I happened to fast today because it was the 10th day of Muharram, which is the first month of the Islamic Calendar. This day is called “Ashura” to us Muslim folk (translated as “tenth”) and the fast is meant to commemorate (for Sunni Muslims) the time Prophet Moses fasted out of thanks when he and the Israelites, by the grace of God, were able to successfully flee from the oppression of the Pharaoh, aka “Firaoun” aka “Yul Brynner”. Because Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fasted on the 10th of Muharram (and one more day – either the 9th or 11th), it’s good practice to fast.
While totally an optional fast, I felt like I needed to be more in touch with my spiritual side. Also, fasting involves discipline that I sorely lack these days and it’s good to be reminded now and then how lucky some of us have it. While fasting, I can’t reach for something to snack on or get up and get some coffee whenever I want. Although I was able to eat once the sun set, there are so many people in this world that have no choice but to fast nearly all the time due to poverty and other such conditions. Fasting from dawn to dusk definitely does not seem like a hardship at all when compared to these situations but still helps create awareness for the faster.
P.S. Fasting in some shape or form is present in many religious traditions. I think I want to try fasting on Yom Kippur sometime to see if I can do a 24 hour fast. That’d be pretty cool.