Have you ever taken part in a challenge of self-building for a certain amount of time? These challenges, be it individual or social, need a few elements to keep you move on and get over them. Thirty days of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan seems like both an individual and a social challenge.
In this text, we would like to discover the ways that keep us motivated to finish our challenge of fasting in Ramadan. How can we complete this challenge and take the most benefits out of it?
The challenge is to perform fasting for thirty (sometimes 29) days in the month of Ramadan. Fasting in Islam is to avoid eating and drinking and many other worldly desires and sins from the morning prayer (Salat al-Fajr) time until the dawn prayer (Salat al-Maqrib). It is noteworthy that committing some acts will make fast invalid. 
The main goal of fasting like any other type of worship is to purify the soul and improve human beings spiritually: “Felicitous is he who purifies himself.” (87: 14)
But any type of worship, apart from its ultimate goal, has other benefits and some minor goals in training the human soul. For example, one of the small goals of praying the obligatory prayers (Salat) during the day and at night is to teach Muslims to adhere to certain principles. It is mentioned in the Quran that one of the characteristics of true believers is that they are “those who are humble in their prayers” (23:2) and “are watchful of their prayers” (23:9). These two verses, mentioned in the same Surah, show that one level of being a believer is to reach a feeling of utter humbleness in front of Allah. However, at the same time, being watchful on prayers and trying to perform them on time while observing all of its rulings is another aspect that will lead to higher spiritual levels. The same example applies to any other type of worship, especially fasting in Ramadan.
I have personally tried many different challenges for forty days; for example, forty days of waking up before dawn, forty days of avoiding fast foods, forty days of doing half an hour exercise per day, etc. I’ve been able to make some of those challenges a habit. However, in all those challenges, I needed something or someone to keep me motivated and guide me with the issues that I was facing throughout the challenge.
Regarding the challenge of fasting in Ramadan, I think it is essential to find some ways to help us enjoy fasting, instead of solely experiencing hunger and thirst.
Different things can keep us motivated to have better spiritual experiences of fasting in Ramadan. Having a different routine in the month of Ramadan, avoiding some entertainment and starting some new useful habits such as reading the supplications and contemplating on them, specifying a certain amount of time on reciting the Quran with translation and interpretation, performing the recommended prayers (Nawafil), trying to help others in any possible ways, and any other act of goodness that we can accomplish.
While we try to perform good deeds during fasting, reciting the Quran has a powerful influence on all our acts. Allah (SWT) mentions in the Quran: “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible. He knows that some of you will be sick, while others will travel in the land seeking Allah’s bounty, and yet others will fight in the way of Allah. So recite as much of it as is feasible, and maintain the prayer and pay the zakat and lend Allah a good loan.” (73:20)
Allah (SWT) tells us to recite the Quran as much as we can. Then He mentions that He is aware of different conditions that people may have; some of them may be sick, some maybe traveling and working outside their houses to gain Allah’s provision, some may be fighting in the way of Allah. But then He mentions again that in whatever situation you are, do not forget to recite the Quran. It does not need to be a lot of recitation. Just recite as much as you can, and it will help you by both its miraculous and extraordinary achievements.
To provide a better definition of the above phrases, it can be said that the miraculous effects of the Quran are those effects that everyone can gain them by reciting it, even if they are not contemplating on its verses. However, exceptional achievements are for those who recite the Quran thoughtfully and intend to understand the words of Allah (SWT) as much as possible.
In sum, when you start the challenge of fasting in Ramadan and hope to gain the best results out of it, you need someone to motivate you, to be your mentor, and to elevate your knowledge and wisdom while you are going through the hard days of your challenge. The Quran could be that mentor who speaks to you the words of Allah (SWT), gives you hope, sympathizes with you in your hard moments, and guides you through the way to reach your ultimate goal. “So recite as much of the Quran as is feasible.” (73: 20)
“Modesty and faith are connected with one another just like two things fastened by a rope. If one of them is gone, the other is also lost” . Imam Baqir (AS). Modesty is a special sense that prevents one from saying inappropriate words and making mistakes. It refers to an uncomfortable feeling accompanied by embarrassment, caused by one's anxiety about being exposed to some unworthy or indecent conduct. This concept, as one of the highest and most fundamental moral qualities, is known as Haya in Islam. Modesty in Islam describes shyness and shame, but Haya represents a more profound implication that is based on faith. In many sayings (Hadiths), it has been quoted that modesty is linked with faith and originates from it [1, 2]. Hence, it is one of the most important characteristics that every Muslim should acquire and possess ; particularly Muslim women (“haya is a good characteristic for all, but is better for women” ).
