Someone made a comment today which irked me becuase of its ignorance. “Why does religion promote self-torture?”, obviously in relation to the fact that I was fasting. The main thing which gets to me about that question is that I know for a fact that that person had never really taken the time to understand what they was criticising. Judgment without knowledge.
But let’s answer the question in this context… is Ramadan a form of self-torture? I’d argue the question itself shows narrow-mindedness. You can’t answer the question without understanding the entire belief system around which the act of fasting is based. Secondly, you have to define fasting itself… is it merely the not eating of food and drink? No, it’s bigger than that.
Thirdly, you have to look at what a person benefits from fasting, this in itself is an argument against the question, but if you look at the effects fasting has on the physical body (Google it, it’s documented), the spiritual elevation every fasting person normally experiences just through the act itself, bring into it the sense of community around coming together to eat and pray.
Above all, it shakes us out of our comfort zones. For 11 months of the year we’re exactly like everyone else, and in this one month we get to see who we really are, what we’re made of. It makes us question why we’re fasting which brings up all of the thoughts in this post, it pushes us into deeper questions as to why do we believe? what do we believe? It challenges us to dig deep and know at your core, why are you a Muslim? Do you really believe? Why are you sacrificing food, water and sex for an entire day?
Personally, it’s my favourite time of year because of the above. How boring life must be to just trudge on in the same state of affairs without any break to help you understand the more basic elements of why we are on this Earth, and what our true purpose is in life.