What’s the point of fasting in Ramadan?
Yahya Adel Ibrahim/OnePath Network: I’m often asked by Non-Muslims, why do you guys fast? And why for so many days? Isn’t it difficult? What’s the whole purpose behind it?
Fasting isn’t just about feeling the pain of others.
Although that is an outcome, but its not really the purpose. So there are really 3 important purposes to fasting.
1. Spiritual training
To train yourself to delay gratification, “I can hold on”. Even if it’s something that I want, I can restrict myself long enough to be able to maximize it and to enjoy it more.
The word Ramadan, it comes from the concept of “Ramad” (scarcity). And the concept of depriving yourself, not of the luxuries of life, the normal enjoyable things in life: water and food, nothing extravagant is a way of training yourself to be able to endure whatever life throws at you. I’m able to govern my emotions; I’m able to sequester some of the things that I desire out of life that may not be best for me.
And if I can hold myself back from a cup of water, I can certainly hold myself back from the things that are impermissible. And that’s the second element. It’s to train you that you can overcome your challenges.
2. Overcome challenges
If you’re a smoker, drinker, if there’s something you know that is an excess in your life.
If your eyes are infected with pornography, it’s a way for you to say hold on a second, I can restrict myself from the normal things in life. From things that my body needs as nutrients and elements from the water that is a necessity of life. I can actually hold back on that. Well definitely I’m able to hold back from other things in my life. So it’s an empowering motive that is established.
3. Gaining empathy
And of course as a third outcome is that you feel what other people are lacking in their life, and it makes you much more altruistic, and much more connected to everyone around you, not just here.
One of the things I think in Australia and in countries that have been blessed, like the one that we live in today, is that we forget that the majority to the world is actually hungry.
The majority of the world do not have secure water resources. The majority of the countries of the world are getting to a point, where food and the scarcity of it could drive them to war and sectarian violence. And all of these are things that you see in and around us in a geopolitical situation. So fasting comes back and centres us in that perspective.
The very final thing I wish to comment on is that Ramadan connects all of the Muslims. And therefore in every second of the day there is someone around the world, who has deprived themselves from food and drink in honouring to God, and in fidelity and brotherhood with others of a like minded spirit.
Nearly 2 billion people, nearly 2 thousand million people will not eat and drink as long as the sun is up in the sky. And that is an Ummah, that Allah has favoured for us and has destined for us to be a part of.
And I pray that Allah blesses us with the month of Ramadan, accepts in it our devotion to him, of our hunger and thirst, and feeling the needs of others, and empowers us with Sabr (patience) in our life.