al sawm

bismillah arahmanir raheem

The time of Ramadhan is fast approaching, alhamdullillah!

Before I was a muslim, I never knew much about Ramadhan. I knew with somewhat shady knowledge that this is when muslims fast, but for the larger part of my life I ignored it. I never knew anyonw who actually told me that he or she was fasting, even in Germany, with a large population of turkish muslims!
Some sisters are already exited and keep telling me about Ramadhan and I get a lot of "this will be your first Ramdhan! MashaAllah! May Allah make the fasting easy for you!"

Since I'm not married, I can just go ahead and fast. Married muslims should always ask their spouses if they are allowed to fast, since sexual contact is not allowed and the person fasting tries to purify him/herself. If both partners keep sunnah fast, this is double reward, and shared joy!


So I set out to see what it is all about with the fasting.

I realized that it is not only Ramadhan when muslims can fast, there are fixed sunnah days, mondays and thursdays, when muslims can fast for rewards. I decided to take a Monday as fasting training, pretty much right after I heard that these two days can be fasted for sunnah.
As usual I jumped head in first without knowing much what I'm expected to do! I really thought it's just about the food and water, which would make the whole thing... unbearable and not understandable. Alhamdullillah, it is not!

Fasting is one of the many chances for one's sins to be forgiven. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: "He who fasts Ramadhan, due to Iman and hoping for reward (from Allah) then his past sins are forgiven." al-Bukhaari, Muslim.

The importance of fasting in the live of a muslim is reflected in how often it is mentioned in the Qur'an in the following verses 2:196, 4:92, 5:89, 5:95 and 58:3! SubhaanAllah!

So I did not make any du'a on the day before or in the morning of monday. However, I of course made an unofficial du'a in my fajr.
I know that the du'a to be said in the evening before each fasting day in Ramadhan is:

Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaiytu min shahri ramadan

But I didn't know about a du'a before the sunnah fasts.

The last food on fasting day should be taken before the fajr adhaan, that's called sahoor.

It is6.05am ... I drink some glasses of water before fajr and went back to bed after fajr, until my alarm goes to get up for work.
Do the usual, wash, dress, brush the teeth, (I have a miswaak stick, but no clue what to do with it, so colgate will do for the moment), feed the cats, get out of the house, catch the train... it is 9.30am... I feel uncoordinated...


The day goes well until my male colleagues in my desk pod decided to share a bucket of KFC on their work stations.... But I stay staunch, although my brain slightly feels like Spongebob Squarepants dried up...

2pm.. one hour lunch break.. what to do?! I decided to visit the library after salah... and avoid the masses of recipe books. I stumble upon an issue of "Emel" from 2009 which has a feature on Sha'ban, the merits of fasting in this month. This comes like a gift from Allah, alhamdullillah! I feel a lot better while walking back to work...
Brain.... needs... fluid..... I'm getting paranoid about bad breath, and catch myself covering my mouth when I speak to someone (on the phone!) not long to go... All in all a rewarding experience so far. I keep thanking Allah that I've become a muslim in New Zealand and I have short winter days as opposed to long summer days.
I'm sure I look like a 104 year old by now... I keep applying lip balm like I'm obsessed...

5.00pm tea break... I will have to break the fast on my desk, the boss is strict with the breaks... So I fill a glass with nice fresh cold water, toast some waffels with syrup, brew a nicely sweetened mint tea and put everything in front of me on my desk... I'm counting the seconds....

5.21pm... was I supposed to pray Magrhib before breaking the fast? a quick check with a friend confirms my hope, no, we are supposed to hasten to break the fast... Alhamdullillah again!

The Prophet (s.a.w.) used to break his fast before praying and he used to break it with fresh dates, if not then with older dates. And if not with dates, than with some mouthfuls of water.

