Medical Benefits of Fasting
1) “Ya ayoha”: The way and purpose Allah addresses the believers. (Takleef of mercy and love)
2) “Kotiba”: Written contract between Allah and the believers.
3) The word “Sawm” = Imsak of every thing, not just food and drink.
4) “Taqwa”: Shield from Allah’s wrath or shield from Hellfire.
5) “Min Qablikum”: Since the dawn of history, man did not find any means better than fast to ascend above yielding to his desires and worldly wishes, attain spiritual upliftment, return to spirituality, and renounce contemptible habits to which he became addicted and which led him to perdition.
Greeks came to know about fast and its merits from ancient Egyptians. They used to fast immediately before engaging in a war. The Romans emulated the Greeks not only in mythology, but also in observing the fast, especially when they were attacked, in order to gain victory. They believed that fast strengthened them and taught them patience and perseverance, two prerequisites required to win the battle against internal temptations and external dangers.
Ancient Chinese, too, incorporated fast into their doctrines and prescribed it for those who were passing through periods of trials and tribulations. For centuries, Hindus and Buddhists have been observing a somehow more rigid form of fast. Jews and Christians observe certain types of fast. Moses, peace be upon him, observed the fast for forty days at Mount Sinai; see Exodus 24:18. During that period, he was granted the heavy responsibilities embedded in the Ten Commandments. He was commanded in the Torah to fast the tenth day of the seventh month and the ninth of the eighth. Jews used to (and some still do) fast during times of grief and mourning and when exposed to danger. They were also accustomed to fast one day as an act of atonement and whenever they believed that God was angry with them. Nowadays, they fast one week to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezar II (605-562 B.C.) son of Nabopolassar, founder of the Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian empire, on March 16, 597 B.C.
. Jesus of Nazareth (6 B.C.- 30 A.D.), peace be upon him and his virgin mother Mary daughter of Imran (Amram), was reported to have observed the fast on the day of atonement. He and his disciples fasted the forty days observed by Moses before him; see Matthew 4:2. This set the precedence for the pre-Easter fast among some Christians. Other Christian theologians started other types of fast during which they do not eat meat, fish, or eggs.
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Allah Almighty has said, "Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve in Allah's ordinance since the day He created the heavens and the earth, of these four are sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore, do not be unjust to your own selves regarding them (Holy Qur'an, 9:36)." These are the lunar months upon the reckoning of which does a Muslim in the east of the earth or the west rely.
According to astronomy, the lunar calendar cannot be less than 29 days, nor can it be more than 30. It may once be 29 days and another 30, and its average is 29 days and 12 hours and five minutes. The beginning of each lunar month is recognized by the sighting of the new moon, the crescent. The Almighty says, "They ask you concerning the new moons. Say: They are times appointed for the benefit of men, and for the pilgrimage" (Holy Qur'an, 2:189).
Fast of the month of Ramadan The lunar calendar of Islam brings the fast of the month of Ramadan eleven days earlier every year. Thus, in a cycle of about thirty-three years, it passes through all the seasons successively. Fast was first prescribed on the second of Sha'ban in the second year of Hijrah.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh)' once asked his companions,
Shall I tell you about something which, if you do it, will distance you from Satan as much as the distance between the east and the west?" They said, "O yes! Please do so," whereupon he (pbuh) said, "It is fast. It darkens his [Satan's] face, while charity breaks his back and the love for Allah's sake and assisting others in doing good deeds cut off his tail and seeking Allah's forgiveness splits his spine. For everything there is a zakat (purification), and the zakat of the bodies is fast.
Fast of the month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar of Islam. The Arabic word shahr is used for a month due to its being mushtahir, well-known or famous, that is, the knowledge thereof reaches all people, as we are told by Imam Ibn Manzoor, author of Lisan al-Arab. As to the reason why it has been called the month of Ramadan, it is due to the fact that the Arabs gave the names of the months according to the times during which they occurred, and to the fact that it so happened that the month of Ramadan coincided with the parching days of the summer. Its root word ramd, means to burn due to excessive sun-heat reflected on the desert sands. The ramda is the burning rock. It is also said that it was called the month of Ramadan because people become ramad due to their suffering from the combination of hunger and thirst during a very hot month. Arab linguists say that to make something armad is to squeeze it between two soft rocks then to pound it. A person fasting, by analogy, pounds his own nature between two rocks: hunger and thirst.
According to one of his numerous traditions, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is quoted saying, "The month of Ramadan was named so because it tends to ramad the sins, that is, burn them." The righteous at the dawn of Islam used to call it al-midmar, meaning that it emaciates the souls and bodies and helps them get rid of the excesses of evils and sins whereby the souls and bodies were laden. During the life-time of the Prophet (pbuh), the blessed month of Ramadan used to be called al-marzooq, the one full of sustenance, due to the abundance of the blessings of Allah whereby His servants are sustained during it.
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) delivered a sermon on the last Friday of the month of Sha'ban. In it, he praised Allah then said,
O people! You have been shadowed by a month one night of which is better than a thousand months; it is the month of Ramadan during which Allah has enjoined you to fast and equalled the rewards for voluntary prayers during its nights with the rewards due to those who volunteered to say optional prayers for seventy years in other months. He also equaled the rewards of the good deeds of those who do good deeds during it with those who perform one of the obligations enjoined by the Almighty (in other months).
And whoever performs one of the enjoined obligations during it will be rewarded as though he had performed seventy other obligations in other months. It is the month of perseverance, and the reward of perseverance is Paradise. It is the month of consolation, the one wherein Allah increases the sustenance of the believers ... Allah will decrease the hardship of the reckoning of whoever decreases the hardship of his slave during it. It is a month the beginning of which is mercy, the middle of which is forgiveness, and the end of which is acceptance and emancipation from the fire. You cannot by any means take lightly during it four merits with two of which you please Allah, and two others you cannot do without. The two merits whereby you please Allah are: you testify that There is no god except Allah and that I, Muhammad, is the Messenger of Allah; as for the two merits which you cannot do without, these are: you plead to Allah to fulfill your worldly needs and grant you Paradise, and that you plead to Allah during it for your health and well-being, and you seek refuge with Him against the fire.
During Ramadan, what is normally lawful (food and water) is prohibited, and so what is normally prohibited becomes extra prohibited such as lust look, backbiting, etc.
Fasting is also prescribed as expiation or as an alternative penalty in respect to certain crimes or defaults. But in these cases also, the objective is the promotion of physical, moral, and spiritual values. For example;
1) The inability to sacrifice an animal during Hajj (10 days)
2) Expiation of an oath (3 days)
3) Alternative penalty for killing game during Hajj (= # of animals killed)
4) Alternative penalty for manslaughter (2 months)
5) Alternative penalty for Zihar (2 months)
6) Alternative way for young men unable to marry
7) Avow of silence during a certain period has been described in the Quran