This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Zehra Kazmi. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Lessons From Ramzan: ‘Fasting Is Purely A Personal Act Of Faith’

More from Zehra Kazmi

By Zehra Kazmi:

The Quran stresses a lot on the ideas of sabr (patience) and salam (peace). A line from the book that struck me the most was, “To us our deeds, and to you yours; peace be to you: we do not seek out the ignorant.” (28:55). I don’t know a lot about religion but in the past few weeks my understanding has increased manifold, and I have some clarity about my beliefs. As part of my research, I went through a lot of commentary on, and translations of the Quran. It’s quite difficult to see how this is the same text whose principles terrorists claim to uphold by killing innocents. The futility of anger and violence is a theme that runs continuously throughout the Quran.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

In this article, I hope to address the tendency towards violence and anger that we all have. There is a really interesting anecdote of the Prophet which I recently read. Once the Prophet asked his companions, “Do you know who the strong person is?” His companions replied, “The one who is able to wrestle others down.” The Prophet responded, “No, it is the one who is able to control their anger.”

A roza is a test of my strength not just because I have to physically deny myself food and water but, also because I have to make a conscious effort towards controlling my temper. Aggression can manifest itself in a variety of ways, from a harsh word casually spoken, to something a lot more hostile like physical violence. Fasting is like going on a cleanse. I am a very impulsive person, so it is difficult for me to check my emotions. However, when I am fasting I make an effort to think before I speak. It’s easy to become irritable when you don’t eat all day but one must dwell deeper into the reasons behind their anger or irritation.

A professor once told me how using the word “fuck” is a very easy exercise in rhetoric. It’s a word whose semantic impact is loaded with emotionality even though it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s important to register your protest or disagreement, but once passion overtakes reason the strength of one’s arguments automatically gets lost. This knowledge might not stop most of us from using it but it matters that we know what it really means. Our lives would be a lot simpler if we didn’t let rhetoric drive our decisions. Haven’t we all had a moment where we regretted not taking a step back and viewing things in perspective? Once in a while it’s important to pause and contemplate over our decisions.

In Chapter 2, verse 63 of the Bhagvad Gita, Krishna says, “From anger delusion occurs, from delusion bewilderment of memory, after forgetfulness of memory the loss of spiritual intelligence and losing spiritual intelligence one perishes.” A universal truth indeed, because there is a distinct pattern one follows after losing control over anger. A chain of reactions that range from arrogance to stupidity unfold.

At the same time, I wouldn’t advocate leaving one’s anger unresolved for so long that it turns into a monster that slowly engulfs you. Uncontrolled anger can lead to a variety of health issues, from headache, anxiety to increased blood pressure and even strokes. Psychologists recommend that your immediate response to a situation which aggravates you should be to take a step back and analyze it. The Quran recommends a variety of solutions to check your response to a situation that angers you. Imam Sohaib Sultan in his article in Time, says that the performance of the ritual of wudu (spiritual washing before namaaz) with cold water can help checking your response to such situations. The idea is to cool the body and soul from the heat of anger.

Despite knowing all this, I can’t guarantee that you or I won’t lose our tempers from tomorrow. It takes effort for me to not swear or get angry during a fast. I must admit to having failed multiple times on those accounts. However, “It gets hot, I feel hungry and that makes me angry’’, isn’t a valid excuse to behave like a child. At the end of the day, we must realize we aren’t doing others a favour by fasting. It’s a purely personal act of faith. Therefore, our behaviour should never become uncivil just because we have taken this decision to observe a religious practice. Probably, the most important lesson to learn from all of this is simple, we are humans at the end of the day and all we can do is keep trying. Isn’t that the purpose of it all- to keep trying?

This article is part of Youth Ki Awaaz’s special coverage of Ramzan this month. Follow Ramzan With Zehra for more.

You must be to comment.
  1. MajorBS

    @Zehra Kazmi : It is not what terrorists do not only “claim” that Quran upholds killing of innocents. They explicitly know which verse and which chapter in Quran has these verses. Of course these are the same people who will violate 100 other things in the same text, but that does not mean Quran does not have these verses. The verses which explicitly asks all able bodied muslims to fight against infidels and bring them to submission and which explicitly tells them to conquer the whole world in the name of Allah is as much part of the Quran as the verses which tell you to fast during the holy month of Ramzan. I would recommend you at least read your Quran before writing such lies.
    More than 10 million terrorists in the middle east are not motivated by anyother texts or verses, but the Qurans own. Why dont you try to quote the verse of the sword which was revealed in the battle field? If you think verse of the sword is not relevant after battle (by the way no Quranic evidence of ceasing the violence once war is over has been found), I would argue hijab is not relevant in the modern age or polygamy or fear of pork, or taboo about using contraception. Again there are many other verses which include
    Chapter 2, verse 191 -193″And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah [disbelief or unrest] is worse than killing…
    but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah [disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah] and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists, and wrong-doers, etc.)”
    Kill those who believe in other faiths, kill them until there is no other worship but that of Allah’s. Do you really believe that this passage is a ‘claim’ by terrorists when it is readily available in any Quran you buy from any streets of India. Muslims are deaf and dumb when such difficult questions are raised about their faith.
    If you bring about Zakir Naik, he has eluded justifying these quotes for too long.

