My Ramadan: Beth Botham

As a recent convert to Islam, Beth Botham is documenting her first Ramadan through TikTok, sharing her spiritual journey with her online community

My Ramadan: Beth Botham
Botham shares TikTok videos with tips for other converts, career advice and posts about the daily ups and downs of life as a new Muslim. Photo courtesy of Beth Botham

Beth Botham, 26, is a management consultant based in Essex who converted to Islam in October 2023. Curious to find out more about Muslims beyond what was portrayed in the media, Botham began researching the faith in 2019. 

Growing up in a secular home and a majority-white area, she has found a sense of community and support from other Muslims online by documenting her spiritual journey on TikTok. With an audience of over 33,000 followers, Botham shares videos with tips for other converts, career advice and posts about the daily ups and downs of life as a new Muslim. 

Here, she tells us about her first Ramadan as a new convert, and how the holy month has helped her manage stress and anxiety. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How is your Ramadan going so far? 

I began Ramadan on holiday in Thailand, and even though it was 35C, I didn’t find my first day that hard. I tried fasting before I converted, which helped, and fortunately the sunrise and sunset times in Thailand were similar to the UK. I think reverts can feel a lot of pressure because we know we should be doing more than just fasting. But at the same time, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself, so this year I’m just concentrating on reading the Qur’an, fasting and trying to focus on my prayers. 

How has it been being the only one fasting at home with your family?

It’s definitely tricky, especially when you wake up in the morning to the smell of bacon sandwiches. But my parents have been very accepting and let me do my thing. It does mean I’m creeping around at three in the morning trying to make suhoor, but I can’t complain. Though being the only one fasting at home increases temptation, I’ve found a sense of solidarity through my friends and my online community. 

What were your thoughts about Ramadan before you converted?

I’d never grown up with someone around me observing Ramadan, so I only learned about it while studying for my religious education GCSE. I’m a very logical person so before I even believed in the spiritual element of Ramadan, I believed in the scientific and moral values behind it. Knowing those tangible benefits helped me to get on board, because I knew it was good for me. 

And since then, it’s been very inspiring to see people who are fasting in less fortunate countries, like in Palestine right now. The faith Palestinians have while fasting through all that they are going through speaks volumes. 

What has been the best part of Ramadan so far? 

I’ve enjoyed the sense of community I’ve found online and with friends. I feel more connected with the faith, other Muslims and other people who are fasting. As reverts, it can be a struggle to find a community. I don’t have big iftars at my house and I’m not going to the mosque for taraweeh prayer with my family every night. There’s no sense of routine or family traditions, so I only get that sense of community if I really put myself out there online. 

What have you found challenging? 

I think managing expectations for myself is the hardest. If I went into Ramadan naively, I would think it was just about abstaining from food and drink, but it’s not. It’s also about being a better person, being intentional with my time, being charitable, and more. Though I know I can always be doing better, I have to keep in mind that this is my first Ramadan. It’s about striking the balance between an intentional and productive month.

Have your expectations of Ramadan changed as the month progresses?

I think old me would have focused a lot on the food and drink aspect, but I quickly learned that’s not what this month is about. Last year when I tried fasting for a couple of days during Ramadan, I wasn’t thinking much about God, and I felt hungry and thirsty all the time. However, because I’m now seeing the bigger picture, it doesn’t feel as difficult. It’s all about intention. 

What’s one thing Ramadan has taught you? 

Ramadan has taught me that when it comes to my self-development, I’m still progressing. 

The month so far has helped me find better coping mechanisms for when I’m stressed and anxious. Before, I didn’t know how to deal with those feelings and would carry a lot of that burden myself. It would eat away at me and affect my sleep, mood and relationships. However, when I’ve been stressed during Ramadan, I’ve prayed a lot and have felt more mellow, submissive and more connected with myself. 

, , , ,

Get the Hyphen weekly

Subscribe to Hyphen’s weekly round-up for insightful reportage, commentary and the latest arts and lifestyle coverage, from across the UK and Europe