Fasting for spiritual growth l Worship

By Aziz Junejo | May 16, 2018

For the majority of Muslims worldwide, the confirmed sighting of a new crescent moon Tuesday evening ushered in the holy month of Ramadan, a 1,400-year-old ritual, a reminder to practice self-restraint, increase one’s spirituality and appreciate God’s countless blessings.

I have never taken fasting as a hardship. It’s a powerful spiritual discipline meant for God alone. For me, it is quite private in some respects as I work each year to heighten my own spirituality.  This year, local Muslims in Mukilteo will be fasting for over 16 hours every day.

Giving up comforts such as that early morning cappuccino or midday healthy snack might be challenging for some, but the discipline and confidence that come with fasting make it more and more enjoyable with each passing day.

I’ve fasted since I was a child, and the practice has continually strengthened my self-control and improved my ability to make better choices and avoid things that are not good for me. It promotes the acute God consciousness called “taqwa,” which reminds me to be more caring, sharing and compassionate throughout the day.

Throughout time, all of the Abrahamic faiths have been instructed by God to fast as an act of devotion. God says: “O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed to those before you in order that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness).”   Quran 2:183

Observed on the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, it is the month during which the Quran was sent down from God as a guide to mankind. Abstaining from food, drink and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset protects Muslims from sin and purifies our hearts and minds.

But what I appreciate most during Ramadan is that sense of gratefulness I feel. Each Ramadan makes me an ever more thoughtful human. Fasting makes me more conscious of the world’s countless poor and helps me see more clearly our society’s waste and extravagance. Sometimes it makes me sad.

When we are grateful for our sustenance and earnings, it is easier to simplify our lives. Fasting helps improve moral and spiritual character because it teaches patience and unselfishness.

Ramadan strengthens Muslim society because we are reminded to put others first, be kinder to family members, be good neighbors and better citizens - values we can all appreciate as Americans.

 

Muslims are encouraged to remember and appreciate the love and mercy of God, because we are fasting for him alone. If a person fasts during Ramadan in complete devotion to God, Muslims believe, that person’s past sins will be forgiven.

This Ramadan, I am especially thankful to God for my spiritual growth over the past year, and I will work this month to be more tolerant and appreciative.

My goal will be to make those changes a permanent part of my life.

 

 

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