When your stomach growls from hunger, will you snap at your pesky child? Your thoughtless neighbour? A careless colleague? The boorish driver who cut you off? Or will you remain peaceful, practicing the patience?
The holy month of Ramadan, through fasting, undeniably teaches you to be nice with everyone. Interestingly, this month is significant for a number of other reasons together with this phenomenal lesson of coping up with anger.
This is the month of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, heightened devotion, and worship for all the Muslims around the world. In fact, Ramadan is not merely about fasting, but something beyond starving, because it opens a galaxy of avenues for us to establish a better society.
During this holy month, abstaining from drinking and eating from dawn until dusk is obligatory for all Muslims, and it also includes refraining from all immoral acts. Plus, sharing food with the community and inviting guests over for iftar are practices inspired by the Islamic faith.
This holy month and fasting offer a galaxy of priceless gifts to the entire Muslim communities. One very crucial aspect of this month is that the Holy Qur’an was first revealed in this month as a guide to humankind. So, reciting the Holy Qur’an is one of the best things to do this month.
It is also recommended to give zakat (charity) in the month of Ramadan. The Night of Decree (Laylat al-Qadr) has made this month more valuable than any other month. This night is the prized jewel of Ramadan.
Muslims tend to spend this night in prayer and meditation; to make dua and to seek forgiveness for past sins. There is salvation in this night; a chance to be cleansed of all sins and be born again.
Fasting is been mandatory for all healthy adults, but does it really play a considerable role in turning around human lives? Yes, it does.
Fasting helps to attain Taqwa (righteousness). Taqwa is such a feeling by which a person learns to realize that he or she is always in front of Allah (SWT) which, in turn, helps him/her to abandon activities that are immoral or unjustifiable, and things that are prohibited by the creator.
Undoubtedly, by fasting, Muslims can receive this unique lesson. No matter how cranky or irritated a fasting person feels, he or she will never break fast. Thus, fasting provides us a thorough training of establishing a better society by possessing strong ethics.
Moreover, fasting builds endurance. As the lunar year continually shifts, Muslims encounter Ramadan in varying seasons -- from the sluggishly long summer days to the short, crisp wintry weeks.
Muslims of all walks of life manage their work duties irrespective of the fast, although often on a shortened schedule -- this includes professionals as well as manual workers such as peddlers and day labourers.
Beyond any iota of doubt, in countries where Muslims are a minority, they maintain a full workload on empty stomachs, balancing their added worship in the early mornings, evenings, and weekends along with their normal work routines.
Fasting is intended to instill self-discipline, empathy, and compassion in the individual. Charity and generosity are especially urged during Ramadan. We learn to give, and not to take. Basically, it is highly recommended to give zakat and sadaqah (voluntary charity) in the Ramadan.
Thus, the deprivation of fasting makes us sympathize with the suffering of others, and desirous of alleviating it; and it makes us remember the blessings of life which we normally take for granted. Hence, it also develops and strengthens our powers of self-control as well.
Science and medicine today have all but confirmed that there are numerous health benefits to fasting for a month in a year. It is a great way to cleanse the stomach and also has many health benefits for the brain.
So, let us be committed to making the most of this month, and applying the lessons learned to our everyday lives, even in subsequent months of the year to bring about self-improvement. May Allah make us capable of observing the fast in its true spirits. Ameen.
Mahde Hassan is an invigilator at the British Council Bangladesh. He can be reached at [email protected]