Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem
So I am writing this on a Thursday afternoon, just as February is about to begin. I don’t know if it will get posted anytime soon, but I wanted to share some reflections that I have been having today.
As you all may or may not know, I try to make it a habit to fast every Monday and Thursday, as well as the “white days” of the month. Which means I should be fasting today; I am not travelling nor am I on my menstrual cycle, so according to me the only excuse is my own laziness.
To be a bit more fair, I started off the day fasting. I woke up around 5:30 AM, prayed a couple of extra rakat and made plenty of duas for help in these troubling political times. I ate a suhoor of some fruit and yogurt, but I was just feeling kind of off. I prodded my husband awake for fajr after I heard the athan, and while he stayed up to have breakfast and head out for a day of fishing, I got back in bed for a couple extra hours of sleep.
Upon re-waking up and trying to begin my day, I was feeling icky to begin with. And then, around 11 or so, I began to get one of the most dreaded feelings I can even describe: I was starting to get all of the warning signs that happen at the onset of my migraines.
I started getting a little sweaty for no reason, a little dizzy, and the pain started coming and going in my left eye. I did what any rational person (heavy sarcasm intended) would do, and started working really hard at the “denial” method of treating migraines. Which is basically where I tell myself I am not getting a migraine, and essentially try to think my way out of it.
How many times has this worked since I began getting migraines at age 10 or so? Zero. Do I still do it every single time I get a migraine? Yup.
At any rate, I was denying particularly hard today because I really, really hate to break a fast that I have started unless it is absolutely mandatory. Eventually the pain began to increase to a point where I knew I had to eat something and take some meds or else I would end up crying in pain and throwing up for the next indefinite amount of hours, so I tossed back another cup of yogurt and some extra-strength paracetamol+caffeine business.
Alhamdulillah, it like 80% worked (which is often far more than I am expecting when a migraine starts coming on), and I am feeling alright. My mother-in-law (may Allah bless her) even sent over a whole pot of mashed potatoes (I love potatoes.), half of a chicken, and a giant baguette of delicious Algerian bread (and I wonder why I have gained weight since living here…) upon hearing that I was having another migraine and I had broken my fast.
But the thing that is still really bothering me is the fact that I broke my fast. Yes, it was voluntary, and it wasn’t even a mandatory make-up fast for missed days in Ramadan. And yes, I had a technically valid reason—if I didn’t eat something in order to take medication, I would have spent many hours, maybe even all day, in extreme pain and probably end up becoming quite ill.
But for some reason, I have so, so much guilt over breaking fasts.
Where Islam-y things are concerned in general, I tend to have so, so much guilt.
I have an issue sometimes (alhadulillah not lately) where I literally just don’t wake up at fajr. I can set three different alarms, full volume, right next to my face, plus the two athans that I can hear like the muezzin is standing in my living room, and I still won’t even wake up. It’s not that I hit the snooze button, or I am too lazy to drag myself out of bed, but I literally just don’t hear anything.
This happened to me the very first day of my very first Ramadan. I missed tahajjud, suhoor, and fajr, and upon waking up at around 8:00 AM, I promptly called my friend, in tears about how I had just “ruined my whole Ramadan.”
And you know what she told me?
I remember this very clearly, because it is something I have to keep telling myself, over and over again whenever things like migraines or missed alarms happen; she told me that that is good. It is good that I feel guilty that I have missed an obligatory prayer, or that I don’t like to break my fast for frivolous reasons. It is a sign that my heart is still softened to Allah’s swt commands, and what displeases Him is also displeasing me.
But she also told me to straight up get over it. Once you have felt the guilt, you have asked for forgiveness, and you have set your intentions to improve, you have to trust in Allah’s swt mercy. You have to trust that He knows your intentions, he sees your repentance, and He puts you in certain situations with an exact plan.
I remember an imam saying something much the same in a lecture I was listening to: why do you feel the need to constantly beat yourself up for something that Allah swt probably forgave you for long, long ago (in the case, of course, that you took all of the necessary and sincere steps of repentance)? Do you have more right of punishment than Allah swt?
At any rate, that is just a little something I wanted to share with y’all about how I was feeling, and some ways to think in a more positive light about the guilt that can sometimes come in times of low iman and faith. Does anyone else out there suffer from these kinds of feelings when you make a mistake, or need to break a fast? Is this a convert-y kind of thing or is it more universal? As always I would love to hear from you!