Day 3, around 2 hours until iftar (breaking the fast).
I think the novelty has worn off and I realise that I don’t feel very good. Maybe part of it is that I’m sleeping very late in the morning, and that I’m not really going out much or “stretching my legs”. I planned to take this week off work, but now I’m wondering if going out to work might help distract me from the fasting and make me feel a bit better physically. The tendency to sleep is overwhelming – I feel like I can’t get up in the morning; I get sleepy in the late afternoon, and then again after eating! Then again, maybe I’m just making up for the sleep I lost last week due to (i) my work pace picking up, which made it hard for me to “switch off” and (ii) my nervousness/excitement about the coming of Ramadan.
Maybe I should go out to work. I was worried that the exertion of walking would cause my blood sugar level to drop, as this unfortunately happens quite often in normal life (reactive hypoglycaemia)… but refraining from high-G.I. foods lately has consistently stopped this from happening, and so far, I haven’t had a “hypo” while fasting either. Getting up earlier and going to work may make the fasting more difficult, but since tomorrow is day 4, it should be getting easier anyway.
After congratulating myself for getting through two consecutive days, which is more than I’ve ever done and was by no means a foregone conclusion to me, I guess it’s now starting to dawn on me that there’s a bigger challenge here than merely getting through an individual day or two: getting through a whole month. That challenge has only just begun. Being in it for the long haul is always difficult for me. I guess I’m just weak like that.
Today I’m hungrier than ever. I can see myself getting very tired of feeling this way, and also, of waking at 3am to pack more food and water into my bloated belly. Actually it’s strange to experience these two extremes of satiety, each night and day. It is like summer and winter, each one impossible to imagine while in the midst of the other; yet experiencing them both within each 24 hour period.
At least I know that soon I will have what I ache for, at any given time, whether it’s the comfort of food, a slick of thirst-quenching water, or relief from an over-full stomach. And so maybe the trick is to take each day at a time, looking forward only to the next phase of this daily cycle between extremes. Maybe this is the key to the “long haul” approach I need to develop towards so many challenges in life. Perhaps fasting Ramadan will teach me this and more.
My Ramadan aims, modest in comparison to many bloggers I’ve seen, are (i) to fast and (ii) to read my way through the monstrously big and heavy Muhammad Asad translation of the Quran (which is difficult even to sit and hold when weak with fasting!) I am on target with this so far, but again, looking at its size overwhelms me to the task. I find myself wanting to run ahead of schedule with it, to get to a point where it doesn’t daunt me so much, but realistically there’s a limit to how much I can read and understand in a day.
I am taking notes, including noting down things that challenge me; such as the idea that we are tested by God for patience in adversity, and the radical non-materialism demanded of us. Overall I am finding these long heavy surahs in the beginning quite hard because they are not like one continuous story. Also confusing is that it seems to end passages with things like “Verily, God is [X], [Y]” which don’t seem obviously connected to the passage. Maybe it is too deep for a superficial read. The other thing that is repeated a lot is the notion of rewards for belief and good deeds, and of punishment for lack thereof. All religions seem to require belief in God in order to obtain God’s favour, and this is something I’ve always had difficulty understanding. If God wants us to believe in Him, has He given all of us the means to believe? The Quran talks of clear proof and evidence through the ages, through prophets and scriptures and miracles, so I suppose its answer is “yes”. I still don’t know how one can read a scripture and know it’s from God just based on the content. Maybe time will tell.
Is it a mystery how one comes to believe in God, and is not determined through logic? And what are the consequences, anyway? Is it only really possible to be righteous through believing in God? Are our actions always done for the pleasure of someone else, whether it’s another person or God? This is something I got from one part that I read today. If it’s true, then perhaps the fact that God sees everything we do and every thought and intention we have is what prompts us to be truly righteous… maybe that’s what it means? Maybe it reflects a cynical view of human nature whereby we need to turn ourselves towards a merciful God in order to become good.
Some things for me to think about! (I’m not addressing all these questions to readers, by the way, although feel free to share your view if you like!)
Less than an hour till iftar now 😀