Our most anticipated and holy time of the year, month of Ramadan (lunar month of the Hijri calendar), commenced at sunset on Thursday, 23 April 2020.
Amazingly Ramadan (Ramazan in Turkish) has a divine energy that excites most people, even non-Muslims. In Ramadan, all healthy Muslims are supposed to keep fast between dawn and sunset, and observe other rituals that are only specific to this month, such as tarawih prayers and the distribution of zakat and Sadaqa-fitr (compulsory charity for the poor).
But is Ramadan solely a time when we are avoiding food, water between dawn and sunset? Even though intermittent fasting is becoming so popular nowadays, this is still the common perception. Or is there more to it?
For the uninformed, this is how it looks from the outside but, in reality, Ramadan is not about physical restrictions at all, rather it is the time for inspirations and spiritual discoveries.
It is true that this is the time when we are entering into a compulsory restriction short of a proper seclusion and taking a break from our monotonous daily routines. But incidentally we are having the opportunity of exploring our inner selves and will force ourselves to go beyond our usual physical and spiritual limitations.
One of the most well-known sayings in Islamic teaching is, ‘man arefe Nefsehu fakat arefe rabbehu’ – ‘whoever knows himself/herself knows the creator’.
In this respect, Ramadan is a gift from God to pull us all up together and bring us back to our senses so we can find the true meaning of how to be a proper human being. And the true meaning of the human being is captured in the concept ‘Insan-i kamil’ – mature enlightened human.
To be mature and enlightened, we all need to be aware and in control of our egos. In Islamic teachings, the ego is an enemy that needs to be tamed. Only after disciplining our egos will we be safe for ourselves and for others, and become true believers (muminun, sadiqun and salihun).
Ramadan is a concentrated time which forces us all to be more aware of this truth.
Although we are experiencing a lot of personal and global calamities, there is no doubt that we will survive these and rise again.
If you have never experienced the Ramadan gift of fasting and reawakening yourself, try by fasting for just a couple of days. You will be amazed how the feeling of physical cleansing is followed by spiritual awakening. The more days you do this, the better.
You can of course fast at times other than Ramadan, but this month is specially granted to us for this purpose. And to help with the process of cleansing ourselves, we should continuously share and care for everyone and everything in our environment until we reach the point of perfection that will make us true HUMAN beings.
We are already looking forward to the next Ramadan.
About the author: Şakir Alemdar is the Imam of Hala Sultan Tekke (one of the Islamic world’s holiest sites) in Larnaca, Cyprus.