“Al-Sawmu li wa Ana ajzi behi” [The fasting is for Me and it is I who will give the reward of it].
Today was the first day of Ramadan May Allah accept our fasting, our duas and keep all of us safe. I would like to talk about some general aspects of Ramadan during this holy month, starting by the reasons why we fast.
The five pillars of Islam are Al Shahada (there is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah), Al Salat (prayer), Al-Zakat (charity), Al-Sawm (fasting), Al-Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). So the hadith that you see up there is a Qudsi Hadith (it means that it reports Allah’s words) about fasting and I would love to share with you the interpretation that Sheikh Sharawy, r.i.p., gave to it.
He said that in the history of time humans have always worshipped different idols for whom they would pray, declare their faith in them, make charity or sacrifices for. Just try to remember the Pharaohs, the Aztecs, and many other ancient people used to kneel and pray for objects or humans (Astaghfirullah). Some would give charity or sacrifice animals for their god. The same goes for Hajj because pilgrimage means travelling to a location of importance to someone’s beliefs. More recently people started travelling from all over the world to the graves of international celebrities like Lady D, Michael Jackson etc. etc.
But have you ever heard of someone fasting all day long for someone else? The religions of the book (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) are the only faiths that put on their believers the obligation of fasting making this act specifically only for Allah swt. No other beliefs require you to fast except Islam, no God ever requested his servants to fast except Allah. Especially for Muslims fasting is very important.
Every time I get asked this question by non-Muslims I kind of stop and think, not because I don’t know the answer but because it is something so big that I can’t explain it properly. Just to remind you I am not a Sheikh, I am not the best Muslim or the most informed about Islam, I am just a simple Muslim girl trying to understand better her faith and sharing her research results.
When we were little they told us that we are fasting to get more compassionate and aware of the unfortunate people that in this world are still struggling with hunger and poverty. That’s not wrong but the situation is a bit more complex. I believe that Allah swt gives us the opportunity to fast to spiritually purification our body, mind, and soul from all that is from this Dunya (the temporal world). Allah tells us that from Fajr (prayer right before dawn) to Maghrib (the prayer right after sunset) we need to fast, fasting is not just about not eating or drinking. Fasting means taking away any carnal desires. Don’t get me wrong, carnal desires are those appetites of the body, of the flesh; like food, smoke, wrong entertainment, sexual intercourse etc. etc. Basically, from dawn to sunset we should take away from us all of those things that normally take so much of our time and distract us from Allah. Once we are able to do that we can finally focus on our spiritual connection with him. We are not distracted anymore, all we have is this deprived body with an empty mind and a hungry soul waiting to be fed with prayers, Quran, duas and peace. Subhanallah this is great. Like we aren’t doing this for a day, or a week, Allah swt requires us to fasevery day for 30 days during the month of Ramadan.
So what’s the result?
Discipline, humbleness, positivity, stronger faith and trust, empathy, compassion, gratitude … I could go on and on.
For more specific information about fasting and the reasons why muslim do it here are some really usefull links: