Covert Fasting for Converts
Dear New Muslim
Even though you feel alone, and this Ramadan is a struggle, we are proud of you and praying for you.
Every pain you feel and every challenge you face we increase in your love. We support you and wish to provide you with some tools to help you at this trying time.
Keep in mind that each circumstance and situation calls for a different course of action. The following are only suggestions and you are best suited to implement what works for you.
Muslims around the world share the bond of fasting as a brotherhood around the world. A big part of the difficulty of fasting is relieved when everyone around you is also fasting, openly.
But what if no one knows you’re Muslim? Many of us, New Muslims, have not disclosed the decision of embracing Islam to our family and loved ones.
Here are some creative ways that you can use to avoid the awkwardness of being the only one in the room not eating:
6 Tips for Fasting in Secret
1. Deflect and Avoid
If invited to a dinner or a party, excuse yourself out. No one can force you to attend a gathering, like a birthday, where partaking in food will play a central role. You can opt out of that cake and ice cream by simply telling your family, friends, or co-workers, that you “don’t feel like it”. You can soften the blow by asking for a rain check and promising to make it up to them at a different time.
2. Excuses, excuses
If getting out of the gathering is unavoidable, simply refrain from eating. You may opt out at the table, and join in the conversation. There is no need to lie or make up a false excuse. It is doubtful that you will be pressured to eat if you refuse, and unlikely that someone present will force you to eat. If you are physically forced to eat, you would be excused and should not feel guilty.
3. Get busy
If you are at home and there is an event that will put pressure on you to eat or drink, you could make yourself busy in the kitchen or elsewhere in the house, preparing for the guests. You can stay busy while the meal is served, or start cleaning up.
4. Home away from home
If you predict that when you return home at a certain time, you will be caught fasting, then stay out. Go to the library or to a museum or another place that will occupy your time until you imagine the meal at home is over. Your alibi can be reinforced if you take up a class that brings you home after the sun has set.
5. Time for Eating
If invited out, or to plan an event where you will feel this pressure, plan it so that it extends past the time the sun sets. You can duck out to offer your prescribed ritual devotion and come back to the event to break your fast. If the choice is there to decide between a daytime or night-time gathering, choose the late one so that you can eat and drink along with the rest of the group.
Here is a synopsis of a Bayaan I delivered the other day on the exact topic. Maybe it is a worthy comment?
Ramadaan–what is it also about?
Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim. Brothers and elders. Asaalamu Alaikum. Thanks to Allah I stand here today to deliver a Bayaan. The theme is something I have been thinking about.
Ramadaan – the Holy Month of Ramadaan. One of the five pillars in Islam. And why is it so important?
In many ways it seems that the overwhelming topic in Ramadaan is ‘fasting’. How many times are we asked the good question: “are you fasting?” Well, the answer ought to be rather simple. As much as the question is a bit simple. Is the fasting aspect now our badge of honour? Ramadaan is just so much more, but let us just focus on one little thing in all of this: fasting.
Let us look in the Holy Quran:
2:183 O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil.
So, how can fasting guard us against evil? We are getting there.
Maybe because I am a bit ignorant, only having been a Muslim for such a short time, I haven’t got the full meaning of it.
That said, Islam is actually also a very personal thing. It is not just an outward showing off. Allah is not so interested in the show-off.
So, what does going hungry and thirsty do to me? Now, this here is personal and maybe not easy to relate to. In which instance I apologise upfront, but let us carry on for now.
Going hungry and thirsty puts me in the shoes of the people who are less fortunate. The one’s where they simply do not have food. The one’s where even a glass of cold water on a summer day is a blessing.
It is difficult to associate with the poor when on my way to lunch. Let us face it. BUT if I have been fasting the whole day and then should meet a beggar, well, I think I can see the situation.
THAT to me is also a part of Ramadaan. A very important part, really.
In essence, it is not so much a matter of just going hungry. It is the ability to experience what the less fortunate have to combat on a daily basis.
But guarding against evil? Yes, we are indeed getting there.
What is worse than getting up early in the morning and stuffing oneself? And in the evening? Eating until not even a tiny morsel can go down anymore.
