A Very Locked Down Ramadan

So, it’s day three of Ramadan 2021, and the second one in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. I’m an English teacher at a college in London and still working from home. I’m finding fasting tougher this year, knowing that we can’t spend Eid indoors with our extended families. Last year I went on an Eid tour and had doorstep chats with friends and family. This was a really great way to catch up with loved ones in a safe (and legal) manner, however it’s not what many of us were hoping for more a year on. Like many others, my family is planning an outdoor Eid to celebrate at the end of the month of fasting.

Ramadan always brings peace and joy, and it’s also a month of togetherness and charity. I’ve enjoyed spending more time in reflection, and becoming more mindful. The days are long, but I feel calmer and connected. For those that don’t know, Ramadan is the holy month of fasting in Islam. Muslims abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset for 30 days. We celebrate Eid at the end with our families and friends. If you are a child, elderly, pregnant or unwell, you don’t have to fast.

Since we are practising social distancing due to the global pandemic, many much-loved activities we once took for granted are now out of bounds, or at least limited. This ranges from attending group Iftar and Tarawih prayers at the mosque. As hard as we try, Zoom events just aren’t the same.

Last year, Muslims in the UK donated more than £150m to charity in Ramadan. So this year; I’ve tried to increase my own good deeds in terms of helping others, paying in charity and maintaining ties of kinship. It’s also a great time to volunteer and support those less fortunate in our own communities.

To those fasting for the very first time, I have some tips:

  • Do drink a lot before you begin fasting in order to stay hydrated.
  • Take it easy and let others know you’re fasting.
  • Try to eat healthily when breaking the fast so that you don’t feel bloated or too full.

I would also steer clear of:

  • Staying outdoors for too long in order to avoid becoming overheated.
  • Being around food if you can help it.
  • Any overexertion in order to conserve energy.

People always think it’s a struggle to fast, and it is as you get tired and dehydrated, but somehow it never feels like a chore. I always say that I don’t have the desire or discipline to restrict my diet, yet when it comes to Ramadan, we suddenly have immense willpower unlike any other. The first week is always the hardest, as it’s quite an adjustment, but I know that I’ll be sad when Ramadan ends, and go back to reality. I’m hopeful that this will be a productive month whereby we can build better habits to take with us into a kinder, more improved and safer world.

What are your tips for a greater Ramadan in lockdown?

By Merium Bhuiyan