There are two types of modesty: natural and acquired. An example of the former is the feeling of shyness and humility naturally occurring in a young child that makes him/her cover the private parts of the body from others. Or, in the story of Eve and Adam (PBUT) where they realize their nakedness and try to hide their genitals. This kind of modesty is common sense that exists within all human beings, believer or non-believer: “God Almighty divided the modesty among people just as He divided the provision” , and what differentiates them from animals: “If modesty did not exist … the promises wouldn’t be kept … Nobody would do any good, and nobody would refrain from the evil … if it weren’t for modesty, many people wouldn’t stop sinning.” . Modesty serves as a cover on the soul that conceals the defects and calms down wrath and lust . No one can, therefore, justify his/her sins and mistakes because of not being naturally given a sense of modesty.
The latter, on the other hand, can be only attained as a result of knowing and perceiving the Glory of Allah and minding His presence everywhere and in every second. In Islamic ethics, modesty is more than just a question of how a person dresses and acts in social interactions; instead, it is reflected in a Muslim’s conduct before God, before others, and even when one is alone.
Modesty towards others entails that one has decent and reasonable behavior in public, avoids indecent talks and vain activities, and respects everyone around him/her. If one has developed this ethical aspect within him/her and obeyed this sense, he/she will become ashamed when someone notices him doing something wrong. This feeling will be even worse when the other person is in a higher position. This, consequently, stops him/her from repeating that action.
To clarify the importance of modesty towards people, Imam Ali (AS) said that the evilest of all is who is not ashamed of his actions in front of people .
Modesty towards others includes especially the opposite gender and involves not gazing at them , harming them in any way or indulging in any forbidden (Haram) relation with them. In Surah Nur, Allah guides both men and women to the key to modesty by saying that believing men and women should lower their gaze and guard their modesty (24:30-31).
A good instance of modesty in the interactions between opposite genders is described in Surah Qasas, verses 23-26, between the daughters of Shoaib (PBUH) and Moses (PBUH). These verses demonstrate that the daughters of the prophet work and appear in society, but they care about how they interact with others; they concentrate on what they should do without having unnecessary dialogues with men. They communicate as much as necessary, with respect and dignity. Their speech is direct and clear-cut with Moses, so are Moses’s words. Even the way they both walk is with care and shyness .
Modesty towards oneself means that a person treats himself fairly in private. It is caused by the unpleasant feeling that arises when thinking of or doing something improper which consequently stops one from forbidden (Haram) thoughts or illicit acts. It was mentioned that when one does something indecent and suddenly notices the presence of others, he becomes ashamed (if he still possesses the natural modesty that is laid within his soul); a higher level of Haya is being ashamed of oneself when no one else is present. This kind of modesty is known as the yield of faith: “The shame a person feels from himself originates from [his] faith.” .
Modesty towards God is called the best level of modesty : “be modest in front of Allah for He has a right to your modesty” . To accomplish this, one should first believe that nothing can be concealed from God “Does he not know that Allah sees [him]?” (96:14). In fact, Allah sees and knows everything, and is closer to humans more than themselves: “and We are nearer to him than [his] jugular vein” (50:16). Consequently, a modest person toward God will avoid any indecent act, in public or private, and will leave sinful thoughts behind.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 106.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 75, p. 309.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 106, T. 5.
- A. Q. Payande, “Nahj Al-Fasahah”, p. 578, T. 2006.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 20, p. 135.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Mofazzal monotheism”, Chapter: Human Senses.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, no. 223
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 5464
- M. B. Majlesi, "Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 40.
- N. Makarem Shirazi, “Tafsir Nemooneh”, vol. 16, p 58-59.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 4944.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 5451.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 462.
For modern people who live in this era and feel that their smart devices can solve all of their problems, it may be a question that why they should follow a religion like Islam, while they are pros.
