Ramadan is a deeply enriching time for those who fast enabling them to reflect, introspect and practise restrain in every area of their life. Several health care studies have pointed out how fasting aids not just physical well-being but also mental health helping the individual acquire calmness and greater clarity of thought, while rejuvenating and empowering the body.
Not surprisingly, many youngsters in the UAE subscribe to precisely these thoughts and wait for this month eagerly to give them the much-needed breather to be able to hit the reboot and reset button. These youths were happy to hit the pause button and take a break to so they could spend these days in introspection while also becoming more disciplined.
A deep and abiding sense of discipline
For someone who has been fasting from the time she turned seven, Sri Lankan expat Israh Muhseen says she always looks forward to the month of Ramadan. ‘From the time I began fasting, Ramadan has helped inculcate in me a sense of discipline and a profound realisation of its importance on my wellbeing,’ says Israh. ‘To me fasting is not just about slowing down the pace of life and refraining from food and water that brings about a sense of accomplishment. More than that, the impact of this on helping me declutter and de-stress is what I value. During this period we really give priority to embracing our state of spirituality, helping the community and focusing on strengthening the good in us by fostering an attitude of generosity, kindness and gentleness which ultimately brings a sense of tranquillity. That is what matters to me the most.’
To me fasting is not just about slowing down the pace of life and refraining from food and water that brings about a sense of accomplishment. The impact of this on helping me declutter and de-stress is what I value
Israh, who is 19 years now, is presently undergoing an internship and plans to enrol for her undergraduate studies at King’s College London, later this year.
She believes fasting is not only detoxifying but empowering. ‘By being able to move my thoughts away from food and drink, I feel a sense of incredible self-control. It is a very powerful feeling to be able to practise self-discipline. This restraint I think helps us purify our soul and reset our perspective. And while our mind is not distracted by the momentary and petty, we are able to refocus our energy on getting in touch with our inner self and thus end up feeling spiritually recharged.
‘I always look forward to this profound journey into my inner world during this month– a journey that helps me cope with so many challenges through the rest of the year.’
Ramadan teaches me patience and tolerance
Iranian expatriate in Dubai, Soraya Abbasi, turned 16 this year. A grade ten student, she says this is one month that she looks forward to every year.
‘I began fasting when I was seven years old; it began because as a child when you see the adults observing the fast, you want to emulate them.’
She admits that initially her parents indulged her a bit. ‘However, slowly that habit of staying away from food and drink until iftar came naturally to me.’
Ramadan brings me incredible peace and calm, patience and tolerance, and helps me see the world in a new perspective. It makes me a better version of myself. This self-control and discipline that I imbibe from fasting, can be applied to other situations in life too
Over the years, she says Ramadan has taught her several valuable lessons. ‘Every single Ramadan has taught me different things. I have learnt to view issues in different perspectives.
‘What Ramadan truly brings to me is incredible peace and calm, patience and tolerance, and helps me see the world in a new perspective. It makes me a better version of myself.’
Soraya feels fasting helps her tune into a completely different wavelength that lends a unique perspective to her views. The various rituals and pratcices to be observed during this month, including prayers, help make one feel totally de-stressed. ‘This self-control and discipline that I imbibe from fasting can be interpreted and applied to other situations in life too.
‘I feel Ramadan has always helped me become a better version of myself.’
I learn a lot from this month
Farhan Ahmed Ashraf
Twelve-year-old Farhan Ahmed Ashraf has been regularly fasting during Ramadan since he turned eight. He is grateful to his dad, an ambulance paramedic, for having taught him the various practices associated with fasting during this month.
‘People usually think some youngsters might not be okay with fasting from sunrise to sunset. However, in my case it’s quite the contrary. I have been fasting since I was eight years of age. I always feel so energized and positive during Ramadan. I am thankful to my dad Ashraf who introduced me to the benefits of fasting during Ramadan. In these years, I have gradually realised the true meaning of Ramadan. It is is not just about refraining from consuming food or water from dawn to dusk. In fact, it has a deep psychological significance as it is actually a fast for the mind and for our mental health balance,’ says the pre-teenager who is all set to graduate to class 8 this academic year.
I have gradually realised the true meaning of Ramadan. It is not just about refraining from consuming food or water from dawn to dusk. It has a deep psychological significance as it is actually a fast for the mind and our mental health balance
‘For me, Ramadan means we also practise self-restraint in terms of giving up negative thoughts. We read the Quran, and we cut back on unncessary socialising. This spiritual discipline has helped me look inwards and think in silence on how I can improve myself.
‘At the end of Ramadan month, the positivity from these activities creates such a powerful energy field that it helps me in my studies and as a person for the rest of the year. I think it is one of the most awaited month of the year for me.’
I look forward to Ramadan here
Fourteen-year-old Zain, a Syrian-Canadian expatriate who recently returned to Dubai with his family after spending five years in Canada, says he is thrilled to return as he always had fond memories of Ramadan in Dubai. ‘I have been observing the fast during Ramadan since the age of 10. In Dubai, I looked forward to iftars and suhoor with my family and cousins. However, in Canada where I had many non-Muslim friends, fasting was a challenge,’ says the grade nine school student.
I love the whole rhythm around Ramadan, the early mornings, the special prayers, reading of the Quran, the relaxed pace of life…. Every morsel of food and every drop of water acquires a different meaning during this time
Zain says he loves the whole rhythm around Ramadan– the early mornings, the special prayers, reading of the Quran, the relaxed pace of life…. ‘Every morsel of food and every drop of water acquires a different meaning during these times. Fasting during Ramadan helps me in that it gets me to focus on the micro moments - appreciate happy times with family, appreciate my mother’s efforts to make our meals special and look forward to the family time. I think Ramadan fasting has taught me patience, self-discipline, restraint and made me a better version of myself,’ concludes the teenager.