Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Final Days of Fasting for a Non-Muslim

I really try not to think about food during Ramadan but it's tough. Tick. Tock. Tick Tock. That is what I hear as I get close to the time when Karim and I can break fast. For seven years I've been fasting Ramadan with him and have acclimated myself to the routine. However, now that its taking place during summer and one of the hottest summers on record, it feels like more of challenge than past fasts.

Ramadan is the most sacred month for Muslims and takes place during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The month of Ramadan is when the Quran was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). During the month, Muslims stop eating and drinking from dawn until sunset. They also abstain from sex during the day. The act of fasting is meant to bring one closer to Allah (God) and redirect his/her attention away from the daily worldly focuses to embracing empathy for those who are less fortunate. It also teaches self-discipline, self-control, and encourages charity.

There are some exceptions to fasting. Young children don't fast. One begins to fast when he/she reaches puberty.  Other exemptions to fasting include illness, disabilities, pregnancy, breast-feeding, menstruation, and travel. I suspect that the Muslim athletes at the Summer Games used their travel exemption so that had the energy and strength to compete. Outside of the exemptions, fasting is an obligatory tenet in the religion so long as a person is of age, healthy, sane and able.

Muslims in prayer.

My first day of fasting was rough. I didn't get enough sleep that night before and had a migraine the following day. I've had a few other tough days since, but I manage to make it through each one. I'm at the point that it doesn't bother me to see others eating when I don't. My sense of smell brings me joy. It's the little things. These days the hardest thing for me is breaking up my sleep to wake up at around 3:30 am to eat breakfast before dawn.

However, I am humbled. Somewhere in the world, in this country, in my community is a person who is hungry and it is not their choice. The fact that I have a choice reinforces how blessed I am to not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from.

Although I'm not religious, I have come to appreciate what Ramadan means for my husband and the millions of other Muslims throughout the world that embrace this tenet of their faith. It's an individual sacrifice in honor of Allah. The final days of fasting will soon come to a close. Eid ul-Fitr, "the festivity of breaking fast" will either be this Saturday or Sunday. I have two calendars that claim both days as Eid. I wonder which mathematical calculation will be right.

It will be nice to get back to my old routine of eating and sleeping. It's a routine that I have come to take for granted until I started fasting.


Benjamin1021 said...

Wow Aaliyah! I had no idea you were fasting! Enjoy breaking fast this weekend!!! Miss you Cuz!

Karina said...

Well, the Casey calendar says it ends on Saturday, so maybe you get to break the fast a day early? Good luck until then! I hope it gets easier for you.