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Confessions of a Fasting Muslim

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By Maysaa Fahour

“I’m starving,” is uttered from my mouth at least a dozen times a day during Ramadan. Other things like, “Why?” and, “I can’t even…” are also spilled out and it wouldn’t be a lie if I said I have wanted to break my fast many times over the years. My reputation is embarrassing when it comes to my love of food. In fact, ask anyone that knows me and they will say they’re staying away from me during Ramadan. I used to take that as a compliment.

I also used to concentrate on the, “I shouldn’t complain, there are a lot less fortunate people out there,” aspect of fasting, and that worked for a while, but then I became grouchy again. Sure, gratefulness is essential to any soul but the notion of guilt and denial became integral. I felt like Ramadan had to be more than just feeling grateful. It is true, I had been fasting since I was 8, yet I had never taken into consideration that maybe fasting is something more spiritual than abstaining from food and water.

I had been fasting since I was 8, yet I had never taken into consideration that maybe fasting is something more spiritual than abstaining from food and water.Click To Tweet
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The love for God expressed through hunger seemed, to me, to be ill-fitting,but at the ripe old age of 32, I’ve learnt that it’s a perfect recipe. It takes faith to believe in something that seems so hard, but last year I decided to give it a try.

I needed to shift my focus from “why” to “how”, so last year, I turned to the philosophy of mind over matter, and I decided to learn about Ramadan. I armed myself with lessons, YouTube clips, blog posts, articles and a copy of the Quran.

That’s the thing with faith, it tests you. There’s that story about the villagers who decided to pray for rain. On the day of the prayer, all the people gathered, but one lady came with an umbrella. That’s faith. I wanted to be the lady with the umbrella.

I stopped using precious time blaming my parents. I stopped blaming having children and therefore not enough time during the day. I stopped blaming the long, arduous, hot day in Dubai that made it hard to survive without water. I stopped going on social media and then I stopped drooling over recipes.

The more I read and researched the more I realized that Ramadan is about the connection of your soul with the Lord. It has nothing to do with deprivation. Actually, wait, it sort of does, but you’re meant to fill your deprivation with other things. It is only when the body is emptied of food (and craves those bread crumbs no one ate the night before) that you can focus on God.

The Quran states:

2_183

“Oh you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness.” (2:183)

This is starting to sound holistic and chirpy, right? Fourteen hours of no eating or drinking is not a chirpy situation, it is a solemn one. Ramadan is not a diet, it is not a fad. It is about precision and meticulous timing. It is about getting your body in tune with the world and everything is intensified.

Hunger is intensified. How else would one feel for the less fortunate? Your fears are intensified. How else would one feel positivity? Anger is intensified. How else is one meant to learn forgiveness? Helplessness is intensified. How else is one to learn that they can’t control everything?

I’m sure you’re wondering if I’m ‘transformed’ and the simple answer is: I think so. It’s only a few days in, but so far my barometer of patience and understanding sits idly between 50-75% and that’s saying a lot. This happened easily once I accepted that Ramadan is hard – fasting, making extra prayers, remembering to be kind, guarding your tongue, remaining vigil – that’s A LOT to take in. But I now see that the hard work also has a huge pay-off.

Call it what you want, but it is not until you try to do Ramadan the soulful way, that things end up going a lot more smoothly.


 

Maysaa was born in Lebanon, but when she was four her parents picked up their five kids and moved to Melbourne.  Maysaa completed a Bachelor of Education and taught for four years before she became a full-time stay-at-home mum. She was also chairperson of the Islamic Museum of Australia and you can follow her blog at mummyfiles.com.

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.

11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Noor

    June 15, 2016 at 10:00 PM

    Very well written sister Maysaa. Ramadhan is truly a time for connecting yourself with Allah through recital of the Quran and duas. A months soul searching will guide you throughout the year inshaAllah.

  2. MN

    June 15, 2016 at 11:33 PM

    That was enlightening. Thank you

  3. Amin

    June 16, 2016 at 12:33 AM

    It is an affectionate article.

  4. Atif Qureshi

    June 16, 2016 at 12:46 AM

    Beautiful write up..

  5. Moe

    June 16, 2016 at 12:53 AM

    Fasting is very different from starving. People do not choose to starve.

    • Fawad Mastoi

      June 16, 2016 at 3:17 AM

      Moe, by fasting the Muslim way, by refraining from food and drink completely, not even water or medication, you learn to appreciate the pains of starvation and through that, the plight of the starving.

      • iqrawrites

        June 18, 2016 at 2:08 AM

        We do casually use the expression, “I’m starving” when we are just plain hungry. Starvation means not having enough food/water over a very long period of time, which can hardly equate to the lavish meals Muslims typically have in Ramadan before and after the fast. The hunger we feel for some hours during Islamic fasting is to humble ourselves before our Lord and to curb our nafs (lower self). Creating empathy for the poor is usually the commonest explanation quoted by Muslims, but it’s not the primary one.

        Fasting is for taqwa (God-consciousness) and Ramadan is for Quran. It’s not really that complicated.

        Side note on starvation, by the way: if you look into the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he chose to starve many times. He never announced to the Companions that there wasn’t food in the house of the Prophet. He used to rely on Allah. Prophetic tawakkul (reliance) is actually out of our reach. How many of us only keep enough food in the house that is needed for one single day?

        That said, I appreciate the writer’s honesty in expressing herself.

  6. Farhiya

    June 16, 2016 at 4:48 AM

    True lecture Thanks sis

  7. Slitz Kehinde

    June 16, 2016 at 6:02 PM

    Ma sha Allah. May Allah accept our strife.

  8. Fatima

    June 17, 2016 at 8:25 AM

    I am proud to be a Muslim and happy to keep the fasting

  9. Zain Zubair

    June 21, 2016 at 7:45 AM

    MashAllah Very Well Written Sister. One of the noblest things to do in Ramadan is to extensively recite the The Holy Quran, contemplate on one’s own existence and spend as much time as possible in the remembrance of Allah (SWT). Ramadan is a very special and spiritually rich month.

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