Thursday, 18 June 2015

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Thursday 18th June 2015
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork​, Ireland   

Muslims globally are preparing to begin the month of fasting. The act of faith that requires every able Muslim to fast from sun rise to sunset.  I see it as a great example of a bodily act to show commitment to faith in God.  This will be the first month of fasting that I spend with my family here in Glasgow after six years in the USA.  I had missed the familial and communal unity that always strengthened me mentally when I was weak in body.  The burden of fasting cannot be underestimated and this has become more of a topic of discussion lately.   More so because the fasting hours are getting longer.

Dr Usama Hassan of the Quilliam Foundation recently stated that Muslims in the UK should observe Mecca fasting hours as he believed that fasting should not become a health problem.  There have always been variations to this.  Icelandic Muslims have the longest fasting hours this year with a whopping 22 hour fast and this is not too far off what Muslims  in Scotland will have to deal with at around 19 hours.   This has led to a more deeper discussion about fasting times. There is no easy solution as British Muslims generally would want to remain committed to fasting from sun rise to sun set. 

It has made me think about how other traditions deal with the every day realities and commitment to their faith.  Even though it is a family and community based month, fasting is a singular act that is between the Muslim and God.  Infact, the Qur’an makes clear that the act of hunger is solely to show submission and strengthen awareness of God.  For me, a religious act should always be done willfully and my understanding of Islam is that it offers concessions to those who may find it difficult.  I guess this is the spirit of the month of fasting.  It comes with much to think about mentally and physically as we submit to God.