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Fasting is basically abstinence from food, drink and sexual relations, it trains the believers in self-control. Consequently, the actual test of theeffects of fasting occurs at the time of breaking the fast. When food is traditionally spread out in large delicious quantities and people are tempted to gorge themselves, the believer is required to control his or her appetite and have a light meal and drink prior to the sunset prayers. It was the practice of the Prophet to break his fast with three dates and water, and after the giving the sunset prayers eat a moderate meal.


This is confirmed by the Prophet's statement,“Allah has no need for the hunger and the thirst of the person who does not restrain from telling lies and acting on them even while observing the fast.” (Reported by Abu Hurayrah and collected by al-Bukhaari (Sahih al-Bukhari(Arabic-English), vol.3, pp.70-1, no.127) and Abu Daawood (Sunan Abu Dawud(English Trans.), vol.2, p.648, no.2355)


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Taqwa is the ultimate goal of the obligation of fasting, as Allah سبحانه و تعالى Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed uponyou is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you maybecome pious.} [Quran 2:183]

The desired outcome of fasting represents the ultimate goal of all acts ofworship. Allahسبحانه و تعالى Says (what means): {O mankind, worshipyour Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become pious.} [Quran 2:21].


The Arabic term Taqwa and the verbs derived from itmean 'fearing Allahسبحانه و تعالى  '  Who Says (what means):


• {O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul.}[Quran 4:1]


• {When their brother Nooh (Noah) said to them, "Will you not fear Allah?} [Quran 26:106]


Nevertheless, the term Taqwa (piety) carries various meanings in theQuran. For example, it has come in the sense of faith and its testimony.


Allah سبحانه و تعالى Says (what means): {And He imposed upon them the word of Taqwa, and they were more deserving of it and worthy of it. Andever Is Allah, of all things, Knowing.} [Quran 48:26]


It also means repentance, as Allah سبحانه و تعالى Says (what means):


{And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allah (i.e.repented to Allah), We would have opened upon them blessings from theheaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seizedthem for what they were earning."} [Quran 7:96]


In another verse it is interpreted as sincerity, as Allahسبحانه و تعالى Says (what means): {That [is so]. And whoever honors the symbols of Allah -indeed, it is from the piety (i.e. sincerity) of hearts.} [Quran 22:32] [Ar-Raazi in Tafseer Fat-h Al-Ghayb]


Piety therefore involves being cautious regarding the actions that bringabout punishment, and for the observant believers, it involves cautionregarding the factors that distance one from Allahسبحانه و تعالى. It is likea person walking on a road full of thorns and trying his best to avoidtreading on them. ‘Umar, mayAllah be pleased with him, asked UbayyibnKa‘b, may Allah be pleased with him, "What is piety?" Ubayy, mayAllah be pleased with him, said: "O Commander of the Believers, haveyou ever walked on a thorny road?" He said, "Yes." Ubayy, may Allah bepleased with him, asked, "What did you do?" He said, "I rolled up myclothes and tried my best to avoid the thorns." He said, "That is piety." [TafseerIbnKatheer]



Achieving sincerity and keeping away from Ostentation

This isrequired in all acts of worship both outward and inward. AllahTheAlmighty Says (what means): {And they were not commanded except toworship Allah, [being] sincere to Him in religion, inclining to truth.}[Quran 98:5]


 It means that they are sincere to Allahسبحانه و تعالى in theirwork. They were not only commanded to worship, but to worshipsincerely.It was narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleasedwith him, that the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhiwasallam, said that Allahسبحانه و تعالى Says in a HadeethQudsi (sacred narration): "The fastingperson leaves his food and drink for Me; fasting is for Me and I shallreward it." [Al-Bukhaari]



Getting used to Order and Punctuality

Let us reflect on one example to see howRamadhaan teaches people order and punctuality.The Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhiwasallam, said: "When you hear theAthaan of Bilaal, do not abstain [from food or drink]; but abstain whenyou hear the Athaan of Ibn Umm Maktoom." [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]


Reminding of the purpose of man's creation

When things and means become the main concern and goal for man, forwhich he lives and which occupy his mind night and day, he will becaptured by these pleasures and become their slave, thereby fulfilling thewords of the Prophet, sallAllahu ‘alayhiwasallam: "Woe to the slave of the dinar, woe to the slave of the dirham."


