Spiritual growth is one of the most important pursuits of some people. Therefore, certain demonstrations of faith are regular practices.
Among these demonstrations is fasting. This is a period of denying yourself to direct focus on God and experience His powerful spiritual provision instead.
During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until dusk and increase their prayer time. Most of them still work and go about their daily routines. There are many, however, who journey to the holy cities and check in at hotels in Madinah or Makkah specifically for the celebration of Ramadan. They do so to completely dedicate their days to fasting and prayer.
Fasting is not for the weak of heart, though. Even the most faithful can struggle with this form of self-denial. Many actually fail in withstanding the long hours (which can extend to a total of 15 hours on certain days) of going without food. Thus, adequate preparation is required to succeed in this spiritual practice.
If you have failed at fasting during Ramadan or doing it according to the prodding of your spiritual convictions, here are five ways to ensure you will succeed at it in the future.
1. Fill your daily schedule with activities that will leave little room for engaging in “food thoughts.”
When you are busy, you will find yourself focused on what you need to do instead of the demands of the flesh. So, write down all the good deeds that you have been meaning to do for some time but cannot get around to because of your hectic schedule.
Likewise, increase your supplications. Make your prayer to Allah even more purposeful. Do not just utter recitations. Instead, let your heart be completely known to the Almighty. Pray for your loved ones, pray for your own spiritual walk, and all other concerns that affect your life as His dependent.
2. Drink a lot of water.
Water is refreshing. At the same time, it can help keep you alert during the fasting hours. On a hot day, especially, you want to go about your tasks properly hydrated so you can accomplish everything with a clear head.
What you can do is to ensure you prioritise quality hydration during iftar and suhoor, or those hours when you actually break your fast. Drink a lot of water, eat vegetable salads and fresh-cut fruit as well as drink fresh fruit juices with no added sugar.
3. Read the Holy Quran during your idle time.
Enrich yourself with the words of Allah. Even if you had already completed reading the holy book when you were young, you will find better clarity with God’s message every single time you read about His teachings. This is an even bigger must if Arabic is not your vernacular.
When you are in a period of seeking Allah’s divine providence, focus on understanding His nature even more. As you fast, you can expect to feel the comfort of the message for all of His dependents.
4. Keep a journal.
A fasting journal is not just a practice recommended for the young. Even older folks can benefit from creating a fasting journal.
Documenting how every day goes can bring to light thought and behavioural patterns that you initially were not aware of. Taking note of these patterns can actually help you outwork the difficulties of fasting.
In your journal, you can come up with new ways to manage your “weak” moments. Make plans to implement these ways and determine how effective they are in keeping you focused on your spiritual journey.
5. Plan where you’ll break your fast.
One of the best strategies to secure a successful fast is by assigning a reward for yourself when you have finished each day’s fast. The enlightenment and comfort from Allah are more than enough but you can still give yourself a pat on the back for managing to not yield to the natural desires of your body.
Celebrate your success with a good meal with the people you love. If you happen to be in the holy cities, look for the best places to eat in Madinah or Makkah. Enjoy fellowshipping with the people who matter to you.
Another thing you can do is to shop for presents for family and friends.
Everything from perfume to jewellery, and a fancy game of backgammon for the people you love will be appreciated. Remember, it is a privilege to be a channel of Allah’s blessings. He blessed you first when you sought Him. Let His abundance flow through your life and into other people’s.
A successful fast will inspire you to make it a regular practice for edification.
Additionally, it can help you encourage brothers and sisters in faith to do the same. This way, they, too, can grow a closer relationship with the Almighty.
Amjad Irshaidat is the Country General Manager - Saudi Arabia for Shaza Hotels. The 5-star Shaza Hotel in Al Madina combines sophistication and location in effortless style, with each suite being, by intention, an emphatic expression of generous warmth and Eastern hospitality.