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

is ISIS Islamic? Wrong question.
There is an excellent longform essay on ISIS published in The Atlantic, "What does ISIS Really Want?" that lays out an excellent case fore ISIS being genuinely different in ideology, motivation and ethos than Al Qaeda. The real question boils down to, is ISIS "Islamic" or not - and makes an excellen

posted 11:34:08pm Feb. 17, 2015 | read full post »

The Price of Extremism
This is a guest post by Durriya Badani. The execution style murder of three young North Carolina students, two of whom were hijab wearing Muslim women, raises questions regarding the rise of Islamaphobia in the United States in the form of hate crimes. Some will argue that the motive for the inc

posted 11:26:53am Feb. 12, 2015 | read full post »

Can atheism drive someone to murder? #muslimlivesmatter #chapelhillshooting
Like everyone else, I am in shock at the horrible tragedy in North Carolina last night, where three young Muslim Americans were brutally executed. The police are investigating and the murderer is in custody and cooperating. The family of the victims will hold a press conference soon, until then I am

posted 4:21:58pm Feb. 11, 2015 | read full post »

Halal Italian and Mexican catering in Chicago
This is a guest post by Whitney Gaspar. I am not Muslim. I am not any religion, really. I was baptized as a Catholic to please my grandma and raised as an atheist by my mother. I am spiritual and I believe in God. But that is not why I eat halal. I eat halal because it is logical. It simpl

posted 11:09:45am Feb. 09, 2015 | read full post »

the State of the Ummah, 2014/1436
I tuned into President Obama's 2014 SOTU for a while last week - mainly beca

posted 12:06:37pm Jan. 26, 2015 | 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.