The parched lips detach from one another as the tongue starts to mention the name of Allah. The throat, now dry, anticipates the gulp of water to moisten it.
It’s been over twelve hours and the body has been fasting.
As the sky fades into banners of yellow, orange, and red, the initial seconds of sunset bring to the soul an indescribable happiness.
Not a happiness that the fast is over, but happiness for another reason.
The Prophet Muhammad described these moments by saying:
The fasting person has two kinds of happiness: a happiness when he breaks his fast and a happiness when he meets his Lord. (Al-Bukhari)
One of the ways to be ready or to prepare for an endeavor is to keep in sight the end goal. The end goal reminds us of the bigger picture. It allows us to focus on the goal itself and not allow the challenges of the process to overwhelm us.
In the previously quoted hadith, the Prophet Muhammad lays down the minor and major goals of Ramadan. The pursuit of these goals serves as the ideal way to prepare for Ramadan.
The daily goal or the minor goal is to find happiness at the end of the fast. The major goal is to find happiness at the end of life’s mission- when one meets Allah.
The preparation for Ramadan doesn’t require one to spend extra hours in the gym or to engage in a diet. The preparation is more connected to the soul and heart than the physical body.
Keeping in mind that happiness should occur at the end of the day encourages one to fast the day in a certain way.
A person who performs evil during the fasting day is less likely to feel happy at the end of the day. This is usually the case when fasting is seen more as a physical activity than a spiritual one.
If the heart has some spiritual health, such a person would feel guilt and remorse at the end of the day instead. If the heart is lacking spiritual health, then the person may feel happiness but more of a carnal kind.
The Prophet Muhammad makes it clear that fasting should not be seen solely as a dietary operation:
If one does not leave off false speech and action, then there is not a need for Allah for one to leave off his food and drink. (Al-Bukhari)
What should be happening during the day to ensure that there’s happiness at the end of the day?
To answer this we would need to understand the causes for happiness. Why is this person experiencing happiness at the end of the fast?
The reasons for happiness at the end of a day’s fast are many. Here are a few of them:
Due to Completion
A natural feeling of happiness comes about when a person completes a task. A person at the moment of breaking the fast is happy because Allah has allowed him to complete this act of worship. Allah says:
And whatever you have of favor- it is from Allah. (Quran 16:53)
Happy For Rewards
Fasting is an act of worship that comes with an unlimited amount of rewards. This alone is a huge cause for happiness for the fasting person. Allah describes the reward status in a hadith qudsi:
Every action of the son of Adam is for him except fasting. Surely, it is for Me and I will give reward due to it. (Al-Bukhari)
Happy Due to Health
Naturally, the good health of a person contributes to their happiness. A day’s fast increases the strength of the heart and soul.
In addition, there are numerous health benefits for the body from fasting as is established in many studies. The combined increase of good health for the body, heart, and soul adds to the happiness of the person.
Happy Because Wishes Are Being Granted
During the time of breaking the fast, there is a moment where the supplications are answered. This is an opportunity to ask for whatever delights a person in this world and the hereafter. Ibn Umar said:
“It used to be said that for every believer there is an answered supplication at the time of his breaking the fast. It is either fulfilled for him in this world or stored for him in the hereafter.” (Branches of Iman, al-Bayhaqi- Hasan)
Happiness for Freedom
As the sun sets and the night begins, one is happy about the opportunity of being freed from the hellfire. This could be the very night one is freed. Every night of Ramadan freedom is granted, the Prophet Muhammad said:
Allah has people freed from the fire, and that is in every night. (Sahih al-Jami’)
Mind-Set of the Fasting Person
A person who keeps happiness as one’s goal will be conscious of what leads to it. This person during the fasting day will have a different outlook towards fasting than one who is neglectful of the happiness in fasting.
The conscious person during the day will not whine about the length of the fast because they are looking forward to the happiness of completion.
The fasting person will not feel deprived of food, drink, or marital relations since the happiness of the unlimited rewards removes any thought of deprivation.
No matter what challenges the fasting person faces during the day, he looks forward to removing any obstacle he’s facing by making supplication at the end of the fast.
One of the best ways to prepare for Ramadan is to focus on the happiness that fasting brings about. Allah said:
Say, “In the bounty of Allah and in His mercy – in that let them be happy; it is better than what they accumulate. (Quran 10:58)
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)