Why I Spent a Day Fasting This Ramadan and What I Learnt

Jon Ashworth, Huffington Post, August 20, 2012

Over 3,000 Muslim athletes competed in the Olympics earlier this summer and at the same time it was Ramadan. Like thousands of my constituents in Leicester, many of those athletes will have observed the fast.

With this in mind this year I wanted to make an effort to appreciate Ramadan on a much deeper and indeed personal level. I wanted to get a direct sense of what Muslims physically and mentally go through in denying themselves food and drink from sunrise to sunset. But I also wanted to understand further the spiritual side of Islam. So this year I decided to fast myself, although only for a day.

Before deciding to fast I honestly thought long and hard about whether the gesture from a white politician of a Christian background would be considered patronising or as stunt and indeed some have accused me of that. But I embarked on this challenge from a genuine sense of respect for Islam, and a curiosity to understand more fully something which is so important to so many people across Leicester.

{snip}

Arriving at the mosque at 3am I was struck by the sheer beauty of the building inside and by the buzz as worshippers sat on the floor at the front tucking into a breakfast of toast and cornflakes. Perhaps I was expecting a quietness like a retreat but there was a real camaraderie as everyone greeted one another and enjoyed suhoor together. {snip}

At around 3.30 the mosque was now full and the imam began the prayers, I sat at the back watching and thinking how remarkable it was such numbers were present including so many young people in the mosque this early in the morning. There was a real community spirit and a sense that what was happening was very special and important. As prayers ended and I left, I felt grateful I had enjoyed the privilege of witnessing these prayers. {snip}

Later my day followed the usual pattern of a constituency MP—going to the office dealing with correspondence, meeting constituents, reacting to news that unemployment had increased again. But this time I couldn’t stop thinking about coffee and was beginning to feel hunger cramps in my stomach.

{snip}

By five I was feeling tired and while fielding questions on a local community radio station on the outrageous and atrocious sectarian violence towards the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, I worried I was becoming less and less coherent. Finding it difficult to concentrate I wondered how Muslim students would cope in a year or two when Ramadan coincides with exam time.

Thinking about how I would have been as a teenager at Ramadan I decided to meet some young people and ask of their experiences of fasting. It soon was obvious that these young men and women were like most other teenagers, chatting about the Olympics, football, television, music and so on. But it was also clear how important their religion is to them. They told me they enjoyed fasting and that being a Muslim was part of their identity. Many had been involved in extensive charity work throughout Ramadan and they were all driven by a desire to help those much less fortunate than themselves. I was impressed.

Later that evening I was due back at the Mosque at about 8.30pm for the breaking of the fast before the iftar meal.

In the mosque sitting with others, waiting to break fast I felt I was genuinely part of something quite extraordinary. It was certainly a time for reflection and when we all together broke the fast with a date it was an emotional moment. Not because I was finally eating, but because I genuinely felt a sense of solidarity and community doing something in the knowledge that thousands of others were taking part in the exact same ceremony.

I finished the evening at the neighbouring church for an inter-faith iftar meal where all of Leicester’s faith groups were represented. It had been a long tough day but equally a worthwhile and moving day. Especially as I had been bowled over by the kindness and support I had received throughout the day from people of all backgrounds. That evening I felt even prouder than usual to represent such a wonderfully diverse constituency and city.

{snip}

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  • Biff_Maliboo

    Mr. Ashworth, your vocabulary word for today is “trite.”

    Please prepare an essay to illustrate the concept behind this word.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trite

     

  • ed91

    this fasting until the sun goes down is nonsense………  a real fast would last at least 24 hours.
    I know, I’ve done many fasts, several upwards of 7 days.

    • tickyul

      Fast during the day……….gorge at night…what a hardship.

  • Especially as I had been bowled over by the kindness and support I had received throughout the day from people of all backgrounds. That evening I felt even prouder than usual to represent such a wonderfully diverse constituency and city.

    Well Jon, maybe it’s time for you to convert. Make your family and friends proud.

  • Church_of_Jed

    Unity with “the Other” is our new American Faith.   Look for America to fail and fall even deeper into darkest Hell.

    • Up to my neck in CA

      Agreed, the new “cool” is blast anything about Catholics, Christians and now Mormons, but don’t you DARE say anything bad about Islam. No crosses are aloud to be displayed or any mention of Jesus Christ…EVER!

      • Church_of_Jed

        Now, you can’t say anything about Muhammad’s “marriage” to a nine year old girl (child rape).

        But once the gay marriage debate is over and sodomy is fully recognized and endorsed and all dissenters hushed up by hate laws, then the pedophiles will make their move for “rights” to child rape through pre teen consent laws.

        Look for Muhammad’s dirty perversions to become iconic and celebrated.

