Material Aspects of Fasting
Students learn for several months continuously, then they get a summer vacation. Employees work for six days of the week, the seventh day being a holiday for leisure and rest. Men expend mental and physical energy the whole day, whereafter the repose of sleep renovates their faculties for the next day. Even machines and tools require relaxation, and we observe this for motor cars, aeroplanes, locomotives, etc, is it, therefore, not reasonable to think that the stomach and the digestive organs also require rest? In fact modern medicine has also reached the same conclusion, and a large number of doctors in Switzerland, Germany, etc., prescribe, for various chronic diseases, forced hunger and thirst for longer or shorter periods according to the exigencies of the sickness and the physical capacities of the sick person.
They have also found that various glands secrete certain acids in the stomach on account of hunger and thirst and that these acids kill many a germ which produce different diseases. Statistics have also shown that several digestive and other diseases are less abundant among people who have the habit of fasting every year.
We know that man requires a change of climate, air and water from time to time, Patients recovering from illness are sent away for convalescence to a place other than their habitual living place. The more fortunate among the Westerners pass a month of summer vacation outside their home. In other words, it is necessary to change the normal habits from time to time. This is also a kind of rest. We see, for instance that cultivators use their fields alternately and give 'rest' to the soil. Continuity being harmful, Islam has forbidden fasting during the whole year, even for those who want spiritual benefits thereby. Experience has also shown that if one fasts forever, it becomes a habit, and a second nature, and does not profit by it as does he who fasts with intervals. In fact, if one fasts more than 40 days consecutively, it becomes a habit; and if one fasts for less than a month it has not much effect.
To terminate this discussion, those who fast on medical prescription or even under compulsion as a discipline, do get the material benefits inherent in fasting; but there being no intention of a spiritual search, they do not benefit thereby spiritually. Muslims fast with the intention of complying with the command of Allah. They therefore have its reward for their piety, while not losing the physical and materials benefits of the fasting.
In short, from whichever point of view one may study the Muslim way of fasting, it compares favourably with its counterparts in other civilizations. In fact, if it is day in Switzerland it will be night in America, and vice-versa. Every 1,000 miles East or West makes the difference of about one hour.
The Prophet is reported to have said at breaking the fast: "0' Allah for You have I fasted, in you have I believed, and with You nourishment do I break the fast. Accept it from me O' Lord!"
Adopted from the book : "Ramadhan Special"
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