Food and Drink
Food and drink is a means of survival. It becomes a pleasure when eating out. Its intake is reduced when on a diet. Food and drink is part of our lives. Some live to eat while others eat to live. Overall, humans have a constant connection with food and drink. God Almighty states in the Qur’an:
“Eat from what Allah has provided you as good and lawful, and fear Allah in whom you believe” (Qur’an 5:88)
Ramadan is the name of the ninth Islamic lunar month wherein countless Muslims across the globe engage in fasting as one of the main pillars of the religion. God Almighty instructs able adult believers to fast for the entire month, every day from dawn to dusk. That means absolutely no food, drink or marital relations for the entire duration of daylight, for each day of the blessed month.
One may ask, what is the purpose? Why the torture of staying hungry and thirsty (for 18 hours this summer)? What’s the logic? Well, amongst many reasons, two stand out for me. ‘Discipline’ and ‘Sympathy’. By staying away from food and drink, something we are so accustomed to during the rest of the year, we train our souls to be disciplined. If it is possible for a person to stay away from food and drink, it is definitely inherently possible to abstain from evil and sin, such as lying, cheating, vulgar language and bad behavior so on and so forth. Ramadan is a period of training one’s soul, to spiritually recharge it and rejuvenate one’s awareness of God. A period of discipline indeed.
Ramadan grows sympathy into the hearts of those who fast as one begins to get an idea of how the hunger of the poor and needy really feels. This feeling motivates one to always help and sympathize with the poor through charity and support.
The Qur’an explains, “O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may be God-fearing” (Qur’an 2:183)
Action and Activity
For a dedicated believer, fasting is carried out with passion. Even though one is hungry and thirsty during the day, the sincere worshiper remains active in spiritual activities and good works. This is the very reason why this month brings great rewards. The prophetic hadith echoes before us saying, “Allah decorates His paradise every day (during Ramadan) and then says, ‘The time is near when My pious servants shall cast aside the great trials and come to me.” (Musnad Aḥmad)
Thirst and hunger for Ramadan bring great positive change for the dedicated believer. Eating and drinking may be a vital part of our lives, but abstaining from food and drink while observing the Islamic fasts, sure brings positive changes.
It’s not about what you eat, it’s about what’s eating you.
Written by Shaykh Yusuf Badat, Hadith of the Day Imam; Imam of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto and Director of Mathabah Institute