Wallington, UK – The current climate of uncertainty and claustrophobia escalated, for some Muslim families, with the steady approach of Ramadan, Islam’s prescribed month of fasting for Muslims over the globe.
Typically, it is a time of unity for Muslims of many different backgrounds. Fasts are punctuated by open meals at the mosque to fuel nights spent in prayer with the whole community.
This Ramadan will be a strange one.
Besides being barred from our community by the coronavirus, the thought of not being able to order our favorite takeaways puts a sag in my shoulders.
No fasts, 17 hours at a time, to be motivated by the promise of Nando’s for dinner and no fasts to be broken beyond the four walls of home.
On the surface, there doesn’t appear to be a lot to look forward to.
Difficult enough as it is to bear the torture of being marooned with the same people, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it’s hard to imagine bearing it on an empty stomach.
Fasting is a test of patience and this Ramadan will certainly be an unprecedented test of that – but is it all really so bad?
Ramadan is about restraint, and in maintaining fasts in quarantine, we will be exercising a lot of that. The spiritual benefits are a challenge to quantify: homemade meals mean humble dinners; no dinner parties means more time spent with family, and fewer distractions mean it is not as hectic as it often becomes.
The (relatively) peaceful hours spent at home mean more meaningful self-reflection. It’s an opportunity we’ll never have again to keep our focus entirely away from the material.
In fact, many Muslims speculate that this Ramadan may be the best yet because of, not despite, the quarantine.
The trouble will arise at the coming of Eid, the festival of celebration that follows Ramadan, in which families and friends gather for festivities, good food and gift-exchanging.
The excitement of having reunions via Zoom has already worn off, and I imagine this Eid will be one we all will agree is not ideal.
Aamna Ghalib is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.