Today marks the first day of Ramadhan, the holy month where able, healthy Muslims are required to fast from sunup to sunset. It may not sound very exciting, not being able to eat and drink, but the more I learn, the more Ramadhan fascinates me.
Back when I was a kid, Ramadhan means one thing; Eid is coming thus feast, celebration and new clothes! It’s like a kid waiting for their present at Christmas. Then as I get older, I start learning what the holy months is all about. There are many layers to Ramadhan, depending on your age, you learn from the very basic, the physical the gradually moving up to the spiritual.
The first lesson of Ramadhan for me is gratitude and compassion. By withholding from food and water all day long, we learn what it is like to go without sustenance. Being hungry and thirsty is not fun. But, we’ll get it at the end of the day (or the middle or even by mid-morning if you’re still learning 🙂 I know at the end of the fast I will get water and food. There is plenty in my house. I can smell my mother’s cooking wafting through the house in the afternoon and can’t wait to taste them. Plus I only have to do this for about 30 days. But for others? Not only they might not have enough (or any), but this might be a situation for them day in day out regardless of the month.
Medical research have also shown that fasting is beneficial for your health. It is often thought of as ‘holiday’ for the digestive system. Time where they can repair themselves because they don’t have to work quite as hard digesting our food. Some people have commented, but I can’t fast, I’m sick! Well, the first rule of fasting is there’s no fasting.. eh, sorry, a vision of Brad Pitt just crossed my mind. But anyway, you do need to be healthy and able to fast. It is not meant to torture you. If you’re sick then of course you should not do it. Which brings me to another point about gratitude, being able to fast means you’re healthy. Something that we sometimes take for granted.
The second lesson of Ramadhan, the one I learned as I get older is the ability to withhold oneself, to learn to keep our emotions in check. You’re not only meant to not eat and drink but also to control yourself. To not get mad, sad, angry, easily. No instant gratification there. You learn to be patient. Patience is something that’s in short supply these days what with the digital revolution that enable us access to nearly everything at a snap. Why do you need to learn to be patient? Because things takes time. Nothing happens in an instant, there’s a process that you just gotta do to get from point A to point B. You learn to enjoy the process, not giving up or get mad when it doesn’t happen. Just go back at it.
Why’s that? Well, to keep our emotional health in check so we don’t get stressed at every single thing. Learn to pick what to let go, what to worry. Things you can’t control? Just let it go. Things you can control? Then work at it. Don’t freak out. It’s hard. Seems easy on theory but in practice? I haven’t mastered it yet! But just keep trying you know.
Of course there’s other benefit to the holy month but those are the top 2 for me. In short, I am glad we have Ramadhan. We are blessed with a month to reflect on ourselves. What we have done in the past, and to plan how we can improve for the months ahead. With that I shall end this note. For my muslim brothers and sisters, happy Ramadhan!