It’s 3:39 am and here I am, downstairs, on the computer, in the dark, by myself. And it’s cold too.
So now you sez, Abez, go to bed!
And I sez, I just came from bed. I lay there for exactly 2 hours and 14 minutes before making my escape.
Then you sez, Why were you not asleep?
And I sez, Cuz I’m a big loser who’s ruined my sleep schedule by waking up at 1 in the afternoon today, that’s why. And now I’ll probably be up until Suhoor, and then sleep in again, totally ruining another fast.
Then you sez: What’s going on here sensei?
And I sez: It’s this sleeping thing. So far, I had been waking up in the morning, even though I’m off from work for the entire month of Ramadan, precisely because I did not want to waste my fasting hours in la-la land. For what it’s worth, I have only about 7 or 8 hours of daylight before the sun sets and it’s time to eat again, and I don’t want to be snoozing through it. It’d be a shameful thing to be asleep the whole time, because then it’s not like I’d even know I was fasting to begin with, and how can I derive any benefit, spiritual or otherwise, from being hungry in my sleep? Aside from dreaming about donuts?
Then someone else sez: But what’s the point of being awake while your stomach is growling? In fact, what’s the point of feeling hungry anyway?
And I scratches my head and sez: Hunger, like anger and passion, is one of the strongest forces that man can experience. And also like anger and passion, it has its place within a certain halal limit. But as humans, and as sinners, we tend to take things beyond the limits that are good for us. We eat to excess and damage our bodies, we act of out anger where mercy would be called for instead, and we turn our passions and desires to haram, allowing them to consume and preoccupy us.
One of the ideas of fasting is to control these base urges, not just hunger, but the other things as well, and to bring them back into the limits which Allah recommended, to basically show them what’s what.
By doing so you are retraining your body and mind to not only match, but exceed the necessary standard. You can eat during the day for the rest of the year, but you know you don’t have to over-eat. You know that you have it in you to discipline yourself and not pig-out, because you did it for a whole month in Ramadan. You may get angry at some point in the months that follow, but you know you don’t have to swear or fight, and you know you can avoid it this one day because you did it for a whole month in Ramadan. You may feel passion or desire, but you know you won’t allow it to consume you, you won’t become unhealthily obsessed by something you know you have the power to deny for an entire month.
Like I said, it’s spiritual boot-camp. And who could get any benefit from sleeping though boot camp? The idea is to be making a conscious effort to subdue your most primal and base urges, and in order to do so, it would really help to be…uh…conscious.
Then you sez: You’re still not asleep yet, loser.
And I sez: I know, but InshaAllah I’ll wake up tomorrow and stay up. And I can go without coffee in the morning too, because I did it for a whole month last Ramadan.