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Fasting; a way towards piety
Religious holidays Nasser Mokarian

Fasting and its importance

“Fasting” is for doing the commandments of Allah and nearness to Him and a person must refrain eating and drinking and doing some other things, which it will be discussed later, from morning adhan up to maghrib.

This worship is not only one of the holy commands of Islam, but also it existed before Islam in Abrahamic and tawhidi religions; the holy Qur’an said: “يا أيُّهَا الَّذينَ آمنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُم الصِّيامُ كَما كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُم لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُون” (1) i.e.: “O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that ye may ward off (evil)”.

It comes from the Torah and the Bible that fasting was existed between Jews and Christians, but some of other ethnic groups and nations also observed fasts when faced with grief and sorrow.

The importance of this worship, which plays a key role in the health of body and soul, was mentioned in the speeches of Infallible Imams (peace be upon them):

  1. It is mentioned in a holy tradition which the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) quoted from Allah, the Almighty: “Fasting is for me and I will reward it”. (2)
  2. The holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said:
     “الصوم جُنَّةٌ مِنَ النَّار” (3) i.e.: “Fasting is a shield against the fire of hell.”
  3. The holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: “A fasting person, although he is falling asleep on his bed, is doing worship as long as he does not backbit a Muslim”. (4)
  4. Imam Sadeq (peace be upon him) said: “The sleep of a fasting person is worship, his silence is praising Allah, his act is accepted by Allah and his supplication is answered by Allah”. (5)
  5. Imam Sadeq (peace be upon him): “The smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better than musk for Allah”. (6)
  6. Imam Sadeq (peace be upon him) said: “The best Jihad is a fasting in a hot and burning weather.” (7)
  7. It is mentioned in a hadith related to the death of His eminence Mary (peace be upon him): “Jesus (peace be upon him) called after the burial of his mother: O Mohter! Do you wish to return to the world? Mary answered: yes, for doing two works: fist is that to pray for God in a very cold night and the second that observing fast in a very hot weather; O my son! The way is very dreaded and scary.” (8)

The effects and advantages of Fasting

If this worship is done with all its rules and conditions, it will contain very useful material and spiritual effects for individual and society, which we will refer to part of them as follows:

A: Educational Effect

Fasting refines the spirit of human and causes purification of the soul. A fasting person, despite the hunger and thirst of food and water and also ignoring the sexual pleasure, actually proves that he can take the reins of his own rebellious self and dominate over his passions and carnal desires.

The fasting of month of Ramadân is a divine gift which Allah bestowed upon the nation of Mohammad (peace be upon him and his progeny) by which they can make evil away from his soul and body and adorn their lives in the ornaments of piety. The holy Qur’an ordered believers to observe fast and immediately after that pointed out in a short and rich sentence: “لعلکم تتقون” (9), i.e.: so that ye may ward off (evil).

It is mentioned in a narration of Imam Reza (peace be upon him) for the philosophy of fasting: “Allah ordered to observe fast to experience the difficulties of hunger and thirst and can grasp his poverty in Hereafter; and also because a fasting person is contrite and humble in front of Allah, and he will be deserving of divine reward due to his resistance against the difficulties of hunger and thirst, moreover, fasting eliminates passions and lusts…” (11)

Fasting plays a significant role in strengthening of human will and with temporary restrictions, which creates for fasting person during a day; he will be strong and resistant against difficult events.

Fasting is a good support for human in difficulties and problems and it eliminates poverty and distress; it is mentioned in some traditions:

“When difficulties and hardness arose for a person, he observes fast, because Allah, the Almighty said: «وَاسْتَعِينُوا بِالصَّبر»( (13) and the meaning of patience is somehow fasting.

Nevertheless, the meaning of patience is not really fasting, but the tradition is to say one of the clear and sensible instances of patience; because human will find a strong will and firm faith in the light of this worship.

