Allah says: “And if you fast, it is better for you.” [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 184] The verse’s meaning encompasses both this world and the next. Numerous medical studies have confirmed that fasting is indispensable for the body’s proper functioning. It is as necessary for the body as food and drink. It facilitates a purifying process that removes dead cells from the body.
Prophet Muhammad said: “Fasting is a shield.” [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (1894) and Sahīh Muslim (1151)] It protects us from spiritual, emotional, and physical maladies. It has incalculable benefits, many of which relate to our physical health, especially the removal of toxins from the system. This is , or course, if the fasting person eats sensibly at night after breaking the fast. Fasting gives the digestive system a chance to rest and restore itself.
Fasting is also a form of spiritual and natural healing. It benefits the heart and body as long as the fasting person acts as he or she should, observing all of the Islamic etiquettes and behaving sensibly. Fasting means to avoid food and drink, which brings many health benefits. but its objectives are more far reaching. It brings the heart and mind together in focusing on Allah and strengthens our love and obedience for our Lord.
Fasting fortifies our bodies and our spirits in the following ways:
1. It gives the body a rest , allowing it to repair and rejuvenate itself.
2. The absorption of material remaining in the intestines comes to a halt , which expedites its elimination. This is important, because food materials that remain in the intestines too long can produce poisons. Fasting is also the only effective way for the body to rid itself of toxins that come from the surrounding environment.
3. Fasting restores the digestive system to its full potential, especially its role in purifying the body. This regulates the levels of the various constituents of blood and other bodily fluids. This is why it is necessary for the patient to be fasting for many blood and spit tests. If there is any discrepancy in the normal fasting level of certain constituents, it can indicate a medical problem.
4. Fasting allows the body to eliminate excess deposits and build-ups from sick bodily tissues.
5. Fasting rejuvenates cells and tissues. Scientific studies have shown that fasting can actually restore the body’s youth.
6. Fasting improves the body’s energy efficiency and helps to regulate the metabolism.
7. Fasting improves digestive functioning and nutrient absorption, allowing it to compensate for nutritional imbalances.
8. Fasting strengthens the mind and improves learning. An old saying goes: “Weight gain is the mind’s loss.”
9. Fasting affects the skin and complexion in many positive ways. It provides many of the same beautifying and cleansing effects that one gets from using quality beauty ointments.
10. Fasting is an effective, less dangerous cure for many of the health problems of the modern world. It reduces the strain on the circulatory system and lowers blood lipid and uric acid levels, which helps to prevent arteriosclerosis, heart disease, and gout.
After the body cleanses itself of toxins and gests the restorative rest it needs, it then moves on to the task of repairing damaged tissues and compensating for the deficiencies that resulted from the impaired functioning of those tissues. Through the rest and detoxification fasting provides, the body gets back to its optimal condition and has the strength to cope with the stresses that beset it.
All of this is in addition to the psychological effects that voluntarily depriving ourselves of food and drink have on us. Luqmān gave the following advice to his son: “My child, when the stomach is full, your mind slumbers, your judgement is dulled, and your limbs are lazy to engage in any acts of worship.”
The famous scholar Sufyān al-Thawrī said: “By eating little, you are able to stay up in worship throughout the night.”
The great Mālikī jurist Sahnūn said: “Knowledge does not come to those who eat until they are full.”
Hunger has its benefits, when it is related to fasting as an act of devotion to Allah. Ten of these are the most important:
1. It purifies the heart, sharpens the instincts, and opens the mind. A full stomach weakens the mind and blinds the heart. The heart becomes too heavy to entertain new ideas and perceptions.
2. It makes the heart receptive to Allah’s remember. Even when we remember Allah with an attentive mind, we sometimes do not find comfort in it. It does not have the spiritual impact it is supposed to have. Our hearts are made more compassionate and sensitive by the hunger induced by fasting, which has a profound effect on our communion with our Lord.
3. It cultivates our sense of humility. It strips us of the vanity, hedonism and insolence that make us lazy and unjust, as well as forgetful of our Lord. Hunger makes us aware of how weak we are. It reminds us that our strength has its limits. We become more humble as a result.
4. It makes us recall Allah’s tests and the hardships that people face. Our hunger reminds us of those who are suffering. People whose bellies are full forget those who are hungry.
5. It weakens our sinful desires and helps us to overcome our baser selves. Our desires push us to commit sins, and our desires are fuelled by food. Therefore, reducing our intake of food weakens those desires. Our success deepens on self-control, while perdition is the consequence of giving ourselves over to our passions. Nothing brings people to ruin these days like harmful addictions. When people are addicted to something, they are willing to do anything to satisfy that addiction, even if it destroys them.
6. It helps us shake off our lethargy. When we eat too much, we become lazy and prone to sleep. This is why some of the Pious Predecessors used to say: “Do not eat and drink a lot. This will make you sit around a lot, and you will lose out on so much.”
We can waste our lives in sleeping and lazing about. That is a foolish, weak-hearted way to live. Our time on this Earth is our most precious possessions. It is the capital that we through our worship invest in the Hereafter.
7. Eating less makes it easy for us to be constant in our religious devotions. We worship less when we eat too much. It takes time to eat all that food. Then it takes time to rest and digest it. Moreover, people who focus on eating can spend a lot of their time shopping for food and preparing it.
8. Eating less improves our health and wards off many diet-related diseases. When we are sick, it is difficult for us to engage in worship, and it preoccupies our time and energies. Being sick puts a strain on our thinking and our life activities. We turn our attentions to doctors and medical treatments.
9. It helps us economically. People today have begun spending considerable sums of money on luxury foods and they have become very finicky about what they are willing to eat. Being hungry helps us to adjust our perspective about food, and this brings us to the final benefit.
10. We learn to prefer the poor and the orphans over ourselves when it comes to our surplus food. What we give will return to us as blessings in the Hereafter.
Allah tells us: “And do good, as good has been done to you.” [Sūrah al-Qasas: 77]
And He says: “Eat and drink, but do not be excessive. Allah does not love those who are excessive.” [Sūrah al-A`rāf: 31]
This verse gives us one of the cornerstones of preventative medicine, which is healthy eating. We should eat wholesome, nutritious food, and do so in moderation. We should avoid high-fat fast foods and other unhealthy choices, and strive to maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity has become a widespread problem, even among the youth.
The Prophet used to seek refuge with Allah from serious illness and beseech Him for health and well-being. We should likewise stress the importance of our health.