Ramadan, a month of cleansing, community, and connection to God, is the most precious time of the Muslim calendar. However, in the age of quarantine and self-isolation, restrictions on gatherings and closures of mosques mean that Ramadan will look vastly different this year. Instead of the bright lights illuminating the mosque, the space alive with peaceful prayer, warm hugs and blessings from elders near and dear, and the delightful fragrance of finger-foods and desserts – many of us will be in indoors and on our own.
Representing the Kamloops Islamic Association at TRU’s Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, Ahmed Kafafi said, “It’s perfectly natural for Muslims to feel like they’re missing out this Ramadan due to the absence of religious and community gatherings. Maintain spiritual motivation by remembering the immense reward that is promised for those who sincerely fast and worship during Ramadan, regardless of their setting.”
In the face of these challenges, it is crucial to find creative and thoughtful ways to maximize this holy month. Below are five tips to have a meaningful and connected, yet socially distant Ramadan.
Set a Routine. Use the five daily prayers (Fajr, Dhuhr, Asr, Maghrib, Isha) as checkpoints to build structure into your day. Need an afternoon nap? Sleep at Dhuhr with the intention of following a prophetic tradition, and you’ll be rewarded, God-willing.
Connect with your Community – Virtually. Ramadan is a time for friends, family and community. If you’re an international student, living alone, or don’t have Muslim roommates, you might feel like you’re going to miss out on the festivity of Ramadan. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to stay in touch. You can FaceTime or Zoom friends and family – no matter where they are in the world. Start a group chat to schedule times to hang out virtually.
Tip: Host a virtual iftar party! Iftaar is the meal that breaks the fast, and is typically celebrated as a family or communally. Gather together online, post pictures of your meals and yourselves, and start a collective nasheed playlist.
Cut Back on Time-Wasters. We all know the jokes and memes (because we’ve all seen them a million times when scrolling mindlessly on our devices): self-isolation may result in binge-watching your favourite shows and spending endless hours on social media.
Remember, Ramadan is a time to increase spiritual productivity and prayer. That means limiting any “time-wasters” and filling your day with more beneficial content. Search your media streaming provider for educational documentaries you can watch and learn from. Also, consider switching up music with Qur’an recitation, Islamic lectures, nasheeds/naats, or podcasts.
Tip: “Share the khayr” (goodness) and start a book club style group. Invite friends and family to share meaningful content, and set a time aside to discuss what you’ve learned from all the articles, videos or recordings that were exchanged.
Nourish and Stay Active. Put that samosa down! While fried foods and sweets have been the hallmark of Ramadan, Islam emphasizes moderation and balance, especially when it comes to food.
Fun fact: Did you know that if you have three samosas a day, that is 90 samosas by the end of Ramadan!?
Depending on your circumstances, you might have extra time to prepare a nutritious meal. Long fasting days mean we need to replenish our bodies with nourishing food, with enough nutrients to get us through the day.
Tip: Follow Ramadan nutrition expert @nutritionbynaz, for helpful and practical ideas.
Include some movement or physical activity into your daily routine. Stretch, walk around the block, or check out some YouTube videos for inspiration. There are some great Muslim fitness coaches who can help you stay on track and achieve your goals.
Share and Reflect. Ramadan is a month of giving and thinking of those less fortunate than you. If you have the means to donate financially, there are many local organizations that are always looking for donations such as Ayesha Mosque, the TRUSU Foodbank, or the Muslim Food Bank. If you can’t donate financially, consider sharing a skill or service of yours to others free of charge. Perhaps you can pick up groceries for an elderly person or check in on your neighbours virtually. Caremongering – Kamloops is a great place to start.
Even though Ramadan will look different than in previous years, that doesn’t mean it won’t be fruitful and inspiring. Focusing on routine, nutrition, movement, connection, and charity will help direct energy towards connecting with God and ensuring you have a memorable Ramadan.
Wishing you all peace, health, and blessings!
Connect with Ahmed for more information and support.