The du'a for breaking the fast is Allahumma inni laka sumtu wa bika aamantu [wa 'alayka tawakkaltu] wa 'ala rizq-ika aftarthu

The supplication of the fasting person when he breaks his fast is not rejected. The best du`aa' (supplication) is that reported from Allah's Messenger, pbuh. He used to say when breaking the fast: "Dhahaba-DH-
DHama'u wabtallatil-`urooqu, wa thabatal ajru inshaa Allah." (The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is certain, if Allah wills.) [Abu Daawood, al-Baihaqee, al-Haakim and others, Hasan]

I don't have dates, but waffles will do...

Bismillah... and tuck in!!

is also sunnah to make a wish/du'a before eating. I was making du'a for... nah, I'll keep that secret inshaAllah!!!

The rest of the day went smooth and I enjoyed a halal dinner with friends after work, which was quite late. The feeling after the sawm fasting was very nice, I had a sense that I achieved something and did something purely for Allah. I should add that fasting is not just about food or drink.
The believer is also encouraged to fast with "eyes and ears" so we try to avert our eyes from haram things and be model muslims in all aspects, what we consume and what we say and do. It is a great practise to try to make the sunnah prayers on fasting day and read or learn as much of the holy Qur'an as possible

There is much more to say about fasting and Ramadhan, and I have read quite a few pieces on fasting experiences before. They were mostly scary, tell of people fainting, couldn't bear it, having the time passing in slo-mo etc. Some even suggested to take it slow and have some small meals or sips of water to get used to the fasting in the first place.

Thing is that the fasting is a very individual experience. We all have some minor or major attachment to food and water, which is an immediate need in our lives, right after breathing air!

So while there is no rule of thumb how to get through a fasting day, or even month, my best bet is to trust in Allah and make du'a to make it easy for us. And Allah will make it easy for us, will make us busy and take our minds off the food and drink, inshallah.
Allah doesn't want us to starve to death or to spend our lives in fast, which is a great sign of Allah's mercy and kindness.

For me, fasting was not as difficult as I anticipated and even if it would have taken a bit longer, it would not have made much of a difference. I thought I would be more attached to the food and water, but alhamdullillah, I was not. The prospect of breaking the fast in the end is the light in the end of the tunnel. If Allah makes it easy for you, then it is a great way to gain spiritual rewards on so many levels


Letters to the editor...

This was a letter to the Dominion Post editor a few weeks after the Haiti Earthquake. Some Christian guy felt like the muslim countries did not contribute to the fundraising and donations. I tried to prove him wrong, but the Dompost refused to print or acknowledge my response to that, instead they opted to print a bible verse (will try to find that shortly) from John's Gospel about competing in good.

Below my response letter to the editor (it met all criteria)

----- Original Message -----
From: Siby
Sent: Wednesday, February 17, 2010 4:47 PM
Subject: Fw: Letters to the Editor
Hi there,

a while ago I sent this entry, however I never heard anything back. Can you please advise?


----- Original Message -----
From: Siby
Sent: Friday, February 05, 2010 6:06 PM
Subject: Letters to the Editor

I would like to submit the following letter in response to Mr Gray Thompson’s letter published on 05/02/2010 (exactly 200 words and checked for errors)
Islamic organizations within New Zealand and abroad have set up fundraising events and sent aid to Haiti from the first day after the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. There was and is no need to show off and compete with other world wide organizations. Helping the earthquake survivors must have the highest priority.
Donating and helping those that are in greatest need is one of the pillars of Islam. Many Islamic organizations call for donations to the Red Cross as well and work hand in hand with UN, UNICEF and other international aid organizations.
For example Qatar has sent aircrafts and 50 tons of aid in food and medicine to Haiti on 15/01.
Princess Haya of Dubai personally oversaw the delivery of 90 tons aid just after the quake. On 23/01 Muslims for Humanity had 1.5 million USD ready for Haiti. The Middle Eastern nations steadily continue to donate and send relief. Muslim Children are still organizing fundraising school events all over the world. Iran has dispatched 30 tons of food and tents. The Government of Saudi Arabia has donated additional USD50 on 25/01. The Federation of Islamic Organizations has a Haiti fundraising account. May God bless every donating person.


Sabirah R.

address supplied

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