Ease in Ramadan?

03 May, 2020
Q I am new to fasting. It is only my second Ramadan this year, inshaAllah. What I don’t understand is The Quran says (paraphrasing) Allah (SWT) wishes us ease in Ramadan, not hardship. But all I can see is hardship in fasting. So, where is the ease in Ramadan especially during the long days of the summer?

Answer

Short Answer: 

  • Fasting in Ramadan is ease for the soul and hardship for the body, and this hardship refines the heart.
  • For starters, Ramadan is certainly hard. There is no question about that. But what did Allah mean when He said He wishes “ease” for us? God is giving people an excuse to miss a fast when they are sick or traveling because fasting, something already difficult by design, would be extremely difficult and even hurtful were someone sick or enduring the energy-drain of traveling.

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Salam Rachel,

Congratulations on reaching another Ramadan!

I have been Muslim for nearly 8 years and have only been able to experience the joy and struggle of fasting in Ramadan twice, having been perpetually pregnant and nursing for most of those years.

I am excited about my third Ramadan of fasting. People are often stunned when I say I am excited to abstain from food, water, and sex for upwards of 14 hours during a summer day.

Why would anyone look forward to that? Isn’t it incredibly hard?

Suppport AboutIslam.net

For starters, Ramadan is certainly hard. There is no question about that. But what did Allah mean when He said He wishes “ease” for us?

He says in Surat al Baqarah verse 185:

{Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed. Guidance for humanity, and clear portents of guidance, and the Criterion. Whoever of you witnesses the month, shall fast it. But whoever is sick, or on a journey, then a number of other days. God desires ease for you, and does not desire hardship for you, that you may complete the number, and celebrate God for having guided you, so that you may be thankful.} (Quran 2:185)

Content is everything. In this verse, God is giving people an excuse to miss a fast when they are sick or traveling because fasting, something already difficult by design, would be extremely difficult and even hurtful were someone sick or enduring the energy-drain of traveling.

God was not saying that abstaining from necessary things like food and water was something easy, and it is not supposed to be easy at all. On the contrary, the hardship of fasting is supposed to remind us of three fundamental truths:

1.) There are people who cannot eat day or night all year because they live in abject poverty. Fasting helps us to feel a tiny bit of sympathy for them, and it is helpful in completing that last bit: “so that you may be thankful”.

2.) Our bodies need food and water, and yet we have the willpower to resist giving our bodies what they truly need. This means we do have the willpower to resist sin if only we are mindful, sin is not only sinful but obviously not necessary to sustain life.

3.) Our bodies are mere vehicles for our true selves: our souls. As C.S. Lewis said:

You do not have a soul. You are a soul; you have a body.

We must work in Ramadan to read and listen to as much Quran as possible because it heals our souls and spend less time and energy worrying about the needs of our bodies.

And consider this wonderful mercy: we are allowed (and even required!) to eat, drink, and enjoy our spouses in the night-time hours. God is not interested in depriving us of our needs, only in reminding us of our true selves.

Fasting in Ramadan is ease for the soul and hardship for the body, and this hardship refines the heart.

And Allah knows best.

I hope this helps.

Salam and please keep in touch.

(From Ask About Islam archives)

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

3 Easy Steps to Overcome the Anxiety of Ramadan

8 Things New Muslims Need to Know Before Ramadan

https://aboutislam.net/family-society/culture/every-ramadan-mark-soul/