More than a ritual, Ramadan has broad significance
When we look at Ramadan in essence, not just as a ritual, we will discover the great relevance of this essence to our lives, here and now.
The main essence of fasting is the ability to self restrain, to postpone gratification, to be liberated from the compelling demands of our need and greed, and to do that for a higher consideration.
This is unique to human species, distinguishing us above the animal kingdom.
We can do that because of the special component of our being, which is the spirit blown into us by God.
A cat, for example, will not see a mouse—a potential meal—and let it go because the time is not appropriate, or because it sympathizes with its prey. A male dog, when pursuing a female, will not think about first getting acquainted or waiting for better circumstances before making an approach. Only human beings can do that. The rise and fall of the human civilizations depends on the presence and absence of this Godly spiritual quality within a society.
If we look to a sample of problems that are afflicting our modern American society, we will see that most of them are attributes to the relentless quest for immediate selfish gratification regardless of consequences- from the national debt, to environment pollution, to the scandalous infidelities of famous politicians, the unquenchable thirst for oil consumption, to the cases of corruption.
Dr. Maher Hathout is spokesman for the Islamic Center of Southern California and a senior advisor for the Muslim Public Affairs Council.