How was your first day of fasting? I hope it went by smoothly, insyaAllah. Remember these few tips: be continuously productive during the day, eat light for both your sahur and iftar, and be more 'present' in your deeds.
When I asked students and friends what they think about the month of Ramadhan, most will respond by relating it to the deed of fasting. But, fasting is a mere outcome of a more beautiful tapestry of events. To appreciate this, we have to revert to the background of surah al-Baqarah, in particular the 2nd juzu' of the Qur'an.
The section begins by narrating about the change of Qibla from Jerusalem to Masjidil Haram. Verse 184 of al-Baqarah is usually understood to refer to the fast in Ramadhan. But if you appreciate the choice of language used in the beginning of the verse, it is a “jam’u qilla” linguistic construction ~ meaning, when Allah (s.w.t.) says "[Fasting for] a limited number of days…" - it refers to an amount which is less than 10 days. Hence, this verse cannot be about the fasting of Ramadhan yet, but about the fasting in the past.
It is only when we read verse 185 that Allah refers to the current fast in Ramadhan. Even then, the verse begins as such: "The month of Ramadhan is that in which the Quran was revealed, as a guide to mankind, also as clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong)."
Therefore, the thing that makes Ramadhan special is not the fasting per se, but the revelation of the Quran. The purpose of Ramadhan is to celebrate the Quran. Otherwise, why did Allah, in His Infinite Wisdom, began the verse with and about Ramadhan, but all this time, speaks about the Qur'an in that verse of Ramadhan?
The fast in Ramadhan is therefore to honor the miracle of the Qur'an - as constant guidance to mankind till the Day of Judgment.
With this appreciation, I hope we will include the Qur'an as part of our Ramadhan program this year. We can do so in 2 ways: First, by planning to finish reading the Qur'an this Ramadhan. For those who are able to recite it in Arabic should do so, but for those who are new and are not fluent, should not make that as an excuse to read the translations.
Second, by planning to memorize 1-2 chapters of the Qur'an, depending on your individual ability. One can start with the verses from Juz 'Amma or from the other longer chapters. If we do this every Ramadhan, insyaAllah, there will come a point in our lives when we will have memorized the entire Qur'an. And what a blessing that will be!
After all, what have we got to show for in this blessed month of Ramadhan, despite fasting year after year?What have we benefitted from our past Ramadhans?
It is better to reflect on this question at the beginning of this month, so that we can spur ourselves into positive actions and increase the quality of our fasting.
May Allah strengthen you in your resolute, and may your efforts in this month be a witness in your favor on the Day of Account. Amin, ya Rabb!