• Raya Shokatfard

SKEPTICS' EXCUSES NOT TO FAST RAMADAN

Updated: Jul 3, 2020


By: Raya Shokatfard


Muslims around the world anxiously await the arrival of their most sacred month of the year.


They consider Ramadan an opportunity to flush out the mental, physical and spiritual impurity from their system -thus rejuvenating a better connection with their Creator!


Anyone with even slightest sense of connection with God would not want to miss this once-a-year opportunity. Yet we may find some who will look for any excuse to dodge this great chance.


Some may claim that their work productivity drops and thus consider earning the daily livelihood more important than fasting.


Had they understood Allah’s various statements in the Quran regarding sustenance, they would have never ever had this doubt in their mind.


In fact, if they had read the Quran even once, they would have had a different view of their Creator.


Allah Says:

{Verily thy Lord does provide sustenance in abundance for whom He Pleases, and (for some) He provides in a just measure: for He does know and regard all His servants.} (17:30)


Do we really realize who our sustainer is?


{Say (O Muhammad to these polytheists) “Who gives you provision from the heavens and the earth?” say: “Allah, and verily, (either) we or you are rightly guided or in a plain error.} (34:24)


We are told in various verses of the Quran or narrations of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that our sustenance is determined for us before we are even born. We are not aware of the amount or the timing, but have a choice only in terms of what sources we would like to obtain it from and what places we would like to spend it.


So, for the one worrying about losing his sustenance due to fasting, let him rest assured that fasting or not, his sustenance is written for him. He is only tested by his choices and behavior towards earning it.


One of the narrations that have had profound effect on many is a story of Imam Ali, the cousin of the Prophet and the husband of his daughter, Fatimah.


One day he was walking home. He put his hand in his pocket and took out a dirham. He thought to himself, I will give this to the servant boy today as a charity. When he got home, he did not find the boy, but found that the shield of his sword was missing.


I have an amazing, but sad story of a Muslim man who neither practiced the religion nor …

He walked out and went to the marketplace. There he found the servant boy trying to sell the shield for a dirham. He gave it to him and took the shield. He then sighed with sadness, “Allah was going to give him this money in a lawful way, but he earned it in an unlawful way!”


What About Us?


Another commonly used excuse for the weak at heart Muslim or a non-Muslim is that “Fasting is not good for your health: you lose too much water and especially in the heat; this is very dangerous. Why do it? What do you benefit?”


I have an amazing but sad story of a Muslim man who neither practiced the religion nor did he really understand the essence of Islam. He was a very well-known artist in the U.S. and blessed with much wealth.


When he was approached many years back to return to Islam, his excuse was that he did not have time for such things and his precious time was best spent creating magnificent artwork and focus on global travel to enhance the business.


He was later approached about fasting. He immediately responded by saying the exact above excuse that “fasting is not good for your health: you lose too much water and especially in the heat this is very dangerous.” He refused.


When he was asked to at least consider reading the Quran. He did only to find verses that he could argue about.


Years later, he lost all his wealth, his health sank to the lowest of the low and ended up with cancer requiring many operations. Allah saved his life so he could humble himself and return to Him. But no way! He maintained his position to this day and perhaps there are only months or weeks left to his life.


Such a pity for a stubborn soul who would reject the Creator and happily embrace the ideas of creation!


Ramadan Critics

Living in Egypt for many years myself, I was a witness to all the above.


With Islamophobia at work 24/7, we hear many statements made by non-Muslims while observing the fasting Muslims like this:


“Muslim stay up all night eating and drinking, watching TV, then sleep all day in Ramadan; what kind of life is that?”


With all honesty, we cannot argue with this claim can we?


Living in Egypt for many years myself, I was a witness to all the above. Although I was also inspired by the strong spirit of practicing Muslims to gain the pleasure of Allah in this blessed month, I was appalled by seeing the other group who really made a mockery of Ramadan with their un-Islamic behavior.


If that was not bad enough, you would find many who never prayed all year, but fasted in Ramadan and still did not pray. Who did they think they were fasting for? Perhaps they were thinking of their yearly diet? Many also fast in order to fit in with the crowd but not to please Allah.


We are told by the Prophet Muhammad that after a Muslim dies, the first thing he is asked about is his obligatory prayers; if passes, then fasting is the next process. But what if someone fasts and does not pray? Does he think his fasting will be accepted?


Some of the Egyptian TV channels spend months preparing serials for the month of Ramadan to entertain the multitude. Are these Islamic serials for moral teachings? Far from it – with much sadness.


Some well-meaning Muslims on the other hand were spending much of their nights in prayer and supplications and ended up sleeping all day.


The most important goal of fasting in the month of Ramadan can be summed up in one word…


We may say both cases are wrong. One is totally out of Islamic standards and the other one out of balance. If every Muslim prayed all night and slept all day, how is the society supposed to be functioning in this month? What about a person’s duty toward their family and those who pay their salaries?


Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said he sleeps some times and prays some times during the nights.


The Goal of Fasting

The most important goal of fasting in the month of Ramadan can be summed up in one word: taqwa.


{O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may attain taqwa.} (2:183)


Taqwa is a recurring theme in the Quran and a paramount Quranic value. Taqwa is both an attitude and a process. It is the proper attitude of the human toward the divine that denotes love, devotion, and fear. Love to the source of good and beauty that make life worth living; devotion to God’s boundless wisdom and majesty; and fear of misunderstanding the divine intent or failing in maintaining the appropriate posture and relationship. [i]


Taqwa is achieved through commitment to understand the divine revelation, internalize and practice it with conviction.


The skeptics, critiques of Islam and Muslims weak at heart may see fasting and praying merely as a physical action – neglecting the incredible spiritual aspect of the process.


Allah sums up for us clearly that the ultimate goal for all of our actions is gaining “taqwa.” Or God consciousness:


{It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West: But it is righteousness to believe in God and the Last day, and the Angels, the Book, and the Messengers; to give out of the things you hold dear to your kin, the orphans, the needy, the wayfarer, the one who asks, and to free the slave. And to be steadfast in prayer and to give for charity. To fulfill the covenants you have made, and to be firm and patient in times of pain, adversity, and panic. Such are the people of truth, and such are the God-conscious.} (2:177)


[i] Ramadan: Striving for God Consciousness, http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IC0510-2816

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Published on:  Monday, 26 May 2014

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    About Me

    Raya Shokatfard is an international speaker, film maker, and writer with a focus on women’s issues, Islam, and cultural issues. She holds BA and MBS degrees in Journalism and Mass Communication as well as a BA in Islamic Studies and an MD in TV Journalism.

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