Photo from The Spruce / Ellen Lindner

What I’ve learned while fasting during a global pandemic

Celebrating Ramadan during COVID-19 is nothing I could have planned for, but I’ve found strength in my community

I don’t always think I’m a “good” Muslim. I don’t wear a hijab or pray 5 times a day. I wear whatever makes me feel confident, versus what other people think I should wear. I do pray, not just when I need something but whenever I feel grateful. Most of all, my girlfriend and I don’t exactly align with the Adam-and-Eve origin story in most Abrahamic faiths.

On a personal level, I try to be the best version of myself during Ramadan. I focus on being slow to anger, especially when I’m hungry or craving coffee. I also spend more time thinking about how I can support my community.

A dining table full of kebabs, naan, and spices. A few hands reach for the food
A dining table full of kebabs, naan, and spices. A few hands reach for the food

None of that is on the menu this time around. But just because the Muslim community can’t eat together doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected.

Muslim community groups and business owners around the world are celebrating Ramadan with Zoom calls, virtual prayers, and free food distribution. There are countless stories of generosity, like that of Amina Salad, a local grocery store owner in Seattle, who donated 3,000 pounds of rice and 600 containers of dates during the first two weeks of Ramadan. Local mosques are holding virtual weekly classes about the core lessons of Islam, while the Muslim Community Resource Center in Washington State is supporting the elderly and those living alone by providing financial support for groceries, medical supplies, and other essentials.

Photo by Erika Schultz / The Seattle Times

It’s a privilege to be employed and work from home, especially during a time when over 36 million Americans have filed for unemployment.

I’ve learned that I don’t have to do this alone, and I’m not just talking about fasting. I can call on my community and my loved ones to check up on me, Facetime me during dinner, or suggest a new recipe to try this week. I can ask my coworkers to be patient with me because it can be challenging to work full-time while fasting for double-digit hours.

I don’t have to be the “typical” Muslim as long as I’m being honest about what I need and drawing strength from my community.

Writer at Microsoft | Human Centered Design and Engineering Alumna | Lifting as I climb | www.aleenahansari.com