We are thrilled to have the Everyday Muslim Podcast team guest blogging this week! The team will be sharing three posts with us. Tonight we have the first one which focuses on Ramadan from Saba Awan, Founder and Producer of the podcast. The holy month Ramadan ends tomorrow with Eid, so it is perfect timing to share this with you! …
With Ramadan over for another year, I have been doing some reflecting on this special month and what it means to me.
My first memory of Ramadan was when I was ten years old and I tried fasting for the first time. Sadly, I do not recall any feelings of intense spiritual renewal. Instead, all I can remember is sitting in front of Wendy’s (while my Mum was in the supermarket) feeling utterly miserable that I wasn’t able to enjoy an ice cream. In my juvenile head, I was sure this had to be the hardest day of my entire life. However, to be honest, I really had no one to blame but myself, as children amongst others, are exempt from fasting. All I know is that I must have pleaded with my Mum to let me fast that day.
Now you may ask why a ten-year-old growing up in the heat of Darwin would ever want to fast during Ramadan? Good question. At that age, I only fasted on the weekends and mainly because I was looking for any excuse to wake up at 4:30am and eat with my family before the sun rose and the fast began. It almost felt a bit cheeky being awake so early while most of the city was asleep.
Twenty years later, I have certainly changed and now Ramadan means so much more than a pre-dawn meal. For me, the holy month has become equal parts what I can do to change the world and what I can do to change myself.
I know changing the world may seem ambitious during Ramadan but change comes in small forms. Simply through the act of not eating or drinking during daylight hours, I along with 1.6 billion other Muslims, realise (to a small degree) the intense hardships that millions of the world’s poor experience every day. Now this experience is not meant to make us think “Well glad that’s not me!” when the day is over but rather it is meant to inspire immense generosity and compassion within us so that we support those living through this daily struggle.
As for changing myself in Ramadan, well this involves a fast of a different kind. Aside from not eating and drinking, my fellow Muslims and I are also instructed by God during Ramadan to fast from all our bad habits, which may include lying, anger, greed, gossiping or selfishness. This is easier than it sounds, as we really do not realise how some of these vices have set up homes in our hearts.
Fasting during Ramadan provides an opportunity for Muslims unlike no other. It allows us to see ourselves for who we really are, stripped back, raw and without chocolate to make us feel better. From lived experience, I cannot begin to tell you the level of self-awareness a fasting person has the potential to feel. From day one of Ramadan, I am ever so conscious about what I spend my time looking at, listening to and saying – it’s like all my senses are heightened and I do not have the energy to waste on trivial matters.
Ramadan truly brings out the best in people and I always notice how during the month everyone is more kind, more generous, more patient and more compassionate. It is like God has transformed us into better versions of ourselves within 30 days! This is indeed the spirit of Ramadan and is motivation for all Muslims to be the best we can be throughout the year.
At times, Muslims will emphasise the no eating and drinking part of Ramadan (we can’t help it, we love food) however, don’t be fooled, this is just one part of the holy month. In fact, during Ramadan, Muslims are fasting from a whole lot more than you may think, and the focus is not on the food, it’s on the heart.
Do you fast over Ramadan or for other occasions? If so, how has the practice impacted you? We would love it if you shared! x