A reflection piece for non-Muslims to understand the benefits of Ramadan
If Ramadan was a person and I had a chance to say one thing to them, it would be “I need you.”
We’re more than halfway through the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which symbolizes the time of the year in which Islam’s prophet Muhammed received the revelation of the Quran, serves as a spiritual and religious time for practicing Muslims. The Islamic calendar is lunar and marks the beginning of Ramadan with a crescent moon sighting. Muslims around the world honor the revelation with a month of fasting and spirituality.
While I am privileged enough to fast by choice, for some fasting is a reality they must experience daily, due to poverty or food shortages. But, Ramadan isn’t just about abstaining from eating. It can be observed in many ways, from spending time with your loved ones to giving to charity: It’s a month for you to make the change you desire in yourself. Whether it’s being thankful for the privileges we may have, to reflect on one’s actions, or to become overall better people, a month of fasting teaches you about yourself. Each year I observe Ramadan is unlike any other; each year I learn something new about myself and reflect upon the growth it brings.
To me, Ramadan isn’t just a month of spiritual cleansing, but one of self-reflection. One of self-awareness, self-love, and forgiveness. I await Ramadan each year because although it may not be a significantly noticeable change, I change for the better each Ramadan. Each Ramadan allows me to reflect on not only my actions of the year but on who I am as a person. You see, for me, fasting is not only about abstaining from food and drink. Fasting is not about being hungry. For me, fasting is about self-control. It allows me to take time and reflect on who I am as an individual.
I need Ramadan because it grounds me. It allows me to forgive myself. It gives me an opportunity to change. They say 30 days of doing something makes a habit. Ramadan is just that: Thirty days of changing into a better you. I remember growing up I never really understood when my mother said: “During Ramadan, you not only fast with your stomach, but with your tongue and heart.”
I never understood why, during Ramadan, people suddenly stopped doing so many of the things they did all year. I never understood—until now. Ramadan, in a sense, is an opportunity for one to develop positive traits. Each Ramadan, I focus on one negative trait, whether it’s cursing too much, controlling my anger, or being hurtful to myself. I try to avoid doing these things for a month, in hopes of making it a habit to live without them. I work on my self-confidence as well, with affirmations that will enable me to grow better a person.
The Quran says, “O Son of Adam, even if your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and were you then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you.”
Ramadan allows me to not only bring myself closer to God and my religion but myself. It allows me to learn how far I can push myself to change as it reminds me that God is all-forgiving. It reminds me that if God, a higher being, can forgive my worst actions than so can I. It allows me to take time out of my day and find the inner peace that brings me closer to loving my Lord. Ramadan reminds me that everyone makes mistakes, and everyone can receive forgiveness.
I’ll be honest, I’m not the “best” Muslim out there. I have made countless mistakes—mistakes I have been so regretful of, and mistakes that left me unable to seek my own forgiveness. Ramadan allows me to reflect on these mistakes, to learn from them, and remember that God is all-forgiving. I can better my actions for the future to avoid making similar mistakes again, but I need to forgive myself to better myself.
I once read a quote that till this day reflects exactly how I feel about Ramadan:
“I love Ramadan because that kid who never prays, prays. That girl who never covers, covers. That guy who never fasts, fasts. Even if it’s just for a month, at lease these ‘types’ of people have tested the ‘sweetness of faith’ just for one month. And perhaps months later down in life, if their life ever becomes bitter – they’ll refer back to Ramadan and yearn for that same ‘sweetness; they sampled just that one month. You call them ‘Only Ramadan Muslims’ but I call them ‘Muslims who may only need Ramadan to change.’”
I yearn for that sweetness. I yearn for that change.