Jasmine Khan writes
Fasting for the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, and is a command from our Creator.
“Oh! You who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you many learn piety and righteousness” (Quran 2:183)
When we obey our Creator, the physical act transforms into a spiritual act. We fast not only with our stomachs, but with all our senses.
Every limb, nerve and muscle in our bodies is striving to draw closer to our Creator. The spiritual aspect of fasting redirects the heart away from the world and towards the Hereafter. It is a deeply personal act of worship in which we seek to raise our level of Allah-consciousness. Ramadan calls for inner-reflection and atonement. Diversion from the satisfaction of bodily appetites cannot help but to elevate our spirituality.
During the day our focus shifts from the physical aspect of life, which allows the spiritual part of our beings to come forward and eventually become more dominant. The opening of our spiritual “eyes” and “ears” enables us to feel, see and hear things we normally would not. When we are so connected to our spirituality we are open to receive the messages that Allah sends us all the time, many of which we sometimes are not even aware of, and this motivates us to intensify our prayers.
The spiritual dimension of fasting during Ramadan is an act of obedience. It leads to sincere thankfulness, which is the heart of worship. It also empowers our spiritual side over our physical tendencies. After fasting for a few days, Allah’s blessings pour into our lives. Fasting with pure intention releases us from concentrating on worldly things and we turn our thoughts to the Hereafter. When we fast, it becomes necessary to concentrate our efforts to steer clear of bad habits, our inclination to judge others and to refrain from too much chattering. This is the time to go within, for the fruits of our labour are within our hearts.
Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we are fixated on eating. Some of us eat to live, to give our bodies the necessary nourishment, but many live to eat. Overeating keeps our bodies heavy, our minds hazy, our hearts hard and our will divided.
Once again Allah’s mercy descended upon us in the form of the Holy Quran, revealed in the Holy month of Ramadan.
Breaking free from ‘the worldly’
This is the month when Allah commands us to stop eating the food that binds us to the earth.
We fast not for the sake of rewards, but to break the hypnotic spell that eating food, especially luxuries that have no nutritional value, has cast over us. This is the month when distant memories of a more spiritual life are stirred.
We can use the sacred words of the Quran to heal the divisions in us and bring together what was once torn apart.
Instead of tasting bread, Allah advises us to taste His names in our mouths and draw nourishment from them. After all, we are spiritual beings living in the earthly world. Our physical bodies need nourishment, but so do our spiritual beings. We are beings from Allah and as such we need His sacred words to thrive.
Whereas overeating causes us to feel numb and even forgetful, abstaining from food and replacing our meals with prayers can make us feel light, alert, mindful, and alive.
Once again, we realise that whatever our merciful Creator commands us to do has physical benefits in this world. This is in addition to the immense reward for our obedience to His commands. By not eating, we give our digestive system a rest and increase the blood flow to our mind. Abstaining from eating also means that the body has a chance to begin eliminating the clogging effects of the wrong types of food. Fasting results in a very clear mind which is free to become fully in tune with our Creator. Combined with praise and prayer, fasting can bring about a manifestation of Allah’s presence and peace.
It is a fact that the intensity of remembrance of Allah is heightened when we endure hunger and thirst. When we fast, the scorching fire that is the meaning of Ramadan can eradicate any bad habits or inclinations to do harm to others and burn it away.
Fasting proves that we infinitely prefer the sacred words of Allah over bread. In doing so we are binding ourselves to neither earth nor heaven, but rather to Allah. Ultimately, this is what we all desire. This is what connects our fasting from food to our devotion to Allah.