the pain of a fast-free Ramadan

Not everyone can fast, but Ramadan is for everyone.

Those of us unable to fast sometimes feel shy about Ramadan–like we are outsiders looking in. Please know, dear friends, that Ramadan’s arms are open wide for us as well.

It’s painful to be left out of the excitement of fasting. Sometimes you feel like a fraud at iftar time, when everyone is passing you a date. And those quiet tears when no one is looking burn when you think about the fact that this one of the five pillars and you can’t do it.

It’s been almost a decade since I have been unable to fast and while it has become easier to come to terms with it, I’m not going to lie. It still hurts.

Surely you have heard the discussions about how fasting takes away the body’s food and drink so that you can nourish the soul.

Think about it this way: illness has already stripped away the comforts of our body to the point that we cannot endure the hardship of also taking away food and drink. Therefore, our souls are already primed to be nourished during this month.

Our challenge while not fasting is to create a deep sense of spiritual awareness throughout the day.

Start with your sense of sorrow over not fasting. This is a spiritual opportunity being presented to you. Take it, ride the tails of that feeling and indulge in the sorrow with the point of feeling closer to Allah.

Take care to turn this sorrow towards a sense of poverty, humility, and weakness in front of Allah. Do not fall into the trap of turning into despair and thinking “I can’t possibly benefit from this month without fasting.” This line of thinking is a trap that only immobilizes your spiritual growth. It’s a type of hopelessness in the mercy of Allah.

Instead, use that sadness to infuse emotion into your Qur’an recitation and du’aa. Let it comfort you to know that Allah has given you the tawfeeq to care so much about Ramadan.

And lastly, make the Qur’an your best friend this month. After all, Ramadan has been honored by the revelation of the Qur’an. The verse that obligates fasting starts off by saying that Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an has been revealed.

This is our lifeline this month. We may not be fasting, but we will cling on to this Book like the drowning one clings to a rope. We may not be fasting, but we will read and read and read this book to give blessed food and drink to our souls. Our bodies may be broken, but our souls still thrive. Let it be so this month, Ya Allah. Aameen.

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