Laiq Ahmed Atif | firstname.lastname@example.org | Malta Independent 10 April 2022
The true purpose of human life is to worship and understand God the Almighty and have utmost devotion to him. God says in the Holy Quran: “I have created jinn and human beings so that they should worship me.” (51: 57)
Fasting is also a form of worship and devotion. This form of worship is found universally in all the major world religions. Although there are differences in the way fasting is practiced in different religions, the central inspiration of fasting is present everywhere. Islam however has introduced a new spiritual significance in this institution in which fasting constitutes a symbol of complete devotion and sacrifice.
Islamic fasting holds a special significance as it is one of the five main pillars of the religion. Every year, during the month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast for one whole month. As the month of Ramadan is a lunar month, it rotates around the year. Every year, Ramadan comes around 11 days earlier than the previous year and this circle completes itself in 36 years.
The Holy Quran states: “O ye who believe; fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous; so that you may guard against evil.” (2:184)
This verse points out that fasting is a universal religious ritual and the core objective of fasting is to be saved from harm, suffering, sin and evil. It also means that merely guarding oneself against evil and sin is not sufficient and believers should try to tread the path of righteousness, piety and purity.
Ramadan is a month of prayers, devotion, self-discipline, caring for others and making personal sacrifices. An aim of fasting during Ramadan is to remind believers of the suffering of people who don’t know when their next meal will come. It is indeed one of the many ways Islam reminds us to have sympathy for those who are in need.
However, to truly understand the philosophy and essence of fasting, one is required to go through this experience and spiritual exercise. Without personal sacrifice, one cannot fully appreciate the wisdom behind this universal form of worship.
Some people mistakenly think that fasting means the mere abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. In actual fact, fasting holds a far greater purpose. This experience provides a spiritual atmosphere for the believers to enhance their spirituality through purifying their souls. It motivates individuals to always think and act positively and encourages us to occupy ourselves in the remembrance of God in order to develop self-control and self-discipline.
In addition, fasting cultivates the sense of sacrifice, charity, and alms-giving, taking care of others, and developing a loving and considerate disposition. The rich are expected to donate more generously during this time to help the poor stand on their two feet.
Furthermore, Ramadan also teaches us the importance of food and water. According to some studies, a third of all food available for human consumption is wasted, with people in wealthier countries wasting more.
Ramadan also encourages us to take care of those who don’t have sufficient food and water. I am sure that if we truly follow and abide by the lessons Ramadan teaches us, the world would solve the global problem of hunger and thirst and there would not be a single soul that sleeps without food or water.
The Almighty God has provided sufficient food and water for the entire humanity and it is not a matter of provision or availability. But it is due to the human negligence, selfishness, national pride and unjust distribution of wealth that the humanity is suffering. It is up to all of us to learn from the lessons of Ramadan, make sacrifices to make the world a better place.