A Permanent Buzz: Day 6 of Ramadan

A series of posts reflecting on my first Ramadan. Here’s why I decided to do it.

I called Yaseen yesterday afternoon to ask a question. He didn’t pick up, and I left a message on his voicemail.

A couple of hours later, he returned my call. “Hey, I’m sorry I didn’t answer earlier,” he said. “I was taking a nap. Helps the day go faster.”

I laughed and said, “So it’s not just me?”

It was an enormous relief to hear that Ramadan professionals also take naps as one way to endure the fast, especially in the late afternoon during the heat of the day. As the traditional time for dinner approaches, I “feel” the fast the most.

But the Ramadan fast is all about “sensory experience.” That’s the biggest difference between a Ramadan fast and a wimpy Methodist one. I don’t remember really struggling to get through a Lenten fast.

This is different. And it “feels” different.

Let me try to describe it:

First, I feel a constant “buzz” in my head. I can’t think of a better word than “buzz.” My throat and mouth are on the verge of being cotton-mouth dry all the time, and there is a dryness inside my head that stretches from the back of my throat straight up into the middle of my head, somewhere in my brain. And that dryness makes a very soft, gentle buzz-y feeling, of which I am always aware. It’s not a sound, just a vague sense; neither is it uncomfortable, just persistent.

This buzz serves a useful purpose, by the way. It keeps me conscious of God, of God’s presence, of God’s will that is bursting to become real in the world. And so when something else isn’t going on in front of me, the buzz reminds me to speak to God.

Besides this buzz, I feel more alive. I am more alert to my surroundings, to sounds and colors. And when I do finally eat in the evening, everything tastes like a gourmet feast. My wife, Leah, threw burgers on the grill last night and prepared a pretty simple hamburger, which is something we eat at least once a week. But it tasted like manna from heaven. Every bite was unforgettable. Meanwhile, I sipped a glass of water, which tasted as sweet as if it had come from a spring in the Rockies. I even groaned in pleasure as I ate and drank, prompting Leah to roll her eyes at me.

This kind of experience prompts a raw feeling of gratitude. I have never been more thankful for a hamburger.  It reminds me that I am usually not that grateful for anything. I don’t remember the last time that I was desperate for something, utterly desperate for something terribly important.

Another result of my Ramadan fast is that I suddenly find myself with more time on my hands. I don’t need to break for lunch in the middle of my day. I don’t have to think much about food preparation or planning either. And no need for snacks, for driving through Sonic for Happy Hour, or raiding the children’s ministry office for jellybeans.

Yes, all the extra time on my hands is helpful …

Think I’ll take a quick nap.

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15 comments

  1. HuwaidaBB

    Thank you for your candidness and sharing this experience with all of us. It really is inspiring, even for me, a Muslim who has been observing Ramadhan for roughly 24 years now. Thank you for reminding all of us why we love the month of Ramadhan as much as we do, and to make others understand why we long for this month, why there is so much excitement as it approches, why the sadness in our souls when the month ends, why the whole process leaves all of us feeling nourished in ways that is hard to explain to others…..why it’s such a BIG DEAL for Muslims and how much it strengthens communities.
    As the previous person commented, due to the heat, dont forget to hydrate adequately at the time of the pre-dawn meal (suhoor).
    I hope you do get the maximum benefit out of this month God willing. the end result is priceless.
    looking forward to the rest of your blogs through the month.
    God Bless.

  2. Aisha

    Thank you for continuing to blog about this experience. You’ve brought tears to my eyes, a few posts ago, when you spoke about how needy we all are for God Almighty. ‘Twas a reminder for a born-Muslim such as myself who has been observing Ramadan for 32 years. This is a reminder that this Holy Month brings with it lessons for greater & greater journeys to Him.

    This Ramadan I learn a little more of His blessings as I make fast with a stomach flu in tow. Reading your post gives voice to why this seasoned fast-observer needed this stomach flu right about now; to get THAT buzz that you now have so that I am CONSTANTLY reminded to talk to Him & be in remembrance of Him & Him alone, the One I am starting to fall deeply in Love with this Ramadan.
    Good luck to the both of us till Iftar(break fast) time!

  3. Azmat

    I really like the “permanenet buzz” expression. It goes on in my head all day too for all my fasts but I was unable to describe it. Glad its not just me 🙂

  4. Muhammed

    I’ve read all your posts about Ramadan today and I know it’s not the first time I hear about people from other faiths willing to experience the others practices, but I’m really interested in your posts and will certainly keep reading your posts and you find the benefits your looking for.

    From your last post, it seems you started to get used to it. Yes, one of thing that I do enjoy about fasting wither in Ramadan or in other days (I’m a Muslim) is that the fact of the free time you have to yourself. And your part about enjoying the hamburger like you never enjoyed it before, I can feel that very much as well not just because of the usual fasting but also in time of illness. Which I guess it’s one of the lessons of fasting is to feel the ill and the needy and feel more sympathy.

