By Talah Al Tamimi
Fasting the month of Ramadan does not only hold physical dietary restrictions, it also encompasses the cleansing of the soul.
The physical restrictions of fasting are obvious- abstaining from food and drink from dawn to dusk. Life in Saudi Arabia flips where night becomes day and day becomes night, and some stores stay open until 2 a.m. to cater to its cliental.
A lot of us forget the spiritual aspect of fasting. We are often caught up in what thobes to wear, what iftars to attend, or what bazaars to go to. It is always important to remind ourselves of the spiritual component of fasting.
Fasting is a form of worship that was introduced to Muslims in the 2nd Hijra year. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, meaning that every capable Muslim is required to fast the month of Ramadan. This ninth month of the lunar calendar predates Islam and was chosen as the month of fasting. During this holy month the first revelation came down to the Prophet PBUH in this month. It is in Ramadan that angel Gabriel went through the whole Quran with the Prophet PBUH, and in the Ramadan before he died, they went through the Quran twice.
Ramadan is the month of purity and spiritual cleansing. The purpose of fasting is to teach Muslims discipline, self-restraint and control. The individual fasting should control his/her desires, abstain from sinful acts and wrongdoings, become aware of his/her blessings and ask for mercy from God.During fasting we are forced to think of those less fortunate because of the hunger pangs we experience, and this is extremely relevant today as there are around 870 million people globally who are chronically undernourished according to the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 Report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. We are also required to follow the fasting of the mouth during Ramadan- no quarrels or gossiping is accepted. And lastly, one should break his/her fast modestly. All of these acts combined facilitate the purification of the soul.
The control and discipline of the mind and body should lead to taqwa, a conscious awareness of God. It is a time for Muslims to reassess their life purpose; how are you living your life, and how can you contribute positively to create change for a better world.
Ramadan is a month to return to God, and thank Him for all of the blessings that He has bestowed upon us, and see how we can give back to Him. It is a time of hard work physically and mentally, but each one of us should embrace it as it encompasses many physically and spiritual rewards.
A Few Health Benefits Of Fasting
- Rests the Digestive System
- Promotes Weight Loss
- Promotes Anti-aging
- Reduces Stress
- Reduces Cell Inflammation
- Increases Will Power
- Promotes Detoxification
- Reduces Blood Sugar
- Increases Fat Breakdown
- Corrects High Blood Pressure