Ramadan has always been one of my favourite times of the year. I love the community feel and how much I can connect with Allah. Though for the past couple years, due to my long term health conditions, it’s no longer possible for me to fast. I have medication I need to take regularly and not taking it means my health can rapidly deteriorate.
So for last couple years are the first time since I started fasting as a kid, I cannot keep these or any fasts. And coming to terms with that, saying it has been difficult, is putting it mildly. I so desperately wanted to be able to fast the first year the doctors advised against it that I did actually try fasting despite what they said. And yes, it took me weeks to recover from fasting for those first two days. And not only that, but it affected my whole Ramadan.
I felt like something I love was being snatched away from me. I felt isolated, lonely and upset. I even felt ashamed that I can’t fast. It was a horrible mix of emotions and I really struggled with it. I holed myself away from people to save myself the embarrassment of having to say that I cannot fast. Because I don’t look ill, you can’t see my pain or health problems like you can see a broken bone. And people told me “i’m too young to be this ill” it made me doubt whether I actually was unwell enough to be exempt from fasting.
But this will be the third year in which I can’t fast and I feel like I am finally coming to terms with it and accepting that it’s okay. That the fact that I am exempt from fasting is a mercy from Allah, He has allowed me to not fast as it would be detrimental to my health but as I would fast if I was healthy and able, I will still get the reward for fasting inshaAllah.
Being able to take my medication regularly and eat means my body won’t shut down and i won’t be in agonising pain so that I can do other acts of worship. I can pray during the day and pray taraweeh at night even if it’s at home. I can go to the masjid when they have talks going on. It means I am not struggling to even get myself out of bed so I can make the most of this month by doing all other things. I can read Quran, study tafsir and learn some new supplications.
I know it’s still something not really discussed in Muslim circles, I get people asking if I’m really unable to fast as if I’m making excuses to avoid it. I get stared at (by men mostly) if they see me eat of drink during the day. But I do think it’s getting better. I remember it being a lot worse when I was younger so I am hopeful that people will realise that actually not everyone can fast for a number of reasons from health to periods.
It can make people like me feel really self conscious about eating in public even though it may be necessary for us, I need to eat something before I take my tablets so I have no choice. I’ve felt isolated before because I struggle with the way people stare so I won’t go out but now I’m learning that I have nothing to be ashamed of. So please if you see someone eating in Ramadan don’t make them uncomfortable they most likely have a legitimate reason for not fasting.
I had never imagined that one day I would not be able to fast, not while I was young. I may be able to fast again one day, it really depends on my health but I plan to make the most of the month in whatever way possible.