Muslims around world will soon be celebrating the blessed month of Ramadan as they prepare themselves physically and spiritually for a month of dedication and worship, one of which is the fasting during this month, daily from pre-dawn to sunset as they abstain from food, drink, and intimate relation. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam prescribed by God which comes as a revelation in the noble Quran:
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may [learn] self-restraint [become God conscious]. (Quran 2:183)
Meaning the essence of fasting is learning taqwa, which is more than just self-restraint (as translated). It is God-consciousness which endows the person to be aware of the presence of Allah in every moment of his or her life and to be careful of his or her duty toward Him.
Ramadan is a month of worship, and the month of Quran as Muslims celebrate the first revelation of the Quran in this month by spending extra time reading the Qur'an, performing special prayers, and doing good deeds. Ramadan affords a believer an opportunity to cross-reference his entire life with the reading of the Qur'an; and anyone who observes this practice during Ramadan has a better chance of graduating to a higher spiritual level.
As Muslims we do not fast because it lowers the blood sugar, the cholesterol, the blood pressure or treats non-insulin diabetes, or obesity. These are fringe benefits one might realize, but the primary reason we fast in this month is because it was prescribed by God and as Muslims we submit and surrender to Him and His commends knowing Allah who is all wise and free of all needs, would not prescribe anything that is not good for us and, nor beyond our ability. Of course, as the Quran stipulates, “whoever among you is ill or on travel [during them]- then an equal number of days [are to be made up afterwards]. (Quran 2:184)
Fasting provides that intimate connection with God because it is the only act of worship that is not apparent to anyone except God. That is, when someone fasts only Allah knows it. Certainly, there is only one reason why a believer will put himself or herself through this physical exercise and that is to please God. Fasting is an annual institution containing all conceivable attributes for human excellence. It is a training for the body and soul, a renewal of life, encouraging the spirit of sharing and giving. Beyond the physical, there are many spiritual benefits of fasting such as:
Develops self-worth, self-strength, self-rebuilding, self-discipline, and self-control, all of which are results of God consciousness, and keeping one’s duty toward God.
Behavior Modification. Human life is an embodiment of acquired habits. It is possible for a fasting person to control or change his or her habits. For a fasting person who controls the consumption of food and drink, it will undoubtedly be easy to control other habits. If you can control your tongue, hands, and all other parts of your body, it will be easy for you to apply the same training for the rest of the year, as long as the will is still there.
Patience. Fasting helps in conditioning the heart and soul on the virtues of patience, tenacity, and firmness in the face of adversity. Patience is the pinnacle of self-mastery, discipline, and spiritual agility. Patience is to turn the phrase "I can't" into "I can." If a believer can exercise patience, and forsake gourmet food and drink, and the exhilaration we enjoy while eating or drinking our favorites, as well as marital relation, and the gratification of other normal appetites for a whole month, he can exercise patience in virtually everything in life.
Socially, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor, the family, and the whole society. This is a period in which the rich have first-hand experience of what it is like to be hungry, and the pains the destitute suffers in normal living conditions. The process of disciplining as a result of fasting instills the virtue of mercy and compassion which is very important in terms of social well-being and creation of harmony. God bestows His mercy upon those who themselves are merciful to others.
Family Ties. Fasting strengthens family ties, especially where the family is an endangered institution (like in the western society). It helps the family come together to break their fast (Iftar), and pre-dawn meal at least twice a day for a month. Fasting enhances and energizes friendship.
Additional wisdoms for fasting in Ramadan: To a Muslim, fasting not only means abstaining from food and drink, but also refraining from all vices and evils committed by us consciously or unconsciously. For it is believed that if one volunteers to refrain from lawful foods and sex, they will be in a better position to avoid unlawful things during the rest of the year.
Impact of fasting in Ramadan on human self-tendency and soul. Firstly, fasting weakens your self-tendencies which is the component of an individual that compels him towards his desires. Abstinence in Ramadan weaken this self- tendency, hence its ability to invite the individual towards wrongdoing and sin. In return, it strengthens his soul which is the vehicle through which an individual is inclined towards good deeds hence towards developing a stronger relationship with God. This is why you feel that heightened sense of closeness to God during Ramadan. In wanting to do good, your soul, and conscious no longer must fight your self-tendencies and desires, hence the increased willingness to do good deeds. It brings you closer to your thoughts and emotions. Some people feel an overarching sense of calm and serenity during Ramadan. Quite often, even though the physical hunger is felt, we are calmed down by an overbearing sense of peace. These emotions are the direct impact of a closer connection to God. This calmness also allows us to be better attuned to our own thoughts and emotions. It also relieves one of worldly desires. Hence, it is quite often the case that individuals refrain from all things that invite them towards sin during their fast. The natural response is that if one is making an effort to please God, it is best not to impair that effort by engaging in activities that breed wrongdoing and sin. We try to refrain from anger and from expressing our basic instincts during Ramadan for this very reason.
Back to the purpose of fasting, which is to learn self-restraint and become God conscious. How to attain it? By strengthening the connection with God and applying His moral instructions in our daily lives and in our dealings with others. These are simple commands but are sometimes hard to practice. Being humans, we give in to different temptations that weaken our resolve to practice these commands. We all know the harmful effects of loose tongue, jealousy, envy, self-promotion, self-interests, and backbiting. How to avoid these? How to build, and strengthen one’s character? By sincere effort to reflect upon and practice God’s commands. What could be a better month than Ramadan for achieving this? Let us make a decision with all our hearts to embed these values (mentioned in the Quran) in our lives. Why wait for tomorrow that may never come?
Muslims believe, the month of Ramadan is a month of God’s continuous Mercy and Blessings hence a month they await with eagerness. During Ramadan the believers seek God’s mercy, forgiveness, and protection from Hellfire. This is the month they renew their commitment and re-establish their relationship with the Creator. The rewards for good deeds are multiplied during Ramadan.
In conclusion, Ramadan is a month of reflection, a month of spiritual rejuvenation, a month one strengthens one’s humanity as he stays away from his animal instincts and sins and draws near to spirituality, because it is this spirituality and God consciousness that leads one to his humanity and excellence. Therefore, this is month when one becomes more human, and Godlier. In such an atmosphere and temperament without a doubt God’s words will have deeper impact. One’s prayers and acts of worship become livelier. That is the essence of Ramadan and if one does not reach such a state, he must try his best with the help of this blessed month. This is the month in which God’s gates of mercy and forgiveness are wide open. That is; with the teachings of this month, one prepares himself for God’s forgiveness. We do not want to be fasting only through our mouths, but rather through our eyes, our ears, our hearts, out thoughts, our tongue, our hands, and through rest of our body so our entire physical and mental being is fasting, so we do not go near anything that displeases God, hence feel closer to Him.
If you are a non-Muslim reading this article, we invite you to come and visit our center. Join us as we break our fast every day at sunset and give us an opportunity to share with you more information about Islam and Ramadan.
CONTACT US Phone: 858-278-5240 Email: email@example.com Web: https://islam.icsd.org Address: 7050 Eckstrom Ave, San Diego CA 92111