Patient endurance and love for others – A young person’s Ramadan in quarantine

“Peace be upon you for what you patiently endured. And excellent is the final home.”  ~ Surah Ar-Ra’d [13:24]

So lockdown has taken away our access to education, social lives, and our freedom – and now we have to give up food and drink? Despite what you may think, Ramadan has helped me to get through quarantine and to thrive.

Most may associate Ramadan with hunger, but Ramadan isn’t really about what’s for dinner or when we can eat. Yes, we abstain from food and drink to understand the hardships faced by those in poverty, but for most Muslims, this only touches the surface of what Ramadan really is. 

The real beauty lies in the hopes of millions to start another day afresh with the intentions to do better and to be better. We don’t just fast from food and drink, we also try to refrain from bad habits that hold us back from being better people. It is a blissful time for Muslims around the world to commemorate their faith and reflect over the past nine months of the Islamic calendar.

Being in quarantine, away from my usually busy life of exams and school, gave me space to reflect on what it means to me to be the best Muslim I can be. This meant being a better friend, a better family member and a better person to the world. Being in lockdown has made me appreciate my loved ones and strive to be a better person to them.

I’ve also been trying to do my part in helping towards the pandemic by being involved in new projects. These have allowed me to advocate for the challenges faced by young people due to Covid-19. Ramadan is a time for us to understand the inequalities that we have within our social system. Watching a pandemic unfold during Ramadan only intensifies this experience, as we see many social inequalities now pushed out into the light.

We’re all feeling the effects of the pandemic, but some are more than others. As I am from a background which makes me likely to face these inequalities, I feel that it is a responsibility of mine to help those who are vulnerable, not just as a Muslim, but as a human being.

Quarantine has also taught me to become a better Khalifah (steward). All too often, we take for granted the natural world that we have. We don’t realise how detrimental our actions can be. Now that one of the best parts of my day is taking a moment to walk in the fresh air, I have greater focus and care for the natural world.

This Ramadan, I’ve vowed to do better by our planet by doing my part in helping the environment. Although it’s little things like limiting usage of electrical devices and having non-meat days, knowing that I’m reducing my carbon footprint little by little feels like something positive, when otherwise it’s easy to feel powerless.

The world is so beautiful, but it makes me wonder why we’re so neglectful towards taking care of it. Ramadan really helps me understand how lucky we are to be blessed with a world like ours. 

Ramadan also teaches us to be active citizens and this is something that I take very seriously. My faith is what inspires me to carry out social action. Muslims are taught to follow the Sunnah (the way of Prophet Muhammad SWS). He was a man of piety, and love for mankind and our world. He inspires Muslims like me to be of help to anyone and everyone, regardless of our differences. For me, this means to do social action with the #iwill campaign and also the Cardiff and Vale Health Youth Board. By doing so, I hope to build my akhlaq (character) and be a better citizen. 

This Ramadan has also been different from others as it’s my first year celebrating without my grandfather. He was my greatest friend and sometimes my only friend. Words cannot explain pain of losing someone so special. For a long time, I didn’t want to feel anything. When quarantine and Ramadan came along, I could no longer hold back the pain that I felt. 

As my eyes flooded with tears, so did my countless memories of a life lived in joy. Feeling the peace of Ramadan in quarantine reminded me of my ways of life and the person he taught me to be. 

I knew that he wouldn’t want me to stop all the good things that he inspired me to do, so I was adamant to carry on his legacy through his teachings and my work. Over the past month, I’ve let myself mourn over the loss of a best friend, and it was the greatest thing I could’ve given myself. I have Ramadan, quarantine and social action to thank for that. I have too often felt alone – as I imagine many young people feel right now – but I never really was. I had the right people to support and guide me during the worst time in my life and I can’t thank them enough.

I know that I can’t speak for all young Muslims around the world, as we all go through such different things. But I hope that they, and everyone else with a different faith or no religion at all, can embark on a journey of their own and find the peace that they need at this time. 

Athika is an 18 year old #iwill Ambassador and member of the Cardiff and Vale Youth Health Board.