Why Muslims Fast

*roza= fasting in Farsi/Dari

Friday July 20th marked the first day of roza or fasting. This past Friday was the beginning of Ramadan– the Islamic holy month where Muslims fast for thirty days from sunrise to sunset. Doing so allows you to feel sympathy for the poor, experience their hunger, and it reminds you not to take what you have for granted. Fasting during the holy month of Ramadan makes you understand the pain and suffering of the poor. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, it’s a requirement. The only individuals exempt from fasting are those who are pregnant, breast-feeding, women on their menstrual cycle, the elderly, mentally ill, and young children (like up to 12-14 years old). When I was young, I thought roza was only to experience how the poor felt, but now that I’m older, I realize it is more than that. I see roza as a means of meditation, a way to cleanse your body and soul of your past sins, and a way for you to connect with God. Roza tests your strength, perseverance, obedience, control, and temptation. Islam is a peaceful religion; please don’t base your judgements on Islam from what you see on t.v.– read a book or two about it, or even a blog post ;)

My grandmother always told me, “taking roza doesn’t mean your stomach is the only one fasting; the rest of your body should comply as well. Your mouth should be on roza– don’t get into arguments, don’t curse, gossip or speak bad about someone or something. Your ears are on roza– don’t listen to bad music or music with cursing” (a reason why I should’ve bought kidzbop). “Your hands: reach to good things, don’t allow your hands to do bad or evil acts; your feet: don’t go to bad places, guide your feet on the right path, do good.”

Now my favorite part…eating! The time where you break your fast is called iftar. This occurs during sunset. After each day, the time of iftar is reduced by a minute. So let’s say iftar was 8:23 p.m. on July 20th, the next day iftar would be at 8:22 p.m., and so on. Also, what many people tend to do is overeat. Not only is this unhealthy, but it also kind of defeats the purpose because, you’re fasting to experience the hunger of the poor, so you can’t overeat because poor people are not able to do the same. After iftar, there is one last opportunity for you to eat before embarking on another roza. Sahar, which is before sunrise, is when most people wake up to eat something so they are full and have enough energy to fast until iftar. After sunrise, you are not allowed to eat until sunset.

I remember one day, I was close to giving up and complained to my grandmother how hungry I was. “What, you think roza was supposed to be fun? You think poor people like being hungry? No, no. It’s difficult; this is how those poor people suffer. This is how they go on about their day. At least you have something to look forward to; you know there’s food available to you in the end of the day, but those poor individuals? They don’t know what’s in store for them.”

On the thirtieth day we celebrate the end of Ramadan. This celebration is called Eid! We buy new clothes, cook lots of food, buy tons of baked goods, cookies, dried fruits, and we visit our relatives starting with the eldest. I could go on and on about Eid, but I’ll save that for when we get closer to August 18th (Eid).

For each day of this week, I will be posting recipes for Afghan food or dessert just to give you some ideas for iftar. Tonight I will be posting a recipe for a favorite Afghan dish– mantu.

‘Till next time,

Bena…

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4 thoughts on “Why Muslims Fast

  1. I really appreciate your going to the effort of explaining all this…it is incredible how much the word Islam is used in the media, and yet so little of worth is said about it. I’m not a religious person, but I do appreciate the value of ritual when it’s practiced with integrity. Your explanation is beautiful :)

    • Oh thank you so much, Alarna. I hope to show others as well that Islam isn’t what the media portrays it to be. I mean, it’s the worlds second fastest growing religion, but not many are aware of what it’s all about. Thanks again for stopping by :)

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