This is my third Ramadan. So, Ramadan for me now, is not any different to any other Muslim. Jumping around in excitement at iftar time, chugging down water just before the Fajr azan. Ramadan teaches self control, gratitude and brings a closeness to God. All important qualities for someone looking to live a fulfilling life.
My first Ramadan was quite difficult. I had not declared my shahada when Ramadan commenced in 2020. I also didn't really know any Muslims. I was already praying 5 times a day and reading Quran but Ramadan was the last step for me to see if I wanted to become Muslim.
I was nervous to start as my mum already had lots of objections. She practically begged me not to do it. It was particularly hard for her because my granny (her mum) was also on her death bed at the time. She was dying because of kidney failure due to a lifestyle of lots of coffee and constant lack of water. When I then tell my mum that I'm not going to drink water for 14+ hours a day, she was distraught. But I was on a journey towards God and this was the last step for me to know weather Islam is the right religion. So I had to give it a go.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be able to complete Ramadan. I was very surprised when I did. I did lot’s of research before hand to make sure I wouldn't die (I had a lot of fear at the time). It was a particularly lonely Ramadan due to lockdown. All the mosques were closed, I didn't know any Muslims and my mum was in Cambridge the whole month looking after her mum.
I remember one day, I really wanted to try breaking my fast with someone so I went out in the back garden and found some snails. I made a little lettuce themed iftar for them and sat with them in the garden as we ate together. I promise you guys this is a true story!
I remember the very special moment when a lovely girl from an online Islamic course that I was doing, showed up at my house with food. I’ll always remember that beautiful moment. She really gave me confident in Muslims. I can still picture her face as I opened the door to her and her massive box of pakoras.
The month was not as difficult as expected. Once it becomes a habit, things are a whole lot easier. I made lots of first timer mistakes but InshAllah my first Ramadan will be accepted.
Two big events happened near the end of the month. One is my shahada which I declared by myself, in my living room, with a lot of tears! The second is that my grandma passed away right after that. Which set the world in a whole different perspective for me.
Ramadan teaches you a lot of life lessons and they get more profound the deeper you go into the Deen. Here is the big lesson I learnt from my first Ramadan:
Before I become Muslim I struggled with body issues a LOT. I always thought I was fat and was constantly dieting. I would go to the gym twice a day.. I would do intermittent fasting, I would sometimes chew my food then spit it out, I took laxatives to get rid of food from my body. I did so many crazy things with food just to lose weight. BUT even if I tried my hardest, I could never go without food for 14 hours for 30 days, like what we do in Ramadan.
Even though my weight was the biggest focus in my life at numerous points in my life. I could not do what all Muslims do every Ramadan. Why is it that I could never fast at that point in my life but I can fast now?
I think its all about intention. When you're intention is to do something for Allah, its like you have this super power where you can suddenly do things you never thought possible. If you do things for ego or vanity then it never ends up working out. No matter how hard you try.