The most common aspects of fasting are well known: abstain from eating, drinking or intercourse, from the beginning of Fajr time until the beginning of Maghrib time.
There are also other dimensions of fasting we need to focus on and put into practice to find a balance, slowly but surely. As said the Prophet “This is a month of patience, and the reward of patience is Paradise”.
The fast of the tongue
The Prophet e warned us against the misdeeds of the tongue, on many occasions. He also showed us that Ramadan is a month for meditation. Have you noticed: there is one thing that we don’t do while meditating: we do not talk.
Indeed, Ramadan is the month of silence, as it is in silence that we can strengthen our bond to Allah. And with reducing our talking, we can scrutinise ourselves and turn to Allah to seek His help and guidance.
Allow yourself a short time without anyone (easy said than done when you have a large family!). Switch off your phone, TV, radio, etc… And think about yourself and how you can be better; but not in terms of action, in terms of way of being (being kind, honest, patient, calm, reliable, etc…).
There is no need to be too ambitious about the time of meditation, slowly and surely is the key word.
The fast of the gaze
We all know about the fast of the gaze. Indeed we must preserve our modesty, lowering our gaze being a sign of modesty. There is another meaning of the fast of the gaze.
Almost naturally, we tend to see what others do wrong. And this is something we need to work on as when we are busy looking at others’ sins, two things happen: we tend to judge others based on what we see alone; and secondly, we cannot pay attention to our own sins.
When seeing something wrong being done by our fellows, let’s think about one of our sins (lying, rude, ingratitude,…) and try to remember how many times we have done that. Then, maybe we will feel the need to turn to Allah asking forgiveness and guidance. Remember when you see someone sinning, look at one of yours.
The fast of the body (detox)
Very often, fasting becomes detrimental to our body because of the way we treat it. In real terms, diabetes is unbalanced, cholesterol has increased, we put on weight, high blood pressure worsens, etc…
Today, science demonstrates the benefits of fasting to our body: boost the immune system, regulate hormone level, weight loss, prevents and fights depression, etc…
So what is going wrong? Today we seem to be the slaves of our body and in the meantime we complain that our bodies don’t support us. We must realize that our body has been given to us by Allah as a trust (amanah) to help supporting our soul. In other words, if we don’t treat our body as a life partner, we shouldn’t be surprised that it lets us down.
Choose one ingredient you know you are or you tend to be addict of; and reduce its consumption either slowly or brutally, only you can know. Once detoxified from its effect, you might want to do the same with another ingredient or food item. Slowly and surely should be the key word.
Fasting from consumerism
Figures are worrying, the amount of food bought during Ramadan by Muslims increases compared to the rest of the year. How can we explain that? Is it because we give more charity during Ramadan that we should accept such an excess?
“And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveller, and do not spend wastefully”.
It is a fact that when fasting the whole day, seeing and smelling food is tempting. The marketing is more aggressive during Ramadan. The question is how much are we slaves of the stomach? How much do we allow the food industry to dictate our behaviour?
Check at home what you already have. See how full the fridge is. Then, write a shopping list and stick to it. However, allow yourself one “pleasure item”. If you find it difficult, ask yourself two questions:
Do I need that item or do I want it?
Will that item still be there after Ramadan?
Fast of the heart
Allah tells us that the purpose of fasting is attaining taqwa; the Prophet e taught us that taqwa is in the heart, which is also the centre of emotions. Allah has created us humans with emotions. So, it is natural to look closely to our heart, to our emotions when willing to reach taqwa.
Let’s focus on the most detrimental one: anger.
Have you noticed how much anger is expressed during Ramadan when it is supposed to be avoided? Anger is the path we must not take; as the Prophet e taught us: “The strongest of people is not the one can wrestle others; rather he is the one who controls himself when angry”.
When we start feeling angry, remain silent and leave the room if needed. The aim is to not let it overwhelm you. Recite istighfar: asking for forgiveness is a great way to calm down; and seek refuge of Allah from the accursed Shaytaan.
Then question yourself why is the situation upsetting you?
Instinctively we tend to blame others when most of the time, we can look at a situation differently and adjust our state of mind to prevent being angry.