By Zeinab, London.
Ramadan, a month that has been away from the Ummah for an entire year, is finally upon us again. A blessed time to armour our iman with increased acts of worship and consolidate our devotion to Allah, the entire Muslim world opens its arms to eagerly welcome its return. As well as signifying a crucial period for pious discipline and application, Ramadan also symbolises a time for increased unity amongst families and Muslims as a whole. This beautiful display of heightened unification can be seen in large nightly Taraweeh congregations, families gathering around the table for Iftar, exciting team fundraisers and deep and spiritual halaqah circles.
However, this blooming of sister/brotherhood and family union that takes place every Ramadan can often amplify the loneliness that revert sisters feel in contrast. Often the only one in the family who is Muslim and at times even facing backlash and alienation for their adoption of Islam, isolation, for many revert sisters, is something they’ve had to accept as being the new norm in their everyday lives. However, during Ramadan these feelings of loneliness are sharpened. Fasting alone whilst everyone else is fasting together, praying alone whilst everyone else is praying in congregation, breaking the fast by herself whilst everyone is doing so as a family, only exacerbates the isolation that is already felt by revert sisters throughout the year.
A survey conducted in the USA found that 43% of reverts faced loneliness following their conversion to Islam. This can have the serious implication of negatively impacting their Ramadan as the isolation that surrounds them can cast out the zeal for pious strengthening and Divine connection. Now we understand the dilemmas faced by many of our sisters during Ramadan, the question must follow: how can revert sisters navigate around these issues so that they can benefit as much as possible from of one of the most sanctified periods in the Islamic calendar?
The overwhelming lack of human company and the stress of solitude facing many revert sisters, can easily cloud over this one mighty fact that Allaah Himself reminds us:
“He is with you wherever you are” (Quran 57:8).
As Muslims, it is vital that we hold on to the conviction tightly in our hearts, that even when all of creation has turned its back on us, The Creator remains. To use an example from our deen, Prophet Moses (upon him be peace), one of the greatest messengers of Allah, was completely alienated from the family that raised him. Assigned the monumental task of prophethood by Allah, this was a journey Moses was to take alone with just his brother by his side, against one of the most opulent and powerful kingdoms in the world: Egypt. To take all this on whilst being so isolated from support, Moses confided in Allah about the fear this caused him, to which our Lord’s response was:
“Have no fear! I am with you, hearing and seeing” (Quran 20:46).
Much like Moses, revert sisters have also been given a glorious but momentous endeavour that they too often have to take on alone – the adoption of Islam. But remember the unquestionable fact that no matter how hard it gets, as long as we remain sincere, Allah is with us. Holding on to this credence when the lack of company during Ramadan gets difficult will help put your heart at ease; knowing that although your circle has significantly shrunk or has just disappeared altogether, The Greatest, The Most Gracious and Merciful remains close to you, always.
Another way to combat loneliness during Ramadan is to try and re-shape the way you view your situation. ‘Alone’ doesn’t need to mean ‘lonely’. Enshroud your solitude with servitude by embracing the time you have by yourself during Ramadan as a golden opportunity to demagnify all worldly distractions and instead place the magnifying glass directly upon consolidating your relationship with Allah. Being alone can offer the perfect medium to shut out all distractions and focus your energy instead on Islamic self-development. This can mean beginning to learn Arabic, committing to learning one short surah/chapter of the Quran a day or x number of ayat/verses a day, gradually increasing the amount of voluntary prayers you do, day by day etc. Seclusion can leave us feeling dejected and worn out, but by flipping what may seem to be a bad situation on it’s head you’ll be able to see things from a different angle; an angle that can reap benefit Insha’Allah.
Finally, let your heart be at ease for even the greatest prophets of Allah were tested with isolation. In their under-taking of prophethood, many prophets were outcast and abandoned by their people. For instance, Prophet Abraham (upon him be peace), known as the ‘father of all prophets’, was completely isolated in his support for Allah’s religion by not only society in general but also by his own father. Similarly, Prophet Noah (upon him be peace) was tested by Allah with societal isolation for over 900 years! A similar test of endurance was given to Prophet Salih, Moses, Shu’ab, Hud and of course our prophet, Muhammed (peace be upon all of them). Loneliness is by no means easy, but knowing that this is a trial from Allah can turn that feeling of hardship into a feeling of honour. As the hadith goes
“When Allah loves a people, He tests them” (At-Tirmidhi)
Thus it is clear to us that by means of tests, if bore with patience and gratitude, Allah raises the Muslim in status.
“Indeed, Allāh is with the patient.” (Quran 2:153).
So, as mentioned in the Quran and hadith, when we are alone we can take solace in this opportunity; we can hope that Allah loves us and we can hope that Allah is with us, and so what else is left to do, my sister, other than step into the month of Ramadan with confidence and serenity knowing that The Greatest is with you even when no one else is.
About the author
Zeinab lives in London and has always held the love for literature close to her heart. Hoping to give practical Islamic support through writing, Zeinab is one of our blog writers here at SolaceUK.