Reasons Why We Fast
O ye who believe! Fasting is ordained for you, even as it was ordained for those before you, that ye may guard yourself (against evil)” Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 183).
Ramadan is a month of fasting and prayers for the Muslims. The fast generally is total abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. There is, however, a greater significance to fasts than mere abstinence from eating and drinking as we have discussed in the previous posts (http://davies1608.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/common-mistakes-made-during-ramadan/). The real objective of fasting is to inculcate in man the spirit of abstinence from sins and of the development of virtue. Thus the Qur’an declares that the fasts have been prescribed with a view to developing piety in man, as is clear from the verse quoted at the top of this page. In today's post, i would go through a few points on what i believe are reasons why muslims should all fast during this Noble month.
1. It is one of the five pillars of Islam. What better reason do we have to fast other than one which will complete our faith. This to me is one of the most import reasons we partake in the fast. The Quran presents them as a framework for worship and a sign of commitment to the faith. They are (1) the Shahada (Islamic creed), (2) Salat (daily prayers), (3) Zakat (almsgiving), (4) Sawm (fasting during Ramadan), and (5) the Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) at least once in a lifetime
2. Another major consideration in undertaking fast, as in any act of devotion in Islam, is to seek closeness to Allah and beseech His pleasure and forgiveness. This act in itself generates a spirit of piety in the heart of man.
3. Fasting enhances through creation of artificial non-availability, the value of the bounties of God, which most people take for granted in the midst of plentiful availability, and thus instils in our hearts a spirit of gratitude and consequent devotion to Allah. Nothing else can bring home to man the worth of God’s bounties than a glass of water and a square meal after a day‑long fast. This also reminds us that the real joy in enjoying God’s bounties lies in moderation and restraint and not in over indulgence and waste.
4. Fasting makes us deeply conscious of the pangs of hunger and discomfort suffered by the less fortunate around us, who may have to put up with such stringent conditions all through their lives. Imagine someone feeling what you feel as you fast every minute of everyday with no Iftaar to look forward to. We know at dusk, we break but what about the man on the streets with no idea where his next meal will come from. This thus puts in man a spirit of sacrifice leading to charity and almsgiving towards his suffering brothers and sisters in Islam.
5. Fasting is meant to CONQUER ANGER, not to augment it, and to develop self control in man; for the vigorous effort of wilfully putting up with a continued state of hunger and thirst can well be extended to conquer other infirmities of human character that lead man into error and sin.
6. The wilful creation of the stringent conditions of hunger and thirst for one’s own self, simply in obedience to the Divine Order of Allah, measures the faith of man in God and helps to strengthen it by putting it to a severe test.
7. On the physical side, fasting cleanses the human system of the accumulated impurities of uninterrupted eating throughout the year. It prepares the body for toughness and hardihood to face disease or conditions of scarcity. The rigid abstinence that the fast provides, regulates our health, sharpens our intellect, gives spurt to hour spirituality and enhances the qualities of our hearts. With the cleansing of the human body, it paves the way for its easy and effective rebuilding through meals at the end of the day or after the month is over.
8. Fasting puts into our hearts so many qualities; the spirit of FORGIVENESS in man towards his subordinates. If he himself seeks Allah's forgiveness through fasts and prayers, the least he could do his forgive those who go against him. Fasting affords us lessons in PUNCTUALITY. Through the month there should be strict adherence to various time schedules in the observance of fasts, time for suhoor, iftaar and offering of various prayers. Fasting enforces in man rigid DISCIPLINE ‑ mentally, spiritually and physically ‑ a trait of character which forms an essential ingredient to success in human life. This new learnt qualities should be used in everyday life even after the month has passed.
9. Fasting inculcates a spirit of tolerance to face unpleasant conditions and situations without making his fellow-being the victim of his wrath on account of his adverse conditions, such as deprivation of his basic needs of life, which constitutes the common cause of dissension among men.
10. Fasting exposes the weakness of man in the event of his being deprived of but two of the bounties of Allah ‑ food and drink; it thus infuses in him a spirit of meekness and submission, generating humility and prayer in an otherwise arrogant man.
11. Through quick alternation of the state of plenty and of scarcity, fasting seeks to inculcate in man the right type of attitude in different situations in life. It teaches us to be full of gratitude and to be thankful in when things are in abundance and to be patient and prayerful in times of little and difficulty.
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