My father asked me that question when I called him this afternoon, and immediately my face lit up and I said, “Alhamdu lillah! Just wonderful!”

It’s always the case, you do kind of have mixed feelings as Ramadan approaches, you both dread it and welcome it, and once you actually get into the swing of it, it just gets better and better, at least for me, and then as it’s winding down, you dread its going!

I know I’m fortunate.

My schedule is basically empty after a very busy school year, and I can alter my sleeping patterns so that I can catch up on my rest. Basically in Ramadan, I stay up after suhoor, the early pre-dawn meal, and I write then, when the carbs still feed the energy my brain needs to write. I get two pages written and others reviewed, then I come down and work on the youtube videos I’m developing as a resource for educators, and then if it’s Monday to Thursday I go to the gym, exercise for half an hour, then come home by around 7:30 or 8 am and go to sleep. I sleep until around 1:30 or 2 pm, get up pray Zuhr, and continue my chores.

And because I have air conditioning, I haven’t really felt the heat that much at all.

But increasingly it seems I speak to relatives and friends and the first thing out of their mouths when I ask how their Ramadan is going are complaints.

Maybe they have to go to work, they have young children and they are struggling.

But even in the past when I did have to work during Ramadan (and storytelling during Ramadan is about as hard as it gets!) and my children were young, I still found Ramadan to be a glorious time, a time of reflection and recharging.

I think it’s not just about going without food and drink. It’s also about taking in other forms of sustenance, basically spiritual sustenance.

Even as I’ve sealed my body off from anything entering it, I’ve opened up my mind to every verse of the Quran that I read and it nourishes my soul.

I try to read as much as I can, each day. A few pages in Arabic and the rest in English.

This year I thought I’d change it up a bit and I’m reading a different translation of the Quran, but it’s still the Quran.

And that uplifts me, it buoys me so the weight of my responsibilities is less, and going to the masjid at night for taraweeh extra prayers, buoys me even more even though, yeah, it’s tiring.

Listening to the Hafiz (person who has memorized the entire Quran) reciting in his beautiful tajweed, and trying to concentrate as hard as I can and pick out the Arabic words that I do know so that I get a gist of what he’s saying, is uplifting.

It reminds me of why I’m fasting in the first place.

This is the month that God first revealed the first verses of the Quran.

We, mankind, all people on earth, received this fabulous gift of guidance from God, in this month, and that’s what makes it holy.

Before that Ramadan was not considered, by the Arabs, to be a special month.

And yes, the days are long, the fasts are long, they started from about 3:55 am to 9:02 pm which is about seventeen hours without food and drink, but they’re doggedly getting shorter. Now, almost half way through we start at 4:17 am and finish at 8:53 or something like that.

And people forget, the time does pass.

Whether you’re fasting or not, dusk will come. It will get here.

And this is pretty much as hard as it ever will get at this lattitude.

Next year Ramadan will come around ten days earlier and it will cover basically the whole month of July, and the year after that it will creep into June, starting right around the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, which is what, about ten to fifteen minutes longer than it is right now!

Woop dee do!

It’s definitely doable!

And then after that it will creep into the earlier months, and it’ll only get easier till it reaches the winter solstice, in about fifteen years.

I know a woman whose kidneys have failed, she’s on dialysis, she’s very ill and yet when I asked her how her Ramadan was going she perked right up and said, “Alhamdu lillah!”

I said, “You’re not fasting are you?”

She said, “Of course I am!”

And even though she’s diabetic, she’s finding it just fine!

And it humbles me.

No matter how long the fasts are, it’s always the first three days that are the hardest, and after that, the body gets used to it.

Unless something in the person’s attitude is preventing that from happening.

On Friday I asked the same person who complained so hard about the beginning of Ramadan how it was going now, and to my surprise she was just as full of complaints.

Now this is a lady who booked her three weeks of vacation to start right after Ramadan ended. And she refuses to purchase air conditioning.

Her house is an oven in the summer! So hot, that when I visit her in summer, I can hardly breathe! And she is not poor.

People have choices.

And it’s interesting because with last year’s reading of the Quran I was struck by how many places God talks about spending your money, not hoarding it, but spending it on just and reasonable things.

When she complained about the heat this time, I simply told her, “Then get an air conditioner.” And she was quiet.

And when she complained about working while fasting, I wanted to tell her that she could have taken at least part of her vacation during Ramadan.

If you don’t feed your soul while you’re starving  your body, if you don’t make the effort to do good things and realign your life during this blessed month, then really what’s the point?

God doesn’t need your hunger and thirst.

And there is a hadith where the Prophet (peace be upon him) said basically said just that, that for some people, all they get from Ramadan is hunger and thirst. And he said that the person who does not give up bad deeds and vain talk during the fast, God has no need of him giving up his food and drink.