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Blessings of Ramadan: a personal reflection

by Sprinkle of Surprise

Ramadan Geylang Serai, Singapore: https://flic.kr/p/6VsH5v

Ramadan Geylang Serai, Singapore: https://flic.kr/p/6VsH5v

Ramadan. This month means so many different things to so many different people. For some this is another month, for others, this is the time of utmost importance. Everyone performs various religious duties as they see fit this month, what ties us all together is the fasting. Fasting by abstaining from food & other acts that will break our fasts. Recitation of the Quran is at its peak this month, as are iftar get togethers & gatherings at the masjid.

As a child, I loved waking up for sehri* / sahoor with my parents thinking I was so cool eating in the middle of the night. As I got older, the less and less cool this became and the more tired I felt eating at such odd times of the night. All through most of my life, I never truly understood or cared enough to understand the true meaning and gains one can receive through this month. It hasn’t been until this past year, when I truly did a lot of soul searching and found the need, desire, passion and joy in praying to Allah & trying to better myself as a Muslim girl living in America.

This Ramadan for me is different than any of my last. I feel like I am truly fasting for the first time in my life. The fasts this year are extremely long and extremely testing. I work full time and this year for the first time I’m keeping my fasts without waking up for sehri. I have iftar at normal iftar time, and an hour or two later I just eat something light which is my sehri. I can’t wake up in the middle of the night any more like I used to as a child. Sigh, adult life problems.

Besides the actual abstaining from food, I have also told my coworkers of this month. They’re all so supportive and questioning (as they all are) but I still take my lunch break with them and they eat while I pass time. It doesn’t bother me, and it helps keep the regularity in my work day. For the first time this Ramadan, I am not listening to music for this whole month. I know for some people that is normal during this month, but I was never one of those people. This year I felt like I should keep myself from that as well, and so far I am succeeding. I have a long drive to and from work, so I now I put youtube on as I drive listening to naats.

“I am proud of myself for making these changes & feeling a difference in myself this Ramadan. I hope I can continue this in the next few years and better myself as a Muslim.”

With Eid approaching in almost a week, Eid fashion is all the hype amongst Muslim girls these days. Every time I go to an iftar party or the Mosque, this becomes a topic of discussion. Being a Pakistani Muslim, our Eids are even more extravagant than they probably should be. One of our Mosque’s in the state I live in, holds an ‘Eid Chaand Raat’ a week before Eid—This year it is July 10—where a bunch of clothing vendors come to sell their clothes. We go to this every year as the selection is so wide and it’s a good time to invest in some new clothes. I can’t wait to go shopping this weekend for a new outfit. I’m not sure yet of what I would like to buy, but we’ll see, if I find something nice, then it will be my Eid outfit.

Traditional sweet cakes and desserts served in Ramadan. https://flic.kr/p/uub3gf

Traditional sweet cakes and desserts served in Ramadan. https://flic.kr/p/uub3gf

Eid clothing & food is one of the many ways that Muslims celebrate Eid. It’s my favorite part of the holiday as it gives us all an excuse to look nice and dress up to celebrate the end of this beautiful month. The food we eat, especially in the Pakistani/Indian community, for Eid, is truly a feast. So much food is made and eaten, I always feel too full after Eid. But we should all be thankful that we are blessed with such meals on a daily basis, and especially on Eid. There are so many Muslims around the world starving and cannot enjoy these simple luxuries we have.

I hope your Ramadan is a blessed one and a very Eid Mubarak to you and your family! ☺

*’Sehri is essentially the time of the morning meal. We wake at 3 am to eat something, before morning prayer time-the time our fasts begin.

Sprinkle of Surprise is a 20 something year old girl living in the USA. She writes a personal blog ‘Sprinkle of Surprise’ documenting moments of her life and experiences. She enjoy’s writing about her life, beauty, fashion, and healthy lifestyle. She would love it if you follow her on her blog and Instagram @sprinkleofsurprise

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Images credit: Yeowatzup on Flickr commons and Isuann L.https://flic.kr/p/uub3gf.


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A personal rant about Ramadan: Fasting with Depression

by Zara

Image credit: Sadi_M, https://m.flickr.com/photos/lilion/3866584954/in/search?q=Ramadan

Image credit: Sadi_M, https://flic.kr/p/5hGPAb

Random personal rant about Ramadan

So, some of you may or may not know that I am a Muslim. Not a good one, but a Muslim nevertheless. A little info is that in the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, Ramadan, we fast from dawn to dusk (no food or water, no smoking, ingesting of any substances).

For a few years, my psychiatrists deemed me unfit to fast. Last year I started again, this time in full knowledge of the illnesses I carry. Before then, fasting was still hard, but I was in enough denial and enough emotional pain to be completely fine with not eating or drinking, it was almost another form of self harm. Now, fasts are longer, I smoke, and instead of just being ill, I’m fighting my mental health.

