiant afternoon.


Like you woke up this morning.


You woke up this morning!


Like everything you thought living was about

was placed in a bowl with a power rangers spoon and God told you

to eat up girl.


Like the Qur’an made sense to you today

raise your bare stained palms to the sky

thank the Lord he’s given you a sign.



Like children do in the core of jungle gyms staring up at a sea of sky and not knowing how to swim.

Yet they’re still afloat.



With the sun spilling out behind the clouds, into the brown soil of pupil that floats in their eye


A sunflower.

And like the beautiful person you are.



‘Verily with hardship comes ease.’

This is a poem I’d written inspired by a story about a woman who’d found Islam again. We all go through different experiences in life…some good..some bad. However its not the experience that defines us, its not the feelings we felt or lack of it. Its the choices we make and our response to the trials and tribulations life throws at us. Allah SWT is the most merciful and its His mercy that we should remind ourselves of and not his wrath. Our Lord loves us more than our parents do. Try and imagine that. Loves us more than our parents do and its this verse in the Qur’an: chapter 94 verse 5-6 that I was reminded of when I heard her story.


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I’m trying to make a      home

Out of a nomad’s

Sullen   footsteps

And the clothes beached on Italian coasts.

We used to use brittle wood

Now we gather   bones.

Piecing our frail selves into upright fashion

In the belly of our broken nurseries.

Tugging on our corkscrew






I tied a cat’s paw around the hinges with the strands that fell.

This womb only knows how to make homes.

                                    We used to not have doors,

English must’ve gotten to us,

Shut us out so much

We’ve caged ourselves in.

Now tell me why the caged bird sings

6 sons and 2 daughters to feed

This is no symphony for the opera house,

 This is a sombre lullaby to hush their misty eyes.

Fact: Red is symbolic of war.

Fact: Burco is known for its red sand.

We’re fighting a battle with blood stained cremated bones.

When does one feel suffocated by the oxygen they breathe?

When living becomes synonymous with paralysis,

when the world becomes a tomb.

Choking on our cracked tongues,

Self becomes self destructive

the body becomes a war zone of its own.


We’re being lined up and numbered

at the watering hole.

Theres no water at the watering hole,

Just skulls filled with a nation’s tears.

-Fahima Hersi

Strange Fruit

Colonialism and mangoes


We are not exotic.

There is still the taste of granny smiths swimming in the cracks

Around our taste buds,

The flesh of mango and dragon fruit doesn’t

Seem to get rid of this.


We’ve tried to get rid of this.


But those apples have become a part of our anatomy,

We continue to choke on the seeds

And find ourselves drinking the water off of the Gulf of Aden.


Trying to water down colonialism

Can be hard

No matter how much we drink East African

Granny smiths seem to still be blocking the entry.




Part I- The outsider

She fashioned patchwork skin.

Clung onto each moment

With her stained palms,

Stitched them onto the loose skin around her arms,

Her Browns

Resembled the tea stains

That we dabbed on corners of history projects,

Spices swirled in her irises, tears marked the cedar oak of her wrists.


Ayeyo loved when the light leaked in through the crack in the curtain,

Sun kissed her naked forehead

Till her melanin became a muted mahogany

She’d sit in her recliner

Back outstretched

Clutching her prayer beads

From mourn till nigh.


She couldn’t rock in her chair

But the wind helped bob her head up

And down to old Omar Dhule

She hummed the wrong lyrics

To her favourites,

We watched

And smiled

With tears forming eulogies at the corners of our almond eyes










Part II- On nights without navy watchers


The sea hushed the warm gentle breeze to a muffle

With the sound of its tides

Hitting lagoon carved rocks

That resided on the sand

Resembling fine grained gold dust

That seeped between her fingertips like sun rays do to clouds.


There’s something about a night

Filled with blackened faces which

Turn the prettiest shade of blue when the moonlight hits,

Brandishing pearled white teeth that sing anthems of the sea bed,

Something about the closeness of melanin rich bodies

Embracing each other like freshly braided cornrows,


Hips swaying like palm trees in southern California

But it’s the 50s

And not a white face in sight

Saado Cali Warsame making folk songs sound like calypso

And we’re young and hip

Still have working hips


Grandmama’s skirt falls just below her knees,

And they shake like the bells

We let dangle around our camels necks,

Calves were free back then

No cloth to reside over them

Just the warm Berbera breeze


The man perched on the seat opposite,

Young handsome gentlemen,

With a mouth full of blooming daffodils

And a smile as wide as the Gulf of Aden behind him,

Sat idly, mesmerised by Grandmama’s wild eyes and her slow moving body

That twisted as if it were a growing vine


He got himself roped into this love story with not a horse in sight

Just a heart galloping to the beat of her breathing


She locked eyes with him

Prison cell caged her inside this moment

And forgot where she was.





Part III- “Baby, ayeeyo is not well”

Minds grow old and weary,

Cogs unscrew themselves and claim retirement too

Grey hairs begin to replace grey matter

Till memories become moments never lived

And smiles between children and mother

Resemble awkward vacant stares passed between strangers


Days hold those that he loves through his atom bomb photon fingertips

And caresses the skin of the unfortunates,

He prances into our rooms,

And Lets us behold him in his glory,

While he takes the best years from us

Has us smiling till we forget why we were ever happy,


Till we forget the four little brown skinned girls who sit in the corner shouting ayeyo,

Till we forget that the tea on the bedside is chilling from the fog filtering into the room.

Till we realise 2 seasons have passed and we’re still stood in front of this vacant window

Trying to find our names in brisk November weather,

And in the safe hands of passer byes,


Mourning the memories we lived and had forgotten.