I trained to fast when I was around six or seven years old. Back then, I could only do half a day instead of a full day. I remember I had a small blackboard that my father bought that was hung in one of the rooms in the house. I would write down how many days I had fast. If that particular day, I managed to fast for half a day, I would write down 1/2. At the end of Ramadan, I would add all the days up. Say, for instance, I succeeded in fasting half a day for every day of Ramadan, I would tell my parents that I had fast for 15 days.
Those were the days. Back then, there was no monetary reward given by my parents for fasting. I fast for the simple reason that it was a religious obligation. Needless to say, I did not fully understand this back then, but I remember understanding that I must fast because Allah commands Muslims to do so.
Since I was 14 until today, alhamdulillah, I have not missed a single day of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan. During my teen years, fasting was looked upon as something that all Muslims must do. I did not really think much of its philosophical and/or spiritual significance. When I started working, I began to understand how fasting teaches one to be sympathetic to the plight of others.
As the years gone by, my understanding and appreciation of Ramadan and fasting have gone up to a different level. While fasting in itself is a physical and emotional endeavour, this year in particular I have started to feel its spiritual importance. The act of fasting feels like a spiritual recharge. When I pray at the masjid, I felt as if I am really standing in Masjid al-Haram in Makkah in front of the Kaabah. When the imam recites the verses of the Holy Quran, I could feel tears on my cheeks.
It could be that I feel all these because I am getting older (and hopefully wiser). I really hope that this wonderful spiritual upliftment can be sustained in the days after Ramadan. This Ramadan is indeed special in that I feel really at peace with myself. For this, I can only utter the word alhamdulillah.