As a Muslim living in Singapore, to spend 30 days at home during the fasting month of Ramadan is almost wishful thinking. Before COVID-19, the fasting month was one of the busiest periods at my workplace. My days were tremendously stretched. I’d wake up for the pre-dawn meal at 4am – that took about an hour. Then prayer, a quick nap, and off to work I’d go. Apart from the office routine, I’d usually host learning journey sessions for other faith communities who were interested to learn and experience the breaking of fast in a mosque. Sometimes, I volunteered to prepare meals for the congregants. After breaking my fast, I would join prayer in the mosque till night. This routine meant I was seldom home, and I felt guilty about letting my parents break fast by themselves, especially my father, as he is no longer fit to travel anywhere in the evening. COVID-19 changed everything. However, I am grateful. We have built mosques in our homes instead. It is pure joy to spend Ramadan eating with my loved ones and to do the spiritual routines without rushing.
Yet, for some others, this is the beginning of a challenging journey. COVID-19 allows me to see the community’s complex realities unfold. Three of my friends have fallen into depression, and it is difficult to be unable to physically check on them. I also have Muslim guest worker friends who seek help because they need food and basic kits to observe Ramadan. Some wish that I could send them their favourite snacks, and some have asked me to extend my help to their friends. The sizable population of guest workers need aid and supplies, especially for Ramadan.
Chapter 2 of the Quran states, “We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits but give good tidings to the patient.” COVID-19 has taught me to reflect on the many privileges I have and how I can utilise them to benefit others. Perhaps this is just how nature works to bring back harmony in the universe. Above all, I hope to keep looking towards the rays of light that pierce through the darkness of this time, to keep finding opportunities to increase abundance in a time of scarcity and to continue to spread love and compassion to those who are simply struggling to survive.
Ustazah Liyana Rosli Asmara is an interfaith advocator, a civil servant, an art enthusiast, craft maker, ad-hoc designer, and globetrotter. She is also Co-Founder of Giving Back Beyond Faith, an interest group which seek to empower interfaith communities to be more involved in action – based initiatives and advance social causes. During her free time, she likes to keep up with trends on slow fashion and hand crafters over the world. She also likes to spend time retreat in nature.