What is Islam?
by James William Lovegrove (Habeeb-Ullah)
An abstentious life gives tone to our physical, moral, and spiritual health; and the institution of fasting, which has been observed by every religion, is a most essential course. Fasting does not mean abstention from food only, but from every kind of evil. Moral upliftment is the object of fasting —
“Fasting has been enjoined upon you … that you may learn to be righteous” (The Holy Quran, 2:183).
While fasting, we abstain from things otherwise lawful in order to please our Lord. If we keep ourselves away from lawful things, all the more should we shun things that are unlawful. If a person learns to part with what he lawfully owns, he is not likely to appropriate things which do not rightfully belong to him.
“If a person does not restrain his hand, his eyes and his lips from harming others,”
so says the noble Prophet [Muhammad (pbuh)],
“his fasting is only starvation, which has no merit in the eye of the Lord.”
The Prophet was proverbially generous in his charity, but his generosity increased in the month of fasting. Abstinence from food really means to part with it for the benefit of the needy, and the Prophet worked out this principle when fasting, by being more generous.
It is a pity that the Pauline superstructure of the Church, which wrongly passes under the name of Jesus, abolished all the sacred institutions which could help spiritual advancement, one of them being fasting. If the Master is the best specimen for our imitation, and he used to keep the fast, why should his followers, if they are good Christians, not do the same? If he fulfilled all righteousness for the whole world, and thus absolved the people from their religious duties, of which fasting was one, it would be only reasonable to conclude that we are absolved from all other duties. In these days, people have become interested in psychic research and in the working out of the occult power within them. They would make much better progress by following this institution of fasting. Jesus had to keep the fast for forty days before he received his illumination. The Prophet of Islam went on fasting for months, and then came that wonderful revelation to him which completed the Quran—a Book of real enlightenment and guidance, on every plane of humanity.