It is true that the power of human intellect and thought is useful in different dimensions of his life such as: choosing friends, finding a spouse, selecting a job, or making decisions for going on a trip, or more importantly standing against unrighteousness and oppression. In all of these minor decisions, human beings, using their intellect, make plans and take it into action.
Some people believe that the human being is capable of managing his life, solely by using his intellect. But the fact is that human being is still an unknown creature, and the more we become acquainted with him, the more undiscovered talents and capabilities we find within him. Now, could a creature that is still unknown to himself and his kind, be able to dominate all aspects of his creation, and manage his life into reaching the happiness? Can human, who is still unknown to himself, realize what is good or bad for him and find his way towards happiness or misery?
Putting the individual aspects aside, the human is a social creature, with social needs, and in his social life, he would face lots of problems and issues. And because he is a human, his happiness, misery, ambitions, his criteria of good and evil, and his path is mixed up with other people’s happiness, misery, ambitions, criteria of good and evil, and other people’s paths. Therefore, he is not able to choose an individual path towards happiness and let others alone. But he should find his salvation and happiness in a path through which all people can reach eternal happiness.
And when it comes to the afterlife and eternal life of the soul, it becomes even more complicated as human intellect has no experience of the unseen. Therefore, the need for a life structure or an ideology comes up; a coherent, comprehensive plan that aims to guide human into perfection; a framework that shows the right and wrong, good and evil, goals and tools, pains and cures, responsibilities and duties.
All the guidelines mentioned above are delivered to human beings by God’s messengers in a framework called religion (Shari’ah).
Some people think that in the modern era that human beings have reached high levels of technology, religion is no more efficient for them. But the fact is that modern technology cannot supersede human’s need for religion for a better life. Humankind needs religion in both social and individual life. Religion is also required to make a bond between man and the creator.
It is not easy to point out all the benefits that religion can have for human beings. Some people can point out the disadvantage of religion that in some areas limits their freedom. But it is important to keep in mind that religion, like any other system of law, is not there to give complete freedom to people.
In all societies, laws are there to make the life safer and easier for all the people in the society. This safety may not be reachable but to limit the freedom of those who wish to break the social norms. Therefore, the rulings of religion will sometimes limit the freedom of individuals for the benefit of the whole society.
Most of the people who do not believe in religion, and as a result do not believe in the afterlife will at some point feel absurd and void; even those who are very successful in their worldly life. The main reason for that is the contradiction that non-religious people feel inside them. It is the contradiction between their great and unlimited talents and desires with the limited and mortal life of this world.
But when people have faith in the afterlife, and that nothing in this world has been created vain and pointless, they will try their best for the unlimited success, part of which they may gain in this world, and the whole in real life: “The life of this world is nothing but diversion and play, but the abode of the Hereafter is indeed Life (itself), had they known!” (29: 64)
When people follow a religion and believe that their religious lifestyle, and following the rules and frameworks of their religion will lead them toward eternal bliss, their reactions towards problems and challenges of this life will be different. Of course, everyone in this world will go through hardship and sorrows. But they are only to strengthen them for the higher levels of life.
Therefore, those who believe in God and the afterlife, when facing a problem, instead of fearing and mourning on it, will choose a more logical way to tackle their problems. Because they know it is a test for them to improve their spiritual and even their worldly position.
People who keep denying religion and its power to make human successful and powerful in every aspect will spend a whole life in bewilderment. They may reach great positions in this life, but because they do not have an eternal goal, they will feel absurd at some point. Living life with the no belief in eternal life will lead people to absurdity, depression, meaningless life and finally it may lead them to suicide.
However, you should keep in mind that only saying that “we are religious” is not going to make us successful. Maybe that is why followers of many religions do not reach the great success and peace. Achieving the eternal bliss and success through religion is only possible by obeying and following every single rule that religion has prescribed for us. Otherwise, it will be like going to the GP and getting a prescription without using it. Would we ever gain our health back?
Therefore, as narrated from our prophet (PBUH&HP) To be a religious person is to believe in that religion by heart, and to manifest the belief by tongue and to practice the rules of religion in full. 
- The Quran, Chapter 29, verse 64
- Esfahani, R. Mu’jam-e Mufradaat-e Alfaaz-e Quran, p. 22