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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
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,