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In the Name of God: The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring 

We are in the final week of Ramadan, and I won’t lie: it’s been hard. The days have been long, the nights have been short, and the weather has been hot.

For me, it’s not the hunger or thirst (yes, I can’t even have water). Rather, it’s the sleep deprivation.

By the time I’m done eating and enjoying being able to eat again, it’s 10 pm. Then I still must do some night vigil prayers before going to bed for work. So, naturally, I’m getting less sleep. During “regular” days, I drink coffee to make up for it. Can’t do that now. And so, I am frequently dragging, especially in the mid to late afternoon when there is still a good 3-4 hours left before sunset.

Yup, it’s been hard.

But, you know what? That very moment when I break my fast; the very moment I put that date or piece of candy or drink that glass of milk, the feeling is amazing. Not just because I can now eat and drink again. But because of the sense of accomplishment: I did it. I fasted 17 hours today and made it safe and sound.

Now, of course, those who are sick or physically unable to fast are exempt. But for those of us blessed with the physical ability to fast and choose to do so, the sense of happiness at the end of the fast is truly indescribable. It is as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported to have said:

“The fasting person has two occasions of joy: one when we breaks his fast, and the other when he meets his Lord.”

During Friday prayers two weeks ago, I heard an amazing thing about the fast: it’s a marathon, and it is incumbent upon us to finish the race. I can relate to that because I ran the 2010 Chicago Marathon in honor of my late daughter. At the end of the race, I was exhausted: my legs were killing me; I couldn’t sit down from the pain; my feet were on fire. But, it was one of the happiest moments of my entire life.

The same is with the fast: throughout the day, I am tired, fatigued, and many times, cranky. But, when it’s all over, and I can eat again, it is an amazing feeling. The Qur’an talks about this:

 “…He [God] desires that you complete the number of days required and that you extol God for His having guided you aright and that you render your thanks unto Him.” (2:185)

When it’s all said and done this coming Sunday, there is such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and happiness  – not just that the fast is over, but that I was blessed to be able to complete another year of fasting for the sake of the Lord. And then, I look up to the sky in eternal gratitude for this blessing.

So, yup, it’s been hard, there is no doubt about that. But – in the end – I believe it is totally worth the pain.

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