Every year Muslims around the world will observe fasting, which makes up one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar and usually lasts between 29 and 30 days and is based on the visual sighting of the moon. Muslims will abstain from drinking, eating and sexual relations. Please note we do not starve ourselves for 30 days in a row.
The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root “ramida” or “ar-ramad,” which means scorching heat or dryness.
Chapter 2, Revelation 185 of the Quran states: The month of Ramadan is that in which was revealed the Quran; a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, a number of other days. Allah desires for you ease; He desires not hardship for you; and that you should complete the period, and that you should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that perhaps you may be thankful.[Quran 2:185]
Ramadan is a time of self-reflection, spirituality and devotion to Allah. Ramadan teaches us self-discipline and allows us to relate to the poor and hungry. I will not suffer in health through fasting and neither will it kill me. In fact it teaches me to become stronger and make me realise just how much junk and crap food I eat in a day.
Typical day of fasting:
I begin my day by waking up for sehri (before dawn) and treat myself to a feast of one banana, glass of water and three cake rusks. If I have time I often have a mango as I love them. A person can eat anything as long as it is halal and before fajr (dawn). I then close my fast by brushing my teeth and saying a prayer. I have to wait a short while before the morning prayers (fajr) start. I perform wudhu (ablution/wash myself), don my abaya and hijab (a Muslim women must be clean and covered before she can pray), find my prayer mat and pray the morning prayers.
Through out the day I try my best to refrain from swearing, back biting, stealing and being horrible. I am only human so at times I may lose my patience and be tempted to yell at the person who stood on my foot on the tube. Muslim’s should pray five times, Fajr (morning), Zuhr (midday), Asr (afternoon), Maghrib (sunset) and Isha (evening) a day and I fit in my prayers where I can and carry a scarf and long cardigan in my bag to help me. In the month of Ramadan I try extra hard to pray five times a day.
I try to break my fast with either water or dates and with a prayer. I prefer to break my fast with others as for me this is what Islam is about, being part of a community. I ventured to Regent Park Mosque as I wanted to see what it was like to open my fast in a mosque. The mosque provided free tea and dates for people fasting. I looked around and saw women from different corners of the world, speaking various languages and dressed differently. I wait for the azaan (call to prayer) and then open my fast with the various women. It is amazing to see young and old women at different stages in their faith coming together to pray and eat.
The muslin holiday Eid U’l Fitr (“festivity of breaking the fast”) marks the end of Ramadan and the beginning of the next lunar month called Shawwal in Arabic. This first day of the following month is declared after another crescent new moon has been sighted or the completion of 30 days of fasting if no visual sighting is possible due to weather conditions.
On Eid Ul’ Fitr I wake up in the morning and realise that I can eat and drink freely. My brothers and dad go to the mosque to read the Eid prayers. Once they return we greet each other with ‘Eid Mubarak/Kareem’ and have a feast.
At the end of Ramadan Muslims are meant to give zakat (the amount of money that every adult, mentally stable, free, and financially able Muslim, male and female, has to pay to support specific categories people). I calculate my zakat which is 2.5% of my savings (money saved for a year) and then donate it to a worthwhile charity.
This category of people is defined in surah at-Taubah (9) verse 60: “The alms are only for the poor and the needy, and those who collect them, and those whose hearts are to be reconciled, and to free the captives and the debtors, and for the cause of Allah, and (for) the wayfarers; a duty imposed by Allah. Allah is knower, Wise.” (The Holy Qur’an 9:60).
The obligatory nature of Zakat is firmly established in the Qur’an, the Sunnah (or hadith), and the consensus of the companions and the Muslim scholars. Allah states in Surah at-Taubah verses 34-35: “O ye who believe! there are indeed many among the priests and anchorites, who in Falsehood devour the substance of men and hinder (them) from the way of Allah. And there are those who bury gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah. announce unto them a most grievous penalty – On the Day when heat will be produced out of that (wealth) in the fire of Hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, their flanks, and their backs.- “This is the (treasure) which ye buried for yourselves: taste ye, then, the (treasures) ye buried!” (The Holy Qur’an9:34-35).
Fasting is not hard and it is really mind over matter. This year we Ramadhan kareeare not able to eat and drink for about 18 hours. It is hard to explain, but your body gets used to not eating and drinking. I love the month of ramadhan as it’s the one time of year, that I am able to have two meals with my family every day.