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Why Do We Fast?

by : Mahdi La'li

Fasting In Divine Religions

Allah, the Exalted, the Glorified says in the Holy Quran: “O believers, prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those that were before you; haply you will be God-fearing”. (Quran, 2:183) It is understood from the Old Testament that fasting had been practiced by Jews while confronting the agonies and beseeching for happiness or for repent. (Exodus 12:11 and 12), (Exodus, 58:3-8)

The Gospel of Matthew shows that Jesus “fasted forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:21). The Gospel of Luke adds the detail that “in those days he did eat nothing and when they were ended, he afterward hungered” (Luke 4:2). Since Jesus fasted, his true followers would also fast, if they indeed follow his teachings. He said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). Jesus also gave his disciples instructions on how to fast for the sake of God (Matthew 6:16-18). If they were never to fast, such instructions would be pointless. The Bible mentions fasting as one of the observances of a minister of God (Corinthians 6:5), and “fasting often” as a proof of the worth of a disciple of Jesus.

Hence, Allah has ordained us to fast through all his books, and most of all by revealing his final incorruptible message in which He instructs all the able believers to fast for a month each year. Today Jesus' true followers are still fasting according to God's pure instructions.

The Spiritual Effects of Fasting

Indeed, the greatest philosophy of fasting from the spiritual aspect is that it cleanses the soul, strengthens the human’s determination, and regulates his instincts.

Holy prophet, may peace be upon him, said, “Fasting is the half of patience. Zakah (paying the charity) is mandatory for every owned property, and the zakah of the body is to fast.”

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is for discipline; is to learn and practice the self-control. If you refuse to eat and drink from sunrise to sunset, you will learn how to control your tongue, how to control your private parts, how to keep away from smoking a cigarette, how to keep away from lustful thoughts and deeds, how to control your anger, how to control your happiness, and how to control your mind.

The Curing Effects of Fasting

In addition to its spiritual effects of elevation and cleansing the soul, fasting is useful for the health of body and offers psychotherapeutic bounties for human. Scientists believe that fasting is effective in curing many diseases as well as fatness (overweight), high blood pressure, high rate of tri-glicirid and cholesterol in blood, diabetes, etc.

The Social Effects of Fasting

Islam is the religion of the true brethren. When you can voluntarily abstain from eating and drinking for 12 or 14 hours, then you will have an idea of how the people suffer in Somalia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, and other parts of the world who are fasting involuntarily and dying of starvation everyday. You can get an idea how they feel. Of course, not so exactly, because fasting for 12 hours does not hurt you. Namely, your stomach does not go back to your backbone!

Fasting helps you to get a sense of deprivation. Therefore, Allah joins you with the poor in this way. It makes you more humble to think about Allah, to think about the Sunnah (manner) of holy prophet (peace be upon him), to recite the Holy Quran, to give the poor rate and share with them.

In essence, fasting assists you to realize your responsibilities upon Allah and the people so that no one would be indifferent about the others.

References :

1. The Holy Quran

2. Bible, the King James Version except where stated otherwise

3. New American Standard Bible

4. Noori Shadkaam M, The Quran and the New Medicine (in Persian), Dar Al- kotob Al-Islamiah Publishers, Teheran, 1999

5. Invitation to Islam:
http://www.islamway.com/arabic/images/lessons/Khaled_Yaseen/purpose.rpm, a lecture on "purpose of life" by Khalid Yaseen.

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