The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’ān was revealed as guidance for mankind, and as clear signs that show the right way and distinguish between right and wrong. [Quran 2:185]

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting during this month is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the profession of faith (Shahada), daily prayer (Salah), obligatory offerings (Zakat) and the pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj). During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, unless they are unable to do so due to sickness or other exemptive circumstances. Fasting is understood to apply holistically to all areas of life and is by no means limited to being hungry and/or thirsty.

It is, above all, a time of spiritual retreat and reflection. The aspect of renunciation (zuhd) is of great importance. Allah grants those who fast a spiritual journey, beyond ubiquitous mechanisms and habits, to reflect on His glory and what He has created.

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwa (God-consciousness).”

[Qur’an; 2:183]

Sustainability in Ramadan

The Islamic fasting month of Ramadan is a month of intro- and retrospection. The objective is clearly stated in the Qur’an: Only those who attain more taqwa (God-consciousness) during Ramadan have fasted in the Qur’anic sense. In other words, the aim is for people to become more mindful in their lives. Ramadan provides a spiritual and blessed framework that allows believers to rethink and make lasting changes in their behaviour.

It is also an ideal opportunity to reflect on one’s own consumerist behaviour and the way we treat nature. The Qur’an contains a number of principles that are of great importance to God-conscious Muslims. For example, Allah forbids wastefulness and commands halal (permitted) and tayyib (good/healthy) food. Ramadan also reminds us of our fragility and unquestionable dependence on the provision of our Creator. On this basis, gluttony is a direct contradiction to the teaching of frugality, just as unhealthy, chemically-produced food does not go hand in hand with the concept of tayyib. Those who live lavishly and unhealthily risk the attainment of taqwa and thus the attainment of the goal of Ramadan.