“O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful ˹of Allah˺.” [Quran 2:183]
Every year, in the month of Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food from the first prayer (Fajr, before sunrise) to the third prayer (Maghrib, when sunset begins). To many, this may just seem like the abstinence from food and drink. However, it is much deeper.
1. Why do Muslims Fast In Ramadan?
“Ramaḍân is the month in which the Quran was revealed as a guide for humanity with clear proofs of guidance and the standard ˹to distinguish between right and wrong˺. So whoever is present this month, let them fast. But whoever is ill or on a journey, then ˹let them fast˺ an equal number of days ˹after Ramaḍân˺. Allah intends ease for you, not hardship, so that you may complete the prescribed period and proclaim the greatness of Allah for guiding you, and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Quran 2:185)
2. Ramadan is not just about remaining hungry and thirsty
In the month of Ramadan, there is also greater emphasis on doing good deeds and staying away from bad deeds. Fasting is not just staying away from food and drink.
When you abstain from your favorite burgers and juices in daylight but use foul language and get angry at others easily or let nicotine rush through you or ill graphics cloud your vision at night then you’re missing out on very important parts of fasting.
Ramadan is also a month where Allah is more accepting of prayers and forgiveness. Use this month to your best. If you aren’t someone who is too connected, now’s your chance! If you were, take it as an upgrade opportunity.
Many people will be ready to guilt trip others for “being religious only in Ramadan”, but this might be the moment which lets them sustain that learning so don’t be that person who guilt trips and don’t let the comments of others get to you.
3. Fasting is rewarded directly by Allah
The reward for fasting is not registered by the angels that accompany you but directly by Allah.
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Indeed your Lord said: ‘Every good deed is rewarded [by angels noting it down] with ten of the same up to seven hundred times over, except for fasting. Fasting is for Me, and I shall reward for it.” (source)
4. Fasting is a secret between you and Allah
Prayers, charity, Hajj (pilgrimage), and other deeds are such that can be seen by people. However, fasting is not like that. No one will know you are fasting unless you tell them. And telling people you’re fasting to show off defeats its purpose. In this way, fasting properly also leads to greater religious benefits, rewards, and a general increase in sincerity.
5. Ramadan Can be a Reflection of your true self
The report in as-Saheehayn from Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (3277) and Muslim (1079).
In Ramadan, it is said that the devils are chained and kept away from misguiding people. However, there is some disagreement over the interpretation of different ahadith (sayings of the Prophet) – whether only the most notorious devils are chained, or all, and if for everyone or just those who fast. Regardless, the common agreement is that the influence of devils is reduced.
With that said, if the influence is reduced or stopped, why does evil still happen? This is where the actions taken become our explicit choice rather than the influence of a devil. Consider a cup of coffee, and its stirring as the devil. When they devil stirs it, but is withdrawn, the coffee still continues to stir – because the effects have been ingrained in us. Ramadan reflects who we truly are as individuals and as a society and gives us the opportunity to fix it.
6. Fasting achieves many religious and humanitarian objectives
Beyond the actions, the results of the actions are more important. Fasting and other activities in Ramadan help in many ways such as:
- Increased gratitude for the necessities and blessings we are provided with.
- Helps develop empathy.
- Gratitude and the charity before Eid and Zakat (also charity but a different kind) increases compassion for others and benevolence.
- Increased self control which helps keep away from wrongdoings.
- Brings us closer to Allah which leads to a greater commitment in doing more good deeds.
- Instills a sense of equality and togetherness as people regardless of ethnicity, background, class, gender, etc. are bound to the same rules.
7. What Is The Right Way To Fast?
The purpose of fasting is not to reschedule your food intake outside the fasting period but to reduce your intake as a whole. If your Suhoor (food before fasting begins) is the same as 3 breakfasts and the Iftaar (food after fasting ends) is the equivalent of 2 dinners, then you need to reconsider not just for fasting with its true benefits but for your health and the metabolic impacts that will have on you.
It is advised to have Suhoor as close to the Fajr call for prayer as possible, provided that you don’t end up fast chewing and chugging water the second the call for prayer starts. While consuming a lot of food is inadvisable, you may eat food that takes long to digest like grains, cereal, milk, and/or dates with a reasonable amount of water. Even during Iftaar, don’t fill yourself completely.
“Those who succeed to fast in the most correct way in Ramadan are those who cut down their food. Eat less for suhoor, you will be able to have a beautiful day without feeling much that you are fasting.” – Dr. Mufti Ismail Menk
I hope that these basic yet important pointers help you understand why fasting is important and how you can make good use of this Ramadan. Truly, understanding why something is vital in motivating action. What are some of the things you can commit to do to make the most of this Ramadan? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!
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