Now, when I am twenty three, I feel grateful to my family for training me in fasting in such an enhancing way. How good I felt at the time of Iftar on the first day I had ever fasted!
By Shaban Ali Nadvi
When I reached my seventh year, I heard people speak a lot about Ramadan. They were very excited. One day, when I was playing with a toy my father had given me, my elder sister said to me in a firm voice: “Shaban! You have to get up at night and observe fasting”. I was paralyzed at that instant! A deep nervousness occupied me. I left my toy on the ground and started thinking how fasting would feel to me. I questioned my three brothers about Ramadan. They explained it as a commandment of Allah ordained on us and which we had to obey. One of them said: “We are committed slaves of Allah. If we keep the fast, Allah will reward us after death, and if a child keeps a fast, Allah, being pleased with his innocence, agility and strength, will be highly impressed with him”.
With this thought of being rewarded by Allah, I crouched down on the bed with my father. I stared into the glittering stars in the open sky. I was bewildered at how the people were able to control their hunger and abstain from eating and drinking for such a long period of time.
Around 3 a.m. someone gently touched me and said: “Shaban! Get up, will you not observe the fast? Abbu is having bread mixed with milk and sugar for Sehri”.
Hearing this, I got up and ran in the other direction. My sister stopped me, held my arm and took me to the kitchen. There, I saw my elder brothers and sisters having their Sehri. My elder brother warned me: “Have Sehri provided you observe the fast till Maghrib.” My father, tapping my shoulder, said: “My cute child will keep the fast.”
In the morning, I got up and searched for my toys to play. I went to my friends. They were sitting in a garden, where there were many mango trees with ripe fruits. We were five in number. The others had never fasted. When I told them about my fasting, they took it as joke and said “You and fasting in this age? It is impossible!”
I brushed aside their comments and we started to play a game. At the end, we felt thirsty. The others went to drink but I refused, saying ” I am fasting. I cannot break my fast”.
I was feeling extremely thirsty and my throat was parched. I started gulping my saliva. Yet, I never thought of breaking my fast. I was sweating—it was the extreme heart of June. I returned home. Instead of rebuking me, my sister, whom I love the most in my family, made me lie down in a room and waved a fan above me, which she had made with her own hands, so as to circulate air so that I may sleep.
Around 5′ o clock my eyes opened and I found myself on the bed. I came to the kitchen, from where a delicious smell was emerging. I saw my sister’s forehead wet with sweat. She said to me mildly: “Go to the mosque, where your brothers are glorifying Allah”. I headed towards the mosque. On the way, my friends watched me with surprise. I was glad to think that this was the first time I was keeping the fast. I was going to be included as one of Allah’s righteous slaves, as most people think.
Inside the mosque, I gently took a copy of the Quran. I opened the first chapter and a current of joy and excitement ran through me. I spontaneously started reciting. This is a celestial book, and it is guidance for mankind as my sister had explained the day before.
With every passing second during the fasting I felt myself very lucky because I was going to fulfill one command of Allah. I had seen my family members fasting during the entire month of Ramadan. Today I was one of them.
It was now time for Iftar. I sat crossed-legged on a mat with my father, who was very proud of me. Every member gave me different food items from their plate. My father announced: “Today, my cute son will inaugurate. He will eat first.”
I took my first morsel, which felt very delicious! The first sip of something I had to drink is still fresh in my mind! Since then, for me keeping fast has felt easy. When my sister had ordered me to do so, I was very nervous. I didn’t know much about Ramadan. I thought it was about being hungry. But as I grew up, I began to sense deeply that fasting in Ramadan is not just spending time with an empty stomach. It is a highly rewarded action and a mercy gifted by Allah. There are some people who only want to while away time during fasting. Some sleeping whole the day or walk around very slowly, looking as if a huge burden has been loaded on them. Here the point is to be noted that Ramadan comes with countless benefits physically, mentally, socially.
Now, when I am twenty three, I feel grateful to my family for training me in fasting in such an enhancing way. How good I felt at the time of Iftar on the first day I had ever fasted! You know the joy you get when you do something good!
(Shaban Ali Nadvi is an Aalim and Hafiz and has done graduation in Arabic from Lucknow, PG Diploma in Community Service and currently pursuing PG Diploma in Applied Islamics, from Yenepoya University, Mangaluru. He can be reached at [email protected].com)