Discover the reasons behind fasting
It wasn’t my first time in a Muslim country during the month of
Ramadan, but it was the first time – after having read about Ramadan –
that I follow some of the principles regarding fasting. And why so?
No, I am not secretly being converted to Islam, but I do like
challenges and I thought that this could be a really good one. So I got into the spirit of Ramadan and fasted for two weeks.
I have never been one to go on crazy diets, I have a very healthy
diet, and I do eat when I am hungry. I know there are people who fast
once per week or once per month. I tried before and I failed. So,
First, because it is hard to find a decent place to eat during the
day, the restaurants look empty what looks bit sad – there are hotels
of course, but that can be a bit boring.
Secondly, I wanted to prove to myself that I was self disciplined
enough to subject myself to the rigours of fasting – the purification
of the mind and body.
Thirdly, it is just easier to fast when people around you are doing
the same – the whole vibe makes it easier to fast.
My first day of fasting was quite hard, I had eaten some fruit for
dinner the night before, so I was feeling hungry in the morning. I
avoided the hotel breakfast and went straight out. During the
afternoon I decided to purchase a few things for myself at the market:
nuts, a selection of dates, and some mini mangos (now they are in
season and OMG they are so delicious, and when cut in a half they look
like mini lollipops!)
While I was holding the bags in the taxi, I had a great temptation to
open the bags…I started to do so..but hesitated and remembered that I
had to wait only a few hours more. Later I had to go to the restaurant
to book a table for that evening, and choose what to have for dinner.
During Ramadan reservations are not accepted, and the food must be
paid for in advance, so it will prepared and ready for 7pm (sunset).
After all the waiting I was excited for dinner to arrive at last! I
arrived a little before ‘ifitar’, and the restaurant was already busy.
Big tables seating families, couples, or just a group of male friends,
all waiting for ‘iftar’ – the tables already laid with morsel of
At 7pm we listened to a prayer, then drank water and ate dates – the
anticipation of the meal was building up… So many hours waiting for
dinner and then dinner was finished in just half hour! I must confess
that when choosing the food in the afternoon, I was a bit greedy, in
the event I could not finish my food! I realised then that I only
needed the same amount of food as when I wasn’t fasting.
After I left the restaurant, I delivered left over food to the
homeless I found sleeping on the street (something that I’ve done
before) – unfortunately I didn’t have to travel far to find them.
On my second day of fasting I woke up by coincidence at about 3am,
which is time for the ‘suhoor’ – the meal before the day break. I
thought about eating, but I wasn’t hungry at all, so I skipped
‘suhoor’ completely. Later when I woke up, the fasting came easy to
me, although I was thirsty and I had water.
During the day I didn’t feel hungry and didn’t think about food.
However the excitement increased as ‘iftar’ time approached, it felt
like a celebration, like Thanks Giving or Christmas Eve – only without
The following days of fasting fell into the same pattern, the days
getting gradually easier and easier, until the fasting become almost
By the end of the two weeks I lost a few inches and I mentally I was feeling peaceful with myself and more self-aware. I loved the experience and I have serious toughs about do it again next year for a longer period of time or even before the next Ramadan, or something like once per month.
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan is a period of fasting, reflection, worship, generosity and
sacrifice practised by Muslims around the world. The purpose of this
holy month is much more than abstaining from food and drink; it is a
source of purification for the soul, heart, mind, and body.
This month of reflection also serves as a tool to increase patience
and self-control. It is a humbling reminder of those who are living in
hunger and poverty on a daily basis, and allows one to truly count
their blessings and give thanks from within as well as with their
actions. The experiencing of hunger and thirst allows one to
empathise with those in the world who have little to eat every day.
We recognise that everything we have is a blessing from Him. Charity
(also important on Eid – last day of Ramadan), developing generosity,
improving our relations with others, feeding the needy and sharing
good fortune. These actions help to decrease poverty.
Fasting exceptions for:
Those who have not yet reached puberty; those who are ill, traveling,
pregnant or menstruating, but they are still required to give to
charity and feed another person.
How to fast:
During daylight hours, Muslims will abstain from: food, drink, sex,
smoking and profanity.
Before daybreak/sunrise, many Muslims will eat a meal ‘suhoor’
Sunset marks the breaking of the fast, and is time for the ‘iftar’,
before starting this meal it is traditional to drink water and eat a
Health benefits of fasting during Ramadan – if done correctly
According to Dr Mahroof, when the body is in starvation mood, it
starts to burn fat so that it can make energy, which can lead to
As the Ramadan fast only lasts from sunrise till sunset, the body’s
energy can be replaced by the meals during night time.
This ritual provides a smooth transition from using glucose as the
main source of energy, to using fat, preventing the breakdown of
muscle for protein.
During fasting, a purification process occurs, because the body is
dissolving and removing toxins.
Mental wellbeing is increased due to the higher levels of endorphins
in the blood, making one more alert.