Al-Munaawi explained this wisdom in an excellent manner, saying,

"Fasting has been prescribed to suppress the desires of the souls andcut the reasons of slavery to and worship of desires. Had they keptpracticing these things all the time, things would have enslaved themand cut them from the way to Allahسبحانه و تعالى. Fasting removes the causes of worshiping other than Allahسبحانه و تعالى and grantsfreedom from slavery to beloved things. That is because freedom means that man possesses things, not the opposite. If these thingspossessed him, he would be reversing wisdom and the superiorwould be turned to be inferior, and the higher turned to be the lower.Allahسبحانه و تعالى Says (what means): {He said, "Is it other thanAllah I should desire for you as a god while He has preferred youover the worlds?"} [Quran 7:140] Desire is a worshiped god, andfasting liberates man from worshiping other than AllahTheAlmighty."



Training to have patience and strong will

Luqmaan said to his son, as Allah سبحانه و تعالى Says (what means): {Omy son, establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, andbe patient over what befalls you. Indeed, [all] that is of the matters[requiring] determination.} [Quran 31:17]

Allahسبحانه و تعالى praises His prophets for this trait, i.e. strength inworship. Allahسبحانه و تعالى Says (what means):

• {Be patient over what they say and remember Our servant,Daawood (David), the possessor of strength; indeed, he was onewho repeatedly turned back [to Allah].} [Quran 38:17]

• {And remember Our servants, Ibraaheem (Abraham), Is-haaq(Isaac) and Ya‘qoob (Jacob) - those of strength and [religious]vision.} [Quran 38:45]

Ibn ‘Abbaas, mayAllah be pleased with him, said, "They are [the people]of strength in obeying Allah and knowing Him."

Al-Kalbi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, "They are [the people]of strength in worship and of patience over it."

Sa‘eedibnJubayr, may Allah have mercy upon him, said, "It is strength inwork and vision in their religious duties."



Fasting and Health

Although fasting is an act of worship that entails reward in the Hereafter, itis amazing that divine wisdom and mercy demand us to worship Allahسبحانه و تعالى with acts which benefit us in this life as well as theHereafter. Therefore, acts of worship do contribute to our wellbeing, healthand safety.


The benefits of fasting for the body are as follows:

1. Fasting stops the accumulation of wastes in the intestines and helpsin excreting them. If these substances remain in the body for a longtime, they could change into harmful toxins. Fasting is the onlyeffective way that allows expulsion of accumulated toxins in thebody.


2. By fasting, the activity of the urinary and excretory systems isregulated and their performance improves. These systems play animportant role in purifying the blood and body fluids and regulatingthe constituents in the blood and body fluids. Therefore, we findmedical consensus on the need for conducting blood tests on anempty stomach, i.e., the patient must be fasting when undergoing thetests, which is the best way to check if the constituents are within thenormal range or not.


3. Fasting helps the body break down excess fat and differentprecipitates in bodily tissues.


4. Fasting is a tool that can rejuvenate the cells and tissues.


5. Fasting guarantees the preservation of physical energy anddistributes it appropriately according to the body's needs.


6. Fasting improves the function of digestion, facilitates absorption, andbalances body weight.


7. Fasting opens the mind and strengthens perception. An old adagegoes, "Gluttony decreases acumen."


8. Fasting is an effective cure – Allah willing – for many diseases ofthis age. It reduces the burden on the circulatory system, lowers therate of fat and uric acid in the blood and thus saves the body from atherosclerosis, gout, and other diseases.


9. Fasting is of great benefit to many heart patients, because 10% of theamount of blood the heart pumps through the body goes to thedigestive system during digestion. This amount is reduced duringfasting, since there is no digestion during the day. It means less effort and more rest for the heart muscle.




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