Friday Focus|Ramadan: a restraint on physical drives

Man stands defined as social animal. The physical drives may promote animal like instincts, however higher sense driven by cognitive appreciation act as a restraining influence on physical drives. Apart from prayer ordained five times a day, fasting during the month of Ramadan promotes cognitive approach. That it is a measure of self-restraint is enshrined in Surah Al-Baqarah (the Cow) as noted below:  

‘’O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint—‘’ (2:183)

The Holy Verse enunciates that fasting was prescribed for other groups of people: the pre-Islamic Ummahs’ though the routine of fasting might have differed, however not the guiding principle of self-restraint. The principle holds that in case of conflict between physical drives and higher values, the values should hold. There is an additional element, fasting conditions the ones who undertake it to hard and laborious life.

Hunger and thirst may result from deprivation of means of sustenance. It is the fate of underprivileged and downtrodden sections of the society. As and when fasting is undertaken by privileged sections of society, they stand to develop an appreciation of what hunger and thirst implies. The privileged could thence be moved to make provision for the underprivileged. This could promote social equilibrium, and in turn help in resorting socio-economic balance.

Divine Laws entail that human society should share the means of sustenance proportionately, thus promote social welfare. Fasting for prescribed number of days during the month of Ramadan entails abstinence from food and drink for specified hours (dawn to dusk) as well as disciplining special senses. Thus the person fasting may not lend his ear to what is abhorrent, may refrain from seeing the obscene, and may not speak ill of anyone. Responses may be moderated, and harsh reactions avoided. Moderation is a prescribed norm in Islam. Muslims have been defined as ‘Ummat-ul-Wasta’ what an author has defined as the Ummat of ‘Golden Mien’ avoiding extreme responses.

 Fasting entails wholesome disciplining of higher senses involving cognitive appreciation, as well as disciplining special senses. Fasting could thus be called soul lifting experience.