A GREAT BLESSING
I remember my first Ramadan, over 20 years ago. It was mid-May to mid-June—the hottest, longest days. I never thought I could do it. And I couldn’t have, if God hadn’t made it possible. Now as we near another Ramadan, and as we cycle back toward hotter, longer days, I think back on that first year and all the years between as wonderful blessings from God.
He decreed Ramadan for us, not to deprive us and make us suffer, but to use it as a time of growth and development of our souls. We tend to get caught up in this worldly life, all its pleasures and trials. We know what a blessing it is to remember to do our Contact Prayer (Salat). It pulls us back from this world and focuses our thoughts on God. Well, Ramadan does the same thing, for a whole month.
First of all, we work on taking control of our bodies, not letting our bodies control us. Simply by saying “No, I’m not going to eat, even though I’m hungry,” we exercise that control over our physical shell. My friends all
wonder how I can do it; they comment that they could never fast for a month. But all we have to do is make the commitment to try, and God makes it possible. And then there are many positive benefits for our bodies as stated in Appendix 15: “Fasting during the month of Ramadan restores our expanded stomachs to their normal sizes, lowers our blood pressure through temporary dehydration, rids the body of harmful toxins, gives our kidneys a much needed rest, and reduces our weight by removing excessive and harmful fat.”
But the more important benefit is spiritual, and that manifests in many ways. Every time we feel hunger or thirst, we remember that we’re not eating, and that helps us to remember God. It causes us to think of God even more often during the day, not just at Prayer times. We can use those opportunities to commemorate and glorify Him.
When we feel hunger, we can appreciate the millions of people around the world who feel hunger all the time; who go to bed hungry and wake up
hungry; who don’t have the supermarkets full of every kind of food imaginable. We can use that opportunity to be appreciative of the bounties God provides us with. It’s something we should do every minute of every day, but we forget. Ramadan helps us to remember:
And He gives you all kinds of things that you implore Him for. If you count God’s blessings, you can never encompass them. Indeed, the human being is transgressing, unappreciative. [14:34]
Ramadan is a time to read and appreciate the Quran. This book is a guidance and healing, a beacon and mercy. It gives us clear and concise directions on how to live our lives, and how to attain salvation. And the Quran was revealed during Ramadan. So this month gives us the chance to glorify God and to thank Him for sending the scripture, the messengers, and the guidance. We should do that every day, but Ramadan provides extra reminders, and we humans need to be reminded.
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