Ramadan, a blessed time of year, but often branded as the month of starvation. Many dread the days ahead, fearing the hunger pangs, parched throat, headaches and tiredness. However, Ramadan is more than mere suffering. Its purpose is much deeper. Allah has prescribed fasting for us so that we can reconnect, and become better people.
Allah says in the Qur’an,
The underlying reason for fasting is to attain righteousness, and piety. As Muslims, we are constantly striving to improve ourselves, to become better human beings, and Ramadan provides an atmosphere where one can improve their character, eating habits and routines. Ramadan is a chance to regain lost discipline and get closer to Allah.
Muslims only fast for daylight hours, meaning the fast begins from dawn and ends at sunset. During the evening, one can enjoy food and drink as much as they please. During winter, this is merely a few hours, however in summer, the fast will be a longer stretch. The good news is that the month of Ramadan is not a consecutive non-stop marathon fast.
Fasting illustrates submission to Allah and His commands. Humans are too often plagued by a sense of control and authority. Engaging in a fast reminds us that it is Allah who is our Sustainer and our Lord, and we are His servants.
Fasting is a humbling experience, which trains the self to consider those who are less fortunate. It depletes haughtiness, as a fasting person realises that he too is vulnerable, that he too experiences pain and hunger. Thus, fasting regulates the ego and quells arrogance.
Whilst fasting pangs of hunger will pinch, and whilst we usually take food for granted; preparing lavish dinners and elaborate five-course meals, there are those who are starving, who go to sleep hungry. We learn to appreciate the blessings of a hot meal, and cold water from the tap. How many, have to walk miles to access a river of dirty water, and how many die from starvation? By fasting, one tastes a little of the pain they feel, and hence we learn to appreciate what we have.
Fasting is a training exercise for one’s character. It strengthens one’s personality as one builds patience and endurance, and enables one to bear difficulties with a better attitude. Fasting softens one’s heart, arousing empathy and inclining one towards good. Its underlying purpose is self-improvement; to train the individual to become a better person holistically.
So, is Ramadan really a month of starvation, or a month of development and enrichment?
Furthermore, many Muslims look forward to the month of Ramadan due the elaborate feasts and delicacies that are specially prepared to begin and break the fast. Is it really a month of starvation? I’ll leave that to you to answer.