This morning we awoke for the pre-dawn meal to a soft rain carried lightly on a blind-stirring breeze. We saw all together in a half darkened room talking quietly so as not to wake baby Asmaa. Our meal was simple- oatmeal, and zucchini bread made from some of the fruits of our first garden here on our rural Missouri homestead. Our stomachs, unused to consuming food at 3:30 a.m, refused to allow us to eat very much, yet we all left the mat to go to our prayers feeling contented and more than a little excited about the beginning of this blessed month of Ramadhaan.
People are amazed that we as Muslims choose to fast these hot summer days of almost seventeen hours. I find myself at a loss as to how to convey to them the joy and and anticipation with which we look forward to this chance to test ourselves; or rather, to be tested by Allaah, the Most High, the Most Great. Simply put, if a person doesn’t believe in revelation then she won’t ever understand the decision made by millions of Muslims the world over to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse for the daylight hours for an entire month each year- simply to please our Lord Who created and sustains us, following His command as revealed over 1400 years ago. In this age of self indulgence and “I need it now,” the idea of self denial is almost unheard of. And so we, as the fasting Muslims, become objects of ridicule and disdain for engaging in this personal act of worship we consider obligatory upon us.
And we don’t decide to fast once, at the beginning of the month. Instead, we choose faith over our desires every morning when we wake up in darkness, turn on the lamp- or light a candle, or set a match to the propane light- and head sleepily for the kitchen. We choose faith over our desires when blood sugar levels first bottom out a few hours later and we feel the first stirrings of hunger around noon. We choose faith we are alone feeding our babies, or sitting in an empty house when no one would know if we took just one bite- and then another, and we keep our fast. We choose faith over desires in the evenings when we walk the goats, or finish up work, and these last three hours fasting seem so very long.
We choose faith over our desires because we- all of us- from different backgrounds, cultures, socioeconomic status, races, and tribes- believe that we have been put on this earth for something higher than gratifying our each and every whim. We believer that Allaah created us and His knowledge and wisdom are perfect. We believer that the sun rises each day and sets each night and the winter and summer come and go and plants live and die for a greater reason.
We believe, and so we choose faith.
Postscript: I taught this year’s first online sisters daily reminder class, alhamdulillah, many new faces, and the comfort and happiness of seeing those that are familiar. If you are interested in joining us, sign up here.
My book, Fasting From Alif to Yaa, is available through distributors as well as at Amazon. If you purchase the print copy at our Taalib store, though, you will receive a free Ramadhaan Reminders journal, insh’Allaah. You can purchase it here.
Insh’Allaah, I hope to most more during this blessed month!