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How To Maximize Ramadan When Not Fasting

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Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is the Most Merciful that He exempts Muslim adults from fasting during Ramadan if their health cannot manage1Children, travelers, women that are pregnant, breastfeeding, or on menstruation are also exempted from fasting. . Exemption from fasting due to health concerns may include Muslims with disabilities2This could be for a physical or intellectual type of disability. , chronic illnesses, and our elderly. Those that have a more permanent health condition are fully exempted from fasting. Regardless of why you have found yourself in the situation in which you’re exempt form fasting, how are you going to maximize Ramadan when not fasting?

Understanding the Purpose of Fasting, and Exemption from it

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reveals about fasting during Ramadan that,

 

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“The month of Ramadan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” [Surah Al-Baqarah:185]

The exemption of fasting is thus the accommodation of needs. One exempted from fasting, due to health reasons, can still partake in Ramadan activities. This could be other acts of worship such as prayer, reading the Qu’ran, or feeding the poor. Ramadan is the time for Muslims to increase their acts of obedience, and give back to the underprivileged, but the function is also a means to fulfill one’s spiritual needs. One can, therefore, still partake in congregational suhoors, iftaars, and taraweeeh, regardless of the exemption from fasting.

The act of fasting when exempted from fasting does not equate to righteousness. No one, therefore, has the right to allude that those fasting are attaining a higher level of righteousness.

The act of fasting when exempted from fasting does not equate to righteousness. No one, therefore, has the right to allude that those fasting are attaining a higher level of righteousness.Click To Tweet

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) did say for those exempted from fasting due to traveling, that, “It is not an act of righteousness to fast when traveling.” [Bukhari 1946]

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows one’s level of righteousness. One’s responsibility is only to strive towards maximizing the Ramadan experience without jeopardizing one’s health or anyone else’s health.

4 Ways to Maximize Ramadan When Not Fasting

The maximization of the Ramadan experience does not necessarily mean the quantity of acts of worship we can do—such as prayer or recitation of Qu’ran—but rather our level of sincerity in doing what is within our capacity.

We are encouraged to try our very best to pray and read3It is encouraged to recite the Qur’an but some with disabilities—and also reverts—may find reading more possible. as much Qu’ran as possible, but, when having a health challenge there can sometimes be confusion on whether or not we are doing so properly. This could lead one to feel as if we are missing out on the Ramadan experience, especially when exempted from fasting, too.

Below are 4 possible steps of how to maximize Ramadan when given the health exemption:

1. Gratitude list for making it to Ramadan
Life is temporary, and none of us truly know how many Ramadans we have left to experience. This is a reality for anyone; whether they have a health challenge or not. It is a form of mercy to be able to experience another Ramadan. This is, therefore, a time to increase our gratitude towards Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

It is an act of sincerity to thank anyone that has favored us. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has favored us the most, so list out ways that you are grateful to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and thank Him. Thank any of your loved ones that have been there for you too. This would automatically shift your mindset to what you have instead of what is missing. Exemption from fasting is also something to be grateful for as you are given another way of experiencing Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Mercy. Growth occurs when reflecting on the blessings in our lives.

Some navigating health may not have the strength to write down a gratitude list. One can type on their phones or list out anything that comes within their minds. The primary purpose of this is to increase our thanks—and praises to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)—for any blessing experienced. This would automatically enrich our lives—our Ramadan—for the better.

One can make this list in advance before Ramadan, too, to go back to the list during Ramadan with reflection.

2. Supplication list for yourself and others by utilizing Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) 99 names

We are meant to praise Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by calling on His 99 names. These are there for us to reflect and connect with Him. Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) 99 names show us how He is there for us in our lives through different ways. It shows how we can all call out to Him and shape our supplications. If we are yearning for forgiveness, we can call out to Him as Al-Ghafoor (The Oft-Forgiving). If we are yearning for protection, we can call out to Him as Al-Wali (The Guardian). There are many names for different scenarios in our lives.

List out the ways you can supplicate to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by utilizing His 99 names. This would guide you on how to further praise Him and also ask from Him. It would also allow you to ask for your loved ones, too, whether they are in this world or have passed away. You end up being a means of sadqah-jariyah for your loved ones that have passed.

Pray for the wellbeing of everyone by utilizing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He)’s 99 names, including those that have wronged you. This shapes you amongst the sincere, and Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) truly loves sincerity.

It is through the remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that hearts find peace, and further reflection on Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) 99 names does enrich one’s Ramadan experience.

3. Formation of ‘intentions list’ for growth
One can always intend to fast even though exempted from fasting. One can always ask Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) to include us amongst those that intended to fast, regardless of not fasting out of obedience to Him. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is more Merciful than we will ever know.

It is good to develop the mindset of forming intentions for any act of obedience during Ramadan, and even after. The formation of intentions develops the mindset of growth and plans for our future. We are expected to leave Ramadan as better versions of ourselves. We are meant to progress not only within our homes, but also better serve the lives of the underprivileged.

List out intentions for growth in every area in your life—especially on how to improve acts of worship after reflecting on Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) 99 names. Go back to supplicating by using Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) 99 names after the formation of intentions to reflect and call out to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) more.

Let loved ones know your intentions, too, so that they can be a form of aid towards your growth.

4. Strive to be amongst those that uplift
It is easy to think that we are in no position to uplift others when we ourselves are not well. It does not mean that we do not strive to do what we can. A smile can also be a means to uplift.

Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Your smiling in the face of your brother is charity. [Tirmidhi 1956]4Source: https://sunnah.com/tirmidhi:1956

Some of those exempted from fasting, due to health reasons, cannot feed the poor. They might need to donate from the earnings of their loved ones to compensate for their fasts. This does not mean that we cannot give back from our own accord. We can still uplift others through many ways. It can be a smile, like Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, or through even telling our loved ones how much we cherish them.

The hadith where Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that your smile can also be a form of charity continues, “[…]commanding good and forbidding bad is charity, your giving directions to a man lost in the land is charity for you. Your seeing for a man without sight is a charity for you, your removal of a rock, a thorn or a bone from the road is charity for you. Your pouring what remains from your bucket into the bucket of your brother is charity for you.” [Tirmidhi 1956]

We can always pour water from our cup for our loved ones that are fasting, or we can ask them to assist us when we do. The act of us trying to be there is what matters.

Maximize Relative to Your Circumstances

When it comes down to it, it is the state of our hearts that makes for an enriching Ramadan.
The fact that we are alive and there to experience Ramadan with our loved ones is a mercy and blessing, too.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) always envelope us—and our loved ones—in His Mercy for many Ramadans to come, ameen. 

 

Related reading:

Chronic Illness and Ramadan: Coping Tips and Strategies

Why Do We Need Discussions On Disability At Our Mosques?

Accommodations For People With Disabilities At Mosques

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Sa’diyya Nesar is the author of 'Strength from Within,' TEDx speaker, and poet that lives life with a physical disability. Download chapter 1 of her book here: www.sadiyyanesar.com

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