As I’m sitting here writing this during Ramadan, I am in America thinking of my family and wondering how they are doing during the most holy month of the year.
Fasting in a non-Muslim country was quite different from Ramadan in Muslim regions where we could feel the atmosphere of joy. During the days most of the stores and restaurants are closed but when its time for Iftar (break the fast), people bringing fruits and their homemade food to the neighborhoods and restaurant owners open their business by giving out free food. Everyone wants to share; everyone feels pleasure when they break the fast, and everyone glad that they made a complete devotion to their faith.
Summer last year was my first fasting experience. I didn’t know if I was ready for it, but I know I was afraid. I was worrying about spend a day without eating food and drinking water; worrying about it will get too hot and I will pass out somewhere; worrying about absurdity of exhausting an organism. I talked to my mom about my worries, and she said if I am not ready yet, don’t push myself too hard.
For the first few days, I did not fast, I observed how my parents and other people around me do when they were fasting. I noticed that no one complained about hungry or thirsty (which is not good, you should be willing to fast by yourself). When it’s got too hot during the day (because it was summer) they just took a long nap. By the time the weather got cooler, my mom started prepare food. Most of the time we gathered in my grandparent’s house and females in the family prepare food together. And this also was my most favorite moment. Then when they broke the fast, they started with a cup of water.
The first day of fasting, I kept telling myself “you should not drink water, you should not eat food.” And the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to eat. By the time to break the fast I felt like I almost starved to die—the first day, I didn’t feel the joy. I felt disappointed by myself, but I decided to keep trying. The second day was not that bad, because I had to wake up in the middle of the night and eat, and during the day I felt very sleepy, so I spent a lot of time to sleep. I woke up in the afternoon, and went into living room, I grab an apple and had a bite and then I suddenly realized that I was fasting—the second day, I failed. The third day, I made it but I got stomachache by eating too much during Iftar.
After a few days, I started feeling better and learned how to control myself. Not only during the day by fasting but also during the Iftar time not eating too much and be not excessive. That summer I spent a lot time to read the holy Quran. And I understood that fasting is not an action; its not only abstaining from food; it is time to searching for blessing and sharing with each others.
Maidina Tuohuti is an international student from China studying journalism at George Fox University, a private Christian university in Oregon. Maidina is a journalism intern with ISV Magazine, writing about her own experiences as a Muslim student in the U.S. as well as writing feature articles on topics important to all international students.
Maidina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org