It’s that time of year again, boys and girls. As Muslims around the world prepare to embark on a journey of self-discovery and spiritual growth, we’re reminded that Ramadan is much more than just a month-long fast (and extreme dieting program).
Sure, refraining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset is part of the deal, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ramadan, which is expected to begin on March 22 or 23 depending on the new crescent moon sighting, is a time of self-discipline, self-control, and empathy for those less fortunate. You’re put in the same position as those that have to go to sleep on an empty stomach, that wake up and head to work with barely anything in their bellies for a handful of hours in the day for a month, and that in turn helps you develop empathy and compassion for those less fortunate, with the notions of self-discipline and self-control at the center of most of your interactions.
But that’s not all— the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which is observed by millions around the globe, is also a time for community spirit and social gatherings. Families and friends come together to break their fast, share meals, and forgive one another. And let’s not forget about the importance of charity. Another fundamental aspect of Ramadan and essential in Islam, Muslims around the world are encouraged to donate to those in need, feed the poor, and engage in community service as it is believed that doing so brings immense blessings and rewards.
Muslims are also pushed to become more patient, kind, and compassionate towards others, especially in situations that may be frustrating, which can include refraining from road rage, treating idiots with respect, and avoiding confrontational situations. Cursing or engaging in gossip or backbiting is also highly discouraged, and some even believe that it could break your fast.
You see, Ramadan is a time of muscle training for the mind, where Muslims are challenged to become better versions of themselves through several acts of devotion and self-restraint. It’s not just an extreme dieting program. And, while you might lose a few pounds in the process, the real rewards of fasting are both physical and spiritual. Many people report feeling more energized and focused during Ramadan, as their bodies detoxify and regenerate themselves. So, as we embark on this month-long journey, let’s focus on what really matters: family, faith, and community. It’s not just about obtaining the perfect summer body before warm weather season rolls around— it’s about living a simple and humble life and appreciating the blessings we have.