By the Time,
Most surely man is in loss,
Except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of Truth, and of endurance. [Qur’an 103]
God has established signs and cycles that we use to determine time and measure our physical activities. He has given us the sun and the moon, the stars, night and day. We have produced calendars, watches, tables and schedules that help us organize our chronological existence.
Eating patterns also define our days. Many people use meals to schedule their activities. They establish fixed periods between meals as segment within which to accommodate their work, sleep, entertainment and other life functions. Lunch hours, coffee breaks and dinner times regulate their daily habits almost as much as day and night.
If we live good lives, the times are also good. As we are, such are the times [Saint Augustine].
Immersed, as we are, in a consumer dominated society, we may find it difficult to satisfy spiritual needs. The apparent urgency of the culture prods us to constant activism. Nothing is excessive, and everything is necessary – even urgent. Finding time to be alone with oneself, to meditate, to remember and praise the Creator, is no longer a priority.
Often, changing our eating pattern also changes our lifestyle. This is particularly true if our intention is to grow spiritually. Even a short fast of ten or twelve hours differentiates the fasting day from the habitual schedule to which we have become accustomed.
We can enhance such a fast by reading a few scriptural passages and by prayer and meditation. This helps us escape from a secular routine that limits spirituality and hampers our connection to God. We can then begin to enjoy a sublime reality where the trivial is no longer urgent, where eating no longer defines our daily schedule, and where our soul finds moments of peace.
O people! This world is but a transition and the next one is eternity. So, make your transition the best vehicle for your eternity. Do not tear away your veils of protection [your sacred obligations] before Him who knows your innermost secrets. Detach your hearts from this world before your bodies are detached therefrom . . . [Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 202]