As Ramadan approaches its final days, I can’t help but feel slightly emotional as this holy month comes to an end. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, where Muslims abstain from food and drink (yes, including water and chewing gum – I get asked this all the time) from sunrise to sunset for 29 or 30 days (the number of days differs between 29-30 as the Islamic calendar is based on the lunar cycle, the moon). However, there is more to this month than just staying away from food and drink for specific hours of the day. Ramadan is a time for Muslims, like myself, to reflect and to grow closer to Allah (the Islamic name for God) and a time to think about how to be a better and kinder person and Muslim.
I’ve tried to use this month wisely…waking up before Suhr (when we wake up to eat before the sun rises) to pray, staying up later to pray some more, reading the Quran, going to the mosque and trying to learn more about Islam. This month is all about bettering yourself and fostering all that you’ve learnt and to continue as you mean to go on after Ramadan. It’s a time to think about resetting your life and to take the good things that you’ve learnt and gained from the month into the rest of your life.
Now, I don’t want to speak for all Muslims here, but for me Ramadan teaches me a whole lot about discipline. Not only am I forced to stay away from food and drink for 18 hours of the day (oh the joys of living in the UK and fasting during the summertime), but I have to think extra hard about my actions, both good and bad. One of the things that I know most people have to be extra conscious about, myself included, is talking about others behind their back. And let’s be honest here, we all do it, whether it be about the bad dye job they’ve done on their hair or their recent post on Instagram. We’re all far from perfect. But during this month, I along with many other Muslims I’m sure, have made an extra conscious effort not to say such things about others, and even if we’re thinking them, we don’t share them with other people and just keep our opinions to ourselves. Maintaining this sort of discipline, both with food and drink and holding your tongue, is something that you should hope to apply to every aspect of your life after Ramadan and shouldn’t just end with the Eid celebrations!
Fasting has also made me realise just how much time I spend everyday doing food related activities. Whether it be thinking about what I’m going to eat, preparing a meal, washing and cleaning up afterwards; it all takes a lot of time. And during this Ramadan, I’ve really realised that a lot of my day to day life actually revolves around food! But I’ve really been happy seeing how much time I actually have during the day to do more things instead of eating etc. I’ve been using my extra time to read more of the Quran, pray, learn more about my faith and even get back into some of my favourite things to do such as writing and reading.
I’d be lying if I said that fasting is always a breeze. Yes, on some days I may experience some nausea, be very thirsty and tired and lack a lot of energy, but more often than not the day goes very smoothly and generally I’m quite alright.There’s so much more to Ramadan than abstaining from food and drink, but one thing I’m sure all Muslims can agree upon is that it is such an amazing and peaceful month and we all miss it when it’s over!