A post perhaps mainly for those who have doubts, who perhaps cannot grasp the concept of fasting or indeed for those many who consider Muslim fasting extreme:
|Heralding in the month of Ramadan in 1901|
There's far more to Ramadan than abstention .. Giving of yourself and giving to others is what counts and the idea is to ease hardship for the person fasting (through the devotion expressed which is reward onto itself) and to ease hardship for those in need by giving alms & nourishment. Doing both should be the aim but if someone feels unable to fast they must ensure they do the latter. Illness and travel are seen as two of the most plausible of extenuating circumstances that relieve a person from the otherwise obligatorily felt fast.
Mindset should be present to induce serenity through abstention. There is usually a psychological build-up to Ramadan which helps this process, which is at best accompanied with an eagerness to experience the holy month's blessings. If there is anger or frustration present then attempting to temper the mood would count towards the beneficial self-discipline acquired while fasting. Although that does happen, to some more than to others, it is however unlikely to occur often or even at all if fasting is purposefully intended and not begrudgingly embarked upon. Furthermore, it's a month where bad habits may well be kicked aside quite easily; addictions may become dissolved to a great extent. However, perhaps it would be correct to say: the human condition is as weak as it is strong and therefore the fast is not always as beneficial as it should be or as it is mapped out to be, especially so if over-indulgence after breakfast occurs.
The famous Shakespearean quote "The fault ... lies not in our stars..." comes to mind
Apart from regular prayer times, the reading of the Qur'an is another practice that many strive to abide by during Ramadan, requiring considerable resolve and perseverance and contributing considerably to the spiritual motivation of the physical fast.
The fast may well feel obligatory for all who abide by its principles, however it is important to understand that there can be or rather that there should be no coercion involved, only guidance. After all, if forced to fast, some may well think of drinking or eating when no one is looking and disregard the fact that then their fast would become null and void and that they have only managed to cheat themselves.
In fact, when people ask that question: What happens if you cheat?
It's a question that truly makes no sense at all to anyone who fasts.
The answer would involve a spiritual awakening rather than an explanation.
Photos source: Images for ramadan around the world