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9 Unexpected Benefits of Long Ramadan Fasts


I remember when I was quite young, waiting eagerly for the sound of a dozen muezzins ushering in Maghrib – and iftaar. In those last few moments of hunger and thirst, I would think briefly about the Muslims living in more Northern countries and how they must be coping with 18 hour fasts. “Oh well. Serves them right for living in a non-Muslim country,” I used to smugly think to myself and get back to stuffing my face, my conscience at peace.

Well, not that many years later – Allah made sure that I ended up in a non-Muslim country myself and since then I have learnt to be a little less judgemental… sometimes. But these long fastathons aren’t all suffering and moaning. There are some unexpected benefits which I thought I would share.

1. Iftaar with the family 

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When iftaar times fall at 5 or 6pm, it is a struggle for everyone to get back home in time. We often find ourselves in that depressing situation of breaking our fast in our office or in traffic with an emergency date that had been squished into our back pocket since last week. Mmmmm… yummy. Late iftaars means everyone is likely to be home and sitting around the table enjoying each others company as much as the food.


2. Staying up all night is much easier 

No one needs to remind us that the nights of Ramadan are special, especially the last ten nights. However, staying up throughout the night engaging in worship and good deeds is a lot easier when the nights are just over 4 hours long as opposed to 10 hours. Staying awake all night is within the reach of most of us rather than the super-dedicated few.


3. Breaking free from addictions 

Whether we are addicted to Call of Duty, fizzy drinks, hanging out on twitter or just old fashioned smoking – there is no better time than Ramadan to kick the habit. The trouble is that after iftaar we may feel we have earned ourselves a little indulgence again. But, with the fasting last up to 19-20 hours a day, and the remaining few hours spent in eating, drinking and praying, there is precious little time for you to get reacquainted with your addiction thereby giving you the best chance ever to go cold turkey and break the habit.

cold turkey

4. Minimising iftaar parties 

In many communities, Ramadan is in danger of becoming about socialising every evening at a different iftaar party where precious hours are wasted over-indulging and engaging the usual dinner party chit-chat. Having super late Maghribs just doesn’t give the time for many of these pointless parties saving everyone money, time and their breath.


5. Less time cooking 

Many guys might not understand this point, but a significant proportion of the time of Muslim women is taken up trying to prepare the iftaar meal. During a normal Ramadan, many sisters struggle to fit in much ibaadah time at all with the increasingly elaborate meals they are expected to prepare. These long Ramadan days mean that they aren’t torn between making soul food and gaining some nourishment for their soul.

6. Thinking more carefully about the things we eat 

It is only natural that when there is such a limited amount of time in which to eat and drink, that we will be more picky about what we choose to partake in. Already there are dozens of articles and videos advising the types of food to avoid, what to stock up on and even ratios of different foods to have. Thinking more about the quality and nutritional value of what we eat can only be a good thing.


7. Real empathy with the poor 

One of the benefits of Ramadan is that it helps us reflect on all that we have and empathise with those who have much less. Sure, 10-12 hour fasts leave you hungry but the last hours of an 18 hour fast can actually start to bite. Do that 30 days in a row and you get a much greater appreciation of the poverty-stricken lives of Millions across the world hopefully making us more generous and more grateful.

8. Extra rewards 

Some of the Sahaaba raḍyAllāhu 'anhum (may Allāh be pleased with them)  would actively seek out the hottest and longest days of the year to fast as they felt they would get more reward due to the extra difficulties associated. This has been narrated of Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) as well as Abu Musa Al-Ashari raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him). If we do the fasts with the correct intention, then perhaps these extra long fasts may put us in line for a bonus on the day of judgement when we’ll need it most.

9. Sign of life 

Lets not beat around the bush… the Ummah is not in a good place right now. I don’t need to go into the details. Just watch the news, pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio. In times such as these when we are inundated by wave after wave of bad and then worse news, the fact that Muslims can get excited about and actually stick to 18 hour fasts for a whole month in non-Muslim countries has got to count for something.

Maybe, there’s still life in this ummah yet. Maybe there is still hope. Perhaps that is the greatest blessing of all.

