Rafed English

As it was for those before you

Humans are still humans. Even with all the social progresses and technological advancements we have seen and will see, the nature of Adam’s progeny is the same. In a nutshell, “Their hearts are all alike” (1).

This is why we see various religions share the same ritual concepts, as some of the benefits of those shared rituals are not limited to humans in a specific generation. It is true that they might differ in some aspects such as how to perform the ritual and its conditions, but the concept remains the same. The best example would be fasting, as many religions like Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and others share the ritual of abstaining from desires. 
Catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It is not acceptable to eat lamb, chicken, beef, pork, ham, deer, and most of other meats. However, eggs, milk, fishes, grains, fruits, and vegetables are all allowed. They also abstain from meat on all Fridays in Lent.
Jews fast on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) in accordance with God’s command to Moses, “This law will always continue for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month, you must not eat food.” (2). Like Muslims, Jews fast from dawn until the first stars are visible. However, Jews fast a full 24 hours without food or water for the Day of Atonement and the 9th of Av, the day both the first and second Temples were destroyed. 
There are many benefits behind fasting as stated in our Hadith collections. For instance, it is mentioned that fasting makes people recognize hunger and thirst so that they would remember the Day of Judgment, avoid arrogance, and help the poor (3). However, when the holy Quran obligated fasting there was one factor that it shed light upon, and that was godliness and god-fearing. “O believers! Fasting is prescribed for you—as it was for those before you—so perhaps you will become mindful of Allah.” (4). Yet it can be stated that all the benefits of fasting can return to one concept and that is godliness.
In their nature, the farther humans are from their lord, their master, the farther they become from their purpose of life, and the closer they are to corruption. Humans always need that back to reality check where they remember that they are servants of God. Thus, we see different religions share the concept of abstaining from desires as a way to tame the human. Even though some may view fasting as a punishment, there is no doubt that it helps humans grow spiritually. 

(1) Al-Baqara, verse 118.
(2) Leviticus 16:29
(3) Man La Yahduruhu al-Faqih, v2, p.73 and onwards. 
(4) Al-Baqara, verse 183. 


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