The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated lives across the world. So far, there have been over 3,356,205 confirmed cases globally and over 238,730 people have lost their lives.
While the coronavirus continues to disrupt lives and livelihoods, Muslims around the world are celebrating one of the holiest months of the year: Ramadan. In this new landscape, it is increasingly challenging for many of us to celebrate and appreciate the month of Ramadan when we have lost jobs, watched loved ones get sick, and are struggling with stress. With the ongoing lockdowns around the world, many are struggling to accept a Ramadan affected by self-isolation and physical distancing.
While it is a little disheartening to experience Ramadan without family and friends – with restrictions limiting large communal gatherings – it is more important than ever before to reflect on the true essence of Ramadan, and ensure that we remain steadfast in our worship and faith.
Here are five simple ways you can lift your spirits and achieve some of your personal and spiritual goals this Ramadan, while observing social isolation and physical distancing rules. Remember, no matter what is happening around us, the greatest source of strength we have is our connection with Allah (swt)
Keep a routine
It can be incredibly challenging to stick to a routine in lockdown – when the lines between your personal and work life have been blurred with working from home becoming commonplace, the kids are at home from childcare or school, and other family members sharing your new “workspace”. Often, it may seem like the hours, days and even weeks all meld together, making it easy to lose our sense of time. That’s why, it is important to keep some sense of normality by putting in place a routine to make sure we structure our days effectively, especially during Ramadan when we may be struggling to keep your energy levels up during the day.
Make a daily schedule, divide your day into different sections, or plan your day with time limits on certain activities to make sure you’re making the most out of your day.Stay physically active
Whether you have been exercising from before or just getting started, staying active provides many benefits such as improved mental health, strengthening muscles, and reducing aches and pains. This is a great healthy habit to develop! Aim for 30 minutes of exercise that will increase your heart rate. You can do full body workouts at home with little to no additional equipment.
Make the most of “lonely” iftars
For many of us, this Ramadan marks a stark contrast to others – with community iftars, large family gatherings and taraweeh prayers at the mosque all off the agenda. With physical distancing becoming the new norm, many of us will be forced to have iftar alone or will fewer people than usual.
But just because there are fewer people does not make the iftar any less significant. In fact, this may be an opportunity to really connect with Allah (swt) and appreciate the true meaning of fasting all day. Even if it’s just you, make sure you’re still having a healthy, meaningful iftar – this can be the best time for some important me-time, connecting with Allah (swt) and expressing gratitude to Him.
Laylatul Qadr is the holiest night of the holiest month, in which the Qur’an was revealed. The rewards for prayer and good deeds on Laylatul Qadr (the night of power) are immensely multiplied. “The night of al-Qadr is better than a thousand months” (Qur’an 97:3). It is said that du’a and seeking forgiveness on this holy night have the power to change Divine decree and relieve stress and sorrow.
So, the power of this holy night cannot be understated, and despite our current situation in lockdown, we can still have a night of devotion and supplication in your own home alone with Allah during Laylatul Qadr. While we don’t know when Laylatul Qadr falls, we do know that it occurs during the last ten nights of Ramadan. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said; Look for Laylatul Qadr on an odd-numbered night during the last ten nights of Ramadan (Bukhari).
Giving charity is also an important way you can make the most of this blessed night and help those who are suffering. There really is no better time to give than the last ten days of Ramadan – good deeds are multiplied by more than 700 times in this blessed month, and during the night of Laylatul Qadr the rewards are beyond bounds, SubhanAllah!
Don’t miss this opportunity to really ensure you’re spending this special night in prayer and devotion.
Finally, despite the challenges and anxiety that has come out of the current situation, remember that at the end of the day, we only truly need Allah (swt) and Him alone. Yes, this Ramadan is different with less social interaction and closed mosques, but Ramadan is about so much more.
In fact, being alone during Ramadan is the ideal time for reflection – and to experience a simpler, quieter, and introspective Ramadan. It is a chance for us to connect on a deeper, more authentic level, to our sense of self and to our Creator. It is worth noting that self-isolation was a common practice of our Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) who would isolate himself for days in a cave at the top of a mountain to introspect, reflect, worship and connect with God.
So, rather than feeling sad about Ramadan being a little different this year, we can see this situation as a blessing in disguise – we’ve been stripped of the white noise and have been gifted an opportunity to reconnect with our faith and Creator.