The month of Ramadan always comes highly anticipated for Muslims all around the world.
When people hear of fasting, the common ideal and understanding is that fasting means to abstain from particular habits, mainly eating, drinking, and all sexual activity.
However, what is less commonly focused on is the spiritual aspect of fasting.
It’s true, for sure- that there are countless health benefits to the month of fasting in the adjusting of eating habits.
Doctors often prescribe fasting as an antidote to several ailments, and the more you dig scientifically into the benefits of fasting, the more you will find about the way in which the set-up of fasting through the month of Ramadan- the amount of days, the type of fasting- is all astonishingly beneficial.
Along with these tremendous health benefits, there lies an even deeper benefit that is sidelined more often than not. The true gift of fasting is in the spirituality it provides.
What is the spirit of fasting? What is its gift for mankind? What is the true meaning of fasting?
In truth fasting is much more than simply abstaining from food or drink. In fact, it is even much more than the idea of breaking bad habits and creating better ones.
The true meaning, and the true gift, of fasting, is in what it does for you spiritually.
In following routines, it is totally normal and even expected to forget the meaning of the actions that you know intrinsically that you do for a higher purpose or benefit. Things fall into routine and become habit and tradition, they become ritualistic.
The problem with things becoming ritualistic is that we oftentimes forget the meaning of the ritual. And, just like the followers of Prophet Musa (Moses) after a short time of being without his just guidance, following into a ritual is all too natural without reminders.
The gifts of Ramadan and of fasting are more than can be counted realistically- from the opportunity to earn more good deeds, to become closer to God, to cleanse your soul, to break bad habits and form new ones, to reform your spiritual nature, of the opportunity to cleanse yourself of all your sins in order to be promised Jannah (heaven)- the list goes on and on.
Interestingly, one can allocate any time of the year to reform themselves. But we know from common example of human history that this is oftentimes not the case- almost never do we take the stand to focus on our spirituality.
Spirituality is something that breaks and falls apart, that needs constant tending to in order to flourish. The less we tend to our soul’s needs, to our need for connection with God, the harder it becomes to bring oneself onto the path.
So here lies the biggest gift of fasting:
God sets aside a time for us, when He knows that we can’t always set aside time for ourselves.
In His infinite love and mercy, God knows and understands His creation and rather than making us responsible for the shortcomings we are born with, He creates ease upon ease, ease after ease for our difficulties.
Rather than placing us in a situation where we have to make our own routine to force us to find our way, He creates countless ways for us to find our way back to Him- and for us to purify our souls and be reborn in our understanding of faith, of life, of what has become ritual.
The gift of Ramadan, the gift of fasting, is in the way it lovingly forces us to submission to the truth. It brings us face to face with the reality of life, of our base bodily needs. When separated from these needs, we understand our weakness; we understand where we come from.
We understand where we are meant to go.
And what we were created for.
And where we must inevitably return.
God creates a set month for us out of love, to usher us back to the straight path.
Out of His infinite wisdom, He creates routines for us when we are too lost to even consider the fact that we may be losing our way.
So while Ramadan is here, let us all think, take a moment or two to ponder. There are blessings dripping from the air in every moment of this month.
Deeds are being multiplied.
Shaytaan (Satan) is locked up, so we come face to face with our nafs, so we can train it to be a warrior and fight his influences when he is back- not allowing him to win ever again.
We abstain from base needs so we are forced to surrender to our spiritual ones.
We form a relationship with God- so that we remember and make the habit after these 30 days of spirituality- that to God we belong.
And to God we will all return.