“O you who Believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you,
that you may remember to be conscious of G-d.” Qur’an 2:183
Muslims in Atlanta and throughout the world are nearing the end of our 30 day Ramadan fast. Each day, we have fasted from dawn (5:15am) until sunset (8:40pm), abstaining from food, drink, and sex, and regulating all other human activities and obligations. The restrictions on diet just serve to awaken us to the fullness of human life that too many have dismissed, ignored, or forgotten.
Prophet Muhammed (prayers and peace upon him) said, “If one fasts but does not refrain from telling lies and committing other evil deeds, there is no need for his hunger and thirst.” So Ramadan is always about much more than the physical fast. The daytime abstinence from food and drink serves as a catalyst for deeper and more significant transformations. We realize, once again, that we are much more than flesh and blood; our soul, mind, and spirit comes alive to the beauty of life, creation, ourselves, and the wonders of G-d.
Our senses are invigorated. We relish aromas again; our taste buds are alive; food is about nourishment; and water is life. The small things are significant; the complexities inspire reflection; the simplicities are appreciated; companionship adored; community admired; and solitude is always available even in the midst of the crowds. G-d’s Presence is felt and known to the sincere faster, and life’s richness stirs the soul.
A good Buddhist friend decided to observe Ramadan this year, and offered these insights: “I am experiencing something similar to the effect of an intensive meditation retreat: a slowing down of life accompanied by a ‘waking up’ from deep inside, a waking up from so deep inside it is not even my own awareness (more God’s awareness of God). My focus, attention, clarity in daily life are richer, my recognition of transcendent more subtle and frequent. I feel myself becoming softer and, at a practical level, my recognition of what really matters is shifting and becoming more constant.”
This is life beyond food and drink. Fasting awakens the human soul to reclaim the life occupied and oppressed by whims, appetites, and thoughtless habits. It is a change momentous but renders great and lasting rewards for our bodies, minds, spirits, and for our humanity.
“Yield and overcome; Bend and be straight; Empty and be full; Wear out and be new; Have little and gain; Have much and be confused.” Lao Tsu (Tao Te Ching)
Submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin