Every year i have a host of people that always wish me Ramadan Mubarak or happy Ramadan and then the questions start to pile up because people kind of know what it is, but dont really understand its purpose and why we do it. My non muslim friends get all excited and i even have some fast with me, but they have no clue why it is happening, despite going through the hunger pangs and dehydration.
Ramadaan is not like any other month in the Islamic calendar. The purpose of the 1 month long fast is to rid man of his bad habits which he has acquired throughout the rest of the year. It is all about self-restraint. Allah (God) has made some acts which are beloved and in some cases required by man (eg eating, drinking water and fulfilling ones desires) - Haraam (forbidden). The wisdom behind this is that if man can curb these desires, which are normally permissable to him, then he will surely be able to control himself from other desires which are not permissible throughout the remainder of the year. Makes sense doesnt it.
This month was sent by Allah (God) in order to draw mankind closer to Him and encourages more prayer, more charity, etc and the fast itself slows the metabolism down to a point where, without food, the person cannot rush around as normal, scream, shout and become oblivious to his surroundings and those within that surrounding. In fact it humbles one, slows one down, quietens one (difficult for me as i am so loud) and creates an amazing sensitivity to ones surroundings. You want to help, want to do good and in fact that is the object.
It is a month of asking for forgiveness for our horrid ways (and i am sure we all have many), even if they were unintentional because life is just like that. It is about self reflection and spirituality, piety and effecting change for the better
The Prophet of Allah صلي الله عليه و سلم has clearly stated:
مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ فِي أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ
“Whoever does not give up lying and evil actions, then Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” [Saheeh al-Bukhari]
For those who can relate, we can look at the month of Ramadhan as a test. It is important to be on form during this test. Once it is over then we should be at a standard where we can continue through the following months. Indeed, there will be repairs and faults in between, but these will be minor and can be dealt with on the spot.
It is a month within which Allah has instructed us to place more emphasis on actions regarding our Deen (religion) as opposed to our daily routine and emphasis on worldly matters. In other words DO - DONT SAY!!
We wake at 4.30, have a bowl of Haleem (broth with wheat/barley/meat/masala) - very healthy, drink water and start the fast. We break fast at about 17h42. Likewise we break fast with a date which is the action of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), so we follow that, a bowl of Haleem (this is our stable diet), fried chips and a samoosa or two. That suffices until the next morning. Of course one can eat what they want, but we try and eat foods that have a slow release in order to sustain us as long as we can during the day.
To those who havent tried it, i suggest you try - dont worry about what religion you follow. Fasting does something to the body, mind and soul and only those who fast can explain this feeling. It truly does make us do things differently and hopefully turns us into better, more loving, more patient people.
For all those fasting May Allah Ta’ala make us successful in this test, for the one who is unsuccessful in this test may not be given an opportunity for a re-test.