Ask Ayesha

Finding it really Hard to Fast in Ramadan

by Dr. Ayesha Khan

Lighthouse Magazine, April to May 2022 Issue (p. 15)

Dear Ayesha,

I find it really hard to fast in Ramadan. I feel like I have so little energy that I find it hard to pray properly, even though I know that fasting is important. Please help me!

Dear Struggling Striver,

Fasting in Ramadan can indeed be difficult. But all things worth doing may be difficult at first. There are two main things I’d like to tell you that might be helpful. The first is to build up to your goal. Small consistent changes over time help us make permanent behavioural changes.

The second thing is, we often boil Ramadan down to fasting and think that’s all it’s about. Ramadan is about so much more. Ramadan, this most holy month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet, is a bootcamp of sorts to help us prepare for the rest of the year. It is a time to exercise and stretch all those spiritual muscles that might have gotten sleepy and lazy. And just like any muscle, you can’t make it strong all at once. You have to do it little by little.

So maybe start with half-day fasts if you can’t do a whole one. Graduate to 2/3rds of the day and then a whole day! But don’t give up. Keep trying and keep trying to get a little better each time! Additionally, remember, as much as it’s important to fast from food, it’s also important to fast from bad habits. Make sure you are fulfilling all these tenets of Ramadan. Practice patience when angry. Try to give more in charity. Try to volunteer. Try to memorize some small surahs [Chapters of the Holy Quran]. Try to read the Quran a little extra. Show kindness to a stranger. Make a list of goals to fulfil. And most of all, spend some time making sure you are aware of the magnificence of Allah, and giving gratitude for all He has given us including that little thing you’re missing called food :)