Fasting a blessing for the body and soul
Fasting is a tradition that is common to all the major religions. It’s a practice common among monks, priests, saints and all those aspiring to attain a special position – fasting is said to be important for developing spirituality and gaining closeness to God.
Judaism has several annual fast days including Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; in Islam, Muslims fast during the holy month of Ramadan, while Roman Catholics and Eastern orthodoxy observe a 40 day fast during Lent, the period when Christ fasted 40 days in the desert.
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint.” 2:183
Fasting was a practice that existed before Islam but has a special significance in Islam. The reward of Fasting is only known to God.
“Allah said, ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him: the good deeds will be multiplied ten times to seven hundred time, except fasting, which is for Me and I will reward for it accordingly. He abandons his (sexual) desire, food and drink for Me.’ Verily, there are two joyous and pleasurable moments for the fasting person: one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other is when he will meet his Lord (in the Hereafter). Verily, the unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth of the fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim].
Islam does not wish to burden anyone. Those who are sick, travelling have been given an exemption. There is no compulsion in Islam.
“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.” 2:184
Fasting is not only abstinence from food and pleasure for a fixed period but a whole philosophy that keeps the soul and heart humble, alive and concerned for the weak and poor. It helps negate the importance of self and introduces love and sharing.
Fasting has also become a favorite practice among doctors for treating certain diseases like obesity and related problems. In Germany fasting is part of the naturheilkunde – natural health practice. It became popular because it integrated into medical practice so patients could be referred for a fast by their doctors.
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