Written by: Fatima Asmal

 
 
As a woman who has been divorced three times, I can tell you that it was only the Ramadaan after the first divorce that was trying. I was very young then and felt that my world had come to an end.

 

I knew he was going to divorce me on ‘Eid-ul-Adhaa, and that ‘Eid was a horrible one, even though I was at my grandmother’s house and there were many family members there. I remember anticipating the divorce alone or with my mum in my granny’s room, crying and making every duaa I could possibly think of that he would change my mind.
 
Many years later I married again. I spent one and a half Ramadaans with that husband, one of which was in Egypt. The marriage was a miserable one. In Egypt, I tried to be part of a sisterhood and that helped somewhat, but not entirely.
 
During the second Ramadaan I was in the UK, a new mother. Thankfully, I had my mum with me. Nonetheless it was a dark, sad Ramadaan, full of pain and sadness.
And during my third marriage, Ramadaans were equally sad.
 
My best Ramadaans have been as a single woman, living at home with my parents and brother many decades ago, and now, at forty years old, living with my parents and my young son. My mum and I sometimes perform Salaah At-Taraweeh in Jama’ah at home. Sometimes I take my son to the masjid. Sometimes we go out for iftaar with fellow single mums and their kids. We are a happy lot in Ramadaan at Suhoor time and Iftaar.

 
I run a charity here in South Africa and Ramadaan is the busiest time of the year – there really is no time to be lonely. It’s about befriending the Qur’aan, drawing closer to it, organising classes in which the Qur’aan is taught, feeding the hungry, standing the night in prayer, and running a holiday programme for kids.
 
On ‘Eid day mum, dad, my son Amr and I celebrate the day with 200 underprivileged kids and their teachers in a park – it’s colourful and fun – there’s togetherness and food and prayer and play. At night our extended family comes over, and yes, sometimes on ‘Eid night I feel alone because everyone at that dinner gathering is married. But last year we started inviting my single mum friend and her sons, and two years ago my cousin was widowed, so now I don’t feel so obviously alone, and ‘Eid is a day on which I go to bed feeling exhausted and fulfilled.
 

What advice would I give to recently divorced women for Ramadaan and ‘Eid?

 
Firstly, Ramadaan is a month in which we can focus on seeking Eternal Companionship, Divine Companionship, befriending Allah, befriending His Book, and praying hard. It doesn’t have to be about male companionship.
 
Secondly, unless a sister lives a very isolated life in a community cut off from civilisation, it is possible to become involved in worthy efforts like volunteering time to old-age homes, hospices, orphanages, shelters, soup kitchens, etc and this kind of activity really brings a new meaning to life.
 
Thirdly, if at all possible, create a sisterhood of people in a similar situation to you. This helps you, as well as your kids.
 
Lastly, when you want to cry tears of utter despair at your lot in life, being unmarried etc, make those tears worthwhile by throwing your head on the prayer mat and crying to the One who has a Plan for you.
 
 
 

Fatima Asmal is a freelance journalist based in South Africa, where she runs a charity called ILM-SA. She holds a masters degree in history. Fatima is a single mum to a cricket fanatic. They live with her parents in sunny Durban. She is passionate about understanding and memorizing the Quran, and inspiring women to overcome the challenges they face.

 
 
 
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