Psychology of Ramadan | Lecture delivered by Prof. Ramzi Taleb

Summary notes by T. Abdul Azeez


Islamic or Prophetic Psychology, which can also be termed as Sacred Psychology, is physically, psychologically and spiritually holistic in its approach, making it appropriate to discuss Ramadan through this lens.

Definition of Ramadan: It is a month-long Spiritual rehabilitation or the inner cultivation of the heart.

How Fasting in Ramadan Rehabilitates the Heart

1- Fasting & Veils of the Heart – For example, food is a material veil because it gives energy to human passions and desires

2- Ramadan is the kernel of the Lunar year. Fasting (in Ramadan) can influence every essence of human beings – spiritual energy. Any spiritual progress mirrors how a tree grows. Natural trees take several decades to grow, mature, and blossom, and so does the tree of Ramadan: the seeds of Ramadan must be planted and nursed throughout the year. As it was reported about the companions:

“The companions (may God be pleased with them) were intensely and fervently vigilant in their preparation for the month of Ramadan. They used to beseech God for six months that He may bless them with another Ramadan and petition Him for another six months to accept their fast and their devotions. In this state of mind, the whole year was like the month of Ramadan.” (Musnad of Imam Ahmad)

The spiritual reverberations (or fruits) of the Holy month manifest throughout the year: Only intense VENERATION for the sha’air of God can keep the momentum of Ramadan in one’s life.

ذَٰلِكَۖ وَمَن يُعَظِّمۡ شَعَـٰٓئِرَ ٱللَّهِ فَإِنَّهَا مِن تَقۡوَى ٱلۡقُلُوبِ

All this [is ordained by God]: those who honour God’s rites show the piety of their hearts. (Al Hajj: 32)

However, we should not be fixating our ibadah on QUANTITY to determine quality. Rather, it is the Tadheem – veneration and reverence –  that determines the QUALITY. Reverence is the most manifest sign of sincerity and purity of the heart.

3- Fasting is a divine prescription and treatment in Ramadan. Reorienting oneself to the verse of Ramadan throughout the month….:

يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ١٨٣

You who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may be mindful of God. (Al Baqarah: 183)

4-Fasting is a regimen for the restoration of a sound spiritual relationship with God. The outcome of fasting is TAQWA – reverence (the cardinal Quranic virtue/queen of all spiritual virtues). To understand reverence in every day milieu: reverential love is for your parents/grandparents/teachers. Other Quranic virtues; Patience, resignation, justice, compassion – serve or manifest TAQWA.

3-Fasting has a way of diminishing the heat of the body. For instance, it reduces the energy of anger, and depending on the virtues you are working on, fasting helps in nurturing the cardinal virtues


Taqwa is not a matter of DEED however, deed is a manifestation of Taqwa.

Hadith mentions the cultivation of taqwa:

“The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Do not envy one another, and do not inflate prices for one another, and do not hate one another, and do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another in trade, but (rather) be slaves of Allah and brothers (amongst yourselves). A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim: he does not oppress him, nor does he fail him, nor does he lie to him, nor does he hold him in contempt. Taqwa is right here (and he pointed to his chest three times), It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. The whole of a Muslim is inviolable for another Muslim: his blood, his property, and his honor.” (Muslim, Book 46, 6806)

In essence, it is Taqwa that determines the quality of your deeds. It defines your sincerity and it’s absence is the opposite(faking good deeds or not doing it at all.) Fasting facilitates the restoration of the heart which leads to cultivating Taqwa.


1-The Physiological Veils: Fasting tapers / diminishes the physiological perceptions of the body (five senses)

Fasting & the Physiological Veils: Food triggers or activates the passion (shahawaat) of the lower layer of the soul. These are; Tempers, lust, gossip, denigration, impatience, laziness, heedlessness, doubting God, discontent with His decree, worldliness etc. Fasting will cause a reversible chain i.e it will regulate this order/disorder

QUESTION: If the devils are chained up, who whispers? And, why do we still fall prey to certain sins in Ramadan?

The hadith :

“The Messenger of Allah said: “There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, which Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has enjoined you to fast. In it the gates of heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.”

Firstly, the hellfire has attraction through temptations of elements of the lower layers of the soul. 

Hadith: “The Paradise is paved by hardships/prohibitions and the Hellfire is paved by temptations.” (Sahih Muslim)

Secondly, Iblis’s contention for refusing to bow to Adam was that his substance (fire) was better than clay.  

Thirdly, Fire is the substance of Satan or jinn and the property of fire is heat. if heat is not available (heating of the Ego-self) it reduces the prompts. In Hadith report “the devil flows in a man like is blood” (Bukhari), which can be understood by this concept.

Thirdly, during fasting, we are opening the gates of Jannah and inversely closing the gates of hell

Hadith referenced.

4-The gates of the heavens are opened through; fasting, prayers, patience, charity, repentance. The Ego-soul find these things burdensome.

5-Hence, when the devil is chained up, the ego is regulated because fasting, makes you more aware of your impulses (of VICES); killing time, overeating, Leading to high kushoo in worship, Extinguishing bad habits but the lower ego (nafs al amara) is still operative, working solo during Ramadan.

When the nafs subjects itself to its Qarin jinn (the shaitan paired with every human soul). Such an ego has become satanic. And, when the devil in us is chained, such souls still feel trapped in the submission to the Qarin.

“There is none of you who does not have his partner from among the Jinn and his partner from among the angels put in charge of him.” The hearer asked, “Does this also apply to you, the messenger of God?” He replied, “It applies to me too, but God has helped me against him and he has accepted Islam, so he commands me to do what is good.” (Muslim)


WORST BLIND SPOT is the commercialization of Ramadan. Making it look like a Christmas thing, especially Lailatul Qadr. This distracts us and takes away the Taqwa component.

FOOD CONSUMPTIONS: Make it an act of worship. Tawheed is to unify your soul (re-orientating everything to Allah). So, iftar should be seen as breaking the Island of fasting – it should not be seen as a break.

LEVELS OF FASTING: Raise the bar of your fasting (understanding each level of Islam, Iman, Ihsan – Physical, Mind and Soul) by understanding the Hadith of Jibril.

Ramadan is the zakat of the year – It cleanses.

Avoid being a merchant in Ramadan but instead a servant by not depending on the quantity of your worship.


1-The Real harvest of Ramadan is reflected in your worship, especially by observing the quality of your Salah (the most frequently observed ibadah) after Ramadan.

2-Your bond with the Qur’an before and after Ramadan

3-Your bond with the Holy Prophet before and after Ramadan

Finally, check how the fragrance of Ramadan revives your TAQWA / reverential love of God for the year to come.

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