We all the know the criteria for fasting: abstaining from food, liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations, also refraining from sinful behavior, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting except in self-defense. But do we know where this list came list originated from? The intention behind fasting is to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the soul and have empathy for the less fortunate. The phrase “worldly activities” is rather broad,
To evolve my fasting to 2019, I decided to challenge myself to identify the modern “worldly activities” that are distracting me from spiritual focus. As we near the end of Ramadan, below are a few ideas for how to amplify your fast before the month ends.
Mindless scroll on Facebook and Instagram. It is one thing to use Facebook and Instagram as a tool for communication, information sharing, and research, but many of us are guilty of the “mindless scroll,” having an empty moment and turning to our phones to scroll Instagram or Facebook. Anyone who has done a ”social media fast” understands the immediate reward. My remedy for that has been to download Feedly (an RSS aggregation app) to read articles and journals of interest. During Ramadan, I focus on spiritual sources.
Television and entertainment is certainly something we can list under worldly activities. Though it might be challenging to unplug entirely, reducing TV intake from sunrise to sunset to 1 hour is more than feasible with the advent of recorded television. We implemented this at home, and the biggest change we’ve seen has been from our children, who have filled their time with Ramadan activities.
Put away the gossip magazines. Though we separate ourselves from the people we read about in gossip magazines, they are still human, and purchasing these magazines is making a financial contribution to false speech. Gossip is another dopamine driver that is irresistible.
Shopping stimulates the same pleasure sensors in the brain as food and sex. The anticipation and reward of shopping release dopamine. If you find yourself online shopping more during Ramadan, here is your answer. Granted, we need to shop for essentials all the time, that’s the society we live in. We aren’t growing our rice. But by reducing browsing for “nice to have” items, we clear up our mind and our spirit.
Avoid viewing or partaking in violence. Violence is our lowest self. It is our ape brain. Though abstaining from fighting has always been a mandate of fasting. I take it a step further to say avoid all violent entertainment, which sadly can sometimes even include the evening news.
These modern fasting challenges truly have filled my soul. If you are looking for a little bump the last few days of Ramadan, I highly suggest trying a few things on the list! Please comment below and share if any of these modern fasts have helped you!
Natasha Khan Kazi is a blogger based out of Los Angeles, Ca. She shares how her family celebrates everything on www.IslamiMommy.com.