Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MYTHOLOGY OF FASTING DURING THE MONTH OF RAMADAN

Reason for Fasting
Fasting is an act of deep personal worship to God in which Muslims seek to raise their level of God-consciousness. The act of fasting redirects the heart away from worldly activities and towards the remembrance of God. Muslims focus during this month on strengthening their relationship with the Creator. It is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer and doing of good deeds. Fasting is intended to inculcate self-discipline, self-restraint and generosity.

Benefits of Fasting
Fasting is one of the best treatments for acidity in the stomach as well as inflammation of the large intestines. In addition, fasting can strengthen the skin and bones, reduce the risk of gall bladder stones, improve heart function and blood circulation. It can also help with weight loss, making the body lighter on the heart and the bones, specifically the back, legs and feet. However, fasting has not been prescribed by God simply for dietary reasons. Rather, fasting is an act of worship to God in order to teach mankind self-restraint. In addition to restraining from food and drink, the individual must work on being more patient and forgiving.

A Time for Thought, Action and Change
Islam seeks to guide man onto the path to eternal life and prepares him for it through worship, prayers, charity and fasting. All these are meant to enable man to exercise control over his own life and have the moral courage to take the path of truth, justice and compassion. It wants reason to take charge of the ship of life and steer it wisely and safely through the stormy and dangerous seas of this life under the guidance of Divine Revelation. That is the message of Ramadan.

Fasting - A gift from the Creator
The month of Ramadan is an opportunity to develop qualities of endurance and self-restraint, to control anger and a fiery or malicious tongue. It is an opportunity to fine tune the body and shed it of obesity and sloth, and to benefit from any therapeutic effects fasting may have. Ramadan is a time to awaken compassion and solidarity with others and in particular with the poor. Muslims are urged to be more liberal in giving during Ramadan and are required at the end of fasting to give Sadaqatul-Fitr to the poor (a small amount of mandatory charity), an amount to enable all to share in the spirit of warmth, affection and brotherhood. Ramadan is above all an opportunity to reorient oneself to the Creator and the natural path of goodness and God-consciousness.