Explaining fasting to Non-Muslims - Month of Ramadan Issues

Many years ago, I was a practicing pharmacist and I used to observe the month of Ramadan whilst working, I had these interactions with my fellow colleagues. They would speak to me about fasting. They would be intrigued. You can't eat and drink for 16, 17, 18 hours. How is this so? And this generated a very interesting discussion among ourselves. We would talk about the benefits of fasting, why we fast what how it makes me feel. And actually, it made me think of the important role that we can play out there, because fasting is not only an act of worship that we undertake privately, there is a dynamic, fantastic opportunity for us to be able to present a glorious, positive image of what Siyam in the month of Ramadan is all about.

Now, here, let me tell you about the story that I remember reading from Imam Al-Sadiq, peace and blessings be upon him. One day. He was seen working very hard in his farm during the month of Ramadan, sweating profusely. Somebody came to him and said to him, Ya Ibn Ar-Rasul Allah, o grandson of the Holy Prophet, aren't you tired? You're fasting and you're working so hard. How is this so? Imam, peace and blessings be upon him, puts down the shovel, looks at this man and says to him: "ladhdhat ul-nida' azal al-ta'ab", the beauty and the sweetness of being called has eradicated the tiredness.

What is the imam talking about? He's referring to, of course, the verse in Suratul Baqarah where the almighty Subhana wa Ta'ala says: " Yaa ayyuha alladheena aamanoo, kutiba 'alaikum us-Siyaam" (2:183), oh, you who believe that fasting has become prescribed for you. The Imam is saying, you and I are special, we have been addressed by Allah, we've been instructed by the Almighty, so that special attention gives enthusiasm and a positive outlook. So how do I then speak to my fellow colleagues or my neighbors or people perhaps, who question the act of fasting?

Well, there are some who may look for sympathy, who may project a negative outlook, unfortunately, that would be counterproductive. The best we can be is when we speak to our friends who are non-Muslim with positivity, with the advantages of fasting, for example, we could say to them, even science today encourages intermittent fasting. There are so many YouTube clips, for example, of non-Muslims observing the fast in the month of Ramadan, trying it out, commenting how wonderful they feel afterwards.

It is so important that we are motivated and inspired. And this shows in our interactions. Yes, it's tiring. Yes, it's difficult. There isn't a doubt about that. But the Almighty Subhana wa Ta'ala has presented us with this wonderful opportunity to acquire as much as possible in the month of Ramadan in as far as becoming better human beings and gaining that spiritual strength. And so when we speak to our colleagues out there, we are also calling to the way of God and becoming ambassadors of the religion and ambassadors of Ramadan.

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