I began fasting Ramadhan in 2009 on a dare from an ex-boyfriend. I still remember the pub where I broke my first day of fasting with a beer and a double-bacon cheeseburger. I thought I was so rebellious! Haha! I was doing things all sorts of way, on purpose, because I could. I had no idea what Ramadhan had in store with me that year or in the years to come…
Here I am, a decade later, having fasted more or less every year since. It has become, over the time, the spiritual highlight of my year. I converted during Ramadhan 2012. I had an eventful mosque-hopping experience with Eren Cervantes-Altamirano in 2015. Overall, Ramadhan was and still is my favourite time of the Islamic calendar.
Yet, here I am in 2020, trying to figure out how to find spiritual meaning during this Holy month. See, I am blessed: in October 2019, my husband and I learned that we had conceived — I’m expecting to deliver God willing [inshaAllah] a healthy child in early July 2020.
Early in the pregnancy, I anticipated what Ramadhan would mean for me during pregnancy. There’s no doubt in my mind that I will not fast — while I’ve met pregnant people who feel able and comfortable to do so, I believe that if God has given us an exemption, it is nothing short of hubris to forgo it.
So okay, no fasting. Not the be all end all of Ramadhan.
I’m gratefully close to the local mosque, which means I could put my efforts and energy in congregational ritual prayer [salaat], especially night prayers [Taraweeh/Tahajuud]… but then the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and congregating became especially unsafe.
Now, again, I know that some folks will forgo public health recommendations to attend community prayers, but I am not so confident. As the Arabic saying “Trust in God, but tie your camel!” implies, one can place their faith in a higher power and still choose to be prudent!
There are online communities and virtual gatherings; I’ve never been very big on them in general and while Ramadhan might be a good time to start… I don’t foresee that being where I want to put my brain power.
As I contemplate my options, I also take into consideration my other life obligations: I am still expected to work from home and have quite a bit of work to settle before I give birth. I also have many rooms to reorganize and baby essentials to acquire…
And it’s thinking about my home organization that I chose my Ramadhan project: I will dedicate the Holy Month of Ramadhan 2020 to organizing my spare room into a prayer/meditation/reading room adequate for ritual prayer [salaat] and to read Qu’ran. It will be a spiritual centre for our family as we navigate the early days of our child’s life.
For now, it mostly consists of boxes and pre-purchased baby items. But with daily work, I expect to turn this space into something convivial, bright, and beautiful, that will serve as beacon of introspection and connection with the divine.
So there you have it, folks! My Ramadhan plan 2020, not to be compared with my plans from 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 or previous years… This Ramadhan will be one to remember, and with some will and some luck, I will keep you updated on the progress!!!