The Fast

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Obviously you don’t need to be a Muslim for a month to learn about Islam, anyone can buy a Quran, download one, get the app, and read it at their pleasure. Fasting however is something I don’t think any book can really tell you about. It would just be pointless words on a page, which will have most people thinking Ramadan is crazy.
I didn’t get it. I have seen my husband fast for that last few years and I just couldn’t grasp the point. Oh sure it was explained to me- time to be closer to God, time to appreciate what you have, time to remember those who go without etc etc, but going without food and drink? Really?
Well yes, really! At the end of the month I probably still won’t understand much about Islam, but I can now say I do understand why people fast, why they look forward to it, why they are not all leaving the religion after the first day. This is something you really need to feel to truly *get* it.
I honestly didn’t think I could do it, I never in a million years thought I would enjoy it. But I am and I do. Every morning it feels like an impossible task, than every day at 9pm I get to feel such a sense of achievement, and I get to share it with my husband. Meals are appreciated, I can’t say when the last time was that I truly appreciated a meal before this month, they are a celebration. I love the discipline needed, the focus required. And on the spiritual sense, fasting means you will never forget that you are in a special month, that you are doing something. For the religious every time they feel weak, they feel the pangs of hunger, they have a reminder as to why they are doing it, who they are doing it for, and to be thankful.
Don’t get me wrong, not all Muslims enjoy Ramadan. Out loud they feel they most proclaim a love for the Islamic holiday, but quietly they whisper their true feelings. People can become moodier, lack of food and exhaustion, thanks to the very early wake up to eat, is not a great combination. Apparently breaths can be worse too, something I’ve not noticed (another thing for me to be thankful for!), and someone even said BO increases too, oh my. Too many women also complain how they have to spend half the day in the kitchen cooking, making food more a part of their daily lives than when they could eat. There are feelings of guilt when some think all they are doing is fasting and they don’t have time to also read Quran, perform longer prayers etc.
Having the wrong attitude about Ramadan also doesn’t help. Some spend the whole month counting down to Eid (three days of feasts after Ramadan), or they spend the whole day thinking about their evening meal, and eating more than a days worth of food in the one sitting. Some people spend the day sleeping, completing voiding the whole point of the fast.
I can’t eat or drink between 3am to 9pm, but I’m not going to sit around thinking “oh woe is me”. I’m not going to wish this month away either, in fact when my husband said earlier that we were half way, I felt a pang of sadness. When I had five days where I couldn’t fast, I felt as if I was missing out.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a walk in the park- in fact it was walking in the park on one of England’s hottest days of the years that proved one of the hardest days fasting- there are moments I am just staring at food, smelling it, fantasising about eating it. Then there are the small but more enticing temptations such as wishing I could taste food as I cook it, just to check it is ok. Feeding a child during the day has also had me nearly slipping up from old habits. Before this month I don’t thing my son even knew ice lollies came without a bite taking out of them first!

Now, I have a slight fasting problem- on Wednesday I’m due to be put under general anaesthetic to have my wisdom teeth removed. I haven’t had my consultation so don’t know if you are supposed to eat beforehand, however I’m pretty sure afterwards I’ll be wanting pain killers, which breaks the fast.

religion data

What am I?

Another issue my minor operation is causing is the form I have to fill out. It asks for my religion. I will still be wearing hijab (though taking it off for the actual operation), so ticking nonreligious or N/A seems a bit of an eyebrow raiser. But I don’t want to lie either. I’m guessing I should leave it blank, after all as far as I’m aware legally I’m not obliged to answer.
Hmm, I don’t really like being a blank.
I guess a devout Muslim would put of the op until after Ramadan, the problem is it turns out I have a massive fear of GA (never been put to sleep before) and if I put it off now I doubt I will ever do it. Oh well, I guess it is impracticalities such as this that make some people hate this month.

Right, now I really must sleep, I have to get up in two and a half hours to eat before my fasting day starts again. Alhamdulillah.

The little details


The day is drawing near. It was easy to look at the big picture when I decided to do this, it seemed simple, now however I’m learning the little details that I will have to take into account whilst being a Muslim. Silly things that to others might seem insignificant but nevertheless I have to approach it the Islamic way.
When the postman, or any other man, knocks on my door, I’m going to have to cover up before answering. Now considering the postman often knocks about 9am and I’m still in my nightie, this doesn’t bode well. In Egypt I have noticed people are used to waiting a while before the door opens, I guess any women there are quickly rushing about for a scarf and abaya to throw on.
Another thing is injections/tablets. I would have assumed they were perfectly fine to take whilst fasting as it isn’t nourishment, but a friend who is a doctor’s receptionist told me how a man phoned and said he needed to have his holiday injections before Ramadan due to his fast. I’m on the contraception pill, I’m also awaiting an appointment to have my wisdom teeth removed, oh dear.
Swimming- I don’t have a “burkini”, I can’t justify buying one either after my hijab spree the other night. At the moment I take my son weekly as well as go to aqua zumba once a week, and now that has to stop. Feeling deprived isn’t exactly the best way to start this.
Exercise- is it safe to really do any exercise whilst fasting, considering I will already be dehydrated? I have a month left on my gym membership, seems a waste.
Sleep deprivation- I have been so focused on the lack of food I forgot the lack of sleep! I will eat around 10pm, and then pretty much straight to bed as I would have to wake up at about 3am, and then back to bed as my toddler wakes at 7am. He has recently dropped his nap so no help there. Will being both tired and hungry put a strain on my parenting?
What about when prayer time comes whilst I’m at work? Do I abandon my till and customers to get ready and pray?

The list of the little details gets longer by the day. I knew about the prayers, I knew about the clothes, I knew about the food, I didn’t however know that I might have to abandon my make up and scan all my body products for any pork ingredients.

I’m going to make mistakes, I’m going to forget things, I’m going to be totally oblivious to some. Right now I am learning the details, but I still have some way to go before I truly understand them. Maybe an atheist never will.