Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Fasting During Ramadan

It is declared by Islamic scholars that tomorrow, Thursday, September 13, 2007, is the first day of Ramadan. Why is that holy or significant? Because this is the first day of fasting for Muslims around the world. This will last for about 29 or 30 days. Each day Muslims cannot eat or drink from sunrise to sunset. Once sunset arrives, the fast is broken with a dinner with family or friends. This is done for the next 29 or 30 days.

Muslims also try to do extra volunteer work, random acts of kindness, and appreciate the world around them. Fasting teaches Muslims to strengthen self-discipline and to be less materialistic. Fasting shows Muslims how the less fortunate feel when food is not easily or readily available. As a result, many Muslims reduce their waste of food.

Not all Muslims are required to fast. Some of those exempt from fasting include children, elderly, people with medical reasons, and travelers. Although some Muslims are not fasting, they tend not to eat or drink in front of fasting Muslims out of respect. This is seen in Islamic countries, even tourists do not eat or drink during the days of Ramadan, in public.

I, personally, have been fasting since I was seven. The first time, I tried fasting, I was living in Jerusalem at the time. My family members were very excited about Ramadan starting. I wanted to be part of that too. They informed me I wasn't required to fast because I was too young. I asked them, could I even if I am too young? After, "negotiating" with my parents, they allowed me to fast. They made me promise, that if I became hungry or thirsty to eat. I told them fine.

The night before Ramadan began, my family was up for an "early breakfast". This is allowed where people get up before sunrise to eat a light breakfast (so basically, you are just missing lunch when fasting). My parents tried to wake me up, I wouldn't wake up. The next day, I whined to them saying how come I wasn't awaken to eat a light breakfast. They said they tried to wake me up, I wouldn't wake up. Once again, my parents reminded me that I didn't have to fast. Persistent as I am, I told them I am going to try it.

The key was to keep myself busy until sunset. So, I remember after doing my chores, playing with my siblings, friends, and even by myself. I just finished playing hopscotch when I washed my hands due to the chalk dust. I took a drink of water before I realized I wasn't supposed to because I was fasting. I became devastated. I thought my fasting was now broken. I told my family that I drank water. They all thought I did it because I wanted to break my fast. They told me it was OK. I told them to stop. I explained that I broke my fast by accident. I forgot I was fasting when I had washed my hands. It was an act of forgetfulness.

Needless to say, my family was surprised I had fasted the entire day without breaking it intentionally. I felt good and proud that I did something for myself.

Each day, I will give you a brief post (maybe brief, I am not sure *smile*), on my days of fasting and how it is affecting my daily activities.


Serenity Now! said...

I'm so glad you posted about this Faten. I was just thinking about this today!

I am so impressed by your determination to do this! There is fasting in the Christian faith as well, but I've always been afraid to try it.

I've also heard that Muslims tend to donate more to charities at this time? Or rather, they do their yearly donations at this time...?

I look forward to hearing more!

FA said...

Muslims do tend to donate to charity and do more volunteer work during this time.

Fasting during Ramadan brings the same excitement for Christians when celebrating Christmas. I don't mean materialistic sense, but more of a spiritual and humanity sense. As a result of this, memories are formed and lessons are taught.

Carolyn Erickson said...

Very interesting! I didn't realize the fasting goes for so many days.

When you have your evening meal, is it like a special get-together? Or is it just dinner as usual?

Also, do you lose weight?

(Hope that's not too many questions!)


FA said...

My dear Carolyn,

These are not too many questions. I would rather have you ask, then think that misconception or stereotype is true.

We try to have get togethers. As the expression goes, the more the merrier.

Some fasters do lose weight, and others don't. Last year, I did lose weight because I continued to exercise while I was fasting. lol