Ramadan is not just the absence of food and drink…although the absence of food and drink can be the only thing on your mind when they are out of reach. The lack of food and drink makes one lethargic. A lack of energy can lead to a lack of motivation, waning our efforts in all things spiritual. This is the negative affects of fasting – the exact opposite of what should happen to a devout Muslim when he fulfills his duty to abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, thirty days of the year.
My personal experience is a bit of both. I am fully aware of the reasons for fasting: an empty stomach leads to humbleness and appreciation. The physical emptiness moves one towards a yearning for spirituality. It makes you feel closer to God and motivates you to worship Him because you know that at the end of the day He will provide you with sustenance, where as many are deprived of this. Fasting encourages charity and dampens one’s anger.
There are many positives. And these can only be fully practiced upon when we look beyond the physical hardships of fasting. In the summer, remaining away from food for up to 20 hours demands willpower, yet it is precisely because of these longs hours of abstinence that our spirituality can become more focused. I experience days where I feel deprived of spirituality, and others where the purpose of Ramadan is opened up to me through prayers that powerfully connect me with my faith. The point is that one should always be attempting to achieve the true purpose of Ramadan – to become closer to their faith and to God. As long as one is on this path, whether at a slow, steady or quick pace, the reality is that you ARE on that path, and to strive is to achieve. May Allah accept each and every person’s attempt at connecting with the other world – the one true world.