I’m absolutely thrilled. About what, you ask? Well girl, less than a month left until Ramadan hits. The best of all times is just around the corner and I can’t help but jump with excitement. But jumping like that won’t help me prepare for Ramadan, will it now? No; of course not. However gaining benefit from the verse number one eighty three of Surah Al-Baqarah will, so let’s take a closer look towards it; shall we?
Frankly speaking, a couple of years back, I didn’t have the slightest idea about what fasting in Ramadan actually meant to a Muslim. Some friend of mine asked me about it and my answer was: you know fasting helps you feel what the poor goes through. That was it. That is what I thought about fasting. But eventually I did come to know what fasting is all about. When we turn to Qur’an, we see that this subject is dealt comprehensively in terms of its legal and spiritual aspects in one section of Surah Al-Baqarah. The amazing thing is that this matter is discussed only in this one place and nowhere else in Qur’an. Allah begins the ayah by saying, ‘those of you who have Iman, fasting has been prescribed upon you just like it was on people who came before you so that you may attain Taqwa.’
Just from this ayah we get an idea that fasting has a point to it. Although just because we fast doesn’t mean we achieve the purpose behind it. We may and we may not; there’s no guarantee. But, at the same time, there is also hope that we might. Secondly we also come to know, from the ayah, that the reason behind fasting is attainment of Taqwa. Now what is Taqwa? Taqwa in Arabic means an urge to protect oneself or to watch out for trouble. So when Allah talks about fasting in the ayah, He is saying that fasting is made obligatory onto us so that hopefully we may develop the urge to protect ourselves. And when we fast, chances are we’ll develop a sense of shielding ourselves. But the obvious question is, ‘protect ourselves from what?’ Well the answer is that we need to protect ourselves from landing into further trouble. We need to save ourselves from loss. And loss, for a Muslim, is disappointing Allah and His messenger Rasool Allah (saw).
You see, during fasting there’s a constant battle inside us. Our stomach wants food, our throat needs water so that it could feel at ease but our heart doesn’t let us have any. Our heart tells us, ‘you aren’t having any food until Maghrib.’ No matter how hungry we are, not a morsel goes into our mouth. For once our heart rules over our urges. However in normal days our heart is unable to control our desires. In public we see someone, and unfortunately he is handsome, we keep on staring him instead of saying Astaghfirullah and lowering our eyes. We stare, feel bad later and then at Jumma’ realize how messed up we are? Sadly this cycle repeats itself but we have got a solution.
It’s Ramadan: thirty days straight of rigorous training. For an entire month the command of our heart is made stronger over our desires and on the other hand our urges inside are made weaker. Allah made Ramadan a shaitan-free session so that we may train to our best. It’s the month when we can practice to control our lust for things that are wrong for us. So that once this period is over we are ready to fight the real enemy: shaitan and his command over our nafs. We’ll have to once again face the devil and engage in a real battle. We’ll need to guard and protect ourselves and for that we need a strong heart. Fasting does that. It builds our hearts into strong forts so that once Ramadan is over; we are all set to win the battle against our desires for the rest of the year. That’s why Allah says that He has given us this institution of fasting; so that hopefully we may learn to protect ourselves.