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Benefits of fasting

Publishing Date : 12 June, 2018

IQBAL EBRAHIM
UNDERSTANDING ISLAM


Muslims worldwide are two thirds through their fasting during the Ramadan month, and our bodies are slowly getting used to having no food, anything to drink or even engaging in smoking from sunrise to sunset. Allah states: "O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may (learn) self-restraint." (Quran, 2:183)


As indicated in last week’s article, Ramadan brings out a special feeling of emotional excitement and religious zeal among Muslims because believers get busy seeking Allah's mercy, forgiveness, and protection from the Hellfire. This is the month for renewing our commitment and re-establishing our relationship with our Creator.  Muslims look forward to the opportunity to double their rewards from God and seek forgiveness for past sins by having to change their whole physical and emotional selves during these 30 long days of fasting. It is a very special month for various reasons.


‘The month of Ramadan is that in which the Qur'an was revealed as guidance for people, in it are clear signs of guidance and Criterion, therefore whoever of you who witnesses this month, it is obligatory on him to fast it. But whoever is ill or traveling let him fast the same number of other days; (Make up for it later) God desires ease for you and not hardship, and He desires that you complete the ordained period and glorify God for His guidance to you, that you may be grateful". (Quran: 2 : 185)



It offers every Muslim an opportunity to strengthen his faith and allegiance to his Creator, to purify his heart and soul, and to remove the evil effects of the sins committed by him in his daily life. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) Said, "Anyone who fasts during this month with purity of belief and with expectation of a good reward (from his Creator), will have his previous sins forgiven," "Anyone who stands in prayers during its nights with purity of belief and expectation of a reward, will have his previous sins forgiven."  The rewards for good deeds are multiplied manifold during Ramadan.


Fasting earns great reward when it is done in a ‘proper’ manner. This means that although fasting is obligatory, its observance is purely voluntary. If a person claims to be a Muslim, he is expected to fast in Ramadan. This is because every Muslim is required to make his worship perfect. Because of the intensive devotional activity fasting, Ramadan has a particularly high importance, derived from its very personal nature as an act of worship; there is nothing to stop anyone from privately violating Allah’s commandment of fasting if one chooses to do so by claiming to be fasting yet eating on the sly.


Yes there are some who claim to be fasting yet will eat in private. During this month, the blessings received for a good deed is equal to the blessings of a compulsory (fardh) act of any other month. This is the month of patience and the reward of this patience is Heavenly bliss in the Hereafter. This month also teaches the lesson of kindness towards others. In this month, the blessings upon a Muslim are increased.


In this month, the first ten days are to seek mercy, second ten days are to seek forgiveness and the last ten days are of seeking to be freed from Hell because there is a special night known as Laylathul Qadr (the Night of Blessings), whose blessings are better than 1000 months. In this month, the Qur'an was sent down to us. Allah revealed the Quran to Prophet Mohamed (pbuh) via the arch-Angel Gibraeel (Gabriel) during this month.


"The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Qur'an was revealed as a guidance for humanity, as a clear proof of that guidance, and as a criterion for distinguishing between right and wrong" (2: 185). This divine Book deals with the questions of our life in total: the creed, moral instructions, the manner in which we should conduct ourselves in our daily lives.  The Qur'an teaches us how to live our lives as complete human beings. It teaches us how to live with respect, dignity, honour, and love.


It further teaches us that the Almighty Allah is a divinity that embraces the concerns of all humanity. Ramadan is not only the month of fasting but also the frequent recitation of the Quran. Ramadan cannot be complete without a great deal of reading of the Book of Allah.
Undoubtedly the Quran is the most read book in the world, this is because it is so often read and memorised in its original form of Arabic. During this month there is a ‘longer’ evening congregational prayer that is offered after the breaking of the fast. During this prayer the entire Quran is recited over the course of the thirty days by a ‘Hafiz’, this is a person who has who has memorized the entire Quran, word for word, from cover to cover.


In addition, Muslims individually read the Quran during this august month of Ramadan.  By so doing the believer cherishes the privilege of directly conversing with our Creator, and, it also affords a believer a better chance of graduating to a higher spiritual level by getting closer to our Creator. One may ask what are the virtues of fasting? Firstly during the month the entire lifestyle of Muslims undergoes a dramatic change, it teaches us Taqwa (self-restraint, piety and the consciousness of Allah).


This leads to behaviour modification because a fasting person has to control or change his or her daily habits; fasting is that training ground. This is because high standard of self-restraint is considered as an act of self-discipline. Islam requires us to couple patience with voluntary abstention from indulgence in our daily physical desires.


Patience: Fasting helps in conditioning the heart, the soul, and the body on the virtues of patience, determination, and firmness in the face of adversity. Patience is the peak of self- control, discipline and spirituality. Patience is to turn the phrase "I can't" into "I can."
Social Benefits: Socially, fasting is an expression of solidarity with the poor, the family and the whole society.


This is a period in which those of us who are ‘better off’ because we can afford daily meals to have first-hand experience of what it is to be poor, the pains the poor and needy suffer in normal living conditions. A fasting Muslim can really sympathize with the starving people everywhere in the world and see the hardship that they go through every day of their lives.


Apart from the piety aspect fasting builds important Islamic values, such as compassion, consciousness, firmness, affection, fear of Allah, trust in Allah, and many other qualities such as developing good habits and suppress or eliminate bad habits Fasting establishes equality among the rich and the poor. It opens avenues to give alms to the poor and the needy.


Pay respect to your elders, have sympathy for your youngsters and be kind toward your relatives and kinsfolk. Guard your tongue against unworthy words, and your eyes from scenes that are not worth seeing and your ears from sounds that should not be heard. To those who have never fasted why not give it a try it could change your entire life.

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