    Chapter 2 verse 244,
    Chapter 2 verse 216 (Not only does this verse establish that violence can be virtuous, but it also contradicts the myth that fighting is intended only in self-defense, since the audience was obviously not under attack at the time. From the Hadith, we know that this verse was narrated at a time that Muhammad was actually trying to motivate his people into raiding merchant caravans for loot.)
    Chapter 3 verse 56,
    Chapter 4 verse 74 (theological basis for suicide bombing and martyrdom while fighting infidels).

    Chapter 4 verse 95 which criticizes “peaceful” Muslims who do not join in the violence, letting them know that they are less worthy in Allah’s eyes. It also demolishes the modern myth that “Jihad” doesn’t mean holy war in the Quran, but rather a spiritual struggle. Not only is this Arabic word (mujahiduna) used in this passage, but it is clearly not referring to anything spiritual, since the physically disabled are given exemption. (The Hadith reveals the context of the passage to be in response to a blind man’s protest that he is unable to engage in Jihad, which would not make sense if it meant an internal struggle). According to the verse, Allah will allow the disabled into Paradise, but will provide a larger reward to those who are able to kill others in his cause.

    Again I cannot assure you if anyone will question the presence of these verses from the muslim community. However the fact that they do not question these verses (even peaceful muslims who are well versed in Quran and Hadith), makes them as guilty as terrorists who kill innocents.

    “For in the end we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” – Martin Luther King

  2. B

    @Major BS: From where on earth did you get the figure 10 million? Or were you talking about the number of Muslims killed by the U.S.? Extremism exists among every religion and community, but the western media selectively highlights Islamic extremism to malign the image of Muslims and Islam. This is the same media which selectively publishes news and pays a fortune to manipulate it. Otherwise why is there nothing on the over 400,000 Muslims displaced in Central African Republic, genocide of Burmese Muslims is not covered by the media, the United States killing 2 million Iraqis was not news, Obama droning innocent children in Pakistan was not highlighted by the media, United States slaughtered Muslims in Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Lebanon Pakistan, Somalia, Panama, Palestine, and it was not news. Where is international media when the U.S. kills Muslims, sheds their blood, rapes their women, takes their land, mocks their religion, destroys their livelihood, and slaughters their children? The U.S. murders innocent children in Islamic countries and no one raises an eyebrow. There are no televised discussions. No one mourns. It does not make headlines. It is not news.

  3. B

    Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. How many reversions are taking place with the sword? Islam is a beautiful and peaceful religion, and just because you happened to misinterpret it doesn’t change anything. There is no evidence in Islamic history that forceful conversions took place. Many distinguished Western historians have attested this fact – foremost among whom is Sir Thomas W. Arnold in his book, “The Preaching of Islam”. Marshall G. Hodgson in his book, “The Venture of Islam”, Albert Hourani in his book, “A History of the Arab People”, Ira Lapidus in his book, “History of Islamic Societies”, L.S. Starorianos in his book, “A Global History, the Human Heritage” and many others.

    1. MajorBS

      “al`amru bil-ma’ruf wannahyu’anil-mun’kar”, first you act by hand, if failed then act by mouth
      That is what Muhammed had to say about conversion.

    2. B

      You need to learn Arabic. The verse you have quoted means “enjoin the good and forbid the evil.”

  4. B

    Jihad means ‘to strive.’ Muslims are commanded by Allah to strive for good through words and actions. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the Holy Quran was not revealed in one day – It was revealed few verses at a time. After the persecution of Muslims in Makkah for thirteen years, they escaped to Madina to save their lives and that of their wives and children. The verses about killing were revealed in the battlefield, when Muslims could no longer face torture at the hands of barbarians in Madina.

    Islam lays a huge amount of importance to human life, so much as that the Holy Quran says:

    “…if anyone kills a person …. it is as though he has killed the whole of humanity, and if anyone saved a life, it is as though he saved the whole of humanity.”

    There is no religion which attaches so much importance on the value of human life.

    1. MajorBS

      1) Not all of these verses are revealed in battlefield
      2) No quranic verse explains when to practice violence against other religion like mentioned in these verse or when to cease them
      3) Verses are still read by terrorists while killing innocents. They are not quoting the value of life from Qur’an when they hack people to death.
      4) USA bombing terrorists or others in the countries you mentioned above does not effect me. I live in India and we do not do any such things, so why are we constantly under attack from Islamic terrorists? May be the verses of hate written by Muhammed is the reason people arm themselves against countries like ours which practice secularism.

    2. B

      1) They verses about war were revealed in the battlefield.
      2) How about ‘common sense’.
      3) What terrorists do or don’t do does not change anything.
      4) Terrorism is also caused by people of all religions.

    3. MajorBS

      Jihad doesn’t mean to strive. Can be seen from how a handicapped person is excused from his inability to take part in Jihad (Context from Hadith) as per Chapter 4 verse 95

More from Zehra Kazmi

Similar Posts

By Love Matters India

By Tabish Khan

By Melanie Dhar

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below