A central premise of the Qur’an is that people can change. In fact, this is the very reason why God has sent prophets and messengers – to change people’s morals, to correct their beliefs, to change their mindset, to change their lifestyle, to change their views and ideas, to teach them what is good and warn them from what is harmful.
In this regard, one of the aims of Ramadan is to bring changes. Our natural disposition forces us to develop habits, which could be good and help us do things more efficiently. However, we develop bad habits, too, speaking of which, for example, one of the purposes of defensive driving courses is to break bad habits. When we drive, we get comfortable, then lazy, and that laziness turns into a habit, such as not maintaining a safe distance or not turning the signal ON when making a turn.
Similarly, the acts of worship can turn into habits, to the extent that they lose their essence. In addition, life is so busy, so we tend to cut corners. We tend to postpone things, and that might become our habit. We think there is always a tomorrow. By the same token, sins can become habits. They become part of our routine. We underestimate them. Probably, there isn’t enough reason to change. Not only actions, but also our communication deteriorates; we might get comfortable with foul language.
Thus, Ramadan provides exactly that impulse for change. It is there to change us. Ramadan breaks habits. It breaks the routine. In fact, it can be defined as a perfect course for changing people’s habits based on a divine recipe.
Ramadan requires one to abstain from food, drink and intimate relations from dawn to sunset. This is a big change, isn’t it? It requires similarly to abstain from evil words and actions. It is reported authentically by Bukhari that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) has said, “Whoever does not leave evil words and deeds while fasting, Allah does not need him to leave food and drink.”
Apart from increasing acts of worship, such as extra prayer, reading the Qur’an, charity, feeding the poor, Ramadan intends to break our habits. During this month, the whole routine changes: eating, sleeping, the worship, the behavior, more exposure to Qur’an recitation, as well as it is recommended to increase the isolation from people, especially the last ten days are recommended to be spent only inside the mosque – cut off from the worldly life.
Ramadan is a blessed month. As the Prophet Muhammad has reported to have said, “the devils are chained and the jinn are restrained, the gates of Hellfire are closed and none of its gates are opened, the gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed, and a heavenly caller announces: O seeker of good, come near! O seeker of evil, stop short! Allah has those He saves from the Hellfire, and that is during every night.”
There is no better opportunity for one who seeks to change than the blessed month of Ramadan.