For me, Ramadan 2015 has brought with it many spiritual lessons and I wanted to share a few of them with you, with the intention that, regardless of your belief, you may gain some benefits from these insights:
1) The world will not always work on your schedule:
In Ramadan, we fast from sunlight to sunset. Regardless of whether we are hungry or thirsty, we cannot eat or drink during those hours. Likewise, in life, there will be times when life does not follow our schedule, when we want to do something, but just cannot. Conversely, there will be times when we don’t want to do something but have to. In the same way that Ramadan doesn’t follow our schedule, life doesn’t follow our schedule and sometimes we need to slow-down or speed-up according to the circumstances around us.
2) You must have a bigger purpose:
The only reason why over a billion people can fast so long is their belief in a bigger purpose than themselves. Whether you are an entrepreneur, a mother, a public servant etc, unless you have a bigger purpose, a reason why you are doing what you are doing, you will not have the strength or the energy to persevere when the difficulties come your way.
3) The bigger your passion, the easier it is:
Continuing from the previous point, the deeper our passion and belief, the easier Ramadan is for us. In life, it’s very easy and tempting to follow the conventional path, the path that we have been advised to follow. However, by following that path, and not our own, we will indeed find much more difficulties as life tries to move us back towards our core purpose. Begin with your passion to find your purpose, then build your life around that purpose and you will find life to be much more easier and rewarding than you could ever have dreamed possible.
4) Momentum is key:
At the start of Ramadan, we worry about how we will manage to get through Ramadan, the long and hot days. However, as we are now getting towards the end of Ramadan, we barely feel our fasts. What was at first difficult is now normal, what was once uncomfortable is now within our comfort zone. Likewise in life, what may at first seemed difficult will become normal and then, ultimately, comfortable.
5) The Power of Habit:
Habits are the key to lifelong success and Ramadan is the month in which we develop and strengthen our spiritual habits. By maintaining a habit for 30 days, it becomes second nature. If there is something you need to do but have difficulty doing, turn it into a habit so then it just automatically gets done.
6) We all have the same needs:
Regardless of whether we are a king or a pauper, we all feel the same pangs of hunger and thirst. At the end of the day, no matter how wealthy or successful we are, we all share the same satisfaction of breaking our fast and the refreshing feeling of having some cold water and a date. We all, as humans, regardless of our position, background or even belief system, have the same needs and when we realize this, then we can start to live in unity and peace.
7) Resistance is essential to growth:
In the same way that a muscle can only grow when it faces resistance, we can only grow spiritually and personally when we face challenges. Ramadan is the month in which we face the most challenges and, as a result, we grow the most. Welcome challenges as they carry with them the seeds of growth.
8) Learning to say No is more important than saying Yes:
In Ramadan, we have to say No to a lot of things. We say no to food even when we are hungry but it is still daylight. We must say no to our thirst. We say no to those acts which are sinful. We say no to that which does not serve our spiritual growth. By saying no, we are left with that which benefits us and, it is only by saying no, that we have the time, attention and focus to dedicate to that which serves our higher purpose.
9) Give to get:
Ramadan is a month in which we give. We give 30 days to Allah by fasting and worshiping him. We give 1 in 40 of our wealth to charity. However, we always find that Allah is Khairul-Razekeen (the greatest giver of all) and indeed, only he can give us what we truly need and, when we asked purely, he gives abundantly. We often ask and do not receive, due to the fact that we are either asking with the wrong intention or in the wrong way. By giving sincerely, we will receive abundantly.
May Allah give us all strength, regardless of our belief, to live a life that is bigger than our own, to serve others in a way that is greater than our own and to have patience and perseverance in following our own passions, for within them lies the greatest life we can possibly imagine.