We know the importance of fasting as an act of worship because it’s a command from Allah (s.w.t), and it’s one of the five pillars of Islam according to the Hadith Jibreel, which is a sound narration from the Prophet (s.a.w). We are also aware of its value in the eyes of God… Nevertheless, many of us experience a kind of worry and uneasiness that we avoid putting into words, both while waiting for the breaking of the fast and shortly before the start of long and hot Ramadan days. It’s an uneasiness that subtly surfaces in the frequent expressions “God will help us” or “God will be our helper” that we so often employ during Ramadan.
Fasting is not only a test of patience that we have to struggle through; it is also a celebration where we have the chance to come close to being angelic in our happiness and joy. We fast also to express gratitude. The fasting we do on the significant and holy days of the calendar, for example, is an expression of the gratitude we have to our Lord for giving us the blessing of being alive to see those days and nights. (There is of course also the fasting we have to do as atonement for certain mistakes and wrong deeds. This means that whether the fasting we do is a punishment or a celebration has to do with our approach to it…)
How we evolved from being a culture that celebrates with fasting to a culture whose celebrations revolve around hedonistic party tables and excessive eating is a point worth thinking about…