Fasting – Key to Good Health
Fasting has its advantages from the point of view of health and hygiene. Islam wants a Muslim to be healthy, clean, alert, agile and energetic.
“Fast to be healthy,” had said the Prophet (s.a.w.). And physicians today acknowledge the many benefits of fasting that ensure health and the soundness of one’s body and mind. Some of these positive points have a direct influence on psychology and physique of the fasting individual.
Fasting has been found to be an effective treatment for psychological and emotional disorders. It helps a person to firm up his will, cultivate and refine his taste and manners, strengthen his conviction of doing good, avoid controversy, petulance and rashness, which all contribute towards a sane and healthy personality. Besides nurturing resistance and ability to face hardships and endurance, fasting reflects on outward physical appearance by cutting out gluttony and getting rid of excess fat.
The benefits of fasting on health do not stop there but are instrumental in alleviating a number of physical diseases, including those of the digestive systems, such as chronic stomachache, inflammation of the colon, liver diseases, indigestion, and conditions such as obesity, arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure, asthma, diphtheria and many other maladies.
A Swiss physician Dr. Barsilus noted that: The advantages of hunger as a remedy exceed those ingesting medicine several times.
As readers are well aware, several physicians advise patients to skip meals, sometimes for a few days, before prescribing them a controlled diet.
Generally speaking, fasting hastens the destruction of the decaying tissues of the body by means of hunger, and then builds new tissues through nutrition. This is why some scientists suggest that fasting should be regarded as an effective means of restoring youthfulness and longevity. However, Islam exempts from fasting sick and old people whose health is bound to deter.
But fasting should have its regulations too, and not simply the inorderly skipping meals, that is bound to harm health and stamina, rather than improving them. Here again Islam provides the answer, and in order to realize the benefits of fasting, it recommends the late midnight meals called ‘Sahar’ (before the formal start of a fast) and the breaking of the fast at the time prescribed. Of course, to ensure good health one should abstain from gluttony after breaking fast.
The Glorious Month of Ramazan
The holy month of Ramazan enjoys a special importance in the Islamic calendar. As the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “It is Allah’s Own month.” It is the chief of all months and the most glorious one. As we already know, ‘Fasting’ is one of the important pillars of Islam and it is the very month of Ramazan during which fasting has been made obligatory for all adults and sane Muslims. By fasting during Ramazan, a Muslim besides discharging an obligation imposed upon him by Allah, becomes entitled to great reward in the Hereafter. On the other hand, any lapse in the matter amounts to a great sin. Fasting is an article of worship, the knowledge about the performance or otherwise whereof rests only with Allah and the person concerned. Hence, it is Allah alone who will reward that person for it, on the Day of Judgement.
The blessings of Ramazan are not limited to fasting alone, because the performance of all sorts of worship and good deeds during this month, is also a source of great Divine favor. The revelation of the Holy Qur’an commenced during this very month and it is therefore the duty of every Muslim to read and try to understand the meaning of the Holy Qur’an and thereby gain an insight into the Divine secrets enshrined therein. It brings peace and illumination to the mind and imparts purity to the soul.
Ramazan is the month of fasting, intensive prayer, sacrifice and Divine worship. Throughout this month a devout Muslim fasts during the day in the true sense of the word, that is, he had merely denies himself food and water, but as explained by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.), exercises strict control over his tongue, eyes, ears, thoughts and deeds and does everything possible to seek the pleasure of Allah.
Devout supplications to Allah and repentance of one’s sins during Ramazan are the sources of Divine blessings and mercy. Some nights, among the last ten nights of Ramazan, are called the ‘Nights of Glory’ (Layalih-al-Qadr). These are the 19th, 21st, and 23rd nights. Muslims keep awake during these nights and offer special prayers. Even among these nights, the 23rd enjoys excellence over all the others. It is accompanied by great blessings, and the supplications made to Allah during this night are usually granted by Him.
The holy month of Ramazan, besides being the month of worship and Divine blessings, carries a historical importance as well. As already mentioned above, the revelations of the Holy Qur’an commenced in this month. The epoch-making ‘Battle of Badr’ and the ‘Conquest of Mecca’ also took place during the holy month of Ramazan