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Loneliness in Ramadan

by Musa Bukhari

The Prophet Muhammad (Saw) said, “(Allah said), ‘Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting; it is for Me. I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.’ Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.” (Bukhari)

At some point in our lives, each of us will experience the pain of loneliness. Sometimes we can be lonely with people and sometimes without. As we go deeper into the month of Ramadan it is important that we reflect on the blessings of having our loved ones around us, being able to break our fast with friends and family, going to the taraweah prayers, participating in fundraisers and attending those heart reviving halaqahs at the masjid. However, this blooming of sister/brotherhood and family union that takes place every Ramadan can often amplify the loneliness that brothers and sisters feel in contrast. Some reverts who have no family that are Muslim, as well as the elderly and those who are not able bodied in order to leave their houses are being tried with crippling loneliness. Some of our revert brother and sisters are the only ones in their families who are Muslim and are facing backlash and alienation for their adoption of Islam. Fasting alone whilst everyone else is fasting together, praying alone whilst everyone else is praying in congregation, breaking the fast by oneself whilst everyone is doing so as a family, only amplifying the isolation that has been felt throughout the year.

As the first and most important point to address is that when we reflect we will see that when we have Allah in our lives and we worship Him as though we ca see Him, we when never be truly alone.

“He is with you wherever you are” (Quran 57:8)

Making Dua

There are many examples from the lives of the best of creation, the Prophets (as) who struggled with being lonely and isolation. Musa (as) being exiled from Egypt, being commanded to go and speak to firawn, the Prophet (saw) in the cave when he felt disillusioned by the habits and ways of the people of Makkah. Yunus (as) trapped in the belly of the whale. In all of these examples, they did not suffer in silence, they all called upon Allah to aide them. So it is imperative in our struggles that we share our pain with our Creator and call upon Him for assistance.

Attend the local masjid

If you live in a place that has a Muslim population then there is going to be a masjid nearby. Many masjids offer free iftar for their community and they also have taraweah prayers. Instead of opening your fast alone, go to your local masjid and join them as they break their fasts. If there are multiple mosques in your area then visit the other ones. You will find spending time at the masjid is a great way to meet new people.

Abu Sa’id reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If you see a man committed to the mosque, bear witness to his faith. Verily, Allah Almighty said: The mosques are only maintained by those who have faith in Allah and the Last Day, establish prayer and give charity.” (9:18)

Embrace the Solitude

Ramadan is the month for reflection and ibadah. Sometimes this can be lost with all of the events and gatherings that happen during this month. Use this time to really connect with Allah and the Quran. There are many benefits to solitude. One of them is that you get time to really know yourself. Without the noise and distractions, you are able to look inwards and work on bettering yourself. A really powerful practice that you can embark on is tazkiya. Tazkiya is the Islamic principle of purifying your heart. It is learning about your inward state and removing the obstacles that are preventing you from being your best self and attaining closeness to Allah. It is important to seek guidance from a teacher or spiritual coach because they can help you understand what diseases are in your heart and how to remove them.

Another benefit is that you get time to recharge. A lot of the time we are always in “GO!” mode. It’s good to take things slow for a bit and work on the things you have not had time to do. Perhaps you have been wanting to spend time in nature to reflect or work on your calligraphy. Now that you have some time alone you can focus on those things and build a healthier relationship with yourself. But remember, there is a difference between solitude and isolation. Solitude is when you take time away from people and is rooted in wisdom and isolation is when you remove yourself from others or are removed by circumstance and can be rooted in pain. If you find yourself isolated then reach out to a family member or friend, or go to the local Masjid and spend time with people.

Mu’adh ibn Jabal reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Verily, Satan is a wolf amongst humanity like the wolf who seizes the sheep wandering and straying from the flock. Beware of the winding mountain paths. You must stay with the wider community.” – (Ahmad)

Make suhoor / iftar for others

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said: “Whoever provides the food for a fasting person to break his fast with, then for him is the same reward as his (the fasting person’s), without anything being diminished from the reward of the fasting person.” [At Tirmidhi]

Being new to an area or not knowing many Muslims can be daunting and make us feel alone. Invite your friends to break fast with you, it will help cultivate a deeper bonding and add barakah to your relationship. If this is not possible then take your food to the masjid and share it with others at iftar time, inshallah.

Volunteer your time

As mentioned, Ramadan is a time to focus on yourself and your actions. One thing many of us do in this month is increase in charity. Help out at a local charity shop, the masjid or a fundraiser, not only will it add barakah to your time, it is another way to curb the loneliness.

Narrated by Abu Huraira (ra): Allah's Apostle (saw) said, "Allah said, 'O son of Adam! Spend, and I shall spend on you." (Bukhari)

Cultivate Gratitude

Remember loneliness is a feeling, by expressing gratitude for the things in your life, you are allowing for a different feeling to take over. Allah states in the Quran:

“If you are grateful, I would certainly give you more; and if you are ungrateful, My chastisement is truly severe.” (14:7)

"Why would God cause you to suffer if you are grateful and believe? God is always responsive to gratitude, the All-Knowing" (4:147)

Allah tells us that if we are grateful to Him for the blessings He has given us then He will give us more. One way to start cultivating gratitude is to start a gratitude journal. Every day for the month of Ramadan write down three different things you are grateful for. Try not to repeat the same things. By doing this exercise you are training your mind to see things from a different perspective.

Join an online class

If you are unable to leave your home, seek the benefits of the internet to connect you to others. Take an online class, stream the taraweah prayers, take part in online discussions. You can still be active in the community through learning and engagement via the online world. During these classes some students become friends and perhaps this is something that can be explored inshallah.

“When Allah loves a people, He tests them” (At-Tirmidhi)

May Allah allow us to be grateful for our blessings and may He allow us to help those who are struggling with loneliness and may they also have the strength and openings to help themselves ameen.

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