Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Fasting — practice, not principle

Avery Thorpe

The night before Ramadan started, my mom called to remind me about how crucial this time was to connect with Allah and my spiritual self. As someone who isn’t deeply religious but follows the basic teachings of Islam, I met my mom’s words with care. However, as this was my first Ramadan not in the comfort of my own home, I was anxious about how fasting would disrupt my college lifestyle and less focused on the religious purpose of the practice. 

Throughout the process of fasting, not eating or drinking made me feel fatigued. I’d lie in bed, dreading the next day and wondering why I was putting myself through this painful cycle. 

It wasn’t until the last week of Ramadan that the meaning of fasting clicked. 

When I returned to UT for my second semester, I faced several challenges. Balancing a rigorous academic schedule and joining more time-consuming organizations started to overwhelm me and crept into my social life. Eventually, I stopped attending events that my friends hosted and would study alone to ensure I could get my work done and get enough sleep.  

Amidst this solidarity, I began to resent myself. I constantly blamed myself for not being able to manage my time better and wondered how different my life would be if I committed less to academics.

When Ramadan came around, fasting seemed like another thing to add to my plate, and at first, it was. Activities like walking across campus without water and watching friends eat as I sat with an empty stomach felt treacherous. Yet, as the month continued, these acts of self-control ignited a profound sense of self-confidence. 

Regardless of their faith, students should consider fasting as it may provide personal insight that could enhance their lives. Through lessons about self-control and self-realization, fasting can provide students with wisdom that carries with them for the rest of their lives.

As I ate my first meal after the sun set each day, I viewed the struggles I had faced in the hours earlier as indicators of my strength and ability to be independent.  

I also gained a mindset for combatting issues I was facing in my personal life, realizing I should prioritize myself and cut off the individuals who made me feel worse. 

Eventually, I became happier, valued the relationships that benefited me and internalized the message that I am enough. Without fasting, I wouldn’t have had these epiphanies, and Ramadan couldn’t have come at a better time. 

Despite my practice of fasting originating from an Islamic requirement, students of all beliefs and faiths can also find meaningful themes from non-religious involvement. 

While everyone’s journeys and the new-found wisdom they acquire along the way are different, strength remains a unanimous element. The power we find in ourselves can’t be taken away, and fasting is just one way to realize that.

The next time you get the chance, remember that taking the time to fast doesn’t have to be burdensome. Practicing self-control for a month or even a day could offer a range of reflections that wouldn’t be found elsewhere, and it could truly make a difference in realizing that you are enough. 

Anwar is a neuroscience freshman from Murphy, Texas.

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