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - National Council Member, Muslim Council of Britain | - Lead, National Muslim Covid Response Group | - Council Member, British Islamic Medical Association | - Founder, Charity Week for Orphans and children in need | - Co-Founder, Islamic History Channel | - International Director, FIMA Lifesavers



  1. Shareen

    July 9, 2014 at 5:40 AM

    Masha Allah
    Great article.I remember how i used to break fast in my school van only with water and dates.

    • Miyan fasil

      July 11, 2014 at 6:09 AM

      MashaAllah….Superb article

  2. Sheima Sumer

    July 10, 2014 at 3:22 AM

    This is a beautiful article. I especially like the point about really empathizing with the poor. Today I experienced exactly that. Here in Richmond, Virginia we fast for over 16 hours. It is quite difficult, but it really did make me think of the poor and what they go through.

    • Lucy

      July 12, 2014 at 5:16 PM

      Here in the UK we fast for 19 hours!

      • Sheima Sumer

        July 16, 2014 at 4:25 PM

        May Allah bless you my sister! That is quite a struggle for His sake!

    • Julianna Somogyi

      July 13, 2014 at 6:53 PM

      Yes very true.Is my first Ramadan and I tell the truth is littlie hard,i miss the food more than the water.My first thought was everyone should try out because when we feel hungry we eat and I think everyone experience hunger but only short time.Is much different when you not eating for all day.Im just realized how is those people feel who don’t have food?! We can eat early morning and we eat evening is not like no food what so ever and yes I feel a littlie suffer. I never was a big eater but now I can appreciate food more.

  3. Hira Amin

    July 10, 2014 at 7:27 AM

    Masha Allah superb article – very true points.

  4. frah

    July 11, 2014 at 6:06 AM

    Beautifully written, Fasting over 19hours in the Uk, we sure do emphasise with those less fortunate, but Alhamdulillah


    July 11, 2014 at 6:47 AM

    Excellent article, especially the closing paragraph Mashallah…
    Waheed UK

  6. Dara Miah

    July 11, 2014 at 1:07 PM

    MashahAllah well wretten

  7. aisha

    July 11, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    Masha Allah very well written. My husband and I hardly use to break fast together back in India, either he use to be stuck in office or in the traffic at the time of breaking the fast. But Alhumdulilla here we have enough time to set everything and make dua together. And of all the comfort that we have here, it definitely reminds me of those people who are deprived of basic necessities of life. I pray that Allah shower his blessings and mercy on those people.

  8. Jen (@Desisister_Jen)

    July 11, 2014 at 3:43 PM

    Especially the last one for me too…

  9. Blink Fit (@blinkfit)

    July 11, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    lol it’s super naive to believe one billion Muslims actually fast in Ramadan.

  10. WAJiD

    July 12, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    Salaam alaikum all,

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    p.s. @blinkfit – No one actually thinks that a Billion Muslims fast in Ramadan. Kids below a certain age don’t fast, those that are too elderly, the sick, the pregnant and then there are those who are Muslim by name/ birth but don’t believe i.e. secularists etc… But we use a Billion as a shorthand to indicate the large potential number not the actual number which no one is going to be able to work out to any degree of accuracy.

    • abeer alwadei

      July 13, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      ماشاء الله تبارك الله انا ماراح اكتب تعليقي بالانقلش لاني ابغى اخواني العرب كلهم يفهمون جمال الاسلام كل زمان ومكان انت ياماهر لانك تطوعت من قلبك قدرت تشوف جمال الدين في كل شي الله يثبتك واسال الله الهدايه لكل المسلمين في كل مكان. مسلمه وافتخر

  11. Ahmed Saleh

    July 14, 2014 at 2:18 AM

    the best thing you have to appreciate it that you were born as a Muslim because if you saw the Muslims nowadays you may ever do not think to be a Muslim alhamdulillah. Happy Ramadan for all Muslims around the world in these mercy days may Allah bless you all.

  12. Suljah Terawati

    July 14, 2014 at 3:26 AM

    The best Month, Ramadhan. Miss my Ramadhan with Mom :'( Hoping next year, another year and another another year meet you again Ramadhan cuz always remember me to Her <3

  13. hauwa

    July 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    beautifull article, really do love the last part, there is really hope.

  14. Zohra Lasania

    July 17, 2014 at 9:33 PM

    Great article. Good job.

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