City of Brass

City of Brass


The fasts are slow

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

by savasaid on Instagram

Regardless of when most muslims began Ramadan this year, everyone has been fasting for a few days and today everyone is fasting together. Since we are still early in the month, most of the Internet chitchat about Ramadan still centers on food – what we are eating, what we aren’t eating, and how long the fasts are. Since only about .005% of the world’s muslims live in Australia, it’s pretty much a given that most muslims have long summer fasts, and the further north you live the longer the fast.

My fast begins at around 4:30 am and ends at 8:30 pm, whereas my friends in Houston fast from 5:20 am to 8:20 am (a full hour shorter) and in London from 3:30 am to 9:00 PM (an hour and a half longer). Of course, since the summer solstice preceded Ramadan, everyone’s fasts will be shorter by about an hour at the end of Ramadan than at the start. Still, it’s definitely a challenge and for some people it’s just not possible to keep up with the physical demands. Anyone sincerely unable to perform the fast can always choose to make them up later in the year or feed the poor instead (Qur’an 2:184-185). It’s not limited to just the old or the sick, mind you: this year, many muslim athletes at the Olympic Games in London are choosing to delay their fasts (and fasting is known to affect athletic performance).

Those of us with no excuse however, are committed to the fast, regardless of its length (and not everyone can take 30 days off from work or simply move south for the summer!). This is probably why at the outset of Ramadan this year there is such a huge amount of inspirational and spiritual material being written, to focus the hungry muslim’s mind on their spirit instead of their stomachs!

Some examples: The crew over at Muslim Matters have been particularly active this year with a number of good articles, such as the importance of dhikr (the Sunni term; the Shi’a equivalent is tasbih). MM also keeps the tone light – here’s an essay weighing in on the agonized muslimgeek debate over watching The Dark Knight Returns (which opened just after Ramadan started for most muslims). American imam Suhaib Webb is also ramping up the Ramadan coverage at his “virtual mosque” site SuhaibWebb.com – there’s a nice article on freeing yourself from common emotional weights during Ramadan, and a more light-hearted series following the Abdullah brothers who play football in the NFL. Finally, Oxford professor Tariq Ramadan is doing a daily podcast series for Ramadan, entitled Ramadan’s Chronicles. This is just the tip of the iceberg – there are literally dozens of muslim bloggers out there writing about Ramadan (including most of the award-winning bloggers highlighted during the Brass Crescent Awards).

Of course, muslims on the Internet are diverse and so you should not accept what another muslim says uncritically but interpret their opinion through the lens of your own tradition. But there’s enough commonality between what most muslims have to say during Ramadan that it’s worth hearing what others have to say.

By the end of this week, most of us will begin to adapt. There’s actually scientific evidence to suggest that there is an improvement as Ramadan progresses – for example, a study on muslim athletes in 2011 had these intriguing results:

Roy et al. Asian J Sports Med. 2011 September; 2(3): 195–204

Admitedly, the sample size was pretty small, but I think anyone fasting for Ramadan will instinctually understand this graph. The full paper is online and is definitely worth reading! The main point however is simple: fasting in Ramadan entails short-term pain, and long-term gain. It gets better. Hang in there :)



Previous Posts

Tweeting the Qur'an #ttQuran
My friend Hussein Rashid launched the idea of Tweeting the Qur’an a few years ago and the idea has steadily caught on, and even at

posted 1:04:00pm Jul. 10, 2014 | read full post »

The Criterion: reading the Qur'an is the foundation of ibadat in Ramadan
Ramadan is one-third over. Unlike past years, I've not written as much about my observances this year because I've been dedicated to

posted 1:00:20pm Jul. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Nominations now open for the 11th Annual Brass Crescent Awards
The Brass Crescent Awards is an annual awards ceremony that honors the best writers and thinkers of the emerging Muslim blogosphere (aka the Islamsphere). Nominations are taken from blog readers, who then vote for the winners. Founded in 2004 by myself and Shahed Amanullah, the Brass Crescent Awa

posted 5:18:45am Jun. 29, 2014 | read full post »

Ramadan Kareem from the Democratic Party and President Obama
The official twitter handle of the Democratic Party (@TheDemocrats) just posted this Ramadan Kareem message quoting President Obama: https://twitter.com/TheDemocrats/status/482895697222443008 "Ramadan reminds us of our shared responsibility to treat others as we wish to be treated ourselves an

posted 4:00:46pm Jun. 28, 2014 | read full post »

Ramadan is coming - or has already arrived
Ramadan Mubarak! By the lunar Fatimid calendar, today (Saturday 28th June) is the 1st of Ramadan. The Mecca-centric calculations of The Fiqh Council of North America (affiliated with the Islamic Society of North America) also concur with the lunar calendar in declaring today the 1st of Ramada

posted 9:40:22am Jun. 28, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.