True meaning behind religious self-restraint

Fasting this Ramadhan has special meaning as Palestinians suffer

In Summary

• The essence of Ramadhan is empathy and spiritual reconnection

A Muslim prays during Ramadhan
A Muslim prays during Ramadhan

If you think about it, all religions and dogmas have some type of self-restraint, whether it be fasting, cleansing or living in seclusion. Many teachings contain with them principles of self-restraint.

However, over the years, there has been a disconnect between the teaching and the practice. Many of us follow the teachings of our religions without fully grasping the gravity of the issue.

I have been fasting for almost 30 years in my life and, in a way, I didnt think about the depth of the self-restraint application until this year. As you know, the persecution of Palestinians in Gaza has been going on for more than six months now.

Given that it is the holy month of Ramadhan, and most Palestinians do not have access to water, let alone food, a lot of Muslims have decided to really cut down on the ‘extravagance’ that usually occurs during Ramadhan.

To call it ‘extravagance’ is a little misleading to those who are not familiar with the culture of breaking fasts. You see, Ramadhan has become more than just the spiritual month in the Islamic calendar. It is a time for Muslims to reconnect with their Maker, to connect with families and to get into the roots of culture.

One of the most important aspects of culture is food, and as such, Muslims across the globe often reconcile their daily lives with their cultures during Ramadhan. Hence, you will find that a variety of meals are made specifically during this time of the year, and that during breaking time, a lot of food is made to be shared with neighbours, family and anyone who does not have enough to eat.

However, in the world today, a quarter of Muslims across the globe are facing persecution, famine and all kinds of atrocities that are hard for us to imagine.

As such, most Muslims decided that this Ramadhan was to be observed in ways of solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters. This means that the extravagantly once-in-a-year meals have been replaced with simpler foods, as we use this holy month to help out people suffering across the world.

For the first time since I became a homemaker, I, too, decided to choose a simpler life by joining the movement. Long before Ramadhan, I decided that we were going to make this a simple yet rewarding month as it should be.

For the past 16 days of fasting, I have made only simple foods and minimally so. Whatever was left over was had the following day without fail. I have spent a maximum of an hour each day cooking. That is way less time than I spend in the kitchen on a regular day.

I was astounded when I finally realised that by taking away from my physical plate, I was filling up my spiritual bowl more than I had ever done before. I had time to make my prayers, reading, working on my own self-improvement as well as spending quality time with my family. All this because I chose to spend less time in the kitchen and more time being productive.

I not only avoided unnecessary wastage of time and food but also money. While on grocery runs, I realised I was buying way less than what I normally would. Just because I could or I desired something did not mean I should get it. For the first time ever, I came to terms with the true meaning of self-restraint.

I could not help but think about all those religions and even fitness gurus who preach restraint from something or other. By controlling our desires, we allow room for more meaningful things to fill our lives.

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star