By the time this article gets published, the first day of Ramadan will have concluded. We will have broken our fasts to eat and celebrate with friends and family.
Even though Ramadan is a Muslim religious observance, I encourage all non-Muslims to fast. The health benefits of intermittent fasting are immaculate. Click here to learn about them.
Ramadan is a month of great blessing In the Islamic Lunar Calendar. Approximately 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide will adhere to it in some way.
Muslims don't only abstain from food or drink, (yeah, not even water). We abstain from all foul language/actions, and ill thoughts during this window.
As the Glorious Quran states in chapter 2 verse 183, “Oh Believers! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for nations before you, so that perhaps you will become conscious (of God in your actions)”.
For Muslims, there is no better time of the year to detoxify oneself of all negative qualities.
Abu Hamid Al Ghazali, one of the most famous Islamic scholars in history, is known for describing this in his book The Alchemy of Happiness.
He says that we human beings have free will to do as we choose. We can make ourselves angelic by ridding ourselves of all bad qualities during a fast. Or we can make ourselves demonic by letting our bad qualities remain.
We can become our greatest and most powerful selves by how we act. But we can also become our worst and most evil selves by how we act.
This Ramadan, let's yearn to become angelic rather than demonic. Say amen.
If you haven't been keeping up with my Instagram stories, I recently announced the launching of the Dreamer's Alchemy group chat. In our latest discussion in the group, many members expressed their excitement for Ramadan. But they also discussed how this month is perfect for training oneself for the harshness of life.
Truth be told, one member dropped some real doses of wisdom in that discussion.
This member said that 21st century life is all about me, myself, and I, and 'how I can comfort myself the most?'
And it got me thinking.
"Ramadan is coming up. Why not use it to your advantage?", I told myself during that discussion. "Every fasting period is set the way it is for the sole purpose of building ourselves up. With fasting, not only can we increase our spirituality, but our self-control and discipline when faced with
Let's face it. Ramadan can get tough, as it's designed to be.
We can get thirsty, hungry, agitated, and angry, but we've got to maintain our composure. We've got to show ourselves we can emit self-control.
Here are two examples of how your self-control could be tested this Ramadan:
Someone cuts you off on the freeway and you want to curse. You could've died from that individual’s reckless driving. You feel heat and agitation flowing through your veins, and your head gets heavy. You're on the brink of honking and cursing like your life depends on it. What should you do? Maintain composure. Let the heat wave of your anger pass through you. This is the perfect time to develop your angelic quality of patience. Remind yourself of this, and tell yourself, "I'm fasting".
You go to school/work, and you get a grade/report you've been waiting for. Turns out you did terribly, even though you worked/studied a whole lot. Your frustration makes your veins pop out of your forehead. You begin to feel the heat and intensity of that frustration. Plus, you're thirsty and hungry. You're ready to burst at the person next to you who has nothing to do with your failure. What do you do? Maintain composure. Are you fasting for the sake of exploding in anger all at once and becoming demonic? Or are you fasting so you can work on your angelic qualities? We all have the ability of controlling ourselves and learning from our past mistakes. Remind yourself that you're fasting.
These two examples are specks of countless situations we may encounter during Ramadan. Although different, both require us to exhibit self-control.
Using Al Ghazali's analogy, we can react to situations like these in either an angelic or devilish fashion.
Everyone's lives are different, so there will obviously be different degrees of 'harshness'. That's why Ramadan is set in place to prepare yourself for the harshness of life. You're depriving yourself of food and drink.
The agony and wellness that one feels from that is harsh and tough on its own.
The Islamic Prophet Muhammad once said, something profound on the harshness of life. "Become tough (from the harshness of life), for indeed, blessings are not infinite." None of us should expect our daily blessings to always be there. Bad things happen.
Take Covid for example. We've had so many people we love and adore pass away from this modern plague. Everyone I know has been affected by Covid for the worse.
I remember during senior year in high school when Covid hit. We all thought it was going to be like Ebola and only a few people would be affected by it. And yet, there we were.
Look at the situation in Ukraine as another example. It's as if no one thought a full-scale war would erupt in two major European countries after WW II, and yet here we are. Don't think that the harshness of life will be thrown at someone else all the time. It's only their turn. Your turn will come sooner or later.
Life is full of surprises, and there's no telling what surprise will come next. While we hope for the best, we must be prepared for the worst.
We must adhere to the harsh Darwinian law of "Natural Selection". Only the fittest survive. Only the strongest get to reap their rewards. Try to become one of the fittest. Ramadan is the perfect opportunity to toughen yourself up.
Reject modernity's excessive comfort. Let go of anything in excess. Cultivate your life towards goodness, and watch it multiply in this blessed month.
Fast like you mean it. Take full advantage of this blessed month. While we mainly work on spiritual growth during this month, don't forget about mental growth.
This is the perfect time to work on self-control.