things I learned from ramadan

Below entails my Ramadan diary. I’ve constructed this over the month of fasting. If you’re a regular reader of Kulayrosas, you’ll know I am not a Muslim. You may know that I have many friends who are Muslim and I’ve always tried to be as open minded as possible, and learn from other cultures and religions.

from Pinterest

The week leading up to Ramadan, I felt weirdly called to partake. So I took the chance, especially as it would be a whole year until I could do it again! Of course, you can fast at any time – for religious or non-religious reasons – but this year just felt right to try it.

I actively told myself to not put pressure on myself, to go with it and to see what it was like.

So here are my honest reflections on not only fasting, but learning more about Islam – from friends, the Quran, and the Internet.

DAY ONE

It’s day one and 13:14 and I’m feeling it. I’m craving food, but I think that’s because I’m bored. Sitting in the sun helped for all of ten minutes but I just got thirsty and so decided I better go back inside. I really want to exercise but I know that will make me want to drink water too! So maybe it’s time for a nap? Who knows. I’m not yet delirious so that’s good. I’ve a NastyGal order on its way so that will fill up some time in the day, and keep me occupied. I’ve already passed some time painted my nails a funky green and pastel blue colour. I’m now curled up on the sofa watching Homeland and waiting from my parents to get from—oh wait, the supermarket. Bring on 8pm tonight for Iftar.

That’s it. I’ve ended up in bed. I’m going to stay here for the rest of the afternoon I’ve decided. My room needs a tidy anyway, my bed needs making and my desk needs a good clearing. I’m sure that’ll keep me occupied.

I was already learning Arabic prior to Ramadan, but I’ve decided to be a bit more intensive with it during this month. So far I’ve learned the phrase “a generous new husband” LOL, and a lot of the alphabet sounds. I’m starting to get into the habit of recognising what Latin letters the Arabic script relate to so it’s coming together nicely for now.

It’s now 16:33 and after speaking to my boyfriend over the phone, I’ve been reminded that if I don’t feel too well I can’t break the fast. And with that, I did. I had a raspberry jam doughnut (heaven) and a lemonade. That sugar kick has definitely helped and now I’m back to waiting to eat again till 8pm.

I do feel good for doing this. It’s not easy and obviously for me this is optional. But this is day one of a whole month, so onwards and upwards and inchAllah no more fast breaking.

DAY TWO

I took some good advice and set an alarm for before 4am to eat before Imsak. This was a great idea, even if the bread gave me weird dreams of meeting Alrima (a Moroccan rapper) and him giving me a piggyback (?). Moving on…

When I woke up I brushed my teeth and had an iced coffee. Not really allowed to do that but I woke up in sweats because it’s so hot at the moment! My bedroom is like a sauna first thing in the morning. Other than that, I’ve not had food yet so let’s see how we get on today. My mum has already told me to use up the couscous but that’s not gonna happen lol.

Despite the lack of water, I can’t not spend time outside in the sun today. I’m out here now on the chair in the garden soaking up my dose of vitamin D. I may even go for a walk today but we will see.

Ok, today is so much easier. I may have started the day off on the wrong foot, but I’m actually feeling able to do this today.

DAY THREE

I feel pretty renewed after yesterday. And oddly proud of myself. One of my aims during Ramadan was to read and listen to the Quran. I downloaded the app Muslim Pro which happily co-exists on my phone screen next to my Bible app.

I won’t lie, I don’t quite get the Quran. Not yet anyway. But that’s coming from someone who didn’t learn about Islam at school, and it’s not always presented positively in the media lets be honest. What I do know has always been shared by my friends and their influence on me. They’ve always showed me peace and love, without judgement. Their dedication to praying has always inspired me.

DAY FIVE

Ok, I had a migraine last night. I feel terrible today so I’m going to have to eat because I do have quite chronic tension headaches.

I’m gonna checkout for the day and try and get some more sleep.

DAY NINE

It wasn’t really the plan, but I’ve had to adapt the fast to do it from 12pm – 8pm. This is really helping me to cope with the headaches I was having.

I’m upping the amount of Duolingo Arabic lessons I do a day – now I know how to say: hello, thank you, big, new, house, translator and me. It’s exciting me, I love learning new languages.

DAY FOURTEEN

That’s two weeks done, and my fasts have got shorter. I’m a little disappointed in myself but only with the fast. The rest of Ramadan I am loving. Inchallah the Ramadans of the future will be easier on my headaches. I will find a way to make it work.

My mind is so much more open learning about Islam. MuslimThoughtsUK on Instagram has been a source of wisdom for me these past two weeks and I’ve learned so much from him about Islam, and what particular verses mean.

WEEK THREE

I’ve skipped a few diary entries so that this wouldn’t get too long.

This week I have begun learning the 99 names of Allah as the more I learn about Islam in general, the more I see knowing them as important.

I’ve taken a notebook and jotted things down. And even wrote out some surats in English that I like.

I am enjoying the Duas (prayers) section of the Muslim Pro app. I find ones I can read in the morning and evening, when I’m feel down or when I am feeling joyous and wanting to thank God.

I haven’t been spending the month praying on my hands and knees, and I don’t have a prayer mat, but the reciting of the Quran that the app provides has been really soothing, particularly at night. I struggle with insomnia, and this has really helped me to be enjoyably distracted. It’s calming, even if I don’t know enough Arabic to understand what is being said yet.

The Muslim friends I have are incredible. They have been so supportive of me these past three weeks and seeing their own personal posts on Instagram and Facebook have kept me going, and kept me learning more.

WEEK FOUR

The journaling, the gratitude and the Quran reading has all been continued.

I had to stop fasting due to the continuation of the migraines. This both upset and frustrated me. I decided I’d focus more on the other parts of Ramadan because I didn’t want to wholly give up. And there is always next year. What is more, I can always fast again to make up for the lost days.

It has been a real privilege to partake in this. I am so grateful to the friends that have supported me, prayed for me and discussed how to read the surats and particular prayers to pray.

EID UL-FITR

And the day is finally here, Eid.

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Today is a great day of celebration, and I wish all my friends a wonderful day. Despite lockdown and social distancing, I pray for their families to still be united.

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My takeaways from Ramadan

This month has taught me patience. It has also taught me gratitude for what I do have. I do feel refreshed.

It hasn’t been wholly successful, and the migraines didn’t help, but what I’ve learned has been worth it. Long may it continue. I will continue to learn. I actually want to do it again.

For me it has been a lot more than the fast, as it is for most I would presume, and my goals to learn Arabic have been achieved and my understanding of Quran is somewhat getting there.

Next year I’m going to get the fasting done properly and persevere. I pray by then my headaches will be solved even if it is medically. I want to spend this year learning more and continuing learning Arabic. I’m also going to use some kind of plan or workbook to go through the Quran and keep focused, and occupied.

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Love,

Anna

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