  • JackBlack

    I’ve heard that fasting has health benefits, but in this case it seems to have caused a severe case of brain damage. Or maybe the brain damage came first and the fasting was a result. I’m leaning towards option two. 

    • This moron’s brain was damaged long before his muslim worshiping fast..

  • So he didn’t eat from sun-up to sun-down, once? That doesn’t even count. Hell, I once fasted a weekend just to see what it was like.

    • Blaak Obongo

       I once fasted for an entire week.  It didn’t make me want to become a Mohammedan, though.

  • Ulick

    “Like thousands of my constituents in Leicester, many of those athletes will have observed the fast.  With this in mind this year I wanted to make an effort to appreciate Ramadan on a much deeper and indeed personal level.”

    So Ashworth really didn’t want to appreciate Ramadan on a deeper level, he just wanted to pander to Leicester’s increasingly growing Muslim constituency in order to stay in power.  How politician of him.

    If Ashworth really wants to experience a Muslim holiday on “a much deeper and indeed personal level”,  then I highly encourage him to fly to a Muslim nation and join in on their Ashura celebration at the street level… (Highly interesting Ashura pictures linked)

    https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&sugexp=les%3B&tok=SvdBqGDPbMdP5G99GO3Y9A&cp=5&gs_id=e&xhr=t&q=ashura&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.&biw=703&bih=322&wrapid=tljp134697430029408&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=YDJJUNmGIIrD0QHxn4CAAg

  • Puggg
  • dukem1

    Inquiring minds want to know:  Did he have enough energy at the end of the day to go home and beat up his wife?

    •  Let’s be scientific here. A grown man who does not move much needs about 2000 Cal a day.
      And active athlete would need about 4000 Cal ( that means a five eggs breakfast with bacon and toast and butter plus the protein drink plus about the equivalent of a full chicken with trimming split into two meals) just to keep up.

      When training, I could NOT pass a single meal.

  • He should visit Egypt and stop after 1 day.

  • IstvanIN

    To think these people’s forbears once ruled one quarter of the earth in Queen Victoria’s name.  Talk about turning over in your crypt.  I am quite sure that Prince Charles will be lowering the Union Jack over GB just as he did over Hong Kong.  I would imagine, that as panicky as the citizens of Hong Kong were over going from being a British Crown Colony to be a Red Chinese Administrative Zone, they must be thinking “at least we didn’t go muslim like England”.

  • We should all support Muslims fasting. I would say for about a month at a time.

  • Moron.

  • “Sitting in the mosque with everybody waiting to break fast I felt I was in the presence of something quite extraordinary!” gushing, bobbing a curtsy, kowtowing, touching his forelock.  What a pathetic, self-hating, ethnomasochistic asshole. 

  • ” I wanted to get a direct sense of what Muslims physically and mentally go through in denying themselves food and drink from sunrise to sunset. But I also wanted to understand further the spiritual side of Islam. ” 

    An Englishwoman wrote this? My only response? Psalm 14:1.

  • I have a few Muslim friends who fast during Ramadan. For years. Here’s what I’ve observed:

    * none of them works “real” job- they all have some flexible types of jobs & shoulder much of work on others. They stay awake until 4 or 5 (night), and after sleep get out of bed in, say, 13 (p.m.). Then a short time until sunset & eagerly back to eating.

    * more pious among them (I knew an imam among them) become somehow “softer” in interpersonal relations & lose a few, 4-7 kg (convert to pounds) after the fasting period. These rare people are either religious “professionals” or not societally active (say, pensioners). They become calmer, more sensitive etc.

    Unfortunately, all others, from 18 to 55, are very neurotic during the period of daylight when they’re awake. Perhaps due to thirst (in this fast, you don’t drink anything, not even water) & addictions (most are chain smokers). Never seen any “spiritual” improvement among them- and during Ramadan I see them not much because they hibernate most of the time, and when sunset comes they leap like beasts on food and drink.

    The stuff about “community solidarity” is partly true- they tend to hang together more during fasting. But, it dissolves rather quickly.

    Not entering into religious or cultural debate- this kind of life is absolutely incompatible with any functioning modern society.

  • The idea of fasting being to purge the body of toxins, it has to last at least three days. But you can drink all the water, tea and fruit juices you want.

    Take it from one who know: I used to do bodybuilding, training six days a week, three to five hours every day. And it worked. I lost 40 pounds of fat (from 220) in one year and kept it off.

  • Lygeia

     Truly, a hysterically funny response to Ramadan: “Pork Appreciation Pizza.”

    I love it.

    A sense of humor with an appreciation for the ridiculous is a great way to counterbalance a totalitarian ideology like the “religion” of Islam.

  • And ‘convert’ us- whether we are willing or not. You think Christians with tracts are a pain? Wait until you experience shari’a!!!