As rewarding as Ramadan can be, it is not an easy month. And the hardest part isn’t even restraining from food or drink — but realizing that there are layers & layers of dirt within that need deep cleaning. It’s in being hyper aware of your flaws, whether they be angry impulses, weakness of the eyes/ears/mouth, or an inability to avoid the sins that have become a part of your daily routine. It’s a month-long spiritual journey where there are constant highs and lows.
For women, it can be even more difficult, for a variety of reasons — including not being able to fast because of menstruation, pregnancy, needing to breastfeed, other other health conditions like postpartum bleeding. A lot of times, women tend to feel at a spiritual low when they are unable to fast and pray — AKA they experience ‘Spiritual FOMO’. We also tend to feel a strange sense of guilt for not fasting, forgetting that all feminine concerns are a part of Allah’s creation and plan — and all He creates and wills is crafted with perfection and wisdom.
Not being able to fast is not a punishment for those of us who are trying to find closeness to God. It is actually a blessing in disguise — a part of the many challenges that He has gifted us. For a woman to not pray or fast when she is unable to is considered a form of ibadah (worship) in itself, so you are really not missing out on anything, or even slacking.
I struggle with my sense of positivity and even spirituality every Ramadan when that time of the month rolls around. This time in particular, it hit me really hard. I was feeling so down, and instead of focusing on all that I could be doing — I dwelled over how I can’t fast or pray and submerged myself into feeling [wrongly] purposeless. I wanted to change that, so I spoke to some of my friends to hear their perspective. We came up with a couple different action items that women can take to improve their relationship with God, even when we can’t fast or pray.
- Find charities to share or donate to (if able to)
- One of the most beneficial things I’ve found when I’m in a spiritual slump during Ramadan is donating to charities. I try to find 3-5 fundraisers/charities that I can donate at least $10-15 to. If you’re unable to donate, share the fundraisers with people you know. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Protect yourself from hell-fire even by giving a piece of date as charity.”
- Work on your list of du’as + increase your dhikr
- I generally read my du’as after praying Isha at night (or, let’s be real — in the morning before Fajr), but when I’m not praying, it’s harder to stay on track with those du’as. This year, I wrote them all down in my notebook before the month began, which made it easy to just pull out at night before going to sleep. It’s also helpful to go to the masjid and listen to taraweeh prayers with your notebook. Use the breaks during taraweeh or spare time towards the end to make those du’as and even write reflections from the month that you can look back on later.
- Call your parents and show your genuine care and concern for their wellbeing
- If you are away for school, work, or are living with your spouse + away from your parents, you know how hard Ramadan can get at times. You miss your family and want to spend these precious days with them. Try to call them as much as possible and/or see them often during this month. Ask them how their fasting is going and maybe even make iftar for them if you’re able to. We owe our parents an abundance of respect, honor, and care — and this is the best time to show it to them.
- Listen to the Quran (or read if able to)
- His (swt)’s beautiful words have the power to bring you to your knees in tears. They truly move you to your core, and nothing else compares. Reading the Qur’an and listening to its recitation is literally like reading a long love letter from God. If you follow the opinion that it is permissible to read Qur’an while you are on your period, by all means — DO IT!
- Spread love and positivity
- With all the hate we see towards Muslims (and Non-Muslims) alike, there is nothing better to do than channel that fuel into love and positivity. When you go to the masjid or an iftar party, give hugs, smiles, and greet each other with peace. When you meet other non-Muslims and you are fasting, be patient when you share things about Ramadan and the significance behind it, adding that it is much more than just restraining from food and drink from dawn to dusk.
There is so much we can still do when we are not fasting or praying to improve our relationship with God and develop a deeper bond with Him. However, we tend to overlook those deeds because of being in a slump — subconsciously upset about our situation, that God in reality has blessed us to be in. Remember that as women, we have been given challenges that end up being beautiful blessings in disguise. We are rewarded abundantly for our patience, the pain we endure, and how we handle unfortunate circumstances. May He give us the ability to take full advantage of this month, especially these last 10 days of Ramadan.