My Ramadan Photo Diary

“My Ramadan photo diary”: 13 pictures that give a glimpse into one young Muslim woman’s life

We asked one young Muslim woman to chart a very different Ramadan for her and her family in photographs.

My name is Aabidah Shah. I’m a 24-year-old British Pakistani living in Birmingham with my mother, brother and sister. 

I always look forward to Ramadan every year. It’s always a great time, filled with charity, forgiveness, love and patience

This year Ramadan started during the second week of the school holidays in April, which meant that my family was able to spend a lot of time together during the days before my siblings went back to school and sixth form.

However, Ramadan 2021 was also very different for me – not just because of lockdown and the pandemic, but because it marks the first Ramadan where I’m fully in charge of everything for the household. My mum isn’t very well due to the aftermath of Covid-19.

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We all got Covid but mum was the worst. She had to go into hospital due to her low oxygen levels and her body needed time so they put her in a medically induced coma for 39 days. It was touch and go for quite a while - and while she’s still recovery, she has improved so much.

Alhamdulillah [praise be to God] we are so blessed to have her with us this Ramadan and Inshallah [God willing] it will all be OK for me and my family.

There are different schools of thought about when Ramadan start officially and some interpret it differently - some people go by the moon in their homeland and others go by the moon in Saudi Arabia. I followed the timetable that my mosque put together so for me day one was 14 April.

I love to take photographs, so this year for Ramadan I kept a photo diary.

Here are the pictures I have taken over the past few weeks…

  • The night before Ramadan

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    The night before Ramandan

    Me with my grandmother’s tasbeh [prayer beads] on the night before Ramadan. It calms me down. I’m also wearing my other grandmother’s namaz shawl. It makes me feel closer to them both.

  • A dua a day

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    A dua a day

    The first dua in my new book Ramadan: A Dua a Day. I promised myself to sit down everyday to read a page.

  • Early mornings

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    Early mornings

    I took this photo of the sky at 6:15am on the first morning of Ramadan. It’s so peaceful at this time.

  • Self reflection

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    Self reflection

    I took this photo in the mirror post isha namaz [one of the set prayer times] on the fourth night of Ramadan.

  • Daily reading

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    Daily reading

    Me reading from my prayer book. I’ve kept my promise to read it every day so far.

  • Morning light

    Photo diary Ramadan.
    Morning light

    I rarely find myself able to fall back to sleep after sehri [sehri (also known as suhoor) is an Islamic term, which means “of the dawn”]. This is the light peeking through my blinds in my bedroom as the sun starts to rise. It is so simple yet beautiful. 5:45am is a peaceful time. 

  • Breaking fast

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    Breaking fast

    Iftari is the evening meal we end our daily Ramadan fast with at sunset. This one took place on the eighth night of Ramadan. I cooked okra for the first time. It was good but nothing compared to my mums’. It’s been so weird not having mum’s food this Ramadan

  • My happy brother

    Photo diary Ramadan.
    My happy brother

    My little brother was waiting all day to have a chocolate covered strawberry. He was pretty happy to be the first to have one at iftari on the eighth night of Ramadan.

  • Making dates

    Photo diary Ramadan.
    Making dates

    I made these chocolate and pistachio covered dates and gave them to some friends and family to break their fasts with.

  • Sharing at Ramadan

    My Ramadan Photo Diary
    Sharing at Ramadan

    This is my close friend Sabrina. We been friends for over six years. 

  • A time to give

    Photo diary Ramadan.
    A time to share

    This is my ‘burey mummy’ aka grandmother. She’s not my direct grandmother but in south Asian culture we tend to refer all of the elders as our grandparents, so our grandparents’ cousins and their partners are also our grandparents!

  • The importance of gratitude

    Photo diary Ramadan.
    The importance of gratitude

    This prayer reminds us of the need to be grateful in our everyday lives. 

  • Twelfth night

    Photo diary Ramadan.
    Twelfth night

    My little brother doing dua before we break our fast on the twelfth night of Ramadan.

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