Ramadan: A Different Perspective from a Friend and Activist

I have always been part of the Muslim community through friends and eventually my husband for as long as I can remember. Hubs and I have been together for 24 years. I understand Islam and the different cultures associated with it. I literally have Muslim people from all over the world in my life. All adding to my knowledge and understanding of Islam. I felt that I needed to add this in case you thought I had no understanding of what this was about. I have celebrated many Ramadans/Ramadaans (spelling varies based on countries).

Recently I was speaking to a friend who is also a social activist. The corona virus has changed so many things. Some of it has been awful but I do look for the good, the lessons to be learned and things I would continue after this. It was the start of Ramadan and we got to chatting about how things were in general in Cape Town. She was telling me about how the poverty had increased and naturally how hunger had increased. She is someone on the ground. Handing out food parcels and helping in various communities. She does amazing work. She just blows me away.

She explained that this Ramadan had given her cause for pause. To reflect on how different the holy month would be for Muslims and she shared some of it with me. I thought it was quite profound and decided to share it with you. The following are excerpts from my friend Shams’ thoughts.

Ramadan is a very holy month for us. It is a very important time for all Muslims. A time to reflect, to draw close to Allah (God). We fast from sunrise to sunset every day. One of the reasons for this is, to feel the hunger pangs that those less fortunate than us feel. Staring at the hungry faces scrambling for the meagre food parcels we hand out gave me a life smack. I realised that after sunset we have the tendency to set out a spread! We break our fast with high caloric foods like samoosas (little triangles of pastries traditionally filled spicy chicken/meat and onion) and pies. In fact, the whole meal is generally high calorie. You’d think our tummies would have shrunken but no! We spend a lot of the day either thinking about or preparing the feast for when we break our fast. The life smack made me realise that poor people don’t go hungry just till sunset. We have to do it just till sunset but still find it so damn hard. Some of us are moody and miserable until it’s time to chow down but poor people do not get this reprieve. They go to bed hungry. I think that especially in these times we need to be more mindful of our brothers and sisters around us who hardly have anything to break their fast with.

I was horrified when one of my friends said to me “Oh this lockdown must end because where am I going to get my Eid clothes from!?” So many things went through my mind and I had to filter my mouth and put a muzzle on it. Really woman? How shallow are we to care about what we are going to wear for Eid? Some families won’t have a meal for Eid nevermind a shiny new outfit. Damn they won’t even have a meal tomorrow nevermind on Eid day! Is this who we have become as people? As Muslims? This Ramadan really gives you the opportunity to walk in the shoes of those who live in poverty.  I urge all my Muslim brothers and sisters to take up this challenge. The fancy clothes you wanted to buy? Why not take that money and donate it to provide an Eid meal or even meals for families during this hard time? Live like the poor live. Instead of having massive meals to break your fasts with cookies and desserts and all the trimmings, go simple. Break your fast with a salad and keep your meal simple. What is the point of feeling hunger pangs for a few hours when you’re just going to gorge yourself on food later anyway? That is not the reality of the poor.

All these things will make you turn closer Allah because you will need his strength to make these changes in Ramadan. You will call on him more for strength and willpower. Ultimately this is what our religion calls us to do. You have extra time now to think of how you can help the poor more than just fasting and feeling hunger. You can go out there and make a difference for which you will be blessed abundantly. I ask all my Muslim brothers and sisters to take up this challenge. To be selfless this Ramadan. Be more mindful this Ramadan. Think of ways you can help. Allah has blessed us all with unique strengths and abilities. Use yours for his glory. Ramadaan Kareem


I absolutely loved her new perspective on Ramadan. A fresh take on it based on what she was dealing with, with the Corona virus. Nothing is the same anymore. Everything is different. How we do things are different, but we can turn them into positives. I’m actively working on journaling about how my perspectives have been changing about a lot of things. You would have picked that up in my birthday post. Let’s draw nearer to each. Let’s help each other in any way possible. If you don’t have money to give, that’s ok. You still have time and love to give.

Looking for the positives was really hard a while ago but it’s starting to get a little easier. It’s all about being mindful and changing perspectives.


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