The month of Ramadan is a beautiful time for Muslims and a wonderful example of devotion, love, and renewal. Ramadan marks the first time the Quran was revealed to Muhammad, the date of which changes every year in accordance with the Islamic Lunar Calendar. This year, Ramadan began on May 5 and ends on June 4. From sunrise to sunset, Muslims around the world honor this holy month by fasting to acknowledge and honor those who are less fortunate. It’s easy to focus on all the things Muslims don’t do during Ramadan, but what about the precious and powerful things that do happen? This time is less about giving up and more about what is gained. During Ramadan, Muslims recommit to praying and pray even more. Physical, mental, and emotional purification strengthens the spiritual connection. In choosing simplicity, forgiveness, and reconnection with spirituality, more joy is experienced. During Ramadan, families draw closer together and share in reading the Quran and other special traditions. The unity of Islam is revived.
Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory – it is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam. Throughout Ramadan, Muslims discipline themselves with increased prayer and abstain from sinful behavior. Ramadan is a time of deep introspection – a time to detox from unhealthy habits. During Ramadan, one is not allowed to do anything that would compromise their spirit – lying, cheating, insulting, gossip, arguments, and other “sins” are not permitted. Many practicing Muslims spend this time reading and contemplating on the Quran, focusing their attention on their faith and their inner self. Ramadan is a time to strengthen and purify the mind, body, and soul achieved through sacrifice – and for married couples, that sacrifice also includes sexual abstinence. These are lessons that stick with you throughout the year.
Here are 10 things we can learn from Ramadan:
Patience. Fasting requires patience, and with patience, you are able to restrain yourself without haste or anger. With patience, you are able to deal with hardship, greed, and weakness. Likewise, with patience, your devotion becomes stronger as you subdue your temptations.
Discipline. Anyone who has gone on a diet understands the discipline it takes to stay true to it – that sacrifice is a testament to your willpower. During Ramadan, abstinence takes a tremendous amount of discipline. However, unlike a diet, you’re giving up much more than carbohydrates. You’re giving up the freedom of your thoughts, actions, and selfish desires in order to reach a higher level of existence. You are no longer a servant to your habits.
Humility/Gratitude. Fasting during Ramadan helps to put suffering and wastefulness in perspective. By voluntarily fasting, you realize what it means to be deprived. During this month, you learn to be kinder to the needy and implement the act of mindfulness in your everyday life. It’s a time to reflect upon your wastefulness and change your pattern if it doesn’t serve your basic needs.
Good manners. Do not gossip, do not speak ill of others, do not lie, and do not engage in arguments. Be kind. Be respectful. Ramadan is a time to practice good manners, removing any negative emotions and reactions that can compromise your spirit and relationship with others.
Unity. Ramadan is not a solitary experience, but one that unites a community. The entire practicing Muslim community is suspended in devotion. Not only do you have millions of people practicing with you, but Ramadan is also a time to reflect on what you have in this life, and how you can keep others who are less fortunate than you are in your thoughts and actions. It is a time to strengthen your bond with mankind.
Mercy. During Ramadan, Muslims learn to struggle against their own darkness. It is a time of deep introspection, and it is as essential to learning from your shadow as it is to show yourself mercy. It’s time to forgive yourself and move forward with a clear heart, mind, and spirit. Forgive and let go.
Faith/Devotion. There is no spirituality or religion without faith, and without devotion your faith is weak. Ramadan teaches you how to strengthen and deepen your faith in Allah/God or Source. Ramadan is a time to read the Quran and its lessons of morality and apply them to your everyday life. Ramadan is a holy month that is supposed to reflect your spiritual lifestyle, encouraging your lifelong devotion. It’s a time to feed the soul.
Love/Appreciation. Ramadan is a month of reconciliation with loved ones. It is a time of appreciation of the relationships you have with your family and friends, near and far. During Ramadan, Muslims come together to connect with their loved ones and express their love and gratitude for their bond.
Introspection. The tools necessary to live authentically can only be found in the self. Ramadan is a time to reflect upon your true self – to take time and dig deep into your soul. It’s a time of isolation – to really connect with your spirituality and grasp the essence of yourself. You and you alone have the tools you need to live in bliss.
Sacrifice. Ramadan is about sacrificing and surrendering your material wealth so you may purify your heart and shift your perspective. It’s a time of isolation, deprivation, and contemplation for a connection to Allah/God. This connection allows your spirit to be so fulfilled, that your ideal self shines through your being.
Ramadan’s lessons, no matter which faith you choose to follow, can be implemented in any lifestyle. If you are taking part in Ramadan, may your journey bless you and your loved ones in every way.
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