Ramadan is a month where Muslims, across the globe, practise fasting.
The fasts are the longest this year, lasting for 19 hours, in the UK. Fasting begins before sunrise with a meal known as Suhoor, and ends at sunset with a meal known as Iftar. The general consensus is that we must be careful of our diets during these lengthy fasts, which of course we should, but what about being careful about what we are feeding our souls?
Ramadan is a time to connect to the soul. It is a time where we begin to see what we have been feeding our soul. A time when we are not occupied with eating and drinking (which, let’s be honest, we spend a lot of time doing) but instead, try to focus on worship and remembrance of God, through which we are able to hear our soul.
Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) was once asked about the distinguishing marks of the believer and the hypocrite. He replied, ‘The believer’s concern is for prayer, fasting and worship, while the hypocrite, like an animal, is concerned with food and drink’. [Abu Nu’aym, Hilya]
This is an important thing to remember; it is not only the fasting that is essential, rather it is fasting alongside prayer and worship that holds the utmost significance. To remember God, to turn to God, to feel the spiritual connection, to be present in the here and now, to be grateful for every single breath we take, is the key of Ramadan.
Ramadan is certainly the month of fasting, but it’s blessings are beyond that. By abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations, we are able to uncover the reality of our own being. Ramadan is a gift from Allah (SWT), a gift that reminds us of all the things we should be grateful for, all the things we are prone to forget.
The great mystic poet, Jalal-ud-Din, Rumi, describes the spiritual practise of fasting in his poem:
‘When you’re full of food and drink,
Satan sits where your spirit should,
an ugly metal statue in place of the Kaaba.
When you fast, good habits
gather like friends who want to help.’
Rumi describes fasting as a way to garner good habits. It is in this month where we accumulate all the good habits that we should keep with us for the rest of the year.
The benefits of fasting are such that we are unable to see all of them. Many of these blessings are invisible to us until we open our eyes to them. We are much like the sleeping person, wandering the plains of this world. Ramadan is a time where your soul screams, ‘WAKE UP!’ and you can finally hear the cry of your soul.
May we uncover the secrets of our own soul this Ramadan.