How to Optimally Benefit From Ramadan
Sheikh Ahmad Kutty
Senior Lecturer, The Islamic Institute of Toronto
Ramadan is the most blessed month in the Islamic calendar.
It is primarily a spiritual training course intended to help us cultivate
essential virtues and skills in order to lead a meaningful life.
Most often we live at a highly superficial level of our existence, forgetting
our true essence and identity as human beings.
In other words, we become totally preoccupied with the physical and material
dimensions, forgetting the spiritual core of our personalities.
Ramadan comes to remind us our true identity as humans, and as to discipline
ourselves in such a way that we are fully awake to our full spiritual
In order to benefit from the blessed month of Ramadan and its spiritual
regimen, I suggest that we focus on the following:
1. Welcome Ramadan with ardent fervor and spirit and expect to come out of it
fully transformed in body, mind, and soul.
2. Perform all of the acts of worship while being fully awake to their inner
dimensions and meanings. Most often we allow ourselves to go through these
rituals as mere mechanical chores with the result that we gain virtually no
benefit from them either spiritually or morally.
3. Let our fasting be a fasting of body, mind, and soul.
As Imam Ghazali said, the vast majority of people fast only for namesake. For
while staying away from food, drink, and sexual gratifications, their minds,
eyes, ears, tongue, and other faculties feast on haram (unlawful matters).
Therefore, in order to gain any true benefit from our fasts, we need to impose
a total self-restraint upon all our faculties and stay away from all sinful
and idle thoughts, words, and actions, and nurture the thought and remembrance
4. Ramadan is not merely a month of fasting. It is rather a season to
cultivate all sorts of virtues and healthy habits. It is the perfect
opportunity to break free of all negative habits that have been holding us
back from achieving the true happiness and perfection that is ours as a
birthright. So seize the opportunity and focus on achieving real goals to make
it a true life-changing and life-enhancing experience.
5. Ramadan is the month of empathy and generosity. In fact, one of the main
purposes of fasting is to instill in us empathy for the poor and the less
deprived. By exposing us to compulsory hunger, we are given a practical lesson
in hunger and thirst and thus we become better motivated to empathize with the
poor. Hence we are ordered to practice the optimum level of charity in the
month of Ramadan.
6. Ramadan is the time to familiarize ourselves with the Quran, the true
source of guidance, illumination, healing, and mercy—Allah's the perfect gift
to humanity. We can only do justice to the Book when we go beyond merely
chanting and memorizing it to reflecting and meditating upon the Revealed Word
and respond to it in the true spirit by acting upon its teachings.
7. One of the main purposes of all of the acts of worship in Islam is to
cultivate in us a true sense of community and spirit of fellow humanity.
Therefore, it is imperative that our compassionate words and acts be extended
not only towards ourselves but also towards all of Allah's creation.
Source: Islamic Institute of Toronto – http://www.islam.ca