A teacher of a friend I know said something that has completely changed the way I view fasting in the month of Ramadan. He said the real essence of fasting, the ability to control the self, actually begins at sunset, when Muslims are allowed to break their fast. It is not hard for many Muslims to control their temptations when they see food their family cooking food during the day or they see their friends eating lunch in front of them. But when that full table of hot, delicious food is set up in the evening and we Muslims are given the green light to begin eating, we often fail to maintain that same sense of control and self-awareness that we’re able to maintain throughout the day. Most people can attest that they eat more than what their body needs and not only is this unhealthy for our bodies, but this limits spirituality one is able to develop during the month of communicating with and better understanding the Higher Being that has blessed them with such provisions.
If we do not recognize the way we over stuff our bodies on a daily basis as a problem, then these days of fasting will continue to go by without us truly progressing spiritually in understanding what it means to fast.
I think Ramadan has definitely been a huge change for me this year because the struggle of controlling my intake of food and drink both during the day and night has at least helped me better realize why fasting has been prescribed for us in the first place.
I would like to end with a quote from our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) who said: “No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath.”