Editor's note: Ramadan is here again and billions of Muslims all over the world observe the dawn to dusk fasting.
In this series, Legit.ng brings to you the reason Muslims fast and some of the benefits that can be derived from it both spiritually and medically
In the name of Allah, The most beneficent, the most merciful
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar where Muslims all over the world fast from dawn to dusk for 29 or 30 days. Beyond not eating and drinking during this period, Muslims also abstain from sexual activities during the day while also dedicating a large amount of time to praying and reading of the Holy Quran as a way of getting closer to Almighty Allah.
For a lot of Muslims, Ramadan provides the perfect period for closer reflection and engaging in activities to please Allah. Actions that can invalidate fasting are completely avoided as it is believed that engaging in sinful acts can render the fasting void. During this period also, a lot of Muslims engage in alms giving or providing food for their friends and neighbours.
Why do Muslims fast?
Sawm or fasting is one of the pillars of Islam making it one of the most compulsory activities that Allah enjoins Muslims to do. This is contained in the Holy Qur’an, Suratul Bakarah (Chapter 2) verses 183 to 185 where Allah said:
"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous -
"[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] - then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess - it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.
"The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey - then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful."
What this means is that fasting is for the believers and has been decreed on those before the time of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and it is an activity to attain righteousness.
What are the benefits if fasting?
Fasting draws one close to Allah as it reflects a Muslim’s willingness to carry out the instruction of God. It provides an opportunity to temporarily feel what not-well-to-do people go through everyday and be able to show compassion towards them. The act of sacrifice embedded in fasting is also strengthened by one’s ability to restrain from what one does normally and this ability of self-discipline allows some Muslims to maintain this lifestyle even after Ramadan.
During the glorious month of Ramadan, the gate of heaven is open while the door of hell is shut. It is also a month of forgiveness as many Muslims seek Allah’s favour and blessing.
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Medically, fasting helps one to lose weight and improve blood pressure. Dr. Michael Mosley who is the author of “The Fast Diet books” wrote: “Studies of intermittent fasting show that not only do people see improvements in blood pressure and their cholesterol levels, but also in their insulin sensitivity.”
It also helps one to get rid of addiction. Smoking and consumption of alcohol can be better control as being able it abstain from it during the month of Ramadan makes it possible to completely shelve it even after Ramadan.
May Almighty Allah consider our fast a form of worship and give us the benefits associated with it.