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Assalaamu alaikum! Well, it’s finally here alhamdulillah! My first official Ramadan. I say official because last year I semi – observed Ramadan even though I hadn’t yet converted to Islam. But this year I’m Muslim – alhamdulillah! – and I’m going to throw myself into this holy month with all the energy I’ve got, inshallah. 

Some may wonder if I’ll be fasting. For those who don’t know, the main activity during Ramadan is for all able bodied Muslims to fast from the time of pre dawn prayer to sunset prayer. That is about 16 hours where I live during this time of the year. Fasting for Muslims includes no food, no beverages, no sex, and some say no swearing and no smoking. During Ramadan Muslims also pray midnight prayers at the mosque if they can, as well as study and memorize Quran. We focus greatly on our faith by studying and praying a lot, doing a lot of charity both in the form of good deeds and otherwise, and basically doing everything possible to become better Muslims and better people inshallah. 

The practice of regular fasting for those who are able is clearly prescribed in the Quran and the sunnah. Fasting during Ramadan is also laid out in the the Quran and the sunnah as something that is fard (obligatory) – again, for those able to do so. So this is more than tradition – it is a critical part of our faith. 

So, to answer the question, no I sadly will not be fasting. It’s not for lack of desire to though. I have a lot of health issues and take numerous medications. It would be dangerous for me to fast. And yes, Islam does make the explicit provision that if there is any danger to one’s health, they shouldn’t fast. If they improve later, they should make up the fast if possible. So, women don’t fast during menstruation. When one is sick, even with a cold, they don’t fast. And when one is chronically, seriously ill – like myself – they don’t fast. 

However. I will be throwing myself into other Ramadan activities. I normally don’t have money for transportation to the mosque, but I will try to go at least once inshallah. I hope to memorize Ayatul Khursi in Arabic, read through the whole Quran during the thirty days of the month, read at least a couple of Islamic books, and abstain from most secular entertainment. I hope to spend my days reading Quran and other Islamic materials, listening to khutbahs and lectures, watching Islamic videos, and praying a LOT. I don’t know what I’ll do to celebrate Eid (that’s the three day celebration at the end of Ramadan). I have a sad feeling that I won’t get to do anything. But we’ll see what Allah has in store!

Someone asked me recently what Ramadan means to me. For me it is a time to learn and grow in my faith. It is time to mentally, emotionally, and spiritually separate myself from the secular world and focus on my iman (faith in Allah and the religion of Islam.) It is a time of reflection, of repentance from my sins and resolving to do better. It is a time to establish good spiritual habits, as well as habits such as charity, kindness, love for Allah and others, and more, that I will carry out in my secular activities. An important Islamic principle is that the spiritual should reign over the secular. We shouldn’t separate our religious and secular lives. So, our good spiritual practices should directly influence our day to day habits. Ramadan for me – and, I do believe, for my fellow Muslims – is a time to establish just such practices. 

I hope that this post has been beneficial for all of my readers.  Inshallah I plan to check back in over the course of Ramadan and tell you all how things are going. I wish all who are observing a blessed Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak!