Musings of a Muslimah, Ramadan Readathon

Ramadan When You Have A Disability

I decided to write about what Ramadan is like for me for Ramadan Readathon as I am unable to fast because of my disability and chronic illness.

Ramadan holds a special place in my heart, especially in my 20s when I could truly appreciate it and all the blessings it holds. But my 20s were also when I started struggling with my health and was eventually diagnosed with a prolapsed disc, fibromyalgia and vertigo. It affected every single aspect of my life and continues to do so, though I have mostly learned to adjust and make accommodations. 

However, it became more and more difficult for me to be able to fast and it severely affected my health. I eventually had to stop fasting after speaking to both my imam and doctors about how it is affecting me and it was probably one of the most difficult things to come to terms with.  

Every Ramadan I feel like I am missing out on these blessings and rewards for those who fast. Every Ramadan I have to prepare myself when people “need” to know why I am not fasting. The looks of pity and sometimes even judgement, saying “I should just try.” 

It makes me think twice about going to the masjid or public gatherings and when I’m there my anxiety is in overdrive. Because not only am I not fasting, but I also require a chair to sit as sitting on the floor causes my legs to go numb. But I don’t look disabled so I will always have to justify myself. I think there is only one masjid I’ve been to where I have actually felt welcome and that has truly made such a huge difference in my life.  

But it’s been a few years now that I haven’t been fasting and I’ve mostly come to terms with it. I know that Allah will reward me because it isn’t my fault that I cannot fast and that not fasting has allowed me to be able to function during the day as I can take my medication and manage my pain. It means I am able to pray taraweeh and stay up at night for ibadah. It means I can focus on my salah and Quran because I am not dying from pain and it also means that I am able to make iftar for my husband and get the rewards for feeding a fasting person.   

Seeing all the blessings that Allah has given me and the ability to still be able to complete other acts of worship and focus on that instead of the one thing I can no longer do has helped me to come to terms with this and still be able to make the most of this month. Having people in my life I can talk to about this has also been really helpful because sometimes I feel frustrated but after speaking to someone I love about it, I can see a different perspective and also just get it off my chest. Just being able to sit and ask Allah for help and turn to him especially when I am having a bad pain day just brings me sukoon and contentment. I know I will be okay. 

Obviously I still have good and bad days, days when I am more productive and days when I need to rest more (generally the day after I have cooked I need more rest as that takes a lot of spoons). So I know to manage my days accordingly. On days when I am not able to stand up and pray taraweeh I will sit and read Quran even if it’s from my phone because the joint pain in my hands are bad. If I can barely sit up I will watch a lecture or listen to Quran, do some dhikr to make the most of my time. I can still sometimes over do it but I am learning and alhamdulillah I am very lucky that it’s just me and my husband, he is very supportive and helps me with my pain management. If I’ve had a bad few days and there isn’t really any food for iftar, he will open his fast at the masjid and then bring home something for me to eat too.  

It’s been a big learning curve for me but alhamdulillah I am trying to make the most of Ramadan even if I can’t fast. It can be a lonely experience which is why I decided to write about mine and maybe someone else will read it and not feel like it’s only them, all alone. 

You can find more Ramadan Readathon content over on the Blog, Instagram and Twitter

Musings of a Muslimah, Muslim Shelf Space

Islamic Talks and Series I Recommend Listening To

It’s Ramadan and a time of self reflection and building our relationship with Allah and one way to do this is to learn more about Islam and what it teaches, to learn from the Muslims in the past and to learn more about Allah and the Prophet (pbuh).

I have already shared a post about book recommendations to read to help work on our spiritual relationship which you can read here but I know many of us like to watch talks and attend classes. I miss the weekly Ramadan iftars at my masjid where our imam would give a short talk on various topics before we opened our fast. So I thought that I would share some of the online talks I have listened to and benefited from and inshalAllah they will be of benefit to you all too.

Imam Omar Suleiman does a Ramadan series every year and this year is called Meeting Muhammad (pbuh). These are short 10 minute reminders to help us connect to him and our faith. I absolutely love them and me and my husband watch them together while we open our fast every evening.

I absolutely love Hesham al-Awadi’s series about Women around the Prophet (pbuh). He shares so many incredible women that lived at the time of the Prophet (pbuh). It’s been a while since I listened to it but I did love it a lot.

Yasmin Mogahed is one of my absolute favourite teachers and I recommend you listen to all of her talks that are available online. This one she discusses unhealthy attachments and true love.

Another series that I loved when I listened to was about the Mothers of the Believers by Suhaib Webb. Again, I haven’t heard it in a while but I did love it when I listened to it.

The Firsts series by Omar Suleiman is an incredible series and a unique take on learning about the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam through their lives. This is an ongoing series.

Maryam Amir is another great teacher who I love listening to. In this one she discusses sustaining a healthy marriage.

I also want to share last years Ramadan series by Omar Sulieman that was about Angels in Islam. A topic that is rarely discussed but so important for us to know more about.

There are so many more I could share but I don’t want to overwhelm you all. These are all of course things we can continue to listen to after Ramadan as we won’t be able to get through all of these in a few weeks.

Musings of a Muslimah

Making the Most of Ramadan When You Can’t Fast

There are many reasons as to why someone may not be able to fast from being on your period to having a chronic illness that prevents you from fasting. Maybe you have to travel or you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

It can seem isolating or frustrating that you can’t fast because it can feel like you are missing out. But Allah has given us this for a reason even if we don’t know what it is. Even if we can’t fast we can still make the most of Ramadan because this month is not just the month of fasting it is the month of the Quran. The month in which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet (pbuh) and so we can still build that taqwa to help us become closer to Allah.

