Friday, June 19, 2015

19 Hours of Devotion

"So you're going to fast all day? It's crazy! It's summer now so the day is very long! And you're not even allowed to drink, are you?" Said a friend of mine a few days ago.

To be frank, those questions creeped me out a little, made me feel even more anxious to enter this holy month that I had always felt excited about to welcome.

Yes, it's finally Ramadhan again. A special month for us Muslims. A month where we have to fast all day and perform more prayers. A month of forgiveness and second chances. A month full of promises.

The problem is, it will be different this time. I have never spent a whole Ramadhan far away from home. And it's 19 hours. 19. Freaking. Hours. How could I possibly get through that? It does not make sense, right? 

So why, why would we want to fast all day for 30 consecutive days? Why would we want to starve ourselves and resist all the worldly temptations? Why would we want to wake up so early to eat suhoor, while wrapping ourselves in a duvet feel so utterly comfortable? 

Because it's more than just hunger and thirst. It's about devotion. It's about proving that we're willing to prioritize Him over ourselves. It's about cleansing our soul, and starting over, starting anew.

And after experiencing my first day of Ramadhan in the UK, I can tell that Allah will grant us extra strength to do good deeds if we're willing to. I never knew I could fast for more than 19 hours. But I did! And I'm fine! I didn't even feel hungry until about 16 hours of fasting - and that had never happened before.

"So when you're about to fast this time, remember the various bounties that Allah has bestowed you with.  Remember the variety of food you have and the availability of cold water.  Remember the roof over your head and the decent job you've got.  Remember all the special bounties that are unique to your and your surroundings.  Then say, I'm fasting out of gratitude to this Lord who has given me all this.  Every time you feel the pain of fasting, remind yourself that you're doing it out of love for the Creator, who is the reason for everything you enjoy in this life." - Anas Hlayhel

So, yes, every time I feel thirsty or my stomach starts rumbling, I will just remember that I'm doing this for the Most Amazing, Gracious, Merciful God that always blesses no matter what. I will remember that sacrificing only 30 days a year is not even enough to pay all the blessings I have showered with.

I will also remember delightedly that during Suhoor and Iftar, all prayers that I ask will be granted. It's true, as what He has promised us, everything that I had asked for during Ramadhan has always been answered.

And when I remember all of that, I believe I will get extra power to get through the day. And I do not need to worry, as He has promised not to let me be tempted beyond what I can bear.

Ramadhan Kareem!

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