Is this how our Prophet (SAW) did it? Not so sure. It is also said that only eat until there is still space for another 1/3. And stop there.
Also during Ramadaan? I don’t know, but maybe this is the reality for many?
OK, so if we should break the fast? Here is my interpretation: Breaking the fast is really having had enough of associating with the poor. And that is not good. Breaking the fast is somehow putting ourselves outside, not inside.
How do we put ourselves inside the situation? How to please Allah? Do something about it! The Holy Quan says:
2:185 …But he who does good on his own accord shall be well rewarded; but to fast is better for you..”
Now we are getting into it. By associating with the poor, the hungry, and doing something about it. That is pleasing to Allah, and that is our shield. THAT is guarding against evil.
Let me use myself as example. We have one in the family who is having two kids. The father of the kids is hardly paying for anything towards anything. So, she is phoning us from time to time. Asking for help. As in “there is nothing in the fridge” what will happen if nobody helps? The kids (and herself) will go hungry. Can we help? Yes, we can. Of course we can. But do we always do it? And do we always do it with a sincere heart? Now here is where Satayn is creeping in.
Let me be brutally honest. Sometimes when the call comes in, I do think like “we just gave her R200 last week” but as my wife is also pointing out, when those kind of thoughts are coming into my head: “when have YOU done the shopping for a week for only R200? For three people, nogal”
She is of course right. And that is exactly my point today. Now I can start to see what those two kids will feel if we do not help. They will go hungry for the day or more. Until something will happen. I know that in my situation, Maghrib will happen and I will be ok again. But if that was not so? Now we see it. Now it is something very personal. How else can I really learn this?
So, it is a stark and personal reminder. Ramadaan is personal. If we can make it a personal matter, I think we have achieved something mighty important: All for the pleasure of Allah.
Let us carry on a bit on this. It does say as well:
2:184 For those who can fast only with extreme difficulty, there is a way to compensate – the feeding of a needy person.
2: 185 God desires ease for you, not hardship
The extreme difficulty is a matter of definition, but let us just imagine that this is where it is completely unbearable. THAT is surely a reminder of what needy people go through. It will make an impact. However, let it not be convenience. That totally defeats the purpose. And Allah will know your intentions, so let us not try to fool ourselves or Allah. We also realise that Allah is not condemning us if we cannot do it. Allah will always provide us with a solution and a way forward.
Why a whole month? Maybe so it really is sinking in. This is something we need to do something about. And that is perhaps where the importance comes in: We need to do something about the poor and the needy – all the time.
A month will make sure we see the ongoing daily struggle and battle. It might guide us for the other eleven months of the year. Making sure we understand that this is also our mission: do something for the needy, the less fortunate. All for the pleasure of Allah.
Remember when our former housing minister Mr Tokyo Sexwale stayed in a shack for the night? Just to experience it. Next day he said it was cold and he was hungry and he needed to get a shower. And now he understood. OK, well, yes. Imagine if he had decided to stay there for a month? That would put it into reality, not just an experience.
So easy to go to Sandton after one night to have lunch. We have a whole month to see how needy people live. The reality of life!
So what is the conclusion?
Ramadaan is also about identifying with the needy, to feel the hardship which is a part of humanity, to see for oneself what other people combat – daily.
And it gives us the opportunity to do something about it. We have to be ashamed that this is how other people live, to the point where we do something, sacrifice a bit perhaps.
We have to realise as well that Allah always will give us opportunities to do good, to do the right thing. Sending a beggar in our direction is not to irritate us, but to offer us the chance to please Him. All for the pleasure of Allah. It is our choice to accept the challenge or to turn away. After Ramadaan we should know what it is all about and take such opportunities to please Him.
And let it be said: good deeds are pleasing to Allah. THAT is our shield against evil. THAT is our defence against Satayn. THAT is how we guard against evil.
I am grateful to the Almighty for having granted me this new opportunity to address you today and I thank you for having given me the time to talk to you. First give me hidayah and to all mankind success, only on the command of Allah and the lifestyle of the Prophet Mohammed, Sallaalahu Aleihi Wasalaam. Ameen.
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