Fasting & Ramadan

The Darkest Hour and the Coming of the Dawn

4128397948_d4fb7e6893_zAccording to a well-stated proverb, the darkest hour is just before the dawn.  And although astronomically the darkest point is much earlier, the truth of this proverb is metaphoric—but in no way less real.

So often we find that the darkest times in our lives are followed by the most precious.  Often, it is at the moment when everything looks broken that something least expected lifts us and carries us through.  Did not Prophet Ayoub lose everything one by one, before it was all given back and more?

Yes.  For Prophet Ayoub, the night was real.  And for many of us, it seems to last forever.  But Allah does not allow an endless night.  In His mercy, he gives us the sun.  Yet there are times when we feel our hardships won’t cease.  And maybe some of us have fallen to such a spiritual low in our deen (religion) that we feel disconnected from our Creator.  And maybe for some of us, it’s so dark, we don’t even notice.

But like the sun that rises at the end of the night, our dawn has come.  In His infinite mercy, Allah has sent the light of Ramadan to erase the night.  He has sent the month of the Qur’an so that He might elevate us and bring us from our isolation to His nearness.  He has given us this blessed month to fill our emptiness, cure our loneliness, and end our soul’s poverty.  He has sent us the dawn that we might find from darkness – light. Allah says,


“He it is Who sends blessings on you, as do His angels, that He may bring you out from the depths of Darkness into Light: and He is Full of Mercy to the Believers” (Qur’an, 33:43).

And this mercy extends to all who seek it.  Even the most hardened sinner is told to never lose hope in God’s infinite mercy.  God says in the Qur’an:

39:53“Say: “O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah. For Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful” (Qur’an, 39:53).

Allah is the Owner of mercy, and there is no time when that mercy is showered more upon us than in the blessed month of Ramadan.  The Prophet ﷺ has said regarding Ramadan: “Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire.” (Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Sahih)

Every moment of Ramadan is a chance to come back to Allah.  Whatever we are now going through in our lives is often a direct result of our own actions.  If we are humiliated, or feel low, it is our own sins which have lowered us.  It is only by Allah that we can ever hope to be elevated.  If we are consistently unable to wake up for Fajr, or if we find it increasingly difficult to stay away from haram (the forbidden), we must examine our relationship with Allah.  Most of all, we must never be deceived.  We must never allow ourselves to think that anything in this world succeeds, fails, is given, taken, done, or undone without Allah.  It is only by our connection to our Creator that we rise or fall in life, in our relationship with our world—and with all of humanity.

But unlike humanity, our Creator doesn’t hold grudges.  Imagine receiving a clean slate.  Imagine having everything you ever regret doing erased completely.  Ramadan is that chance.  The Prophet ﷺ told us:  “Whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari).

So given this unparalleled opportunity, how can we best take advantage of it?   Two often overlooked issues to keep in mind are:

Know why you’re fasting.

Many people fast as a ritual, without truly understanding its meaning.  Others reduce it to a simple exercise in empathy with the poor.  While this is a beautiful consequence of fasting, it is not the main purpose defined by Allah.  Allah says in the Qur’an: “Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness).” (Qur’an, 2:183)  By controlling and restraining our physical needs, we gain strength for the greater battle:  controlling and restraining our nafs (our soul’s desire).  When fasting, every hunger pang reminds us of God—the one for whom we have made this sacrifice.  By constantly remembering Allah and sacrificing for Him, we are made more aware of His presence, and in that way we increase our taqwa (fear and consciousness of Him).  The same thing that prevents us from the sin of sneaking in food while no one else is watching trains us to avoid other sins while no one else is watching.  That is taqwa.

Don’t make fasting just hunger and thirst.

The Prophet ﷺ has said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari) The Prophet ﷺ also warns us: “Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness.” (Darimi)  While fasting, understand the whole picture.  Remember that fasting is not just about staying away from food.  It is about striving to become a better person.

And in so striving, we are given a chance to escape the darkness of our own isolation from God.  But like the sun that sets at the end of the day, so too will Ramadan come and go, leaving only its mark on our heart’s sky.

