BYLINE: Kam Akram

“I saw that my wife put a short sweet post up about Ramadan, so I thought what the heck? I’ll put one up too… except mine aren’t always short.

I’ve read that fasting has been used therapeutically since at least the 5th century BC, when Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness.

This explains the importance of intermittent fasting for several reasons, not just to lose weight: but the benefits of fasting are many.

I’m crawling into bed at 5.47 am in the morning after praying the morning salat feeling blessed that I’ve been given another opportunity and another year to go through Ramadan; not just for losing some belly fat!

With the memories of my dad buried deep, I remember how he encouraged me at a young age to fast; how delighted and proud he would be that I showed determination to fulfil an Islamic deed. Fasting is one of the core pillars of Islam.

My father came to this country in the late 70s and worked his way through factories in various towns and cities to finally settle in Wakefield. I was born in Wakefield – a city for which, to this day, hold an effortless passion and love towards.

I am the youngest of four, and grew up in a multicultural community. I grew up looking up to my siblings as inspiring role models and for guidance. My father was not English literate and was very dependent on my eldest brother who ran the chores.

My dad was strict he was stubborn but he was determined. I’d say he was religious, but how do you measure or even identify what is ‘religious’?

Never the less, I think he was religious or definitely pious. The month of Ramadan was his prime moment of the year.

It was at the age of six, or maybe seven, during Ramadan that my dad showed me how to perform the whudu (act of cleansing before prayer) and offer salat (prayer) as well as the prayers of opening and closing the fast.

He would food-shop to his hearts content and pray infinitely.

He performed extra prayers, recited the Quran daily, and then helped in the arrangements with my mum to prepare for the opening of fast – Iftaari – the most exciting hour of the day.

I watched the excitement build with my brothers and sister.

When the moment came to open fast we would sit together eagerly and impatiently waiting for him to finish his short prayer (dua) so we can dive into the delicious smelling food. It was the best feeling ever!

Growing up, Ramadan has had a massive spiritual impact on me. It’s taught me obedience, discipline, patience and self awareness. The importance of Ramadan and its endless blessings were engraved in me from a young age.

Today I’m without my dad, yet I’ve been gifted with a son, who I can share those same experiences with, like my dad shared with me.

This month is the time of joy and a time to repent. I will cherish this opportunity with my family. I am blessed to have what I’ve been given and appreciate the way its been given to me.

This year will be challenging, as have previous years. Yet my heart is filled with passion and courage to reach the end of the month taking advantage of this blessed month.

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