Ramadan is a special time for getting closer to God and becoming a better person.
“Oh you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it was for those before you perchance you gain piety.” 2:184
The Prophet said “All of a man’s act are for himself; God said ‘except for fasting, it is for me alone and I alone will reward him for it when he leaves his food, drink, and desires for my sake.” Of the many things that Muslims do during Ramadan, there are some that carry significant meaning and symbolism. The inner meanings of these acts are keys to understanding Ramadan as not just ritual, but as a holistic act of faith, one that represents the cyclic nature of life and man’s return to his Lord.
The Prophet has said “Fasting is a shield.” Fasting protects you from bad deeds, teaching you restraint, self-control, and moderation in heart body and mind.
There are three types of fasting: ordinary, special, and extraordinary. The first is mere abstention from food and drink. The second adds to that control of personal vices and bad character. The Prophet said “When one of you fasts, then he should be neither boisterous nor argumentative. If someone argues with him, then let him simply say ‘I am fasting”. He also said “Whoever does not leave off false actions, statements, and insolence when fasting then God is in no need of him to leave off his food and drink”.
He also said: “How many are those who fast but only get out of it thirst, and those who pray but only get out of it fatigue!” [Ahmad, al-Dārimī, authenticated by Ibn hajr, al-Albānī]
The extraordinary fast is a culmination of the two, and a continuing act of worship of the heart both during and after Ramadan. One’s heart is connected and finds solace only in Remembrance of God. God himself asks: “Is it not in the remembrance of God in which hearts find solace?” 13:28
Restraint should lead us to remembrance of God, as mentioned above. Ramadan is a special time for remembrance because during this month the revelation of the Quran commenced. “The month of Ramadan when the Quran was revealed; guidance for mankind; expounding the evidences of that guidance, and a criterion.”
The Quran, as God’s word, is read frequently day and night during Ramadan.
The Messenger said “God tells you: I am as my servant hopes I am; I am with him when he remembers me…” When we remember God through reciting his word, supplicating to him, or keeping our minds and tongues busy with his name’s remembrance, we draw ourselves nearer to him.
Through restraint and remembrance, we come to recognize God’s favors upon us. One of the supplications made when breaking the fast is “Oh God, for you I have fasted and with your sustenance I break that fast. Oh God, accept his from me, you are All-hearing, Omniscient”
God hears our supplications when we pray to him, and he knows the inner-workings of our hearts when we are fasting. When we recognize this, we allow ourselves the opportunity to gain greater consciousness of him and his role in our lives.
The Prophet said “Take a morning meal, for there is blessing therein.” Muslims around the world gather in the morning to take a small meal before beginning their fast. This meal allows the body to rejuvenate after the previous day’s fast, and the previous night’s prayers. It is a symbol to the renewal of the body, the transience of this existence, and that we as humans are weak and without God’s blessing would not be able to make it.
“One who fasts rejoices twice; once when he breaks his fast; once when he meets his Lord.” These are the words of our Prophet, explaining that the effects of fast do not merely bring about worldly health benefits, temporal feelings of spirituality, or heightened sense of communal and personal spirit.
Fasting brings about all of these as well as eternal blessing of meeting with the Lord, and the felicity that results there from.
The Prophet described this saying:
On the day of Judgment, after all have interceded, the Angels, the Prophets, and the believers, God himself will say “No one is left but the most Merciful of the merciful”. He will then reach into the hellfire and pull out a handful of people who had never done any good, their bodies so charred they had turned to coal.
He will cast them into the mouth of a river at paradise’s edge known as the”River of Life”. They will be tossed to the shores like a seed in flood waters is cast towards a rock or a tree; what faces the sun turning green, and what faces the shade turning white. They will exit the shallow waters like pearls; around their necks will be pendants.
The people of Paradise will know them by these and will say “Those are the Freedmen of God; God permitted them into paradise through no acts they performed nor any good they presented.”
The Lord will say to them “Enter into paradise; whatever you see is yours.”
They will say “Lord, you have given us better than anyone else in all of the worlds”.
He will reply to them “I have even better in store for you.”
They will say “What could possibly be better than this?”
He will say “My bliss, after which I will never become angry with you ever.”