“You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God. Fast for a specific number of days, but if one of you is ill, or on a journey, on other days later. For those who can fast only with extreme difficulty, there is a way to compensate–feed a needy person. But if anyone does good of his own accord, it is better for him, and fasting is better for you, if you only knew. It was in the month of Ramadan that the Qur’an was revealed as a guidance for mankind, clear messages giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong. So any one of you who is present that month fast, and anyone who is ill or on a journey make up the lost days by fasting on other days. God wants ease for you, not hardship. He wants you to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.” Qur’an II:183
Mercy, to be merciful, to truly be merciful is only with Allah. We can only be thankful for His Mercy. In seeing mercy, we are reminded of Allah. When we see actions that are contemptuous we can be reminded of nafs. Allah gives us chances to choose in every moment–nafs or Allah.
Ramadan is a time for remembrance of our connection with Allah. What gets in the way of this connection? Distractions. Distraction are of the inner and the outer. The inner distractions come from our nafs; our thoughts, our emotions, our feelings.–To have emotions is not distracting yet it’s when we get carried away in our emotions that we lose sight of our true goal and become lost in ourselves. The same goes for the outer distractions coming from dunya; the material world–things like food, water, clothing, money, etc and so on. These are necessary for living yet how much importance do we put on things?
Sometimes it isn’t until a life altering event occurs that one reflects upon the conditions of life and what is important and what is not important. I think back 14 years ago when my grandfather lay in a hospital bed–dying. At that time I was a young, married woman with a newborn baby. I had my whole life ahead of me and here was the man who helped raise me ready to release his last breath. What was important in that moment, my new shoes? I think back and try to remember if I wondered–Could I have loved him any more?
Ramadan is a time that we are given to practice being less distracted. We are given plenty of distractions such as hunger pains and deep thirst but what occurs despite the obstacles is the strengthening of will. Are we willing to slow down and reflect upon our relationship with Allah and to not be lured by our nafs and dunya. With the intention of fasting for the sake of Allah, Ramadan teaches us about our limitations, our strengths and how we can allow the blessings of this time to Love Allah more. We give up, we serve others and we smile for the sake of Allah. And we have tomorrow to do it again. We don’t need a life altering event to shake up how we interpret our life today. We have Allah’s mercy to be thankful for–and that in and of itself is a life altering event.