written by Theresa Corbin for Al Jumuah
Entering into my 15th [now 16th] Ramadan, I feel an excitement building. I am looking forward to the fast of Ramadan and all the amazing things that come with it: growing spiritually, strengthening community ties, coming nearer to Allah, and much more.
However, it wasn’t always this way. I converted during the month of Ramadan and jumped straight into fasting even before I knew how to pray correctly. I want to be honest here. Those first fasts were hard. Very hard. Coming from a Catholic and American background, I had never experienced real fasting. The most I knew about fasting was eating less to fit in a smaller size and not eating meat on Fridays during Lent.
So my first Ramadan was a shock to my system. And as my second Ramadan approached, I was very nervous about my ability to endure. I feared the pains of hunger, the thirst that left me dehydrated, and the fatigue that comes along with fasting. I felt like this was something no one ever talked about and for good reason. Complaining about hunger, thirst, and fatigue defeats the purpose of fasting.
I realized a couple things during my struggle to acclimate to fasting.
- Firstly, that transformation of any kind will never happen if we don’t make drastic –often uncomfortable– changes. And fasting is an amazing way to get to know and perfect who we really are at a base level.
- Secondly, I realized that there were very important tips to fasting successfully that few people tell new Muslims, perhaps out of fear of complaining about the test of fasting, or maybe out of having been trained from childhood and not knowing how hard it is for an adult to fast for the first time.
So what follows are the mental and physical practices that make fasting easier for the new Muslims and those new to fasting.
The Mental Approach
Know that you can: Like I said, I want to be honest here. There were some days of fasting in the beginning of my Muslim life that were rough. There were days when I felt like I was clawing my way just to get through one more minute of fasting. I was unsure if I could even make it.
Then I told myself, if Allah has prescribed fasting to humankind, then that means I am capable of doing it. And I continued to tell myself this until it became my Ramadan mantra: If Allah says I can, then I know I can. I was like the little Ramadan engine that could.
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