The Myth of Perfection – Ramadan Reflections
This was my first Ramadan in twenty years – I grew up in more of a cultural Muslim family than religious – I was a teenager when I last fasted.
It’s been a month filled with challenges.
I felt like a fraud.
I’ve never prayed on my own before. I had to pray with YouTube playing, so I’d know what to do.
I went to buy a jahnamaz (prayer mat) right before Ramadan and wished Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed Ramadan) to the shopkeeper, to which I was looked at with disdain and no response. I am mixed race and don’t wear a headscarf. My visibly Muslim friend was wished Ramadan Mubarak by the same shopkeeper.
After my first Rosa (fast), I tested positive for COVID. I tried to fast a few days even when I wasn’t feeling up for it, because I knew that my menstrual cycle was on its way and felt a bit like a fraud – I’d be missing the first half of Ramadan if I didn’t fast with COVID. While I know I was exempt if sick, it still felt a bit like a cop-out because my symptoms weren’t too bad.
The West is not very accommodating to Muslims.
Despite many workplaces claiming to put DEI at the top of their agendas, most offices are not Muslim friendly.
-Wudu is very difficult to do in the office
-We are lucky enough to have a prayer room – except not a single person could find it!
-At events and meetings, despite being told beforehand there were Muslims fasting, the events still focused around the food, with those fasting told to ‘go outside while everyone else eats and join us for the next workshop’.
Friends & Family
I live alone across the city from my relatives, and most of my Iftars were done solo. On the few occasions I was able to be with others during Iftar, it really felt special.
I’m still learning. When seeking advice on certain elements of fasting, I was given totally different rules depending on who I asked – often told things that made me feel like an utter failure. On many occasions I thought “wow, I can’t even fast correctly”. Others were more supportive, reminding me that it’s all about intention, and when I was struggling with my fasts, someone told me to “remember why you started”.
During the final two weeks of Ramadan, I:
Prayed at the masjid for the first time
Went for Taraweeh (extra night prayers)
Did Jummah prayer (congregational Friday prayer) for the first time
There’s lots still to learn. Inshallah (God willing) I’ll bring these lessons with me through the rest of the year and be stronger and more prepared for next year.
This blog was written by Ayeesha.