About the author

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed

Yasmin Mogahed received her B.S. Degree in Psychology and her Masters in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing her graduate work, she taught Islamic Studies and served as the Sisters’ Youth Director for the Islamic Society of Milwaukee. She also worked as a writing instructor for Cardinal Stritch University, and a staff columnist for the Islam section of InFocus News. Currently she’s an independent media consultant and a writer for the Huffington Post, where she focuses most of her work on spiritual and personal development. Her written works, including a book chapter on the portrayal of Islam post-911, have appeared in print and online publications worldwide.

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  • Your articles always get to me Sr. Yasmin! 🙂
    Mash’Allah, this is exactly what we need to hear before we start the month of Ramadan inch’Allah.

    Jazaki Allah khayr and I pray that you and your family will enjoy a wonderful sacred month full of worship and love for Allah SWT.

  • Ma’sha’allah, another beautiful post Sr.Yasmin. The idea that Ramadan is the light that we need to overcome the darkness we may be feeling (I sure am at this point in time), is such a true one and indeed a Mercy. Despite the long hours of fasting ahead, knowing the deeper meaning of the fasting (as you point out) is what really makes it worthwhile, both physically and spiritually. I hope that those responsible for the younger members of our Ummah will teach that it is not just about the rituals of getting up early, not eating and drinking. I have seen that those of the younger generations, don’t seem to understand what it means – for example ,that it entails that your entire your body should be fasting (tongue, hands, mind, feet, etc) from acts that they would normally participate in. I say this to remind myself as well. May Allah (swt) accept our Fasting and other deeds during the Holy Month. Ameen!

    Ramadan Mubarak to all!! 🙂

  • Heard it again thousands of times , we know, what we need is a fresh perspective on life and religion. A new way of looking at things that would stimulate the senses.

  • sr Yasmin,
    JazakiAllah khair for this beautiful reminder.. the beginning of the post reminded me of Surah Duha – it’s a message of Hope. Also, where can we find more of your eloquent writings, do you have a blog/website? 🙂

  • This is only my 5th Ramadan. I am one of those who needed that reminder. Jazak’Allahu khair for yet another awesome post. Ramadan Mubarak, and may Allah (swt) make it easy for you.

  • Yes, I fully agree and tell the people that there is a house of god in every part of the world, even in dar al kufar. However for us here it all the more difficult to reach the house of god. therefore the islamic nations must unite and never let his blessing be futile. Those that waste time and resources should also try ro pray.

  • Mashallah! This was the first time I have read any articles from Imam Suhaib Webb’s blog and this was very eloquent. I love the fact that Sister Yasmin used a very unique analogy to explain the significance of the holy month of Ramadan. This really inspired me to work even harder on my brand new blog Islam and Everyday Life.

  • Assalama ‘alaykum,

    Masha’Allah, what an amazing post and reminder. I am truly reminded of the fact of preparing our hearts for Ramadan, that we have to purify our hearts as much as we can before hand, so that we may reap from the rewards of Ramadan! As a an Alhuda student, I was recently reviewing my notes for Surah Baqarah, and the verse where Allah says this book is a guidance for the mutaqeen really hit home with me…those who benefit from the Quran are people of Taqwa, and indeed the same way for those who have Taqwa and go into Ramadan, the effects are mulitiplied for those who have Taqwa once they go into Ramadan! Alhamdulilah for these blessings!

  • Salam. Great article. I just had one question.

    “Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire.” (Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Sahih)

    I learned over the weekend that this hadith is weak/fabricated (I can’t remember which one). All I’ve managed to find online is that the book does not only contain sahih hadiths but those where ibn Khuzaymah was uncertain of as well. Does anyone know better?

  • As Salamu Alaikum wa Rehmatulahi wa Barakatuhu

    JazakAllah for a nice post 🙂
    A humble request, please use the word “Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala”, it would enhance the beauty of your article.


  • Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullah. jazaki Allahu khairan sister Yasmin for this amazing reminder…an emaan boost, we all are need of..subhan Allah !!

    However sister the hadith that mentions, [“Its beginning is mercy, its middle is forgiveness, and its ending is liberation from the Hellfire.” (Ibn Khuzaymah, al-Sahih)] is considered weak [daeef] by the Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwas.
    Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah li’l-Buhooth al-‘Ilmiyyah wa’l-Ifta (10/84-85).
    And Ofcourse Allah knows best.

  • absolutely touching. May Allah swt allow us to take full opportunity of this blessed month and allow us to feel His embrace by the end of it inshallah : ) Thank you so much for this beautiful reminder.

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