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Comprehensive Airman Fitness: Spiritual Fitness - A time for restraint and re-evaluation

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Matthew Franke
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel
Here in Southwest Asia and around the world, Muslims anticipate the arrival of Ramadan, the ninth and holiest month of their calendar year.

As many of us know, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, drink and other physical needs from dawn (about an hour and a half before sunrise) until after sunset. In contrast with other holidays, which often have become commercialized and rather indulgent, Ramadan is a period of sacrifice and intense spiritual focus.

Ramadan is about more than just not eating and drinking. For the Muslim, it's also a time of spiritual reflection, a time set aside to refocus attention on God, to practice self-sacrifice and to purify one's soul.

It's a month dedicated to re-evaluating one's life in light of his or her faith. Muslims are to make peace with those who have wronged them, strengthen ties with family and friends and do away with bad habits - essentially to clean up their lives.

Sawm, the Arabic word usually translated as "fasting" actually means "to refrain." During Ramadan, every part of the body is to be restrained. The tongue refrains from backbiting and gossip. Eyes refrain themselves from looking at unlawful things. Hands refrain from touching or taking anything that does not belong to them. Ears refrain from listening to idle talk or obscene words. Feet refrain from going to sinful places. In essence, every part of the body observes the fast. Fasting is meant to be a total commitment of the person's body and soul to the spirit of the fast - not merely physical.

It's been my experience that no matter what your faith, deployments can serve as a time for restraining and re-evaluating our lives. While deployed, certain niceties and liberties we take for granted back home are already not available.

Restraints in our deployed settings give us the opportunity to reflect upon and re-evaluate our values, our relationships with others and how we live out our personal faith. Don't just go home with a thinner waist and better abs. Take time while deployed to reflect upon and re-evaluate your life and your faith. Go home more spiritually fit than you came!