Fasting restrains the nafs (self, soul)
Abdullah Ibn Umar reports:
We were on the way with Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). We were young and had no means for getting married. Hz. Muhammad (pbuh) said:
"O youngsters! Let those who have means for getting married do get married. Marriage keeps the eyes away from sins, and keeps the chastity. And let those who have no means for getting married observe fasting. Fasting breaks and diminishes sexual desires." (Nasa’i, Siyam: 43)
An important advantage of the fasting is that it teaches us to restrain the wishes and desires of our nafs. Especially when young and strong, man thinks that he has a body made of steel and he depends on that body as if he will stay in the world forever. He tries to taste every pleasure. He may forget his Creator who feeds and nurtures him with compassion. He may forget his death and the eternal afterlife.
Thus, he cannot manage his senses and starts immoral attitudes. He does not listen to his mind and logic; he cannot protect his chastity and honor.
Fasting makes man realize how fragile and weak he is and teaches him a lesson. Thus, the nafs stops its conceitedness and tries to live in the way he is meant to be. It keeps its chastity and morality and takes control of itself.
“Nafs wants to be free and independent and considers itself to be so. It wants to do whatever it wants without responsibility. It does not want to think that it is trained through innumerable bounties. Especially if it possesses wealth and power in this world, and if heedlessness also encourages it, it will devour the divine like an animal.”
Thus, only by fasting can we prevent our nafs from acting as it wishes because fasting restrains its movements and reminds it that it is not uncontrolled.
By stating “Fasting is prescribed to you so that you may learn self restarint”, the Quran informs us that we can improve ourselves and control our nafs better by fasting.
As Elmali said, “Fasting breaks up the sexual desires, defeats the nafs, keeps it away from naughtiness and bad actions, looks down on the worldly ranks and fights of superiority, makes the heart closer to Allah. Fasting grants the nafs an angel-like enjoyment.”
Man observes some kind of a spiritual diet by fasting, and gets used to obeying Allah’s orders. His spiritual life is saved from being poisoned because other senses can take a deep breath and concentrate well on their duties. While the stomach cries because of a temporary hunger, other esteemed senses simply get delighted.
The good senses existing in the nature of the man defeat the bad ones. And the nafs realizes that it is not the owner of the property but a weak servant. A fasting person sees that he cannot even touch the simplest food without the permission of the Creator. Thus, he remembers his duties towards Him and heads towards his actual duty, thanking.
Yes, “The fasting in Ramadan makes the most careless and stubborn one remember his weakness. He thinks about his stomach through hunger. He realizes how needy his weak body is for kindness and compassion.”
From this point of view, in a time like this in which hundreds of sins walk towards man, fasting is a good solution and a strong shelter for youngsters. It is a very easy way to control one’s desires. And when fasting is the one in Ramadan it becomes more and more important and valuable.