Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, Muslims fast during this month from sunrise to sunset as an act of faith. It’s labeled the ‘holy month’ because this is when Prophet Mohamed received the first revelations of the Quran. Muslims should also refrain from bad habits such as smoking, cursing, gossiping, etc.
Even though the general misconception is that Ramadan is all about fasting, it is actually so much more than that.
1. Ramadan is the epitome of spirituality. Ramadan prompts you to get in touch with your spiritual side; whether by intensifying prayers or reading the Quran and contemplating the wonders of God’s creation. It’s an opportunity to feed the soul and the heart and isolate oneself from the daily distractions and take a break from the chaos of the day to day life.
2. It brings out the good side of people. During this month Muslims try to be on their best behavior. Ramadan prompts them to help the less fortunate, forgive and make peace with friends or people they were on bad terms with, reach out to family members and relatives and focus on purifying their hearts and intentions as the month goes on.
3. Ramadan is all about peace. It is about being a better person; people don’t only fast from food, they fast from any extreme emotions; anger, frustration, envy, and sadness. The main spirit of the month is for people to focus on their relationship with God and strengthen the faith instead of letting their emotions take control of their lives.
4. It’s a month of healing. The spirit of Ramadan, the prayers, the kindness that people exude during this month and the peace of mind that comes with the isolation from the daily routine really helps you tap into your sadness and heal yourself. It’s building a connection with God away from the noise of people that drain you and jobs that wear you down. It completely shifts your mental and emotional state.
5. It helps you practice gratitude. Fasting makes you realize how much you take things like food and water for granted and gives you a taste of how some less fortunate people actually live; deprived from the simple things that we take for granted every day. It teaches you how to be compassionate and count your blessings instead of focusing on the things you don’t have.
6. It’s also a month of love. It’s a tradition in most Muslim countries to gather large groups of friends and family during Iftar (the time when you break your fast). It’s a month of reconciliation and reconnection. You see people you haven’t seen in ages, it brings people together and allows you to reconnect with old friends and relatives and appreciate those relationships.
7. It’s a reflection of life. Since Ramadan teaches you patience, humility, gratitude and self-control, if you reflect deeper, these are also the tools you need to live a good life. We often get carried away with our duties and our lives that we don’t really take a moment to reflect on the point of it all. Ramadan helps you get a grip on the essence of life and sharpen the tools you need to thrive in life.
8. There are exceptions. Not all Muslims have to fast; if you’re pregnant, sick, traveling or on medication, you’re not supposed to fast. You can only fast if the conditions are normal and if you’re healthy. At the end of the day it’s a choice; like many aspects of religion, most non-religious Muslims fast because of the idea behind it; the idea of conquering oneself and refraining from the seven deadly sins.
9. It’s also an opportunity to get to know yourself. When you isolate yourself from all the material things and spend less time thinking about eating, drinking, and going out, you get to truly spend some time with your thoughts and your feelings and listen to them. It’s another form of soul searching; you get to know parts of yourself and you get to understand how strong you are against the temptations and how forgiving you are against those who did you wrong and how you can let go. All these are questions we normally ask ourselves, but Ramadan really puts it all into perspective.
10. It’s supposed to be a lifestyle not an occasion. Even though it’s one month, the point is to carry out these behaviors after Ramadan too. It’s more about becoming a better human being in general and how one should ideally live. It’s a reminder from God that we are here to do good, to forgive, to heal, to let go and to help those who cannot help themselves.