Two years ago, while at the training school, when the intense pressure has somewhat withered, Ramadan intruded. And oh, we had to abstain from eating, drinking, and keeping ourselves from things which are an affront to Allah. Fasting in these troubling times, Lord!
A week prior to fasting, deliberations to box ourselves into the bracket of the sick, traveler, and other persons who’ve been exempted from fasting were made. Looking at our enunciated bodies, we were mirroring how well to manage the-every-day 2.8 km jogging, the stomach-killing exercises, the foot drills in the blistering sun, the climbing of the hose tower, the frightening fire drills, ‘Ernesto’ factor — the obey before complain-commands, “Apochie” strokes, ‘Akani’ beatings and the-instructor-Laryea-what’s-your-number-trauma. The aforesaid activities summed up to only 50% of our pain, the real pain was the psychological stress and emotional distraught, so the question was — “should we fast, as Muslims?”
On the eve of Ramadan, however, the fasting morale matched all our fears boot-for-boot. Thus, we accosted training well-spirited and reinvigorated. By and large, just as we thought we would be made to rest our feet and souls, the instructor, whom we revere very much; a-no-nonesense-man, made us understand that “the nature of our job will be oft demanding; accordingly, a request for our service could come at anytime, anyhow and anywhere, therefore we must need to be conscious of responding to emergencies.”
And so he is not going to exempt us from the morning physical training exercise. Yes, we contorted our faces. All of us were puffed. But, like I have said early on, with instructor Ernesto, you dare not say ‘No’. Your ‘no’ is his ‘yes. And your yes could be his no.
All praises to Allah, we wrestled day one of the fasting cum the hectic training activities. More importantly, we never sauntered around, albeit, the suctioning of the left over water from us during the sunny hours. We did the stomach exercises, the push ups, the seat ups, and the drills altogether with other trainees, our colleagues.
Our intimate friends, all they could say to invigorate and sometimes tease us were, “you people, have by now, eaten fufu at dawn so you should shout up and work. Remember, ‘no pain, no gain’”. Some of us had to explain to them that it’s only ‘water’ we do take for suhoo (the pre-dawn meal) throughout the fasting period, not ‘fufu’ or ‘banku’ at dawn. They found it too good to be true, but that was the unparalleled gospel truth. Per our little reading, we have found out that water and ‘date’ are far closer to the recommended pre-dawn meals for fasting (as suhoo) than any of the meals.
Beyond the glaring strands, we started writing daily detailed Ramadan articles which speak about the ins and outs of the fasting season. Hafiz Laryea is on standby, when I am done writing, he will polish the works with a grandiose editing before publication. And at night, too, we allotted some hours and led taraweeh and, continued engaging the congregation in the mosque (Masjid Idris) for Ramadan packed sermons throughout the days of the fasting period.
As for the strenuous training activities, we surmounted it; we even forgot that we are fasting during training hours. I remember some of our friends did ask if we are actually fasting. They were stupefied at the zeal and die hard fasting morale. There were few instances, our instructor, Ernesto, made reference to us, to shame those of our mates who were being sluggish at training, though not fasting — that they should “look at us, even while fasting, we are keen towards training”. That day my head ballooned, not for his words of praises and encouragement, but for seeing our deeds scored Islam some good points.
The fasting morale is mercifully refreshing. I know my brothers in the various sporting disciplines would attest to the realities of what I have shared. Fasting gets the soul rejuvenated, empowers the mind and body, and stands as a season that clamps the evil within us. It’s of this reason Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was reported to have said that “...the doors of heaven are opened, and the doors of hellfire are closed. Whosoever is deprived of the blessings of Ramadan, he is really deprived.”
So, fellow Muslims, we shouldn’t approach the fasting season with a slothful soul; we must fast with alacrity; and must take this year’s fast, as though it is our last.
By yours only,
Abdul Rahman Odoi (@Big Odoi)
Edited by Hafiz Laryea
All rights reserved.©️2021