Making the Most of Ramadan During COVID-19 And 6 Reasons To Fast

Ramadan during COVID-19 presents unique challenges and benefits (6 reasons to fast are listed below). What Muslims can do to make the most of Ramadan during COVID-19 is the focus of this post to help the community, including myself, appreciate the blessings of this holy month. 

During the daylight hours, Muslims fast around the world, and are reminded of life’s fragility and the need to (re)connect to the Creator of the Universe.  

One of Islam’s holiest months, Ramadan this is a time of reflection, remembrance and reconnection with what really matters. In a time of COVID-19, many (Muslims, secularists, agnostics, etc.) seem to agree that living in this extreme time has unique lessons learned (read benefits), such as: slowing down to nurture one’s self; spending more time with family and friends; and learning to appreciate the simplicity of life.

Before the spread of the virus, I had forgotten how to reflect in a fast-paced world with super busy days and many sleepless nights, lying half-awake thinking of tomorrow’s to-do list. This year’s Ramadan has come at an opportune time. Following the lunar calendar, Ramadan is taking place during the glorious months of spring (mid-April to mid-May) for Muslims living in America. 

Why We Reflect

Faith, fasting, and fidelity are co-dependent and connected concepts. Those with faith will fast and hopefully, find deeper connection (or fidelity) to the Creator of the Universe and humankind. Therefore, abstaining from food and drink has a greater spiritual, emotional, and mental purpose. And science says fasting is the secret to a healthier and longer life. There is no better time to do regain control of our lives and renew intentions than during the month of blessing.

6 Reasons to Fast:

Note: This list is not in any order and these “steps” are designed to complement one another. 

  1. Remembrance of the Creator of the Universe. The first pillar of Islam is belief. Fasting often compels believers to turn to devotional prayers in order to reconnect with the Creator. 
  2. Reflect on the Signs of the Creator. As ugly as it is, COVID-19 is a sign from the Universe. People have interpreted this in many ways, but most scholars I have interviewed say it is a curse. Which is why Ramadan is an opportunity for Muslims to return to the Creator to seek Forgiveness, Mercy, Peace–these are a few of the Creator’s attributes and among the 99 names. 
  3. Restore solidarity with family and friends. This is the time to strengthen relationships with our neighbors, community, and the world. Even in times of self-isolate, it is possible to stay connected and show mercy to those who need it most–the vulnerable, the sick, the weak, the poor, the refugees. This is the time to let our loved ones know that they are ever-present, despite the distance COVID-19 has created for all of us.
  4. Release anxiety, depression, fear, and grief. All these emotions are common during a pandemic but letting go of these negative and often debilitating emotions is essential. Thus, fasting allows the mind and body greater control of negativity and creates a renewed freedom to believe again in a future. Living with despair, doubt and dread should not be an option. Faith in a higher Power helps Muslims understand that not everything can be explained although everything has its purpose. As the Quran says, Be! And it is.
  5. Replenish the Self, or the nafs in Arabic. The self (mind, body and soul) is constantly striving to empower itself. By nurturing Self-Compassion, the Self cultivates strength and solidarity. Psychologist Michael Formica agrees that personal empowerment is more than a feeling but action. For Muslims, that action is fasting, a personal struggle that is self-empowering and can lead to spiritual success. On a more physical level, fasting promotes longevity. Dr. Michael Mosley says fasting helps you live longer and stay younger too
  6. Renewed intention to serve humankind. As I have written in earlier posts, fasting is not a solitary but a communal practice. There are millions of Muslims worldwide who are fasting together. One of the greatest gifts of fasting is to show deep respect for humankind. Serving others in the time of COVID-19 is practicing empathy. Mercy in Islam refers to Mercy for all humankind, even for those not fasting and who are not Muslim.

In the verse below, the English word “things” is actually a reference to all “living creatures” including trees, animals, and non-Muslims. The Creator’s Mercy is infinite, so we should be merciful to everyone. 

7 Simple Lessons for Ramadan

Long ago, I created a list of simple lessons learned to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive. This list has been amended and is still relevant today, especially as we protect ourselves against a pandemic and search for purpose in an uncertain present. They are:

  1. Revive your purpose (choose a life of service which means showing compassion to those who are vulnerable to the virus)
  2. Restructure each day (by setting specific goals which includes self-care)
  3. Redefine your work (find that family-life balance which is what life is really about)
  4. Rejuvenate your body (try 10,000 steps which today means exercising at home)
  5. Recharge your mind (enroll in a class which today will be online to beat COVID-19 loneliness)
  6. Restore your soul (find a nature retreat which today means managing stress)
  7. Recondition your Self (fast regularly and discover the health benefits; remember, intermediate fasting is also a great option)

The above list has served me well before, during, and after Ramadan. 

Ramadan and Self-isolating

It comes as no surprise that this year, fasting will be an at-home practice. The pandemic has forced the closure of mosques. This means no nightly prayers and no gatherings, small or large, for the breaking of the fast at sunset. Even before Ramadan, thousands of Muslims were connectEmpty Buildinged on Facebook groups and taking free online Quran classes and recently, those numbers have multiplied. Some of the classes and on-line groups are free and a great way to stay connected with the global Muslim community

So while the mosques may be empty, the community has found ways to be in touch.

Connected to the World

As a writer/scholar, I am in touch with people around the world, who are fasting and finding ways to understand the meaning of life, our place in it, and this persistent pandemic. 

Insights and vignettes from strangers and friends around the world reveal one important truth: although we live in uncertain times, the Creator will reward the fasting.  “Whosoever fasts in Ramadan with faith and seeking Allah’s reward, all his/her past sins are forgiven.” (Sunnah or or

The following lines are simple statements of what COVID-19 means to Muslims. Names have been omitted to respect individual privacy. 

“We will meet again. We will be together. God will reunite us.” -my best friend and partner

“God works in mysterious ways. The pandemic is one of His mysteries. We pray this mystery will be revealed to us one day so we may understand.” -scholar  

“I remember this verse in the Quran:  ‘Call on Me, I will respond to you” and then I know that I am not alone. The Lord is listening to us every day. Every breath we take is a reminder of His Mercy.” -writer and stay-at-home mom

“This virus is a curse on all of us. But like other curses, this will pass. It is only a matter of time.” -professor 

“We are not alone. Muslim or not, we are all in this together, and we have to believe that we will survive.” -journalist 

Unity + Hope = The Future 

All believing Muslims share a common bond and purpose. The endless need to hope for a future is possible when we believe in the infinite Mercy of the Creator. It is the firm belief that the Creator will guide us through this difficult time. And so, like previous pandemics and unthinkable disasters, this uncertainty will pass. 

If faith teaches Muslims anything, it is that unity in faith restores hope for the future. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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