What is the wisdom and benefit of fasting?
Allah’s commands and prohibitions are surely for people’s own good. Scholars of Islam are in an agreement on the matter that all these decrees aim at benefits for people. It is an inevitable fact that there are great benefits for people in things Allah wants us to do and there are disadvantages in things He forbids. Due to the mission Islamic teaching gives them, scholars of Islam have always been thinking hard on benefits and wisdom of various ways of worshipping and have attempted to introduce functional ways for them in order to help people purify their souls and exalt them instead of their personal advantages in practice. In this case, advantages and wisdom of worshipping that people are held responsible are clear, it is also a fact that not all the benefits and purposes that are supposed to be realized are certain.
The main purpose of fasting is to have people attain piety. This has been clearly stated 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 God's protection (against the temptations of your carnal soul) and attain piety.” ( the Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:183)
Fasting, which leads people to the process of spiritual education, makes people remove the sediment of sins deposited on their hearts and spirits in a short time. Fasting, therefore, makes them reach the secret of the verse “He is indeed prosperous who has grown it in purity (away from self-aggrandizing rebellion against God)” (the Qur’an, ash-Shams, 91:9). This is a statement of the fact that those who purify their carnal souls are those who attained salvation. Just as giving alms may cleanse sins and cause them to grow in purity and sincerity (the Qur’an, at-Taubah, 9:103), so too does fasting, which is the alms of the body, save people from the domination of their carnal souls.
A person who fasts breaks the chains of his carnal soul and takes the hold of Allah’s rope. While the carnal soul makes man selfish and leads him to loneliness, man becomes more and more aware of the fact that he is a social being, by clutching Allah’s rope. During Ramadan, the month of fasting, prayers performed in congregation carves the sense of unity into the spirits. Rich people perform their prayers in the same line with the poor, they eat at the same table; alms, fitrah and payment (fidya : For those who are unable to fast (elderly, sick, handicapped, etc.) a compensation must be given by feeding a poor person for every day that fasting is not observed) are like life water to improve the unbalanced income distribution.
Fasting turns into taming of the carnal soul due to its being on the one hand, a willful restraint from desires of the carnal soul and into an education of patience due to its making people bear hunger and thirst on the other hand. To have a successful period in life process, a person needs to go through taming of the carnal soul. People with weak wills cannot succeed in life; they may also end up badly in terms of spirituality. It is because ways of worshipping have a state and feature which only those who have strong wills can carry them out. At this point, fasting is effective on controlling the desires of the soul and exalting the spirit in terms of purity and sincerity. Likewise, consideration of fasting as a means of ascetism and struggle by various religions and cultures despite being in different forms is interesting in terms of expressing this fact.
Thanks to fasting, being content re-enters our houses. A person who bears hunger and thirst due to fasting understands the people who are in need and the importance of being content with what one has. He cannot waste anymore. The statement of Allah’s Messenger “Being content with what one has is an endless treasure” (Bayhaqi, Zuhd, 2:88) echoes in believers’ ears. Understanding the importance of the food, man becomes more thankful to God. He understands that ambition causes deprivation and being content leads to mercy. The manifestation of the word of Allah’s Messenger “those who economize do not have a hard time making ends meet” (Ibn Abi Shayba, al- Musannaf, 5:331) becomes visible in his life.
Fasting makes it possible for man to discipline his life with iftar (dinner for breaking fasting during Ramadan) and sahur (meal before dawn) and tarawih prayer and other ways of worshipping.
Ramadan, the month of fasting, is full of opportunities and treasures for man to turn to his Lord and to ask for forgiveness of his sins. A person has the opportunity to consider more on the Qur’an. As a result of the abundance that Ramadan brings and its drawing the veil of sins over the heart and the brain, man begins to deeply comprehend some verses.
As the alms of the body, fasting contributes a great deal to the metabolism in removing harmful components deposited in the body. In this month, when man begins considering his body to be a mysterious and harmonious integrity of matter and meaning that is different from other creatures, bodies renew and brains brighten… Our bodies become healthy as if they confirm God’s Messenger’s word “Fast and you become healthy”. (Tabarani, Mu’jamu’l-Awsat, VIII: 174; Mundhiri, at-Targhib, 2:206)
Fasting in Ramadan is a time period when people fill with hope of forgiveness. Fasting is an instructor that teaches people how to remain strong against sudden troubles. Ramadan is a month that grants the opportunity to our children to learn and practice the religion in excitement…
The Messenger of Allah said the sins of those who assessed Ramadan by believing and expecting the return from Allah would be forgiven. (Nasai, Belief, 21). In the same way, the Prophet said addressing his Honored Companion Ka’b b. Ujra : “O, Ka’b! Prayer is evidence which proves that a person is a Muslim. Fasting is a strong shield. Giving alms cleanses sins just like water extinguishes fire. O Ka’b! Flesh and bones that form by feeding on the forbidden things deserve to be in fire.” ( Tirmidhi, Jum’a, 79).
There is a firm connection between the wisdom and understanding the decrees of fasting. Being aware of the rules concerning the laws of fasting will give us the opportunity to fast in accordance with the sunnah that the Prophet left us as a wisdom.
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