And remember that if you had wanted to and intended to fast but couldn’t because circumstances prevented it, you will still get the reward for fasting. We know that we are rewarded for our intention for doing a righteous deed as if we did it, if we were prevented and the same is for fasting.

So here are some things you can still do even if you can’t fast:

1 Give money to charities that provide food to those who are fasting in places that they cannot afford to get food to open their fast.

2 Read and reflect on the Quran as much as you can and set a goal for yourself. What do you want to achieve in Ramadan when it comes to reading Quran. Read it daily, set aside time each day to read the Quran.

3 Pray your salah on time and also incorporate a nafl prayer into your routine eg. salah ad-duha (after fajr but before zuhr)

4 Incorporate Dhikr into your routine. Saying them after each salah, when you wake up, before you go to sleep etc

5 Dua is worship. Learn new duas that were taught to us from the Quran and sunnah. I recommend using Fortress of a Muslim and an app called MyDuaa. Write down your duas, all the things you want to ask for from Allah so that you don’t forget them.

6 Make istaghfar and incorporate it into your routine whether it’s before bed or after each salah

7 Give money to charity throughout the month. Even if it isn’t a lot even 50p is a lot in the sight of Allah. I also recommend spreading out what you want to give each day especially in the last 10 nights to make sure you catch Laylatul qadr

8 Stay up a portion of the night to pray. Even if you can’t pray because you are on your period you can read Quran, do dhikr and make dua.

9 Increase in Islamic knowledge. There is so many incredible Ramadan series running, my favourite is Omar Suleiman’s. Every year he has a different topic. This year is about the Prophet (pbuh). Read Islamic books and reflect on what you learnt and how you can incorporate it into your life.

10 Give up a bad habit or something you do that you know you shouldn’t as it’s haram. This is the perfect time to give up the haram. Replace it with something good. Eg replace listening to music with listening to vocals only nasheeds or play nature sounds instead.

I hope these are of benefit. If there’s anything else you think would be a great tip please do share in the comments!

Inspirational People

Inspirational Women Throughout History – Aisha bint Abu Bakr

Today I am going to talk a little about Aisha bint Abu Bakr (ra). She is one of my favourite women to read about as I find her so inspiring and someone to look up to.

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She was an incredible woman, she was a wife of the Prophet (saw) and we know through many narrations that he loved her most from everyone. And when I read about her life and the woman she was I can see why!

She was the most renowned scholar and a teacher and she taught all the companions of the Prophet (saw) especially after his death. If anyone needed clarification on any matters or needed an answer for something they would go to her. She was known to be the most knowledgeable person. She especially excelled in hadith, fiqh, poetry and medicine. She was the type of person who, if she didn’t know or understand something she would go and learn about it until she became confident in that area.

She was a very sharp and feisty woman who stood up for her beliefs and was confident and assertive when it came to correcting people so that misinformation wouldn’t spread. She was also very eloquent in her speech, a great speaker and was even known to be a better speaker than the first four caliphs, Abu Bakr (ra), Umar (ra), Uthman (ra) and Ali (ra) and these four were known to be some of the best of people and leaders. She was outspoken and voiced her opinions on many matters in Islam, even if the other scholars disagreed she would give her opinion and her evidences for her opinion and always be confident in speaking up.

She spoke up about so many things from women’s rights, to education and so much more.

Her assertiveness and confidence to speak up is even more important to note because she lived in a time when that wasn’t the norm for women to be so outspoken. This slowly changed as Islam spread but she was alive right at the beginning when things were slowly changing. So for her to be so unafraid to speak up against even the men and those in power was something amazing. She did this throughout her life and because of her we have so much information about Islam and the Prophet (saw) and about life at the time.

She narrated 2210 hadith (sayings of the Prophet ) which included things on worship and family and especially women’s health, for example what women can and can’t do on their periods in terms of worship etc. She always shared intimate moments about her life with the Prophet (saw). Things we otherwise would never have known, from how he was in the home, how he spoke to her, how much he joked and made her laugh, how much he expressed his love to her and so attentive to the point that he knew by her changing one word in how she spoke to him that she was mad at him. We would never know any of these things without her.

She preserved so much of Islamic beliefs and worship and so much more because she was one of the best teachers and leaders in education. Without her so much would have been lost to time.

Inspirational People

Inspirational Women Throughout History – Fatima Al Fihri

This post is about Fatima al Fihri who built the world’s first university.

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Fatima Al Fihri was born in Tunisia and then migrated with her family to Morocco. She came from a wealthy family and when her father passed away he left her a big fortune. Not much is known about her early life but her and her sister were well educated and deeply religious. She used the money her father left her to invest in and build a mosque and educational institute for her community.

Initially it was a smaller place of education with a courtyard, prayer hall, libraries and classrooms. At first the courses which were offered were religious studies and Quranic studies. When she thought about making a place for a higher level of learning she expanded on the institute. People would come from all over the world to study and it was expanded and built upon until it was made into a university.

The university was named the University of al-Qarawiyyin, named after Fatima’s birthplace, Qayrawan in Tunisia. It was established in 859 and was the first degree granting institute in the world. There was a wide range of areas of study available to study from, astronomy, maths to sciences, medicine, languages and more. Even Fatima studied there too. Notable scholars from all over the world studied there and it was considered a place of a major intellectual centre in the medieval times.

The university is still running now and there are also other places which are part of the university which you can visit too including the library which is one of the world’s oldest libraries! There are over 4000 manuscripts there and you can even see Fatima’s diploma on display there on a wooden board!

She has such an amazing lasting legacy that a woman was the first to build and establish a university where everyone was welcome to come and study at. As a result of her building this higher education institute it paved way for other places to be built including University of Oxford and helped advance opportunities for higher learning all over Europe.

You can read the previous posts in this series here:

Khadijah al Khuwaylid

Nusaybah bint Ka’ab