Fasting is about change from the everyday things we use to do. It is to move forwards and upwards from our inertia. It is to do something new, to get accustomed to change and to take charge of our lives and living. It is to say “No!” when we mean to say so, being honest and sincere with ourselves. It is all about self-discipline that comes from within: the well-pruned ego, well-curbed wills, and all the clean-cut “won’ts” of self-restraint.
In order not to fast for the wrong reasons, it is important to understand that Fasting in Islam is not all about dieting. It’s not a divine weight-loss plan. Nonetheless, fasting allows the digestive system to rest from normal need to process and break down food, thereby cleansing the body of accumulated toxins. Fast may offer a helping hand as part of the larger process of developing strength of will about food – but, not as an all-in-all means to burn our calories or melt our fat in weight loss.
Fasting is not observed to bribe Allah to cover up our goofs or make Him look the other way when we commit sins. It is not to compel Him to show compassion or force Him to show mercy. It is not to convince Him to change His mind on something, or bend His Will to grant wishes. It is not to gratify Him in exchange for a favour, or make Him feel bad for not blessing us the way we want. Ramadan fasting is not for show off. It’s not a sort of reality show, a scripted act or a drama to impress or entertain other people. It is not for getting others to say we are some holy or saintly group.
Along with the prayers offered in love and in earnestness, the outward manifestation of growth in faith is more in the noticeable changes of characters, habits or behaviour. It is in cultivating positive relationships with one’s family and community, as well as developing the qualities of empathy and compassion that can move us to help those within our immediate environments, who still struggle with hunger, poverty, lack and scarcity. Ramadan fasting is a special act of worship which makes us to be more aware of our intrinsic connection and oneness with all human beings. This is the genuine demonstration of commitment, sincerity, selflessness and devotion. It is the real meaning of true love between us, our fellow beings and our Creator!