Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, and is synonymous with fasting from ‘dawn to dusk’. However, for the Islamic community this period means more than fasting, and is considered a time for spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and devotion. We spoke with Mohammad, who shares with us some information about Ramadan, and his personal experience of observing Ramadan with a stoma.

Take a read of Mohammad’s experience below:

Understanding Ramadan

Ramadan is not just a physical test but also a time for spiritual purification and introspection. It is considered the holiest month for Muslims because it’s believed the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), during this month. Thus, Ramadan is a commemoration of this divine gift, making the act of fasting a path to developing Taqwa (consciousness of God).

More than just fasting

While fasting is a key aspect of Ramadan, its importance lies in its ability to teach self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those less fortunate. This month encourages Muslims to perform extra prayers, read the Quran, engage in Dhikr (the remembrance of Allah), and give generously to charity (if you can afford to). Here are some key principles of Ramadan and how I’ve adopted them:

Heightened devotion

During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to reflect on their lives and make amends wherever necessary. It is an ideal time to seek forgiveness for past transgressions and strive to improve one’s character. There are nightly prayers, called Taraweeh, which involve reciting portions of the Quran and symbolise unity for the Muslim community. These are voluntary and can be performed seated if you’re unable to – as I do due to my disability.

Self-Improvement

Personal development is at the heart of Ramadan. Fasting is a way to cleanse the body, mind and soul. It is believe through fasting, our behaviours and habits are revealed, we affirm to ourselves we are stronger than our desires, and we renounce our bad habits and addictions. Think of it as a New Year’s resolution with a 30-day plan, specific check-ins and a progress tracker. This Ramadan I learnt acceptance, I forgave myself for falling ill (cancer) and I accepted my limitations. Although I haven’t fully grieved the person I was before my colostomy, I have started this process and intend to work on it fully beyond the month of Ramadan.

Acts of charity

Zakat (obligatory charity) and Sadaqah (voluntary charity) are highly emphasised in Ramadan. By fasting we gain an insight to those less fortunate and to those suffering from war, famine and occupation. By performing Zakat and Sadaqah these acts reinforce the bonds of brotherhood and compassion within the community. We give what we can afford, after all, we are living through a spiralling cost of living crisis, we are trying to stretch our purses but they can only go so far. I’ve looked for ways in which I can fulfil this obligation by parting knowledge and wisdom through my own website, and social media and I’m fortunate to be writing a regular blog for Respond. I’ve also volunteered to help charities to the best of my ability.

 

Fasting with a stoma

Here are the ways I observe Ramadan with my stoma:

Maintain a healthy diet – If you have a urostomy or ileostomy, it’s best to limit your intake of salty, processed, fatty or dried foods as they can be difficult to digest and may increase your thirst. Keep these foods to a minimum. Personally, with my colostomy:

Managing your output – I steer clear of foods that cause loose stool or gas. This includes leafy green vegetables, overly spicy dishes, baked beans, and excessive fish consumption. Ileostomists might consider taking loperamide outside of fasting times.

Stay hydrated – I aim to drink at least 2 litres of non-carbonated water or caffeine-free beverages when you’re not fasting. Those with a urostomy can also consume water-rich foods like melon or cucumber. It is known that yoghurt can support hydration.

Exercise – Whilst fasting it’s important not to overexert myself. Instead I enjoy regular walks and exercising after breaking fast, where possible.

Please remember these are just my experiences and tips, if you have any queries or concerns regarding your stoma, contact your stoma care nurse. I hope that I have explained how Ramadan is much more than a ritualistic fast for the Islamic community, and that you have found my experience helpful if you are also observing Ramadan.

Mohammad
@colon_cancer_and_me

 

*The views, opinions and advice contained within this blog reflect those of Mohammad, the author. Information regarding dietary advice, hydration and exercise should be discussed with your stoma care nurse. All information correct at time of publishing.

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