Ramadhan, the month of fasting, not only comes with massive amounts of rewards, but also its’ own set of trials and tribulations. The basics are obvious – to refrain from any food or drink during the day. But the holy month of Ramadhan would be wasted if all we did was deny sustenance for a couple of hours – a challenge, sure, but probably one of the easiest. There is a deeper significance to all that we do and don’t do and hopefully, we would all pay closer attention to them.
Which is why we’ve narrowed down the different types of fasters (:D) there are, in the name of understanding ourselves better. I’m sure all of us have been or known one of these below: But no worries; there is a clear prescription for every diagnosis. Now let’s see where we fit in…
Diagnosis: The Over-Eater
Probably the most common, the over-eater carries out his due fast but feels it necessary to over-compensate for every meal he misses later on. Looking at food and not being able to instantly gratify himself with it wires his brain (or stomach) to think: “Oh well, I can buy it back for Iftar later.” As a result, his fridge is filled to the brim with leftovers and a mountain pile of untouched snacks and drinks.
During iftar, it is safe to say he manages to pack in breakfast, lunch and dinner all into one. Usually continues after terawih.
Bazaars are his greatest weakness.
Favorite phrase: “It’s okay if we can’t finish it during iftar, we can always use it for sahur.”
Paste this on your dining table.
Ok I’m kidding. If a stop sign does little to no good on your voracious appetite, maybe prevention would be better than cure. In this case, exercise more self-control when trawling around outside at the bazaars (or perhaps avoid them altogether some days!), or bring significantly less cash out so you would not be tempted to make yourself feel better by buying food, since you can’t eat it.
Taking your time between each bites and chewing slower will also help your stomach to feel full faster without gulping down obscene amounts of food.
Allah says: “Eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He does not like those who commit excess.” [Sûrah al-A`râf: 31]
“Nothing is worse than a person who fills his stomach. It should be enough for the son of Adam to have a few bites to satisfy his hunger. If he wishes more, it should be: One-third for his food, one-third for his liquids, and one-third for his breath.”
– Tirmidhi & Ibn Majah
Diagnosis: The Sleeping Beauty
Self-explanatory, the Sleeping Beauty, well, sleeps the hunger off until it is time for iftar. She does this more often than not without much conscious thought, usually just dropping into the comfort of her bed whenever she feels just a little tired. But the Sleeping Beauty does not indulge in the harmless nap; she snores her way through from midday all the way to iftar.
Sleeping feels good, because time passes by quicker and hunger pangs are forgotten, so sometimes this becomes a habit during Ramadhan. Her cycle goes like this: Sleep, sahur (or maybe not), sleep, fajr, sleep, sleep, sleep (occasionally waking up for prayers or to scroll through her phone once in a while) more sleep, iftar, terawih, sleep, sahur.
I would say the bed is her greatest weakness, but honestly couches and floors work just as fine.
Favorite phrase: “I’ll just close my eyes for a little while…..”
If propping your eyelids open are not an option, you might want to consider making a to-do list with a deadline. Idling around leaves more space for weariness to overwhelm you. You can either do the usual recommended Ramadan things like iktikaf or reading the Quran, or similarly you can clean out your closet or even go walk around in the park or read a good book. In a nutshell, pass the time by doing something beneficial, no matter how small.
Sleeping is great, everyone would stay in their beds if they could. There is nothing wrong with indulging in a nap or two, but don’t let it dominate your day.
Diagnosis: The Child
This is in no way an insult (really!). The Child merely refers to someone who gives in to their moods and wishes, sparing little thought to anything else. We all know someone or are someone whose moods are ruled by food – the lack of it, the abundance of it, the time it takes to travel from hand to mouth. The Child may be especially susceptible to mood swings during Ramadan because not having a full stomach makes them cranky and wired.
Not being able to satiate their hunger or thirst, The Child is then at a vulnerable position of being prone to anger and frustration. Anything can set them off – anything. The bus didn’t come on time. Their socks are not matched. Their teachers gave them more homework. The time isn’t moving fast enough. The Earth is orbiting the Sun. You get the picture.
But instead of calming down, The Child indulges in their fits of irritability and anger – and end up making mountains out of molehills.
Favorite Phrase: [email protected]@!#4%><?!
Understandably, it is not an easy task, but it is doable. If you feel that you get easily wound up, especially during Ramadhan, find something that keeps you at peace. Keep your hands busy so your tongue is held at bay. This can be anything from dhikr to tumblring pictures of kittens – the options are endless. Remember, Ramadhan is the month for you to exercise patience.
Diagnosis: The Deadline
The Deadline is the person who feels that everything in Ramadhan has an end – most of the times, this stops after iftar. Not mutually exclusive to the other profiles stated above. Not allowed to gossip? No problem, just wait after Iftar. Can’t sleep the day away? Just wait after Iftar. Can’t eat? IT’S OKAY, WE’LL HAVE A BANQUET FOR IFTAR.
There are others who are perhaps not so extreme, who perhaps only view Ramadhan as the only month where we can uphold night prayers or read the Quran.
This is like Superman witnessing a robbery and then going, “I’m going to save -! Oh wait, sorry guys, it’s 7:30. I get off here, see ya.” This is like Wolverine turning into a kitty cat after hours. Like Batman taking off his suit and going off to hang with the Joker once the sun goes down. Or like The Flash running out of speed. Like
Okay, I’ll stop with the superhero metaphors. I’m not sure where I was going with it anyway.
My point is, there is no deadline for good. We don’t stop reading the Quran for 11 months and then only pick it up again during Ramadan. We don’t hold off gossip until after iftar – we should hold it off forever.
Try to get into the habit of practicing the good we picked up in Ramadhan. It’s difficult but if you did it before, you can definitely do it again. Let’s make this Ramadhan last 12 months.
Looking at all these profiles point to one thing: The biggest enemy in Ramadhan are not the devils and their whispers, but us – more importantly, our self-restraint. Do we have what it takes to tear ourselves away from the bed, or from uttering an expletive? Do we feel that the fast is simply a 9-to-5 job, or do we actively include our souls and minds in fasting together with our bodies?
Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves: Are we only Muslim during Ramadhan?