    Word of advice, I hate to spoil this for you, but it’s better if you not start your breakfast (Iftar) with red meats like hamburger because as you know they have a good amount of salt unlike any other food and the body certainly needs to hydration.
    I wouldn’t say don’t deny it to yourself completely but try to lessen on red meat and defiantly don’t start your meal with it or any food that similar to it. Date fruits as you probably know from your muslim friend is very good and healthy for starting Iftar, besides water of course, buttermilk is really good as well and so is a cup of soap (as long as it does not have something that irritate your stomach thou) I hope this help you in your fasting, and I wish you all good and a healthy life and meals for your and your loved ones. And I’m sorry if my post was long without a good meaning.

    P.S. Cucumbers are very good for helping keeping your body in hydration, try to have it with Yogert, it taste good. My family cuts the Cucumbers to small pieces and put in a cup of yogurt with little salt I think. But of course you can innovate.

  5. Meg Swaid

    Salaam wa alaikum ya brother! This is such a wonderful thing you are doing and blogging about. I accepted Islam many, many years ago as a young woman. I have been through this and that an finally 2 years ago I was able to quit smoking which was really holding me back in terms of this obligation. It is all about the hunger for Allah, for knowledge and for justice. People like you are too far and too few between and my family and I all wish you good luck and many, many blessings this Ramadan. I hope you continue it the rest of your life…with us. And yes…at least a liter of water early in the morning will make your fast much easier to bear. That’s two regular sized water bottles. I am an RN and since you are in the very warm midwest right now, it is imperative that you avoid becoming overwhelmed with dehydration. Peace

  6. jami

    Naps are good! So is rinsing out your mouth with cool water when the dry mouth just gets to be too much. Take these little dispensations as you need them so that you do not become overburdened.

  7. myopic vision

    I intend to follow your progress also(As you can probably gather from my comments). I love all the advise that you have been given for the best way to fast. I started to have toothache last night so when I got up to make my suhoor, I made a lot of dua that I would be able to complete todays fast. My suhoor meal included tylenol, imagine my joy on waking up this morning to find that I had no tooth pain at all. I can feel it now a numb gnawing at my gum but I think I can handle the next 5 hours of the fast. This is the beauty of fasting to me. In a way you feel invincible. It takes such control to abstain from food and drink that anything is and can be possible. Thank you for joining us in our fast.

  8. growingwoman

    My family gets tired of hearing me say it but “Drink more water!” is perpetually coming from my mouth after time to break fast in our family. Drink more water than food and stay away from coffee and other cafinated drinks. Have soup for dinner after breaking fast.
    Drink water, more water and then when you feel like you are floating drink more water then go to bed. When you wake for suhur drink more water stand in prayer then drink more water and have something with lots of fiber. Then drink more water. Wash up for prayers then drink more water and then when its time start your fast.
    Did you know if you ACCIDENTALY forget and eat a bit of food, maybe while cooking for your family or something. Don’t spit it out but swallow it and know that it is a Mercy from Allah. And be more careful after that. 🙂

    • Anonymous

      If you remember you’re fasting before swallowing, you have to spit it out. It’s only a blessing if God allows you to forget until after you’ve already finished eating and it’s too late to stop yourself.

  9. Aish

    i read all ur blogs since day 1 of rsmadhan and i have to honestly say that you have grasped aspects and spiritual benrfits of ramadhan that muslims themselves do not understand… Besides for sum of the learned scholars and pious people, most muslims have started fasting in ramadhan as a mere tradition, something they have to do because their parents say so or because their muslim. So not only are non muslims benefitting and better understanding muslims and their religious duties but muslims themselves like myself who as a learned scholar had forgotten the true meaning and worth of ramadhan are benefitting greatly from your blog and i thank you!

  10. Deema

    Dear Wes,

    Thank you for your wonderful efforts and for blogging about your experience. I have read all your posts so far about Ramadan and enjoying them very much. Just got a chance to comment! Even as a Muslim I am learning from you about fasting, and you are opening my eyes about interfaith dialogue. Thank you again for blogging and keep up the great work!

    On another note, it is very interesting that you linked fasting with a “buzz” that keeps you conscious of God. The main purpose of fasting in Ramadan, as stated in the Holy Quran, Surat Al-Baqara Verse no. 183 is to help us achieve “Taqwa”, which is often translated as God-consciousness. When a companion of the Prophet Muhammad – may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him – described Taqwa, he said what means:

    “It is like a person walking on a path that has thorny bushes on either side. He folds his clothes so that they do not get torn. Likewise, a believer travels through his life without shredding the garb of obedience by disobeying the Almighty.”

    The cautiousness and awareness that Allah is watching our every move is included in the definition of Taqwa. Seeing you have the “buzz” it seems hat you are truly gaining the benefits of fasting!

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