To the Person Feeling Lost this Ramadan
It was the summer of 2010, and Ramadan had just arrived. After the shenanigans of my brother’s wedding and everything that comes with that just a couple of weeks prior to the holy month, we now had a new sister-in-law in the house and that first suhoor together was really special. We prepared our pre-dawn meal (fish fingers and toast😂), ate together and laughed together, and then each of us raced to the bathroom trying to get a vigorous round of teeth brushing in before the clock ticked to the minute signaling the beginning of sunrise.
Then talk turned to praying together – and I felt a sinking feeling hit me while my gut begin to twist, and I quickly excused myself and said I wanted to pray alone in my bedroom up on the third floor of the house.
I returned to the bathroom, robotically went through the motions of doing my wudu (ablution) and then ran up the stairs, closing my bedroom door behind me, and collapsed – exhausted from the pretence – on my bed. The truth is, I knew I wasn’t going to be fasting that day, and I knew I wasn’t going to be praying. I sat with my back against my headboard and suddenly the cloud of depression that had been hanging around me for well over a year pounced now that I was alone, sinking its fangs into my head and sucking me dry until the numbness that I was so used to, returned.
This was the first Ramadan since I had been around 8 years old, that I hadn’t fasted, although family and even friends around me believed me when I pretended that I was. It was the first Ramadan that I had felt nothing – no connection to God, no connection to my religion, and no connection at all to the holy month that had somehow always had some kind of positive effect on me, no matter what was going on in my life.
This year was different though – I felt a million miles away from the person that I had always thought I was; I was so lost and confused and broken, and I had almost completely lost God, not understanding why he wouldn’t answer me when I begged him – night after night – to just end it all.
I felt so alienated from all the people around me who were so ecstatic that the holy month was here – and their happiness, joy and contentment just seemed to add to my own feelings of confusion, shame and guilt. And just to add to it all even more, throughout the month, rather than doing the things I was ‘supposed’ to be doing to bring me closer to God, I was doing the opposite and doing things that in fact were distancing me even further from God, and even more so, from myself.
It was a really strange yet extremely important time of my life and what I understand now is that that Ramadan had to be like that for me. I had to experience a Ramadan where I felt no connection; where I didn’t see the point in fasting or praying or devoting my time to self-betterment in order to bring me closer to God. I had to experience it all like that, for me to come to a place where I finally did come to know my relationship with Ramadan; where I understood why I was fasting, and where I was truly participating in the month because I wanted to – and not because of social, familial and even so-called religious pressures.
There were many times during that Ramadan that I did feel guilty as hell, and it is only now in hindsight that I realise that the guilt I felt then showed that I did still feel something for the religion I had grown up with – but yet, that I had nothing to feel guilty about, as each persons relationship with their faith is so, so personal – it literally has nothing to do with anyone else.
It was the following year that I went through a spiritual awakening – and a big part of that awakening was coming back to the religion that I had grown up with, but discovering it for myself this time, and viewing it through the lens of love, rather than the distorted lens of fear that I has always been shown.
Ramadan of 2011 was truly special and beautiful for me, as I properly felt God’s love cradling me for the first time as I finally began to embark on my journey Home. But today, as I continue on further and further down this path of spirituality and consciousness, I have to admit that my relationship with Ramadan continues to change every year, too – and you know what? There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, despite what anyone else might say or think.
I know this year as Ramadan comes to greet us once more there will be many, many Muslims all around the world that will be feeling the way I felt back in that Ramadan of 2010. There will be many questioning their faith, their feelings towards God, their beliefs and even themselves – but many won’t express it for fear of judgement or condemnation from their peers, and will be scared to maybe even admit it to themselves because of the fear of God that they had been brought up to believe in.
What I will say to the person who is newly on the journey or still on the journey of figuring out Ramadan for themselves, is the following:
- It is 100% okay to feel how you’re feeling – shake off the guilt and understand that your journey with your faith is yours alone, and no-can judge you for that.
- If you don’t want to/feel you can’t fast or pray or do anything else that is recommended during this month, then don’t feel like you have to just to please others. Only do it if you want to do it. What I will recommend though, is looking into and researching Ramadan and everything that Muslims participate in during the month, and trying to come to some kind of understanding of it for yourself without any outside noise and pressures. And if even then you just don’t get it or don’t feel ready, THAT IS OKAY! Be patient with yourself.
- Something that my dear Sheikh (spiritual teacher) once said a few years ago that has always stuck with me is that the same way doctors prescribe medicine to help make us better, religions prescribe different practices in order for us to become better. Fasting has been prescribed for Muslims for us to become better – for us to grow in mind, body and spirit. So for me, I see it as not doing it won’t make me ill, but doing it will further me down the path of self-growth and will help me to know myself and the power that created us and connects us all, better. The person that I am now devotes her life to becoming better than the person she was yesterday, so this is why certain practices are now very important to me. This is why Ramadan is now, once again, very important to me.
- Confide in someone or something that you trust – like honestly, just letting out how you feel is so important and can do a whole world of good. If you feel like you can’t speak to anyone about how you’re feeling, then write it down! Trust me, that whole process of journaling how you feel can really help to bring you clarity on a situation – and if it doesn’t bring you any immediate solution, as least your load will be lighter and you will feel better.
- KNOW that God/Allah/the Universe loves you NO MATTER WHAT, so trust your journey and keep on going. You are always exactly where you need to be in life, so let go and enjoy the process.
It is not only okay to – but actually so, so important – to figure out Ramadan, religion and faith for yourself.
I find that many of us follow religion blindly; we don’t question what we are being taught, what we are reading, what we are doing and why we’re doing it. And if we never do that, then how on earth will we ever grow? How on earth will we ever come to know ourselves? How on earth will we ever truly come to know God?
So for anyone that feels a little lost this Ramadan, just know that there are and have been many that are where you are now including myself, and you will feel better one day, if you trust your journey and listen to your heart; these feelings will not last forever.
Sending everyone Light, Love and Peace during this holy month and always. I pray that this month brings you exactly what your soul is craving.
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