The Benefits of Fasting

Allah (most high) commanded us to fast and revealed to us the wisdom behind it, in His saying: {so that you may attain Godwariness}. The scholars, doctors, and others have also come to realize the wisdom behind fasting.

In Fasting there are Benefits for the Soul and Body

The scholars of jurisprudence realized that fasting calls to

1) Compassion for the poor and needy, and this compassion leads to the fulfillment of a legal obligation and one of the cornerstones of Islam, which is the Zakat. He (most high) said: {give the Zakat} (2:110).

2) Keeping one’s self away from desires and disgraceful acts, whether open or hidden: {Say [O Prophet], ‘My Lord only forbids disgraceful deeds- whether they be open or hidden} (7:33).

3) Cooperation and kindness. He (most high) said: {Cooperate in righteousness and piety} (5:2).

4) Being more active in doing righteous works, and in rushing to them, and striving with determination to attain them. Allah (most high) dispraised the hypocrites for their laziness, in His saying: {when they stand up to pray, they stand up lazily} (4:142).

And other things related to the science of jurisprudence.

The scholars of Tasawwuf realized that fasting is the greatest means to purify the soul and to uplift it and release it from the world of the bodies to the world of the souls. Through it the soul remembers the glory, honor, knowledge, sustenance, and peace that it used to possess in the first epoch:

{God presents the example of a town that was secure and at ease, with provisions coming to it abundantly from all places. Then it became ungrateful for God’s blessings, so God afflicted it with the garment of famine and fear, for what its people had done} (16:112)

I heard my shaykh, the great teacher, Shaykh Muhammad Bakhit al-Muti’i (may Allah have mercy on him and be pleased with him) say in explanation of this verse:

‘It has been said that it (i.e. the town) is the soul.’

They have also mentioned that the Abdal have four characteristics:

1) Silence
2) Hunger
3) Seclusion
4) Wakefulness.

Now Silence is brought about by Hunger, and so is Wakefulness. And what remains is Seclusion, which is its fruit, because it is brought about by the lights of dhikr, for they cause one to find intimacy and comfort in the company of Allah (al-uns billah) and a lack of it in the company of all other than Him (al-wahsha ‘an siwah).

So Hunger is the basis for the (other) three, and it happens while Fasting.

It has also been said that the medicine for a heart when it hardens is five things:
1) Emptying the stomach
2) Reciting the Qur’an
3) Being up before dawn, supplicating and crying
4) Tahajjud prayers at night
5) Keeping the company of the people of good and righteousness

The four after emptying the stomach cannot all be done (completely) except through emptying the stomach, so it is also a basis for them, and emptying of the stomach happens while Fasting.

Therefore, the station of the Abdal, and the removal of the heart’s hardness are achieved through the emptiness of the stomach, which, as is known, happens during Fasting. How great are the benefits of this Fast, and how many are its blessings upon mankind, so in it {let the competitors compete!} (83:26)

Doctors have said that a stomach must rest for periods of time, and found that this period is at least a month out of every year, and that an increase above one month is an increase in good for it. They said that whoever does not fast, will go through periods of time when he is forced to leave eating and drinking until the stomach takes what is its due.

– Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari, The Secrets of Fasting.

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