This year, I decided to return to fasting during Ramadan. I’ve been working on my relationship with God for a while now and after, I think, about a decade, I wanted to observe this month and humble myself again – and so I did.
I feel sad today, as I realise the month is coming to an end. Frankly I did wonder if it would ever affect me like it does others given the time-gap between when I last fasted and now. But it did. And what this month has given me has been truly incredible, such a blessing and has really taught me a lot about my own strengths and limits.
So as I think back over the past month, I want to share the top 5 things Ramadan has given:
- STRENGTH AND DISCIPLINE
You get used to Ramadan. First few days are always the hardest, but you do get used to it. We as humans are designed to be resilient and adapt to change. I think we forget that sometimes. So when we’re put under pressure and exposed to sudden change we will adapt. It just takes a few days to do so.
This month has given me so much strength – and I don’t just mean being around chicken wings and resisting temptation.
I went to the gym and lightly worked out a few times and every time I finished my body was crying out for water. There was even a time where I was ready to just take a sip of water because the struggle was real. But I didn’t. I know what I’m capable of and how far I can push myself before it gets too much. In the end it always came down to discipline and convincing myself that I was going to be okay.
I guess now I officially cannot be dramatic about how tired I am when I’ve had six hours sleep, because I’ve run on half that during some days this month. And yet, here I am. Still alive and breathing. Mind over matter, right?
- CLOSER CONNECTION TO MY FAMILY
It’s always easier, when we go through something together. United. This month, I spent a lot of time at home with family. My social life came to a halt (FOMO was suddenly not a thing) and with every Iftar I had this month, I was surrounded by family. We all broke our fast together.
When we are all so busy with our daily lives, sitting around the table for dinner is not always possible. But this month allowed me to have two meals a day with family without fail. Of course, this came with personal-time compromises but trust me, when you’ve spent an entire day fasting all you want to do is come home and be around people who will have struggled as much as you have during the day.
- NO TO SWEARING AND GETTING ANGRY
Yes, we read that correctly. For the past month, I… yes me. I have tried… tried oh so hard, to control my profanities and my anger. There’s something incredibly ironic about swearing or lashing out at someone in a month that is supposed to be about peace, don’t you think?
Okay, I’ll be honest I just replaced profanities with “ish” and “eff” rather than actually saying them but let’s focus on the fact that when you put your mind to something, suddenly what once seemed impossible becomes the contrary. Do you know how many times I walked away from the apes that I call my brothers, in an attempt to control my tongue and not get angry? It was a lot, let me tell you.
I think about it now, and if I can do this for a month, why can’t I continue working on this after these 30 days?
- INNER PEACE AND A STRONGER CONNECTION WITH GOD
There’s just something so tranquil about waking up at 2 in the morning. Everyone is half asleep. Everyone speaks softly, and minimally. You eat and drink and with every bite you mentally prepare for the day ahead. Then the call for prayer comes on. Suddenly the silence becomes melodious Arabic which reminds you that in a few moments, you are going to go communicate with God, chat to him about your woes, cry in front of him.
I don’t think there was a day in this month when I didn’t cry during prayer. As I asked God to bless us, forgive our sins, make us better human beings and better Muslims, I found myself crying many times. It was liberating. It was de-stressing. When I walked away from my prayer mat, I felt energised and free. I felt at peace.
I hope to continue praying as much as I can going forward, because Ramadan or not my connection with God should be consistent every day of the year not just when Ramadan comes to stay, right?
One drop of water does not have the same value any more. Have you ever been to the gym, done a workout and then not reached out for a bottle of water? Let me tell you. It’s tough. But when I took that first sip at Iftar after a hot day, my mind focused only on the water in my mouth travelling down my throat. You automatically end up saying “Thank you, God”. The food on our plates at the beginning and end of every day now had so much more value and meaning. You savour food. And oh my god, please don’t even get me started about the coffee/tea. That first sip of tea after a day that’s lacked in caffeine is indescribable.
It’s funny because in a weird way, I found myself becoming grateful for less obvious things. Like my job. I was grateful that during the week, I had a good distraction which helped stimulate my mind and keep me busy so I wasn’t focusing on my dry mouth or growling stomach. I became more appreciative of the gym. Not having it as much in my life made me realise its importance and how reliant I am on exercise to be my way of channelling negative energy out of my day.
Ramadan has taught me to be grateful about so much, but mainly grateful that I know at the end of the day I can come home to family, food and water. There are people in this world who don’t have that any hour of the day.
As a child, I remember feeling excited when Ramadan was approaching and just as disheartened as I feel today knowing it’s about to leave us. I’m glad these feelings haven’t left me.
Ramadan for me is a month about emotions and relationships. Whether it’s your connection with yourself or with God, whether it’s being vulnerable as you stand before him for 5 times a day, or whether you use this time to build bridges and forgive people and strengthen bonds with family members.
It’s a beautiful time. Everyone focuses on their personal growth, focuses on being a better human being and everyone is at peace by the end of it. You feel cleansed.
So, Ramadan, as sad as I am to see you go. Thank you for everything – and until next time. Inshallah.