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Another Ramadan is upon the Muslims of the world. This is a month many Muslims look forward to so they can recharge their spiritual selves. Giving up food, drink, and marital intimacy during the daylight hours—which are all completely permissible in any other month—is a way to show complete submission to God.
But of course, the above three things Muslims refrain from are only the tip of the iceberg. A real Ramadan fast is supposed to delve much deeper within the soul. How much can depriving the self of tasty food really help one’s relationship with God if the day is spent watching food videos on Instagram, Food Network, or YouTube just for pleasure’s sake? I had days like that when fasting, with many minutes wasted mindlessly staring at a screen trying to satisfy food cravings with my eyes. Believe me, it does not work. Satisfaction very much NOT guaranteed.
What really brings satisfaction during a long fast is utilizing time wisely. It is astonishing how much time is added to the day when you cannot eat! With all this extra time, Muslims are supposed to engage more in worship through reciting Quran, praying, supplicating, and reflecting with the goal of attaining God consciousness.
Allah says, “You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God.” (Q. 2:183)
Every time you resist calming that little hunger pang with a bite of food or satisfying that thirst with a sip of water, you are obeying God. You are fulfilling His command. Who would see you if you snuck a bite in the corner of your room? No one—except Allah. If we keep Him in mind throughout the day and turn away from that which He made unlawful for us with an intention to please Him, we can get much more out of our fasting days. Much more spiritual meaning, progression, and mindfulness of God. And that is the goal, after all!
Additionally, it is important to remember our whole bodies should be fasting, not only our stomachs. Our tongues, eyes, ears, hands, and feet are all supposed to steer clear of those things that take us away from God—vulgar language, backbiting, lowly gatherings, and whatever else. Even on a normal basis we should refrain from these things, but as humans we slip and sin. Ramadan is that perfect opportunity to replace our bad habits with good ones. Trade in music for Quran and celebrity gossip websites for stories about the Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon him). And hopefully, after the month of Ramadan ends, we can keep up the good habits and bury our bad ones once and for all, with the help of Allah.
All of this can bring us closer to experiencing a real Ramadan, one that is drowning in the love, closeness, and mindfulness of Allah. Refrain from food, drink, and marital intimacy yes, but also be wary of how you use your eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet. Trade in the bad and useless for the good and rewarding. May Allah make this Ramadan a month of positive and lasting change for us all.