Fasting – A Test of One’s Mettle

By Farheen Ferdhouse

Fasting is expected of every practicing Muslim during the holy month of Ramadhan. It is that time of the year where we get to seek the pleasure of God (our creator), by performing extra prayers on top of our obligatory prayers coupled with the act of abstaining from eating and drinking for 30 days from dawn to dusk. As much as fasting is an exercise of self-restraint where one has to resist the urge to eat and drink, the fast is kept primarily with the intention of bringing oneself closer to God and to remember about the sufferings of the less fortunate.

To me, the month of Ramadhan is one that I truly look forward to as it is the time where we can make up for a lot of things that we have fallen short in as believers of Islam. Many a times, we are so caught up with our worldly affairs that we forget our real purpose of coming into this temporal dunya (world), which is to serve our Al-Mighty. There have been umpteen times where I just fail to make time for the obligatory prayers especially when I am at school or when I am outside of home. Thus the month of fasting in a way, acts as an impetus for me to push myself to pray on time regardless of whether I am outside or not. After all, the month of Ramadhan is a time to detach from worldly pleasures and focus on one’s prayers even as we are going to school or work. Ultimately, it is about making time for our deen even when we are engaged with our worldly affairs – the ultimate test for every Muslim during the month of fasting.

I will not lie about the difficulties in reaping the rewards of fasting. In my case, one of the most challenging instances in my life was when I had to attend a team-building camp during Ramadhan. Given that I was fully aware of the rigorous activities that I had to be a part of, I was in a dilemma on whether or not I should fast. However, since it was only a 4 day camp, I decided to challenge myself by choosing not to forgo fasting. I must say it was a decision that came with a cost but yet, I am thankful for it or else I would never really have realised my ability to be resilient even when the odds are against me. Though I ended up breaking my fast on the 3rd day upon the request of my facilitator due to a dizzy spell, I am glad to have at least tried and not just given up totally even before trying. Indeed fasting is an experience that allows us as individuals to test our limits and persevere. It helps us change our approach to tackling problems and potential hurdles that may impede our progress in a certain task. When we realise, ‘I could do all of that during Ramadhan…with all that thirst and hunger consuming every ounce of energy left in my body…’, every problem seems to be conquerable.Fasting helps us to believe in our ability to overcome adversity as opposed to getting fazed by how tough the adversity is.

Yes, the need to abstain from food and drink is hard for the body to take as we require energy to operate in the day. Nonetheless, such abstinence is transient as it comes like a season to test the mettle of those who are willing to persevere for the sake of God. The perseverance on the other hand, has to come from within.

Photo credit: Syafiq Rafid

Read the other posts here: Rituals blog series