Ramadan provides the perfect environment for giving up substances because so many changes in routine take place (Ali, 2008). Heavily dependent heroin addicts manage to abstain, in some cases, throughout the entire thirty days of Ramadan, and report minimal craving during the fasting period. What is it that helps these Muslims to abstain during Ramadan? What is so special about it that even drug users, who are physically dependent on their substances are able to not use during these days? Why is it that if they tried to achieve this outside of Ramadan they don’t make it, but in Ramadan they do?
Ramadan makes it possible for many reasons. Lets look at them;
1) A good strong intention.
It is widely regarded in Western psychology, by theorists such as John Bargh, that a good solid intention is needed to hallmark a new set of behaviours. Once the intention is in place, we are more likely to engage in our plans and be successful in achieving our goals. An important part of Ramadan is to secure a good intention for fasting in the hope of pleasing Allah and receiving His reward. As the Prophet peace be upon him said,
“Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hope in the reward of Allah, his previous sins will be forgiven”
2) The Shaitan are locked up
How many of us have blamed shaitan (the devil) and his whispering for our relapses? How many times did we give in to his suggestions and then shift the responsibility onto him? In Ramadan, Allah makes things easier for us by chaining up the devils. That means we can no longer blame him, but we need to look at our desires. Shaitan knows how to trip up the addict. Shaitan knows what gets us craving. With him locked away, we have the opportunity to embrace Ramadan without him igniting our passions. Its up to us to restrain our desires, this is much easier during the month of Ramadan.
3) There is a determination to create new habits
Muslims in Ramadan engage in many new behaviors literally overnight, such as a change of peer group, engaging in prayers, and reading the Qur’an. This demonstrates that the implementation of some of the rituals and practices in Islam offer success in aiding abstinence. If we can achieve this in Ramadan, there is no reason why we cannot restructure our lives similarly outside of Ramadan in order to gain sobriety.
The best way to overcome bad habits and addictions is to replace them with new habits. Ramadan provides a ready made recovery programme, not just for us, but for every Muslim all across the globe at the same time. In a united way, every Muslim is trying to find ways to self-improve and change the things about themselves that Allah is displeased with and this can give us the motivation to make changes too.
The mosques are filled up, and people who don’t normally attend the prayers come out of their homes. It is easy for the recovering Muslim addict to reintegrate into the community without feeling shy or out of place.
As we reach our goal for attaining taqwa, we find that through becoming conscious of Allah we begin to love Him more and Fear Him and have Hope in Him, in equal measure.
Ramadan is the perfect ground for reducing cravings. Let this Ramadan be the year we embrace our recovery on The Straight Path.