Your presence reminds me of many important things.
- You remind me of the true Owner of the Universe. In the remaining 11 months of the year, for me food and drinks are things I can buy from Coles and Woolworth or consume at restaurants and food courts. Yet, your presence lifts the veil of causes, allowing me to see them clearly as the property of God, whilst I am only a guest/visitor in His palace full of bounties. I am reminded that everything, from the tiniest particle to the sun, belongs to God, and only He has the right to determine what is permissible and what is not. For example, only He can turn something like foods and drinks, which are beneficial and permissible most of the times in the year, into prohibited items in a specific period (between sunrise and sunset) for a month. Fasting also reminds me that as a guest, my duty is to await and follow the commands of the Owner. Even if the food and the drinks are right within my reach, I cannot take a bite without the permission. Thus, Ramadan, your presence breaks the illusion of my ego, which imagines itself to be a king and acts as it pleases, and help me to become more conscious of God in everything I do and see.
- You remind me of how privileged I am as I realise for the remaining 11 months of the year, hardly any of my supplication (du’a) is about food and drink. The reason is that I live in a place where food and drink are easily accessible, where I don’t usually experience hunger and thirst, and where I become wasteful and greedy. Yet, your arrival is like a slap at my face, showing me how ungrateful I have been to the great blessings in my life, how I have reduced their values through wastefulness and over-consumption, and how I’ve not appreciated the names of God as the “Sustainer of all the Worlds”.
- You remind me to think of people who suffer from poverty and evoke my compassion and desire to help.
- You remind me how indigent and impotent I actually am. Without coffee, it becomes much harder to concentrate; without some snacks it becomes easy to be tired, and without God’s sustenance and permission, I can’t even lift a finger, let alone changing the world. Thus, Ramadan, you break the illusion of my ego by showing clearly that I don’t own myself nor do I have much power. As Said Nursi beautifully puts it,
The instinctual soul wants to be free and independent, and considers itself to be thus. According to the dictates of its nature, it even desires an imaginary dominicality and to act as it pleases. It does not want to admit that it is being sustained and trained through innumerable bounties. Especially if it possesses worldly wealth and power, and if heedlessness also encourages it, it will devour God’s bounties like a usurping, thieving animal.
Thus, in the month of Ramadan, the instinctual soul of everyone, from the richest to the poorest, may understand that it does not own itself but is totally owned; that it is not free, but is a slave. It understands that if it receives no command, it may not do the simplest and easiest thing; it cannot even stretch out its hand for water. Its imaginary dominicality is therefore shattered; it performs its worship and begins to offer thanks, its true duty. (Said Nursi, “The 29th Letter”, The Letters, p. 459)