Ramadan’s Real Challenge


In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

Now that the Month of Mercy is gone – and I can have my coffee during daylight hours again – I cannot help but feel a bit of sadness. Whatever fatigue and difficulty I may have gone through during the month, it is always a happy time nonetheless. There is always a special feeling during Ramadan, and alas, with the passing of the blessed month, that special feeling has also passed. It is business as usual, and this makes me a bit sad.

And yet, with Ramadan finished, the challenge of that month begins. Now that I can eat, drink, and be merry the entire day – and not just after the sun sets – the purpose of the fast becomes ever more relevant. What exactly did I learn by refraining from eating and drinking for thirty days? How is my conduct now any different than it was pre-Ramadan 2006? How am I better now that I have been blessed to complete the fast this year?

You see, the purpose of the fast is quite clear: O you who have attained to faith! Fasting is ordained for you as it was ordained for those before you, so that you might remain conscious of God. (2:183)

Thus, the challenge is out there for me: is my God-consciousness better now than it was a mere month ago? Has my conduct improved now that I can eat? Will I continue the acts of devotion and prayer that came so easily during that most blessed month? Will I continue the nightly prayer vigil, even though I don’t have to? Will I refrain for evil actions and forged speech, even though I am not fasting?

That is the real challenge of Ramadan. That is the purpose of the month of fasting: to make you better so that you can continue that conduct well after Ramadan. It really makes no sense for us to have one month of being angels and 11 months of being devils. What sort of devotional practice is this? It sounds more like hypocrisy, eh?

I put this challenge out here so that I can remind myself. I know what I need to work on, and I must always harken to my days of fasting to motivate me to continue to improve throughout the rest of the year. If I go back to “business as usual” after Ramadan, then I have really missed the point – really missed the point – about the true meaning of the fast. I can’t afford for that to happen. I really can’t.

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