Mental health

Ramadan not your favourite month? This is why that’s OK

Ramadan, the month of fasting has once again greeted us, but it’s not always a welcome guest for all.

There is so much hype around being perfect in Ramadan, making great food, being chirpy and feeling so spiritual. People talk about how much worship they get done, how many pages of the Qur’an they read, how they are on a spiritual high and how much they will miss Ramadan when it passes. But what if you’re not one of those people? What does that say about you?

Absolutely nothing in my opinion. Ramadan is meant to be a struggle – it’s meant to be tough. You don’t have to love it. In fact, observing Ramadan fasting when a huge part of you doesn’t want to says a lot about your love for Allah. It’s easy to do something when you love it, but it shows dedication and resilience if you do it when you don’t.

We know fasting in Ramadan is tough on our bodies. There is the hunger and lack of sleep and dehydration of course, but what about the impact it has on your mental health? All of the above can affect your mental health. Ramadan makes me feel like the worst version of myself sometimes. You’re not going to be in a great mental space when you’re cranky and tired. It’s funny how no one ever really talks about this on social media.

Allah intends for you ease, and does not intend for you hardship. (2:185)

Ramadan has sadly become so commercialized that people forget the true intention of fasting; to come closer to Allah and strive to be the best version of themselves. It’s about worship, and that takes many forms from cleaning the house to biting your tongue for the sake of Allah or even trying to give up smoking for the sake of Allah. It’s not simply about how many pages of the Qur’an you read or how many Islamic courses you can get through.

For me, Ramadan is a time to reflect on myself and where I would like to be spiritually. It’s a month in which I spend more time talking to Allah and trying to strengthen my relationship with Allah. I try to be a better person but I don’t expect myself to be the best version of me. It’s a stepping stone, a time to put down strong foundations to help me become a better person and a better Muslim.

There’s a lot of internal struggle and conflict too. It took me a long time to accept this because I simply didn’t see anyone else talking about feeling the same way. Giving up bad habits isn’t easy, trying to control your temper when all you want to do is lash out isn’t easy, dedicatedly praying 5 times a day when you haven’t been isn’t easy. But you know what? Allah sees your struggle and rewards you, because you tried for Him.

So don’t look at what everyone claims to feel or do and don’t feel like you’re the only one if you’re struggling this Ramadan. The fact that you showed up says a lot about you. Don’t get bogged down in the food and decorations and family spirit that everyone talks about. This month is about you and your Lord. Only you can decide how you will make the most of it. And as long as you are advancing – as long as you are making progress you are winning.

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