From Darkness to Light: The Transformative Power of My Ramadan Journey

MARCO is a peer-run organization, led and governed by individuals affected by Substance Use Disorders who have direct experience in Recovery Community Organization (RCO) leadership and programs. Over the next few months we’ll be featuring some of our Board Members and their personal connection to MARCO’s mission to educate, advocate and mobilize the grassroots recovery movement across Minnesota. 


RCOs throughout Minnesota represent diverse geographic and cultural communities. Board Member Farhia Budul is the founder of Niyyah Recovery Initiative, the first RCO in the nation developed by and for the East African community. In honor of Ramadan, we’ve invited Farhia to discuss its significance in her personal recovery.


From Darkness to Light: The Transformative Power of My Ramadan Journey

I was born a Muslim, immersed in the traditions and rituals of my family’s faith, yet for a long time, I misunderstood the essence of it all. Although I always believed in Allah and knew He was central to everything, I found myself lost, seeking solace and fulfillment in the wrong places. During Ramadan, rather than embracing fasting and devotion, I was preoccupied with fleeting escapes through drinking and smoking weed and partying with friends in downtown Minneapolis. I thought these could offer me the peace and contentment I yearned for, not realizing that what I was actually seeking was a deeper connection with Allah.


Then, Allah found me. 


Again and again, I had tried (and failed) to stay sober. I knew my addiction was killing me, so I mustered all of my energy and willpower. On my own, it wasn’t enough. In 2009, I discovered sobriety and embarked on a journey that led me through six years of living free from substances. This period was marked by growth and learning. However, after these six years, I returned to substance use, navigating the complex and often challenging road of recovery.


But in 2020, everything changed. Miraculously, Allah filled my heart. It was very different than my earlier recovery experiences. I made the decision to submit and surrender my will and my life to the care of Allah. To this day, I have no idea what happened; it was as if I had been sleepwalking through my life and suddenly woke up as a veil was torn from my eyes.


Along with my devotion to Allah, my recovery has been nurtured by 12 step recovery programs and Millati Islami, which is a 12-step Muslim Recovery support meeting.  Both programs explain that true spiritual awakening is vital for anyone striving for long-term recovery  – and that to maintain that gift we have been given, one has to pass it along to others who are suffering.


The founders of Millati Islami (the path of peace) put it this way: “Allah instructs us in the Qur’an that ‘believers are friends and protectors, one of another.’ To duplicate what others have accomplished in recovery is only a matter of willingness, patience and work. We must realize that our greatest reliance is always upon Allah.”


This brings me back to how much Ramadan means to me now. Fasting, focus, and prayer deepen my devotion and connection to Allah, repeatedly opening my eyes to the blessings of the recovery life I have been granted. During Ramadan, the impact of blessings is amplified significantly: Every act of kindness and blessing I extend in my five daily prayers is increased seventyfold. This sacred time enriches my endeavors to share the essence of recovery broadly. Additionally, I cherish breaking the fast with family and friends, and at night, I visit the mosque for Taraweeh prayers, using this time for inner reflection, gratitude, and forgiveness.If you’re battling substance use disorders, remember, there is always hope. Ramadan offers a period of renewal and a fresh start, providing a unique opportunity for healing and transformation. Embrace this time to rediscover strength and begin anew.


Today, Ramadan means everything to me.


For as many different experiences that shape how substance use disorders develop, there are just as many that lead to finding and sustaining recovery. Thank you, Farhia for sharing your story!  To learn more about Farhia Budul and Niyyah Recovery Initiative visit: – Niyyah Recovery Initiative


We Recover With Others: A Conversation with Farhia Budul – Minnesota Women’s Press


Through her own recovery, Bush Fellowship recipient saw a need for addiction resources in Minnesota’s East African community – MinnPost


Ramadan Mubarak 



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