The regular fasting, devotion and generosity practised during Ramadhan develops a clearer sense of a Godly lifestyle, a relational and meaningful life. Here I explore key features of this ‘Spring of Righteousness’.
Ramadhan is the holiest and one of the most transformative times of the Islamic calendar, a season for actively pursuing spiritual growth and coming closer to Allah. The fast is a moral-spiritual training that prepares for the tests of life. The entire community fasts in Ramadhan and this shared discipline is the key to its successful social training, like a football team training together.
The daily routine of fasting, the five prayers, recitation of the Quran and giving charity have a deep impact on minds, attitudes and behaviours. We develop empathy and kindness towards others. We control our appetite, we can stay hungry and thirsty for 15-18 hours, we become patient, bearing and willing to waiting. These are the moral benefits of fasting. Despite severe thirst and hunger, we don’t bat an eyelid, yet the fridge is full of exotic food and drinks, why? Because we experience the presence of Allah around us, we are sensitive and more aware of His presence. That’s spiritual development, closeness to Allah Almighty, perhaps fear too. It is Taqwa, The Majestic Quran says, “Believers fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed on those before you, so you become Allah fearing” (Baqarah: 183).
The month of fasting is short enough to stomach but long enough to change even an old habit. Fasting is demonstrating that human beings don’t live by bread alone, they are much more than consumers with a body, they have a spirit. To say ‘no’ and deny enjoyable things is self-denial and it’s learning to control oneself. It’s self-discipline. Saying ‘no’ is a fantastic way of saying I am not controlled by my bodily instincts and desires. I can choose what to do and not to do, this is self-mastery.
We now recognise fasting is effective for cleansing the body or detoxifying it, here is another benefit of Ramadhan, an opportunity for a ‘digital detox’. If you’re spending too much time online and not enough with family, children, relatives or friends, then Ramadhan is an ideal time to change this habit. Addiction to the internet is a serious problem, psychologists are warning that IT addiction can lead to marital discord, lack of personal hygiene, poor social interaction and loss of good eating habits. Ramadhan is an opportunity to rebalance your IT habits. This Ramadhan try to phase out some of your poor IT habits by reducing the use of your mobile phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the internet. Instead spend more time in the mosque face-to-face with your Lord or studying the Quran or listening to its soothing recitation. As we come out of the pandemic it’s time to relearn how to share and respond to body language, as we bond to warm lasting friendships. You will enjoy the emotional benefits of meeting people.
Ramadhan develops moral and spiritual values but has health benefits too, it’s medicine for a society sitting on a time bomb of over-indulgence. Consumerism has drowned people’s capacity for independent judgement, self-control and simple living. In our consumerist society, fasting enables a person to resist the persuasive power of advertisers and ensures that we do not march to the beat of a drum, but move to the beat of the Azan, which is in itself an act of courage. The spirit of the holy month is to share and sacrifice, it leads to practising self-control in a bid to achieve success and perfection. No wonder the blessed Mustafa (peace be upon him) said “if the Muslims knew the greatness of this month, they would wish that the whole year was Ramadhan” (from Al-Targhib wat-Tarhib, Kitab-Us-Sawm).