The Holy month of Ramadan concludes with the festivities of Eid, a day shared with family and friends. It is a very social occasion, in which Muslims try to mend broken ties, visit relatives and invite guests to share the celebrations.
For the growing number of Muslim converts, however, Ramadan can be a very lonely time, as many of them are not able to share the occasion with their non-Muslim family members and are often forgotten by their local Muslim community.
Some New Muslim’s Views
Since converting to Islam more than five years ago, Sandra had done all she could to become a more knowledgeable Muslim, attending a new converts class and hiring Arabic tutors to help her learn to read the Quran. But despite her efforts, Sandra finds herself alone in Ramadan, the holiest month of the Muslim year.
Ramadan is the most social month of the Muslim year, a period of fellowship with family and friends over sometimes lavish evening meals. But many reverts to Islam break the daily fast alone, often in front of the TV set.
A fellow revert says:
“Eid is one of the most depressing days for me. It reminds me of how truly alone I am. It reminds me that all we really have is Allah. It’s like any other day at home but inside it’s important to me. I go home and cry myself to sleep because I cannot take the reality of how alone I truly am. No one likes to be alone.”
Most born Muslims have a strong family background, but for most reverts, the story is quite the opposite as many of them lose all that when they convert. Their families do not accept their new faith or fail to understand the rituals they are trying to follow, while their friends are often alienated as their lifestyles of partying and drinking simply don’t match anymore.
“It took me a few years to really understand the concept of Eid,” said Abdullah, 35, who converted when he was 19. “I sensed that the other Muslims were happy and excited, but I felt like I was kind of on the outside looking in.”
A new revert will get a lot of hugs and affection at the mosque when they enter Islam, but when they get home, no one is there to support them. This lack of familial support leads to an alienation from the very faith they were attracted to.
The purpose of Ramadan is to attain closeness of Allah جل جلاله and not to socialise, but, from the point of view of a new Muslim who comes from a very sociable environment and lifestyle, it is seen as one of the very few chances they have to be with other Muslims.
When this is not present, stark truths have a deep effect and it begins to build up in the minds and hearts of the new Muslim, the family they lost upon entering Islam, their lack of Muslim friends and as a result, they experience a huge social void in their lives.
As one revert sister sadly recalls:
“As a revert, I have always faced a lonely feeling on Eid. No matter how many good friends send me beautiful messages and sisters embrace me at Eid salah like they do everyone else. There is still a sense of loneliness and sadness that I don’t get to pray Eid salah or celebrate with my own family.”
The purpose of this article is not to paint a depressing picture but to point out the lack of proper support to these people who have embraced this beautiful faith, support that is more than just giving a few books or directing them towards beneficial websites or videos.
What they truly need is the emotional backing, the sense of belonging. We Muslims as a community, lack a structured program to integrate new Muslims into the greater Muslim community.
Yes, there are many masjid’s organising Eid events for reverts. But what can we as individuals, do, to make them feel like they belong? These things may need a little bit of your time but can make a huge difference to someone who is feeling lonely and deserted.
Some Things To Try In Your Community (Covid permitting!)
- Invite a revert to break the fast with you. Try to find out how they are doing. Do not assume that they are fine. Really show that you care about them.
- Ask them to accompany you to the Eid prayer. Ask them if they need help shopping for Eid or preparing some special treats.
- Give a gift to revert this Eid. It will build love between you both and can have a lasting effect on their perception of Muslims, at a time when they might be going through a difficult period in their life.
- Share a part of your Eid day with a revert; invite them over to your home. The most important thing they are missing is family, try and make them feel like they are a part of yours.
Some Advice For The Reverts
Sure it is hard being alone and not having anyone to share your joy with. But this beautiful religion you have entered is a religion of hope and faith. So have faith that Allah جل جلاله is always there with you.
Verily, with every difficulty there is ease. Verily, with every difficulty there is ease. (94:5,6)
جل جلاله The difficult times you are facing are but a test from your Lord. Allah says in the Quran,
Do the people think that they will be left to say, “We believe” and they will not be tried? (29:2)
So have the patience that these trials will end and there will be better days ahead. But until then, don’t just sit back. Take a proactive approach. Muslims have a great tradition of hospitality, but during the festive season, there is a whole lot of things to do. So maybe they are busy with children or just shy about approaching you. Why don’t you try and take take an initiative. Here are some of the things you can do:
- Spruce up your home: Doesn’t matter if you live in a small apartment or a large house. Clean up your home and decorate it. It will add an instant cheer.
- Visit your local mosque often: This is a great way to meet other Muslims on a regular basis. Participate in Masjid activities, whether it’s classes, Iftars during Ramadan or other programs. If other Muslims see you often enough, you can strike up a conversation after prayers and become friends or at least good acquaintances with some. Then you can make arrangements to see each other on Eid day.
- Look out for others like you: Reach out to other reverts who may also be lonely. You can plan to spend some time together celebrating Eid and getting to know one another.
- Get new clothes: Part of the Eid fun is getting new clothes. Buy new ones if you can afford them. If not, you must have at least one or two fancy outfits. Get them washed or dry cleaned and ready for the big day.
- Invite others over: Invite the people you know, over for lunch or a snack. Even if they are non-Muslim colleagues from work. You can tell them what Eid is all about. They too will get a chance to understand you and your faith a little better.
- Give gifts: So you are on a tight budget, the gifts do not have to be anything fancy. It may be something you handcrafted or a box of cookies you make really well.
- Give to the less fortunate: Still, feel you have no one to give gifts to? Visit your local orphanage or old home. Share gifts with the people there. It will bring a smile to their face and seeing them happy will surely bring one to yours.
- Read up on the Sunnahs of Eid and try to follow them: This will enlighten your heart with the spiritual significance of Eid and will not be just another holiday for you.
- Start your own family traditions: You do not have a family history of spending Eid in a certain way? No worries..start your own, with your own little family. Maybe it is just you and your husband or you and your child, you are still a family. Do something special together.
- Treat yourself: If you do end up spending Eid alone, it need not be a lonely experience. Use the day to have some ‘me time’. Visit the places you always wanted to visit or finish that book you just couldn’t finish.
The main point is to have a positive outlook on things. Psychologists say,
Positivity doesn’t always refer to simply smiling and looking cheerful, however—positivity is more about one’s overall perspective on life and their tendency to focus on all that is good in life.
You cannot control your mood, and you cannot always control the thoughts that pop into your head, but you can choose how you handle them.
So if you are feeling lonely and depressed this Eid, think about all the good thing that came your way by entering this faith of Islam and think about all the good that Allah جل جلاله gave you the ability to achieve since coming to Islam, maybe you started praying regularly or wearing the hijab.
Maybe you started treating your parents more respectfully and kindly. Maybe you tried to become a more hardworking student or tried to instil good Islamic values in your children.
Whatever positive things you remember, thank Allah جل جلاله for them this Eid, for surely that will put you in a good mood if not anything else.