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How Can I Overcome My Fear of Fasting?

Questioner

Mariam

Reply Date

Jun 15, 2017

Question

I have such a fear of fasting. And now that Ramadan is here, I go to bed every night and wake up every morning worried if I will be able to complete the fast. But once I am in the fast it is not as hard as I always imagine it will be. I am just scared of the pain of hunger. How can I overcome this?

Consultant

Answer


Fear Fasting

Salaam Alaikum Mariam,

Ramadhan Mubarak! Thank you for contacting Ask About Islam with you important question. 

Subhanallah, our brains are such fascinating things. They are in charge of helping us navigate the world in many different ways, and one of these ways is through our emotions. The feeling of fear is how our brain tries to protect us from danger.  

This is obviously very useful in helping us survive, but sometimes our brains have us fear things that are, in reality, not a threat. Fasting requires that we abstain from food and drink, two things necessary for survival, so it is understandable that our brains interpret this as a potential threat to our well-being and causes us to feel fear so that we may protect ourselves.  

However, assuming that one is medically able to do so, fasting is not dangerous, and as long as one gets enough to eat and drink while the sun is down we don’t have to be afraid of any dire consequences.  

While we may know rationally that the fast isn’t something to be feared, that doesn’t mean that our feelings of fear aren’t real and something to be addressed with compassion. Fasting is not easy, especially in places (like the United Kingdom) where the days are so long during the summer months.

Hunger and thirst are not pleasant feelings for most people. Even so, it is important to remember this excerpt from the Qur’an:

{The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.} (2:185)

Allah is the All-Knowing and Most Compassionate. Allah would never ask us to do something that would be harmful for us in any way; challenging, certainly, but not harmful or of no benefit.  

This is why Allah has exempted people who are ill and/or on a journey from fasting, because it would step over the line from challenging to being a hardship. Although fasting is difficult, Allah knows that we can handle it.

In terms of practical ways to reduce your fears surrounding fasting, preparation and planning may be helpful. You can prepare by eating a good suhoor (the meal before the day of fasting)and drinking a lot of water before you start fasting, and by making sure you’re eating balanced meals and getting enough to drink during iftar (the meal at the end of the day of fasting).  

Choosing foods that are high in fiber and protein can help you feel fuller longer so that you won’t have to worry about feeling hungry as much. Emotional support and encouragement from loved ones goes a long way in helping one feel prepared to handle challenges.  

Finally, make du’a. Talk to Allah and express your fears, and pray for an easy fast and peace of mind while doing so. Allah is our biggest supporter and really does want us to succeed.  

As a final note, it is a good idea to check up on how you’re feeling every so often. Feelings of fear are normal, but if you are feeling a great deal of anxiety (regarding fasting or anything else) and are unable to feel relief from it, or if it is interfering with your daily life, it may be time to seek professional help.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

The Inner Dimensions of Fasting

8 Ways Ramadan Enhances Your Taqwa

The Triangle of Bliss: Ramadan, Quran and Taqwa




About Anne Myers

Anne Myers is a proud Wellesley College graduate and holds a Master of Divinity focusing in Islamic studies. She has experience in pastoral care in hospital and university settings. Her passions include Islam, feminism, traveling, reading, watching cooking competitions, and her cats.

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