Benefits Of Fasting on Mind, Body & Soul
Fasting is basically the 4th moral and spiritual pilar of Islam.Literally defined, fasting means to abstain "completely" from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till sunset. In addition to this literal definition we need to know that, just like all the worships we are asked to do in Islam , fasting holds deeper wisdom and a load of benefits for human kind , and being aware of these benefits is important in order to no longer see fasting as pure synonymes of pointless starvation and deprivation.
Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah said: "Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness" (Darimi).
That's why I combined research and excperience in this post in order to bring to light some , just some of the gains of this worship on the mind , body & the soul .
Willpower and self-discipline:
The simple act of waking each day and stopping yourself from doing things you are physically and emotionally tied up to , is such a great way to cultivate self discipline wich is one of the fundamental steps toward getting things done and beating laziness and procrastinating .
So when you succeed in keeping yourself from eating for 16 hours or so , and with food being perhaps the most powerful human instinct , controling your behaviors and devolopping willpower in other aspects of your life will come off as easy as a piece of cake .
Compassion & gratefulness:
We, humans, have a thing to not see the real value of the blessings we have until deprived from them , that is why fasting is a great way to stop taking for granted the blessing that is to have, all year round , regular meals and full stomachs Alhamdulilah . And with that we should keep in mind that there are people who encounter this hunger all year round not just for 16 hours a day !!
So being grateful and offering what you can to the poor are two major lessons fasting teaches us.
Zaid ibn Khalid Juhni related that the Prophet said:"He who provides for the breaking of the Siyam of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing Siyam without diminishing in any way the reward of the latter"(Tirmidhi).
Patience and kindness:
In addition to the sense of compassion raised in fasting , kindness , sweet talking and patience are additional moral values that one can grow in fasting, for it is forbidden to behave wrong in fasting:
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: "If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink "(Bukhari, Muslim).
On the authority of Al-Miqdaam ibn Maadiy-Karib who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah saying: "No human ever filled a vessel worse than the stomach. Sufficient for any son of Adam are some morsels to keep his back straight. But if it must be, then one third for his food, one third for his drink and one third for his breath."Ahmad, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasaa’I, Ibn Majah – Hadith sahih.
Cleans and Detoxifies:
Yup, offering nothing to your stomach for longer than 5 hours gives to your body the opportunity to make a spring cleaning :p and to get rid of all the toxins held inside .
As I'm not a doctor nor a nutritionist -yet ,
's a great article about the surprising health benefits fasting brings .
Fasting is an efficient opportunity to change your relationship with food . As depriving yourself from it will stop it from being your go-to comforting friend .
Meaning : when stressed or anxious , you will no longer grab a snack or 3 in order to feel better , but instead you will realize that you don't depend that much on schewing food and that you are actually able to control your appetite instead of having it control you !!
Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said:“Fasting is prescribed for man to purify his soul.”
Here are 5 heart worships and ways how fasting can build and strenghten the connection with Allah :
Love & fear :
These two should be the main motive to your fast : love for Allah drives you to present Him worships He loves and to gain His gratification, while fear drives you to worship Him in order to avoid His punishment and desobeidence.
On the Day of Judgment,"Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him."[Ahmad, al-Haakim and Abu Nu'aim, Hasan]
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: "Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord"(Muslim)
The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "He who fasts Ramadan, due to Iman and hoping for reward (from Allah) then his past sins are forgiven." [al-Bukhari, Muslim]
Fasting also increases devotion as people realize that everything we have in this life is a blessing from Allah and that all the deeds , weither good or bad , return to Him and He only can reward us by them.
Any added benefits of fasting to this list will be welcome , don't hesitate to share your knowledge :)
As muslims , it is important for us to remember to renew our intention every now and then as no deed will be accepted without the sincere, devoted intention to obeid Allah. So don't forget to shift your fasting intention from a habitual and enviromental one to a more divine and genuine one .