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What are the spiritual benefits of fasting?.Part3

What are the spiritual benefits of fasting?.Part3

e. Fasting exalts the soul

The body, as well as the soul, has some needs and desires. The physical body of a human is comparatively small, but the soul is infinite. The countless tendencies, desires, feelings, dreams, thoughts, and ideas of humanity are like an index of the universe.

Therefore, nothing but worship, the greatest and the most sublime way of reaching Allah, can advance and improve the soul and faculties of such a being, fulfill their tendencies and desires, broaden and arrange their ideas, control their powers pertaining to lust and anger, allow them to reach their preordained perfection and bind them to Allah the Almigthy.

  • Fasting, which is an act of worship, comprises all these characteristics.

The Messenger of Allah says:

“There are alms for everything. Observing the fast is the alms for the body and observing the fast is half of patience.”

  • Daily Prayer is the main pillar of religion, fasting is the main pillar of the soul, while the prescribed alms is the main pillar of the community.

That is, a religion without Daily Prayers, a soul that does not fast, and a community that does not contribute to charity cannot stand upright. In the same way that food nourishes the body, fasting nourishes the soul. It is as difficult to lead a religious life without fasting as it is to live without eating.

Therefore, although it changes in form and duration, fasting has been accepted as an important fundamental of all religions; the main aim of religious fasting is to purify the soul. Moreover, Prophets, who are guides for the purification and perfection of the soul, observed fasting during the preparation phase of their difficult missions. While fasting and worshipping during the month of Ramadan in the Hira cave on top of a mountain in solitude, Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, was called to Prophethood at the age of forty. The Bible mentions that Jesus fasted for forty days in the desert before starting his ministry. Similarly, Moses received the Ten Commandments after fasting for forty days. This is another proof of the fact that fasting is an influential factor in the maturation and purification of human beings.

To conclude, the soul is purified and refined through fasting. Those who want to improve their spiritual faculties should observe the fast. In other words, those who do not fast become captives of their body and cannot renew and excel their soul.

f. Fasting controls worldly desires

People need to restrain the endless desires of their carnal soul, for the desires and habits of the carnal soul are like lethal poison or forces that push them to degrade themselves.

  • The carnal soul continuously commands human beings to commit sins.

According to a Qur’anic decree Prophet Joseph describes the carnal soul in the most eloquent way:

“Nor do I absolve my own self of blame: the human soul is certainly prone to evil, unless my Lord does bestow His Mercy: but surely my Lord is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Yusuf 12:53].)

It is very difficult to satisfy the carnal soul; the more you give the more it demands.

The Noble Messenger used to supplicate:

“O Allah, I seek refuge in You from incapacity, from sloth, from cowardice, from miserliness, decrepitude and from the torment of the grave. O Allah, grant to my soul a sense of righteousness and purify it, for You are the Best Purifier. You are the soul’s Protecting Friend and Guardian. O Allah, I seek refuge in You from the knowledge which does not benefit, from the heart that does not have the fear of Allah, from the soul that does not feel contented and the supplication that is not responded.”

In another tradition he seeks refuge in Allah from evils, troubles, and atrocities of the soul.

Fasting is also like armor against fornication, a sin that endangers family life. The Noble Messenger advises those who do not have the economic means to marry to observe the fast in order to avoid sins. Actually, fasting is an effective means of taking the carnal soul under control.

Therefore, fasting, which is obligatory in many religions and accepted as a practical means demonstrating one’s fear of and respect for Allah (taqwa), was established as one of the pillars of Islam.

Allah says in the Qur’an:

“O you who believe! Prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may deserve Allah’s protection against the temptations of your carnal soul and attain piety” [al-Baqarah 2:183].)

Fasting is the reins and bit that restrain the carnal self. It hinders human beings from becoming pharaohs.

It is reported that the Prophet said:

“Allah inflicted certain sort of punishments upon the carnal self. First He put the carnal self in the fire and asked: ‘Who are you, who am I?’ The carnal self said: ‘You are you, I am me.’ Then Allah restrained the self with hunger and asked again: ‘Who are you, who am I?’ The final answer of the self was: ‘You are the Owner of the worlds and I am one of Your humble servants.’”

Finally, human beings can prevent their souls from being rebellious to the Almighty Allah and train them to become an obedient servant by fasting. People who observe the fast become aware that during the fast their soul is as pure as that of the angels. When fasting they are able to understand that they cannot do anything unless they are so permitted, that they cannot have even a sip of water without the permission of Allah and thus they perceive that they are not the owner but rather the owned and they are not the master but the servant.

In the end, they become aware of their endless weakness, destitution, and deficiencies, and thus prepare to knock at the door of the All-Merciful and the All- Compassionate in a grateful manner.

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