From the 6th of May to the 3rd of June this year, Muslims around the globe are supposedly starving themselves for 30 days straight in the name of Allah (God). I can without a shadow of a doubt, debunk this rumour. We don’t starve ourselves; we fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days straight.
No food or water—yes! No water.
For a lot of non-Muslims that may sound impossible, but I’ve been partaking in Ramadan for the last 4 years and the more I practice it, the easier it gets. I don’t mind going to school while I’m fasting, it’s a distraction from the dehydration. The one thing that I will, never get over however, is the constant gawks and remarks I get from people when I tell them I’m fasting, as they confess “oh my god, I could never” as they stuff a sandwich down their mouth.
And I get it, it can be a tough cultural pill to swallow for those who didn’t grow up in a Muslim family or don’t know very many Muslims. I think the best thing to do, as non-Muslims to just have compassion for people who are fasting. So maybe hold off the work dinner party until after Ramadan.
I think the biggest thing that people forget about Ramadan, including Muslims partaking in it; is that it is more than just the fasting. This holy month is used as a time for Muslims, to strengthen their relationship with God.
We are encouraged to pray more, do more charity work and seek forgiveness and make amends of the things we’ve done over the year that we’re not proud of.
By fasting, we aren’t so busy thinking about food and drinks, that we have more time to make productive changes to our lives. Think of it as a new years’ resolution, just without the gym membership.
In many houses across the world, we use Ramadan to also ask God to show kindness to those in unfortunate situations. Muslims in Yemen, Palestine and my home country, Sudan, are fighting for their lives and the injustices around them, yet still hold the integrity to not eat or drink until sunset every day of Ramadan.
It really puts you into perspective doesn’t it?
The biggest benefit I personally get from Ramadan, is the reminder to be grateful towards everything in my life that I get to call my own. Hearing the heartbreaking stories of the massacres of peaceful protesters in Sudan, a Muslim country, during the holy month makes you do a lot of reflection on the things we take for granted; free political speech. Even the things that are a given; my bed, my clothes, being able to see my family every day.
The Arabic word ‘Ummah’ means the Muslim community as a whole. Regardless of what your nationality is or what language you speak, we all belong to this Ummah. I’m always reminded of just how mass we are during Ramadan. Because, at an exact time in every country around the world, Muslims are all sitting down together at the dinner table sharing a meal.
That togetherness is something I think anyone can appreciate and it’s always my greatest joy during the holy month.
To all my Muslim sisters reading this, I wish you all a blessed Eid and I hope you are all spending it with the ones you love.