We are currently in the Islamic holy month of Ramadan 2013 in which Muslims abstain from food, drink and sexual relations between the break of dawn and sunset. This year in the UK the period of fasting is around 18 to 19 hours and Muslims in other parts of the world, such as Scandinavia, fast for even longer. Many, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, will be asking why do this? Why avoid fulfilling the desires which are a fundamental part of our make up as humans?
'You need to fast for how long?!"."So you can't drink as well as not eat?!" These are some of the comments I've been hearing this Ramadan when telling people about the fasting Muslims undertake during this holy month. To someone who is not used to it or who is not looking at the spiritual goal of abstaining from food and drink then this must seem quite a challenge. It makes me reflect back to when I first came to Islam and began learning to manage the obligations of the religion, such as prayer and fasting.
When I became Muslim over 9 years ago, Ramadan was in the autumn so the days were much shorter and the weather was cooler, so on reflection I do not remember it being much of an issue. Perhaps if my first Ramadan was around this time of the year then I would have more vivid memories. One thing I do remember is staying over at a friend's place and waking up for breakfast at what seemed to be a very strange hour. My friend who introduced me to Islam was very patient and understanding, he did not push me too hard; nevertheless I did wake up that morning for a memorable bowl of cornflakes.