Strength of Spirit

Ramzan, the holy month of fasting

Ramzan, the holy month of fasting, is one of the testing times in the life of a Muslim. It takes discipline and focus to go an entire month without eating or drinking from dawn to dusk, but it’s not just about abstaining from food and water. Ramzan is a time of introspection, purification, prayer and self-control. As much a matter of mind as it is a tax on the body, the Ramzan fast is a demanding show of faith that asks much of those who observe it. But as with any other show of dedication, the rewards are immense – spiritual and physical cleansing, reaffirmation of one’s faith, and a closer connection with the beliefs and tenets of Islam.
 
If you’re observing the Ramzan fast, there are certain things you can do to make it a bit easier on the body. Starting and breaking the fast the right way are crucial, as many faithful wake up early to eat a meal before dawn and attend Fajr prayers. A wholesome breakfast such as porridge or eggs with toast and fresh fruit makes it easier to concentrate on the day ahead, especially if your job needs you to be physically active. And at dusk when it’s time to break the fast with Iftar, traditional foods such as dates and milk work best.
 
Ramzan is a time of introspection, purification, prayer and self-control 
 
Eating deep-fried or fatty foods after long periods of fasting tends to cause problems like indigestion and heartburn, so while that plate of samosas might look incredibly tempting, you might want to wait until you’ve had something that’s easier on the digestive system. Foods rich in fats like ghee or dishes loaded with starches are also best left until you’ve had a chance to get your blood sugar back up slowly but steadily. Break the fast with something light, combining sugar and carbohydrates with vitamins and minerals.
 
Because water can only be consumed between dusk and dawn, everyone observing the Ramzan fast should aim for adequate hydration while the sun is down. Eight glasses of water should give you enough fluids to last 24 hours – two glasses before you start the fast, two as you break it, and four in between, if possible. This should be enough to prevent dehydration in most cases.
 
Ramzan is not only about fasting and its effect on the body 
 
But as mentioned earlier, Ramzan is not only about fasting and its effect on the body. This month is a spiritual time for Muslims, offering an opportunity to reconnect with their faith. Prayer plays a major role during this month of discipline and faith, serving as a conduit between the faithful and the divine. It allows one to feel closer to both religion and creator, fostering a sense of closeness and renewing ties of faith. Essentially, it allows the faithful to strengthen their loyalty and devotion to the divine.
 
Purification is another spiritual aspect of Ramzan, which many people consider a time to get rid of bad habits and resist worldly pleasures. But the essence of purification goes beyond the physical. It’s said that feeling the pangs of hunger teaches one about the suffering of those less fortunate, which ties in with Islam’s tenet of charitable assistance. Additionally, fasting during Ramzan requires a measure of punctuality and regularity, which in turn fosters discipline throughout the rest of the year.
 
Ramzan calls for strength of mind and body 
 
Though it calls for strength of mind and body, the truth is that many people fasting during Ramzan have to deal with some sort of temptation. This is where the principle of self-control comes in. The fast is a special experience. It’s a confidential act that takes place between the person observing it and his creator, and has to be done with complete sincerity and loyalty to retain its spiritual note. If you can say ‘no’ to temptation, it only reaffirms your commitment to your faith. Such small triumphs can also provide greater motivation to finish the month’s fast without faltering.                                                                                                                       ..... Ashwin