Why Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, vices & sex (~14-20 hours/day) for 30 days?

Understanding Ramadan

As Muslims we believe that we as Humans consist of five parts:

  1. Body (Flesh)
  2. Brain (Processor)
  3. Soul (Spirit)
  4. Heart (Where the faith, good or evil resides)
  5. Self (Nafs) (The source of urges)

Our Body & Self form a team (let’s call it team A), while our Heart and Soul are another team (team B)

Every Human at a given point has a team dominant over the other and most of us live a continuous struggle between these two opposing sides.

Team A, (our self & body) could be viewed as our instinct based, animalistic tendencies, only shackled by our morals and if left unchecked could fester and nurture darker motives fueled by pleasure and wants.

Team B, (Heart & Soul) is the counterpart which seeks a higher purpose in our lives, striving to achieve a balance beyond the boundaries of our wants and needs.

Unfortunately, in the world we live in today, most of us (despite our different religions and beliefs) are consciously or sub-consciously driven by materialism. Bombarded by the media with the constant message to “live your life” as if that were the ultimate purpose for us, fueling our most basic instincts and in turn nurturing Team A to dominate.

That’s why we always find ourselves wanting, needing and seeking pleasures, focusing our minds and energy seeking that ultimate pleasure through food, drinks, vices and sex.

We tend to believe “more is good” so we consume more than we need. Sex has become a physical pleasure void of emotions, we are ruining our planet to live the life we think perfect. Lies, hate, cheating, drugs, rapes, murders, wars and all that’s wrong with this world is driven by Team A’s ambitions running amok. We are all born with Team B dominating our existence, but as we grow we tend to lose touch with it.

That brings us to Ramadan; which is an annual reunion we get with Team B. A time to reflect on how much Team A has done for the somewhat neglected parts of journey through life. It is a time to starve Team A so Team B can be heard. That is why Ramadan (fasting) is the fourth pillar of Islam, the five pillars are:

1. Believing of one god “Allah” and his last Prophet Mohamed (PBUH)

2. Prayers

3. Zakah (giving money or ‘alms’ to those in need)

4. Fasting (Ramdan)

5. Haj (Pilgrimage, only to those capable, financially and health-wise)

Each of the pillars helps Muslims empowering Team B of heart and soul, give brain clarity and higher purpose than chasing void desires while at the same time living and enjoying life.

Ramadan as the fourth pillar is a time where the Brain gets to re-calibrate the balance between Team A and Team B; it is the reset button, through which a fresh start is attainable.

Ramadan builds so many great morals like:

Honesty: Fasting is a very private ritual between the Muslim and “Allah”. Nothing can stop one from closing his/her room door to eat and drink then pretend to be fasting.

Patience: Saying no to your basic needs for (14–20 hours/ day) for 30 continuous days requires great self discipline.

Feeling of Others in Need: About 1 in 9 people in earth suffer hunger aka a continuous non voluntary fasting. You get close to how they feel, giving and helping automatically has a different meaning.

Ramadan is way more than a time where Muslims stop eating and drinking, it’s an annual call for a new start, where you can have some clarity to peacefully and objectively think where you are heading?

Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) said in a “Hadeeth” about fasting:

“Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink” [Bukhari and others]

Credit to all photos goes to my dear friend Yusof Wad Bador