Last year I managed to fast roughly half the month, and this year I’m aiming to complete the month. But my dear lord it is hard. I’ve had to rearrange my time so that I take my medication at 2am before the fast begins. And it is like all my emotions and feelings are so much more heightened during fasting. There are tidal waves of anger, sadness, guilt, loneliness and a range of many other feelings that all hit at once and are so overwhelming all I want to do is find a rock to cry under, to cut those feelings out, to make it go away. But I can’t, and I sit there with those feelings, with hunger and thirst also, in my bed waiting for dusk so I can eat something and smoke and calm down. Only to do it all again. Everyone keeps telling me if I find it too much, it is acceptable to break my fast. While I am grateful for the understanding that fasting when you have mental health difficulties is harder than fasting without, I don’t think anyone understands that breaking the fast is not helpful either. I end up feeling guilty, like I’m such a shit person for not being able to finish it. I know that may not be reality, but it’s how I feel. Like I’m stuck in a black hole.

I don’t know why I’m posting this, but what I do know is that I feel a little bit better for putting some of my thoughts into words. Anyway, another fast begins, wish me luck.

Zara wishes to remain anonymous, and is not using her real name.

Image credit Sadi_M from Flickr Creative Commons 

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.


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Ramadhan – “Why Aren’t You Fasting?”

by Maaiysa Valli

@Maaiysa

 Every year, Ramadhan comes. And every year, I struggle. Not with the fast – which this year is around 20+ hours long – but with NOT being able to fast.

It’s a battle I quietly face every year. And here I’ll explain why.

You may know that certain groups are exempt from fasting. The elderly, young children, pregnant or nursing women, and those who are ill. I’d love to say I’m too young to fast (but definitely not too old!!) but unfortunately, the reason I can’t fast is due to a lifelong illness. It’s meant I’ve not been able to fast since my health took a real turn for the worse when I was in my teens – though trust me, that didn’t stop me from fasting back then! But now, as the fasts get longer, I have to take the medical advice that I just can’t do it. And that saddens me. To some of you, that might sound strange: “Why would you be sad at not being able to starve yourself from 1am to 9pm?” But for Muslim brothers and sisters, you’ll know that feeling of sorrow. For those who aren’t able to fast, you can pay a Fidyah – which is money that goes towards feeding poor people. I do that every year, but I also used to make up the missed fasts in winter months – when the fasting hours are much shorter. The last time I did that though was 2011 and I ended up in hospital, so that was that!

I’ve been in two minds about writing this blog for years, as it opens me up to more questions and I’m a very private person, but I need to do this for my own sake. I don’t talk about things that are important to me. My personal life is just that and you’ll rarely find me opening up about my religion, let alone my health. In fact,  I’m someone who likes to deal with big issues internally. But for years now, I’ve dealt with the question “Why aren’t you fasting?”. People ask if I’m pregnant (no!), if I’m constantly on my period (NO!) or they just assume that I’m a “lazy Muslim” (DEFINITE NO!!) Because I’m such a private person, I never tell people the full story, I simply say “I can’t because of my health”. (And I’m afraid to say I won’t be giving the full answer here either.)

But everytime I’m asked why – by Muslims and non-Muslims alike – it hurts. It hurts that I can’t feel those hunger pains, it hurts that I can’t feel tired through fasting or the thirst that parches your throat – all for the love of God. Despite not being able to fast, I’ve always done Iftar (breaking the fast at sunset) and work permitting – Suhoor (keeping the fast at sunrise) because Ramadhan is so much about family. It’s probably the only time in the year where you’ll eat together as a family day in, day out and I love that. I love being with my parents and praying with them. But still, I always feel like I’m “missing out” in Ramadhan because I’m not fasting.

It’s the holiest month for Muslims and when you hear the word “Ramadhan”, you’ll probably instantly think about fasting. But Ramadhan is SO much more than starving yourself from food. It’s about starving yourself from sin. It’s a month for self-reflection, sacrifice, and love and peace. So while I can’t fast, I try to make up for it in other ways. I’ll pray lots of Qur’an, try and keep up with my salah (five daily prayers) and listen to lots of lectures by top scholars. In my house the telly is switched off for the whole month! But still, I get that feeling that I’m not doing enough. I’m not striving hard enough or doing my best. I always feel lazy if I’m not spending every minute in prayer or doing something good. I know for some of you reading this, it will sound so alien, but some of you will understand.

I heard a lecture the other day that said Ramadhan always comes at the perfect time and it hit the nail on the head for me. As Muslims, we look forward to Ramadhan coming, we’re sad when it ends. And for me this year, I REALLY needed Ramadhan to come. Like I said – it’s a month of self-reflection. This year has been tough for me, and recently I had a run-in with my past that made me evaluate my life. I felt like a failure. Like I’d achieved nothing and that this wasn’t how my life was supposed to be. But Ramadhan came. And less than a week in, I’m already feeling the benefits. I’m reminded that THIS is exactly where I’m supposed to be in life. THIS is what’s written for me. And every battle I go through is just a test – and Ramadhan is as good a reminder as any of that.

So while I write this blog – probably my most emotional and personal outpouring – I pray you all have a peaceful and blessed month. Whether you observe Ramadhan or not. Whether you fast or not. Whether you’re religious or not. It doesn’t matter. This month is about remembering what you’ve been blessed with and being thankful for that. And I am very thankful and very blessed. I just needed reminding…

Maaiysa Valli

This post first appeared on Maaiysa Valli’s personal website and has been reposted with permission. 

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.