One of my closest friends is Muslim. Not something that makes her any different from any of my other friends. Everyone of my friends have different attributes but this makes her no less better than any other. This friend of mine is currently coming to the end of Ramadan. Something I knew of in some detail, parts learnt from at school.
This year my friend told me she really wants to be a good Muslim and dedicate her efforts to Ramadan. This made me realise that I should probably learn more about it due to how important it is to her. It was the least I could do after all the support she gives me.
Through my search I learn more than just the usually “You can eat and drink until evenings”. Depending on how far into it a Muslim wants to go they can also avoid music and TV, these are distractions from god. This month is all about a person’s concentration and dedication to god. A month to put other luxuries aside and really reflect/pray.
I also learnt a few phrases that I could use during Ramadan to be respectful: Ramadan Mubarak (have a blessed or generous Ramadan), Iftar (Break fast), Assalamu Alaikum (peace be upon you). When I started to explain to my friend that I had learnt these and started to use them she was so grateful. Just a simple thing but massively appreciated.
My friend really wanted to nail it this year and my brain said “Hey how about you tell her you’ll join a few days, so she won’t be the only one. If you can fast (a person who LOVES food) maybe she’ll realise she’s stronger than she thinks”. Maybe it was a silly idea, but I really wanted to show a little support. Now am I in NO way saying you have to fast in order to support your Muslim friends but it was just something I was really interested in.
So Last Thursday I decided that would be my fasting day. I asked my friend for a schedule of when they pray and eat. I wanted set aside time to reflect at prayer time to see what a full day entailed.
Wednesday at around 7pm was the last time I ate. I first woke up at around 2:30 for Fajr, shortly after I went back to sleep. When I woke up at 8am I wasn’t hungry, my day was like any other. I carried on with my day making a mental note to not have a drink or to just pick up any food I see around the house for a snack. I began my day reading, trying to avoid anything that is considered haram (sinful or distracting things).
It was when 11am when the hunger started to roll round. It wasn’t very intense it was just a conscious thought that my body was ready to eat. It was easier not to think about at first. So, I carried on with my day, cleaning my room was my next task. Due to me soon having to run a marathon I had a protein bar for when I run. I just saw it and I grabbed it. I was going to eat it, but then my brain suddenly realised that’s completely the opposite to what I’m meant to be doing right now.
It was a very strange sensation, being hungry, your body telling you its way over due for something to eat. But my brain telling me we just needed to wait a little longer and carry on with what I was doing. Eventually this feeling was easier to get on with. This day continued on and I did little bits to keep me occupied.
That night I was cooking for my family. It was weird to cook and not be able to pick at the little bits I’d cut up or cooked. This actually made me realise that I probably shouldn’t eat half my dinner before it gets on my plate. It sounds stupid but waiting for it to be finished seemed more worth it.
The last 3 hours before Maghrib seemed slow. It was hard not to think about the food that was to come after. But if I had waited this long to eat I might as well stick it out. That’s exactly what I did, I waited and when I finally ate it was all gone quickly, much to my stomach surprise. But the food was good. Made me appreciated the food just that little bit more. I did find myself extremely full after 2 wraps. My favourite part of it all was being able to have a drink. It was just so satisfying to be able to hydrate myself.
After this I felt drained of all my energy and found myself in bed and asleep not long after 10pm. When I think back now I can only respect my Muslim friends. Now myself I’m not a religious person. But I can respect those who have a belief in something bigger than themselves. To fast for a month really takes a dedication that I’m sure many people don’t possess. It’s a loyalty like no other, I’ve witnessed.
After fasting for just a day I feel like I know a bit more into the lives of those around me, that I can now understand and respect them more that before. I think just doing more research and asking my friend questions about her religion is important. Nobody is saying you must be Muslim but its just nice to show interests into what those around you care about. Be open minded about the stuff you don’t understand. Be educated and respectful.
My small glimpse into Ramadan was eye opening to say the least.
What does Ramadan mean to others?
“Ramadan is the 9th and most holiest month on the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims all over the world fast from dawn until dusk.
A lot of people think that Ramadan is all about fasting, abstaining from food and water but it’s so much more. Ramadan was the month that the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Muhammad (swa), therefore commencing the religion of Islam. Muslims take this month to become as spiritually connected to God as possible by solely focusing on worship and abstaining from all the distractions of everyday life.
To me, Ramadan is a time of reflection. To reflect on who I am as a person and most importantly, my relationship with God. I often allow myself to get lost in everyday life, with all the small problems it brings and forget to remember why I am where I am in the first place.
By taking eating and drinking out of my daily routine, I realise just how much time and effort we put into something that isn’t that important. Humans can last up to 3 days without water and three weeks without food so fasting for one day isn’t that impossible. It teaches you patients, something that is very important in Islam and it’s also really good for your body health wise. Many doctors have said that fasting has massive health benefits such as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure. It also makes you appreciate food and water so much more then you usually and you’ll be surprised how much free time it gives you to focus on the more important things.
I always feel so happy when people take the time to learn about this month and what it’s all about. Of course, I appreciate when people say “Oh I won’t eat if your fasting.” or “Let’s not talk about food.” but what they don’t realise is that the whole purpose of fasting is to test yourself and better yourself personally. Although it is very considerate to say those things, it’s even better when you ask “do you mind if I eat?” because that way you are giving the fasting person a choice and, more times than you would expect they will be fine with it. People often find fasting become easier over time and will want you to be at ease around them. If they do find themselves struggling or leaning towards temptation, they then have the opportunity to turn to God for strength and guidance, therefore improving their relationship with God.”