and the feeling’s good.

It never fails.

As Ramadan approaches, especially during the summer, I start to dread the long days, the thirst and the hunger, in that order, and the headachey feeling that I sometimes get when I’m trying to concentrate, or do some Eid shopping, and yet when Ramadan actually begins there’s actually a feeling of release that comes over me.

And while my mind can be a bit foggy with the stress of hunger, it’s clearer in other ways, especially when I pray.

Ever since I went for Hajj, my prayers have changed.

I close my eyes as soon as I say the takbir (the Allahu Akbar–God is great) that signals the beginning of the prayer, and right then, at that moment, I feel transported.

Like I’m not really there any more.

I’m somewhere else.

Talking to God, asking Him to guide me on the way that is straight, not on the way of those who have incurred His wrath or who have gone astray.

And every year, somehow the Muslim world boils up in rage, especially it seems as Ramadan arrives, and every year there is another atrocity to feel bad about, and yet within me there is peace.

And a soft voice that murmurs, don’t get too upset about all that, it’s all within the plan of God. It really is necessary. And it makes me think back to the most painful times of my life and know that I wouldn’t be who I am without having experienced them.

But it’s a little more challenging this time around.

I started a diet and an exercise plan and I really am trying.

I’ve carved up my carbs so basically I have half in the morning and half in the evening, but even then, last night I probably went over.

And for the past two mornings I had suhoor (breakfast) prayed Fajr, wrote for a while, put up a youtube video review or tutorial and then while I was still relatively hydrated, I went to exercise. And when I got back at around 8 am, the youtube video was still uploading, I went to bed.

It’ll be a different schedule for these four weeks. Sleep will be broken up in that way. A few hours till suhoor, and then way after.

And somehow I always get a lot of writing done during Ramadan.

And insha Allah, I’ll read the entire Quran this year, like I do every year, some Arabic and the rest in English. Reconnecting with the scripture like I always do.

And it will be rejuvenating, insha Allah.

I will feel recharged, like I’m already starting to.

There is a great deal of merit in this abstinence.

It’s funny though because it seems that fasting has gone out of style. People these days don’t see the point of denying themselves.

But from a biological standpoint, think of it this way. All year long most of us don’t get hungry enough to completely deplete our glycogen stores.

For those who don’t know, glycogen is the animal form of starch, long chains of glucose (sugar) molecules that we store in our muscles and our liver to keep our blood sugar levels stable when we don’t get to eat on time.

Over the years most of us don’t really dip into these stores enough, we simply don’t get hungry enough.

Fasting basically forces the body to use them up, clean house so to speak.

It really is good for you.

Not to mention what it does for your self-esteem, knowing that you’re strong enough to deny yourself!

I know some people who molly-coddle their kids when it comes to fasting. Who don’t let their teens fast when they have a football game or something like that.

My son was understandably concerned. Today was his day to cook at work, and he’ll be in a super hot kitchen, surrounded by food from 3 pm to 9:30 pm, and normally he gets by on loads of sugary soda.

He didn’t know how he was going to handle it while fasting.

I told him he’d do just fine.

His body would find a way.

I remember even playing soccer tournaments while fasting when I was young.

And even now I can present when I’m fasting, although I prefer not to.

The only concession I gave was I drove him to work. Normally he takes the bus.

There’s something excellent about knowing that you’re strong enough to go through this type of hardship, all for the sake of submission to your Lord and Creator, no other reason.

In the Quran, God says that He is the one who will reward for this pillar of Islam.