By: Theresa Corbin
With the last 10 day of Ramadan upon us and with the Eid in sight, for reverts (especially those in their first or second Ramadan) it may be difficult to keep pace with fasting, fard and taraweeh prayers. We have been fasting for over 20 days now and praying at night. And the body may be telling us to slow down. But we shouldn't give up now; it is time to dig deep and not to miss out on any opportunity for the reward from Allah. Allah has given us a will to do more than what we think we are capable of, below are seven things to remember when the going gets rough.
1. Nothing more worth earning than the love of Allah
Earning the love of Allah is the number one reason we fast. Without this intention it is close to impossible. It may be hard to imagine earning the love of the incomprehensible, but imagine if you earned the love of the president of the United States. Not in a Bill Clinton kind of way, but in the Care Bear kind of way that will make him want to do anything for you. The president has so much power and can do so much for you that this would be awesome.
La hulwa wa la quwata illa billa. Now imagine if you have earned the love of the ruler of the entire universe and everything in it. ‘Say if you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you,’ (3: 31). What can't be accomplished with the love of Allah?
On the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
"Allah (mighty and sublime be He) said:
Whosoever shows enmity to someone devoted to Me, I shall be at war with him. My servant draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory works so that I shall love him. When I love him I am his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant him it […]" [Bukhari]
2. Fasting is a luxury
While you are fasting it is hard to imagine fasting as a luxury. Those of us who are born and raised in the West imagine luxury as silk sheets and buttery lobster dinners or some sort of expensive superlative. But while you are fasting it is easy to image the struggle of those who have no means to eat. Having enough food and drink so that you have the luxury to abstain from eating it, is a luxury. And this is part of the wisdom of fasting. During fasting the heart becomes softened to the situation of those who don't have as much as we do, making it easy to give sadaqa. So fast knowing that you have the luxury of being able to break your fast, and give knowing that you wouldn't want to be in a situation where you can't break your fast.
3. If you can fast and control yourself, what can't you do?
"Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice in anger. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: "I am fasting!" (Muslim) Think about what kind of training in self-discipline this is. We often think of training in terms of muscle, but fasting is a kind of physical and mental discipline. As we go through our day of fasting, refraining from road rage while sitting in traffic and lowering our gaze at the profane summer outfits, we are flexing an all too important muscle of self-discipline. If you can control yourself while you are hungry, you can certainly control yourself when are full of energy and well rested. Ramadan is an opportunity to get the upper hand over your nafs, to gain traction in some self-discipline.
4. Ramadan Expires soon
We may grunt and moan at the thought of reading Quran and doing the nawafil while we are weak from fasting, or praying taraweeh after a day of fasting may seem daunting. But we have to remember that like a sale at our favorite store, this offer will not last forever. In pre-Islam days some of us can remember waking long before the sun rises to stand in line and do Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving. We would tell ourselves, it is only once a year. It was a simple thing if we kept that in mind. Remember Ramadan is only one month out of the year. The night of power is only one night out of the year. Earn the mercy and reward with Allah in Ramadan while the gates of hell are closed and the gates of paradise are open.
`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported:
The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) used to strive more in worship during Ramadan than he strove in any other time of the year; and he would devote himself more (in the worship of Allah) in the last ten nights of Ramadan than he did in earlier part of the month. (Muslim). And now I must refer you back to the Quran verse mentioned in the first item. ‘Say if you love Allah, then follow me and Allah will love you,’ (3: 31).
5. Side effects of sawm
While our intention in fasting is to seek the love of Allah, we can also be happy in knowing that there are some pretty pleasant side effects to fasting.
According to sciencedaily.com "Research cardiologists at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute are reporting that fasting not only lowers one's risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes, but also causes significant changes in a person's blood cholesterol levels."
6. Fasting takes practice
As the saying goes practice makes perfect. And it is true, the more you do something, the easier it becomes. We know this from experience, as children our first step was wobbly to say the least. Then the next still wobbly, but we were trying. The more we worked at getting the hang of walking, the better we got. The same is true for fasting. The first fast can be, well, wobbly. As reverts our bodies aren't used to this kind of application. But the more you fast the easier it becomes. Just like those who are born into Muslims families who are used to fasting it takes them a few day to get used to the fast of Ramadan, it takes a few Ramadans for the revert to get
up to speed in fasting. It is best to try to fast some sunnah fasts outside of Ramadan to get the hang of it for the month in which it is obligatory. But if you haven't prepared in this way, it is ok, It WILL get easier.
7. Allah does not prescribe what we are not capable of
Our creator is the most merciful and would not ask us to do what we are not capable of doing. Allah has created us, He knows us better than we know ourselves. We can be sure that if Allah has prescribed fasting in Ramadan for us it is good for us and we can be sure that we can do it.
As we all know, dua is accepted during the month of Ramadan. If fasting gets difficult during Ramadan and we feel ourselves slipping, then we should make dua that Allah makes our Ramadan fast easy for us. Always remember iman over matter.
About the Author: Theresa Corbin - A New Orleans native, a writer, an up-cycler, a Creole American, and a Muslim convert living in the dirty south, y’all!
Visit her blog Islamwich - This blog serves up slices of Islamic life practiced in a culture that seems to dictate everything un-Islamic, sprinkled with fun--and sometimes funny--facts for non-Muslims and tips for new or newly practicing Muslims.