Ramadan is not about staying hungry
“All the deeds of people are for them; except Fasting which is for Me, and I will give its reward”
- God (according to Muhammed)
Why does God command otherwise healthy and sane people to refrain from eating or drinking for the better part of their day, for a month? Not for health reasons or we’ll be doing it year-round. And despite what we sometimes tell our kids, It’s not really to get a feel for the poor either; for people who are actually hungry, are already deprived of most other things we still take for granted in Ramadan. Is Fasting then an act of worship? A way to bring us closer to Him, our God? A means to cleanse our “sins” of the past eleven months, and earn as reward for our “sacrifice” and “patience,” an eternal, bountiful paradise? As driven primarily by self-interest and entitlement as all that sounds, it also ironically misses the bigger point of this opportunity we get as Muslims to focus once a year — away from the myriad distractions of our mundane and self-centred lifestyles — and find the one thing that eludes us for the rest of the year; our Humanity.
A religion that mandates when and how our excess wealth must be shared amongst the poor, already speaks to a people far removed from our shared humanity. If we are asked to give up subsistence for a part of our daily lives, it is only to see how far we’ve drifted from the basic values that make us human. And no matter what God you pray to, we can all agree that we are in his world together. We may look different, pray different, and act different, but we are all connected to something that precedes our cultures, races, and religion itself — and that is our humanity, for we were all one people, long before we were separate.
So this Ramadan, don't feel too bad if you sneak a glass of water while the sun is out, or skip a night of prayer for a party. If you can still make it out the other end of this month as a man or woman without judgment, and with ample empathy for the lives of others, you won’t wonder how God would reward your actions, for you’ll soon discover yourself, already living in his paradise.