As we return to pre-pandemic days, I can’t help but feel nostalgic for a lockdown Ramadan

I never thought I would experience Ramadan the way I did in May 2020. The country was in lockdown, the fear of catching Covid was rife, mosques were closed, and coming together with family and friends was prohibited. It was a Ramadan like no other, but for me, it was certainly life-changing.

Pre-pandemic, those 30 days were very much an annual leave from normal life for me – limited socializing, social media, TV and any other distractions that could take me away from what was important. My usual pastimes of eating out, meeting up with friends and going to the theater were all paused as I made the effort to observe the month to the best of my ability.

My greatest intention was to always give myself as much time to focus on my faith during Ramadan – but this all remained a juggling act with work life.

While I would be always excited to enter my favorite month of the year, a slight anxiety arose when I considered how I would fully balance the responsibilities required of me at work, but also the expectations I had on myself to go through Ramadan with the best possible mindset and the highest level of spirituality.

Although my school teachers were supportive and some previous employers were understanding of adjustments, there’s no denying observing Ramadan in a non-Muslim country my entire life hasn’t come with its challenges.

Some employers in the past made it difficult to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate the side effects that came with fasting long hours, such as fatigue and waning concentration. So, there were always limitations to just how far I could fully embrace the month.

But here I was, in 2020, in an unprecedented lockdown, and for the first time in my working life, I didn’t have to think too much about how I was going to balance fasting with work.

As the world stood still under the weight of the pandemic, I was able to observe my five daily prayers on time without thinking about how to tactfully schedule them into the working day. I even added in some voluntary prayers, with ease.

I also dedicated time to reading the Quran during the day. Cutting out all the temptations of the outside world wasn’t as difficult either – I was truly tapped into the spirituality and beauty of Ramadan.

Reflecting on just how I benefitted from the last two restricted Ramadans, it almost feels weird this time around preparing for a somewhat normal one again.

It may be an unpopular opinion, but there is a part of me that found the enjoyment in fasting under lockdown restrictions, and as we return to pre-pandemic life, I’m feeling nostalgic for the way I experienced the holy month then.

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Of course, I don’t wish to return to life under a lockdown or experience the devastating impact that the pandemic had on us back then, but I can’t deny that that period of time spent at home gave me an opportunity to really reconnect with Ramadan and change the way I observe the month going forward.

As we gear up for our first Ramadan completely out of lockdown for the first time in three years, the excitement to meet up with friends, go on Iftar dates and head to the mosque to pray as a community, is there. Community is a key part of Ramadan and having that back again in a physical sense is certainly something I’m grateful for.

But lockdown Ramadan gave me the time to focus, reflect and dedicate my whole self to the month. It’s those lessons that I will take into the future.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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