Waiting at the bus stop for a ride to your office, you occupy your mind by scrolling through your Whatsapp messages. Rereading old messages from your mother and replying some heretofore unread ones, today seems like a normal day in which nothing eventful will happen.
But then, out of the blue, you feel a stinging pain on your knee. Instinctively you grab your knee to somehow lessen the pain. Your swift hand motion caused a bee to buzz away from you and you realize that you were just stung by it.
All your life you have heard of people getting stung by bees and you never imagined it would happen to yourself, or maybe just not on this particular mundane day. Then you think to yourself “Well, there is a first time for everything.”
For newly converted Muslims, their first time fasting for the whole month of Ramadhan could be challenging. Some of them practised fasting before the holy month began to simply have some experience.
Though, even with some practice, the notion of going without food and water during the sunny hours of the day for an entire month can be daunting. They often wonder if they can survive it. They actually can if they really endeavour to.
If the converts live in a non-Islamic country and are surrounded by non-Muslims, fasting is rather difficult as there is little support given to them. Their family members and friends would tell them it would be such a colossal burden to starve and be unable to quench their thirst.
This could dampen the feelings of the converts as their loved ones do not fathom their holy act. What they should do is try to make them comprehend that fasting is a must for every Muslim and the blessings one receives for doing so are incomparably marvellous.
Fasting is far deeper than merely refraining from eating and drinking, it is a spiritual act that brings one closer to the Almighty.
The first few days of Ramadan would be especially harsh on them as it takes a lot of adjustment to their new eating schedule. Even Muslims who have regularly fast takes time to reacquaint themselves to waking up at 3am for sahur and eating just as the sun sets for iftar.
Sleeping habits would have to be altered and daily activities would have to be timed accordingly to ensure they will be at the dining table with food ready when Maghrib comes.
Because they have never fasted before, the converts do not know what they should eat to break their fast and how to eat. They find themselves bloated with food at the end of the night as they believe they need to eat a lot to make up for the hours of not eating. This perception is wrong.
They should always remember what The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him the strength he needs. If he has to fill his stomach, then let him leave one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah).
As for what food is advisable to break their fast, another saying by The Prophet (peace be upon him) should come to mind: “When one of you breaks his Saum (fasting), let him break it on dates; if he does not have any, break his fast with water for it is pure.’’ (Abu Dawud).
After the lethargy over the lack of energy from not eating and drinking and insufficient sleep, Muslims get rewarded with the simple joy of a scrumptious meal at iftar and the self-satisfaction of knowing they performed a holy and wonderful deed. Not to mention the best blessing of all, Jannah. A few sips of water and mouthfuls of food is such a small sacrifice that pales in comparison.
Nur Jalilah Binti Abdul Aziz, freelance writer of this blog at Zaahara. Interests include blog writing, academic writing and creative writing.
-Photos are taken from google images
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