What I learnt by fasting for 30 days (as a Muslim Consultant) #15

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Each year for 30 days, 1.8 billion Muslims around the world fast from dawn to dusk for the month of Ramadan.

 

It’s a month of reflection, consciousness and humility. It’s also the month, where most Muslims give out generously in charity from their wealth.

 

As a Muslim Consultant, I’ve always appreciated this month, as it means that I’m focusing on other obligations than just work. It’s also a perfect time to take stock of the previous year.

 

I didn’t have my personal blog this time, last Ramadan. Hence, I wanted to take the opportunity to document the lessons I learnt by fasting for 30 days in Ramadan.

Here are the top three lessons I’ve learnt along the way:

#1 Higher purpose to life

 

#2 Blessings that are taken for granted

 

#3 Generosity goes a long way

 

Let’s dive into each of these:

#1 Higher purpose to life

Working at top consulting firms, in high-paying, high-pressured jobs make one feel like they’re invincible.

 

We feel we are the be-all and end-all of a project or a specific client. Without our input, knowledge, delivery acumen, and leadership the world would come to a halt. This is far from the truth!

 

Ramadan truly teaches us that there’s a much higher purpose to life.

 

Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. And in the Holy Qur’an, it is articulated that fasting is mainly to make one “conscious”.

 

This is a profound statement – as I’m sure upon reading it, we’d think that we are always conscious.

 

Being alive & breathing and “being conscious” are totally different things.

How many days & weeks go by, with us working tirelessly and not realising where the time has gone?

 

Or as time goes on, we lose contact with our good friends or even family members.

 

This is merely being alive, not “being conscious.”

 

Being conscious means being more mindful and taking notice of our behaviours. Not doing any activity mindlessly. And in Ramadan, not randomly swigging a glass of water or eating.

 

As we become more mindful, we notice how in the other 11 months, we were casually swearing after a tough conference call. Or getting road rage at a slow driver. Or maybe being generally arrogant with our friends and peers.

 

So, the first lesson from Ramadan is, be conscious.

“the things we take for granted, are the things someone else is praying for...”.....💭

#2 Blessings that are taken for granted

In the instant gratification world of Instagram and TikTok; it feels like patience and humility have been thrown out of the window.

 

Everything we want needs to be achieved instantly. Otherwise, our lives would be in despair.

 

Ramadan restricts those blessings from dawn to dusk for 30 days. No food, no water, no sex, no foul or meaningless talk.

 

As we’re hungry and thirsty, and of course conscious; we make an effort to do other things. For example: pray or spend time in solitude. Together, you look forward to the end of the fast and sit together with the family around the dinner table to eat together.

 

There’s no excuse for eating at different times, everyone in the family is fasting and eating at the same time.

 

In the non-pandemic world, mosques in Ramadan would be filled to the brim. The people that hardly ever visited the mosque in the other 11 months, would make an effort to attend the congregational prayers.

 

Have food on the table, clean drinking water when you want it, a roof over your head, family for social support, friends you can rely on, and communities to thrive in. These are examples of blessings that are taken for granted.

#3 Generosity goes a long way

In order to be appreciative of what we have, just look at people who have less. Ramadan enforces the message of generosity towards others.

 

There are two insightful notions to be found here:

 

  • We learn as Muslims growing up, that charity is for yourself not for the person you are being charitable to.
  • Zakah (obligatory charity) is the right of the poor.

 

This is not just a religious phenomenon; research suggests giving has a stronger association with improved mental health than receiving.

 

In Ramadan, we generally summarise our net worth of “excess wealth” and calculate a (2.5% – 5%) to give in charity. This, along with the purpose of giving charity, instils compassionate behaviours from a young age.

 

And of course, giving goes a long way. From improved mental health, personal satisfaction, fulfilling a religious obligation and feelings of gratitude and joy.

Conclusion

This post didn’t have much to do with consulting or data, just a personal reflection on lessons I learnt this Ramadan.

 

If you’re still reading this, I hope you’ve found some value in this blog post.

 

If you’d like to be kept informed of more content like this, subscribe to my newsletter.

 

Feel free to reach out to my email [email protected], if you have some feedback or just want to say hello!

 

Check out my other blog on A Story from Life in Consulting

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Hanzala Qureshi

Hanzala Qureshi

I’m a digital consultant at a leading consultancy firm. I mostly spend my life working on complex data projects. On this website I document my journey in consulting and thoughts on data & emerging technologies.

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