No Food Allowed

The Joys and Pains of Fasting in Ramadan

Last Updated: 10-Jun-2014 1:30 PM

My Second Ramadan Confessions of a convert to Islam

Hands up! I’ve missed 10 days of fasting this year! The reasons for missing these days should really be between myself and Allah (SWT) but let me play show-and-tell…

3 or 4 days – missed due to stomach trouble (probably the "healthy" smoothies I had shortly after breaking my fast the night before!) Yes! That’s 3 or 4 days…of making the same stupid mistake of drinking smoothies at Iftar time! Doh!

The other days I missed due to a sheer lack of staying power. This made me mad! A few of the days I broke my fast with only 4 hours to go. I do regret this now, mainly because when I broke my fast, I would have a glass of water, a little to eat and then? Nothing! But it seemed at the time that if I didn’t have that water and that child’s portion of food, I would simply shrivel up and die! Ah, the benefit of hindsight! And the benefit of being able to laugh at one’s self! May Allah (SWT) forgive me and accept the days of Ramadan that I DID fast for Him. Ameen.

On a more serious note – and somewhat in my humble defence – I did manage to fast a lot more days than I did in 2010. Alhamdulillah! 2010…exactly 2 months after embracing Islam, I found myself slap-bang at the start of Ramadan…and I was ill-prepared. I was haunted by visions of food; every direction I turned, there was the sight and the smell of it! And I was weak. Added to that, the average length of the fasting day for 2010 and 2011 was 17 hours in the UK. That’s dawn to sunset, not sunrise to sunset. That’s tough!

Alhamdulillah, Allah is Merciful and presented me with the opportunity to try again this year and, although I only managed 19 of the 29 days, I personally feel a small victory in the fact that I have made an improvement.

Fasting is not an easy thing to do, especially if you have not being fasting since a young age. Born-Muslims begin fasting from the age of 7 so anyone who is my age has had at least 27 years head start on someone like me! I was brought up a Catholic so my family would encourage us children to give up something for Lent but it is not the same.

The lesson I take away from my Ramadan is this: Restraint is good for the soul. Giving up food and drink all day – as difficult as it is – is actually a good thing for me. It makes me realise how someone, who has nothing to eat, feels. It makes me realise how blessed I am by Allah (SWT) for all He has provided to me out of His Endless Bounty. And that realisation makes me eternally grateful to Him.

This Ramadan, I watched on BBC News, a family in the Horn of Africa answer the reporter’s question of "Are you going to fast this Ramadan?" The answer given humbled me…and the answer was…"Yes! Of course we will fast! Even if we have no food to break the fast, we will fast!"

May Allah increase my steadfastness to match theirs.