ا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn
[ Al-baqarah, 2:183]
شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ
The month of Ramadân in which was revealed the Qur'ân, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).
Ramadaan was the month wherein all the divine scriptures were revealed, i.e. the Qur'aan, the Injeel, the Tawra. And this is why Qur'aan recitation is emphasised and why taraweeh is conducted.
The goal in fasting Ramadaan isn’t a spiritual bootcamp or marathon where you’re supposed to do as much as possible in that one month. The idea that it’s a sprint that you *have* to pack on as much as possible for it to be worthwhile is foreign to Ramadaan. You find people berating Muslims, who are otherwise negligent with their deen, for being ‘Ramadaan worshippers’ and mocking them for that. Or mocking people for not keeping up the level of ibaadah performed in Ramadaan after it’s over. You find people approaching ibaadah as some sort of transaction where you amass as many points as possible.
What’s wrong with the aforementioned intentions or motivations is that they are all extrinsic . They are all fuelled by external reasons such as consistency, attaining piety, amassing ajr to enter Jannah with. These aren’t invalid reasons, but they aren’t congruent with the theme of Ramadaan.
The main purpose is to attain taqwaa, and taqwaa isn’t reached by any actions you do rather it’s a conscious exercise one does in one’s inner realm; call it heart or soul. It’s reconnecting with one’s authentic core by queting down the chatter of the physical realm via fasting. By making a conscious choice to withhold from something one’s capable of doing, or is accustomed doing, there’s a shift in one’s mind where the impulses and frivolous false mindsets fall by the wayside. What remains is the true self, and it’s this true self - unobscured by mental noise- that discovers the inherent connection to Allaah, its creator. We all have a need to connect with the divine, with the unseen. But false pursuits and attachment to external goals disconnects one from this authentic core, the core of every human being which is the soul.
And this is how the shayateen misguides people; not by force but by appealing to the false pursuits we become addicted to whether it be search for power, validation, money. Because we’re afraid of the pangs of consciousness that we think awaits us if we reconnect with ourselves or stop living for others , we are ever in flight from ourselves. It is in this mindless and unconscious headspace that the shaytaan can exert control over us because we’re essentially enslaved by our fear and by our addictions and cravings.
The journey towards Allaah is a life-long quest one takes via the heart, and it’s when true change and inspiration occurs within that the external actions are accepted. Ibaadah is not measured by x amount of voluntary deeds one does. The metrics used are in terms of inner transformation which is gradual. That’s why we’re never able to keep up something we overwhelm ourselves with in the beginning; it’s because it was never heartfelt and it didn’t take root in the heart.
So, if all you do this Ramadaan is fast and pray your 5 daily’s, but try to be mindful and reflective then that’s infinitely better than praying all night.