by Mudasir Mushtaq Khan

During Ramzan, this heightened closeness to Allah arises from the soul’s liberated state—it no longer contends with the nafs in the pursuit of goodness, empowered by the fast to embrace virtuous actions willingly.

Kashmir’s Mesaharitis – the men who ensure Muslims have Sehri in time during the Muslim month of fasting, the Ramzan. Locally, they are called Sehar Khwan or Sehr Khan. KL Image: Bilal Bahadur

Ramzan , derived from an Arabic term denoting intense heat, originally referred to a scorching hot summer month in pre-Islamic Arabia. However, in the Islamic calendar, its timing fluctuates annually.

Beyond its climatic connotations, Ramzan holds significant spiritual value. The Quran asserts that fasting was mandated for believers to foster mindfulness of Allah. It stands as one of Islam’s five fundamental pillars, alongside the declaration of faith, daily prayer, almsgiving, and the pilgrimage to Mecca.

During Ramzan, able-bodied Muslims refrain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn until sunset each day. This period fosters spiritual discipline and growth. Many also engage in additional prayers such as Taraweeh, often performed at night, and strive to recite the entire Quran.

Moreover, some believers observe Atikaf, a voluntary act of seclusion in mosques, particularly during the last ten days of Ramzan. Here, they dedicate themselves to worship, seeking divine blessings.

Ramzan profoundly influences our spirituality, especially through its rigorous physical demands. Its most notable aspect is the requirement for able Muslims to fast throughout the month. This unique obligation, coinciding with the month’s significance, underscores the importance and benefits of fasting. The spiritual rewards it offers form the bedrock of the uplift experienced during Ramzan. Despite often being overlooked, fasting paradoxically nourishes the soul, as this article aims to illuminate.s

According to Sufi philosophies, the self or Nafs in its raw state represents the ego, considered the lowest aspect of an individual’s inner being—the realm of animalistic and satanic inclinations.

The Nafs drives individuals towards their base desires, necessitating personal control and transcendence. Imam Ghazali posits that physical indulgences, such as food and drink, bolster the nafs. Consequently, depriving the body of these comforts weakens the nafs, diminishing its influence in prompting sinful behaviour.

Given that virtuous acts elevate spirituality and foster closeness to Allah, fasting naturally yields significant spiritual benefits by diminishing the inclination towards sin.

Following from the previous point, weakening the nafs inherently strengthens the soul, which serves as the conduit for virtuous deeds and the development of a deeper connection with Allah. During Ramzan, this heightened closeness to Allah arises from the soul’s liberated state—it no longer contends with the nafs in the pursuit of goodness, empowered by the fast to embrace virtuous actions willingly.

During Ramzan, many experience a profound sense of tranquillity amidst the rigours of fasting. Despite the hunger pangs, a prevailing peace settles within. This tranquillity stems from a deepened connection with Allah. Moreover, it enables a clearer introspection into one’s thoughts and emotions, as the distractions of worldly desires gradually recede.

Mudasir Khan (Law Officer)

During fasting, individuals often abstain from activities that lead to sin. The logic follows that if one seeks to please Allah, engaging in sinful behaviour undermines that effort. Thus, during Ramzan, efforts are made to avoid anger and base instincts. Consequently, there is a deviation from the usual pursuit of worldly desires and ambitions. Fasting fosters self-awareness, leading to a realization of the futility of chasing material gains.

In conclusion, while the physical benefits of fasting are readily apparent, its spiritual significance often remains overlooked. Scholars like Imam Ghazali have extensively elucidated these spiritual benefits, underscoring our worldview’s neglect of the soul. Let this Ramzan serve as an opportunity for heightened awareness of the soul’s pivotal role in strengthening our connection with the Almighty.

(A former Attorney at Law at the J&K High Court, the author currently serves as a Government Law Officer. Concurrently, they are pursuing a Masters in Political Science through Indira Gandhi National Open University. Ideas are personal.)


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here