The Benefits of Fasting

by Mujahid Ahmad Saeed, Pakistan

The Light & Islamic Review (US), March/April 1995 Issue (Vol. 72, No. 2, pp. 18–19)

Note by the Editor: This article by our young friend could not be published in time for the month of Ramadan. Recently the author, on a voluntary basis, typed into computer form the entire English text of Maulana Muhammad Ali’s book ‘A Manual of Hadith’ to help in its re-typesetting.

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا کُتِبَ عَلَیۡکُمُ الصِّیَامُ کَمَا کُتِبَ عَلَی الَّذِیۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَ ﴿۱۸۳﴾ۙ

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard against evil” (The Holy Quran, 2:183).

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, is of great spiritual value to Muslims all over the world. The revelation of the Holy Quran commenced in this month and the reason given in the Holy Quran for fasting is so that the fasting person may guard himself against evil. This shield against evil helps us in the following ways:

The Spiritual and Moral Benefits:

  1. It brings a fasting man closer to his Creator.
  2. He develops a sense of love for the Holy Quran as this month brings along with it an opportunity towards a special dedication, and also a love towards its recitation, understanding and remembrance.
  3. Lailat-ul-Qadr, (i.e., the Night of Majesty) falls in this month and provides an opportunity for acceptance of prayer.
  4. ltikaf, i.e., staying in the mosque for the last ten days, is observed, and in doing so be gets a better concentration and more time towards praying, reciting the Holy Quran and undergoing other religious activities.
  5. Punctuality in the five obligatory prayers helps him make a habit of offering his prayers regularly and punctually.
  6. The Tahajjud prayer is more widely observed. The faithful leave their warm beds in search of the Bliss of Allah.
  7. The Tarawih prayer is an event that allows the faithful to hear the Holy Quran from beginning to end.
  8. The fasting Muslim learns to obey every command of Allah, the “Supreme Commander”, both publicly and privately.
  9. He refrains from evil deeds while he is fasting.
  10. He is prepared for radical changes in his life as the advent of this month brings similar changes to his daily schedule.
  11. He develops a sense of unity and brotherhood with Muslims all over the world by sharing the spiritual experience of fasting.
  12. He obeys the saying of the Holy Prophet Muhammad [pbuh] by following his advice to refrain from harming his brother Muslims, physically and/or verbally.
  13. Equality and uniformity is observed as both black and white, wealthy and poor, master and servant, act according to the will of Allah.
  14. The wealthy realize the essence of the word hunger and thus become more dutiful towards the rights of the poor, the orphans, the widows and the needy.
  15. It develops the habit of eating moderately and avoiding wastage of food.
  16. Allah forgives the previous sins of men when they seek His forgiveness.
  17. Owing to a fasting person’s pious acts, his fellowmen love him and thus the foundation of a solid and healthy brotherhood is laid down.

The Physical Benefits:

  1. It is easier to undergo physical labour.
  2. Animal instincts and lower passions are conquered.
  3. Body organs benefit from the lesser workload and some of the dangerous substances are diminished from the body.
  4. Laziness is warded off and he becomes active.
  5. He is prepared to face any future hardships and adverse conditions.
  6. Physical and mental endurance is increased.
  7. He achieves spiritual, bodily and mental gratification on completing his fasts.
  8. After a month-long devotion towards fasting and accomplishment of acts of piety for his Creator, he feels real delight when he celebrates his well-deserved Eid-ul-Fitr.