Ali bin Sowaid said: “I told Imam Reza (peace be upon him): Advise me, His eminence said: I order you to be righteous and divine piety; and his eminence did not say anything else. I complained about poverty and penury and said: I Swear to Allah, I was naked and without cloth so that a person put off his clothes and covered me. His eminence said: observe fast and pay alms. I said: even if its amount will be very little? His eminence said: Pay alms from whatever Allah bestowed upon you and give priority to others over yourself, even if you are in need”. (15)

B: Social effect

Fasting teaches equality to the people and with this command, the powerful and wealthy people can grasp the situation of hungers and those who are deprived in the society and try to help and assist them.

Imam Sadiq (peace be upon him) in answer to a question of one of his companions named Hisham bin Hakam about the cause of fasting obligation said: “Allah made this action obligatory to assimilate rich and poor; because rich man does not taste hungry to assist poor; but everything is ready for him; therefore due to the will of Allah, there are assimilation between his all servants and rich man tastes huger and suffering to assist and help weak and hunger human.

C: Health effect

The cause for much of diseases is extravagance in eating different foods which lead to remain additional and the unabsorbed material as fats in different parts of the body or as sugar or extra fats in the blood.

The best way to eliminate this extra fat, which prepares the body for a variety of harmful microbes and diseases, is “fasting” and refusing to eat.

In fact, fasting is the same as housecleaning for body and burns and eliminates the additional and the unabsorbed material in the body. In addition, the body’s digestive system, which is permanently engaged in the work and activities throughout the year, will be rested due to fasting.

The holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) said: «صُومُوا تَصِحُّوا» (17) “observe fast to be healthy and bouncing”. Of course a fasting person must not eat and drink too much in the time of “breaking fast” and “beginning of fast”; otherwise the desired result will not meet.

In addition to what was said, fasting plays a key role in reducing sexual passion, especially for those who cannot marry due to the different reasons.

It is narrated from the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) which said: “O Youth! Upon you to marry; if you are not able to marry, upon you to observe fast because it eliminates lust.” (18)

Othman bin Maz’oon, one of the companions of the holy Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) decided to castrate himself to eliminate sexual passion and lust in himself; when his eminence knows about it, forbidding evil and said: “fasting is a way to break down and eliminate lust in my nation”. (19)

Footnotes:

  1. Al-Baqara chapter (2): verse 183.
  2. Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, chapter 1 from the chapters of delegate fasting, h. 7 and 15 and 16, vol. 10, p. 397 & 400.
  3. Ibid, h. 1, p. 395.
  4. Ibid, h. 12, p. 399.
  5. Ibid, h. 17 and 24, p. 401 & 403.
  6. Ibid, h. 25, p. 403.
  7. Mustadrak al-Wasāʾil, chapter 2 from the chapters of delegate fasting, h. 14, vol. 7, p. 504.
  8. Ibid., h. 6, p. 506.
  9. Al-Baqara chapter (2): verse 183.
  10.  Abdomen.
  11.  Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, chapter 1 from the chapters of obligation of fasting, h. 5, vol. 10, p. 9.
  12.  Golestan, chapter seven, in the effect of education, h. 18, p. 244.
  13.  Al-Baqara chapter (2): verse 45.
  14.  Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, chapter 2 from the chapters of obligation of fasting, h. 1, vol. 10, p. 408.
  15.  The book Al-Kāfī, book of Zakat, chapter altruism, vol. 4, h. 2, p. 18.
  16.  Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, ibid, h. 1, p. 7.
  17.  Bihār al-Anwār, vol. 93, p. 255, Nahj-al feṣāḥa, h. 1854, p. 393.
  18. Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, chapter 4 from the chapters of obligation of fasting, h. 1, vol. 10, p. 410.
  19. Ibid., h.  2 & 3, p. 410 & 411, Mustadrak al-Wasāʾil, chapter 2 from the chapters of delegate fasting, h. 1 & 2, vol. 7, p. 506 & 507.

 

Qom – Nasser Mokarian