The dawn of Ramadan is the beginning for a special journey for Muslims toward enlightenment
The dawn of Ramadan is the beginning for a special journey for Muslims toward enlightenment Reuters

Ramadan begins this weekend with Muslims embarking upon a quest for spiritual enlightenment by turning down food during daylight hours over the holy month – but surely there are easier ways to see the light?

Not if you are serious about your journey and follow "The Book", according to one of the Britain's top Islamic clerics.

This act of denial appears as a sort of rebellion against our "get-it-now" consumer society.

"The Koran states the goal of fasting is to create an awareness of God," Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) told me.

"Ramadan is a chance to reconnect and re-establish that link with God, where you will be spending less time doing normal things and are inclined to do good works, engage in prayer."

But the idea of your fridge and cupboards at home being haram – or forbidden - for weeks on end is anathema to most of us. However, fasting for religious reasons has been a relatively common practice throughout history, not only within the Islamic faith.

"The Koran is very clear," said Mogra. "God will not oblige you to do things which you are not able to do.

"The Arabic word taqwa means consciousness, piety. The Koran says fasting is prescribed so you become people of taqwa - people of prayers and righteousness. We are taught to find a balance between hope and fear - of God's mercy and of not pleasing of him.

"We believe God should be top of the list."

But where on God's list are holy orders such as Jihad? Recent news depicted young British-born men calling on their Muslim brothers to wage holy war for Isis in Iraq.

Do such images spoil the whole enlightenment message promoted by Ramadan?

The likes of Britain's home-grown Jihadis have got their theology mixed up, said Mogra.

"Jihad has so many different aspects to it, it's a whole spectrum. A fighting jihad is right at the very bottom of that list. Top of the list is your inner struggle to make yourself a better human being - not to make yourself a better Muslim, but to make yourself a better human being.

"You have to be a good human being to see the beauty that Islam or all the other religions can bring a person. So you can then adorn yourself with all the teachings.

"Islam regards getting up and going to work to feed your family as greater than prayer five times a day. That's a jihad. To stay away from food and drink during Ramadan is a jihad."

Across Britain, a very quiet jihad is beginning: Ramadan. It's food for thought.