Most people view Ramadhan as a time of fasting, abstaining from eating and drinking and any sexual activities during the day. The enlightened ones embrace this month as a time for bringing themselves closer to their Creator by virtue of controlling their lowly desires and busying themselves with extra religious and spiritual activities to cleanse and enrich their souls. Although the intrinsic value of Ramadhan and what it stands for varies from one individual to another, I found myself looking at me and my life in a very different light than before.
If you were to find yourself lost in the woods and have nothing to eat, you can't actually call it fasting. The difference is too colossal. Fasting is about choices. Everyday we are presented with an array of delicious food (a bigger one is made available to you if you go to a hotel for breaking your fast because you have to pay an absurd amount of money for a large buffet which is impossible for you to sample everything offered to you unless you continuously eat until they chase you out of the hotel!). Even when you go to the Ramadhan bazaar, you have such a wide variety of food to buy home so much so that you are spoilt for choice. But Ramadhan is not just about choices. It is also about temptations.
During other months, we often blame Iblis for tempting us to do things we will often regret. But the thing is, Iblis can only do just that! Attempt to make you do something you are not suppose to do. More often than not, we would succumb to the seduction and live to regret our choices. But every Ramadhan, God promises to chain Iblis and his honchos so that we can have some peace and quiet and proceed to battle on with our lowly desires. We are left with only our desires. This is so that we can understand its characteristics, traits and tricks and learn to withstand and fight our biggest enemy...which is our inner demons. In doing this, we will also get a glimpse of where our strengths lie. With this knowledge, we will be able to administer ourselves better when Iblis is released again.
I can't say that I am immune to the wiles of my nafs. I just try to manage it as best I can. And when my spiritual faith weakens, I turn to God for help and assistance. Truly, we can never win this battle alone. It is easy for anyone of us to view temptation as something that is outside of ourselves. But this is where our achilles heels are. For as long as we are disconnected from our true selves and deny the roles of our nafs in our defeat when dealing with temptations, we will continue to fail.
Since I consider myself as a person that operates on a cognitive level, I decided to employ whatever knowledge that I have to understand my weaknesses and use it to fight my nafs rather than give in. I now understand why certain temptations are just too irresistable to me and with this understanding, I began to see the temptations as it truly is. Trouble! And because I am not willing to face the consequences of bad choices and giving in to it, I don't find it so desireable after all.
I use to wish that I could go into isolation during Ramadhan to get the fullest benefits of it. But that would be unrealistic. After all, Ramadhan is just for a month. What would I do with myself for the rest of the months? It is easy to be steadfast in religious activities in a controlled environment. But the world is not such a place. Therefore, I shall take this month as an opportunity to take a holiday and I shall return to the 'real world' more rested and recharged. Insya Allah.
Truly, there is no might within me except from God. After all, unlike temptations, opportunities only knock once!