What contributions can the month of Ramadan make to us so that we will be disciplined individuals? What kind of habits should Ramadan form in us?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

- The main reason for performing worship is the command of Allah; it is essential not to have any expectations except for Allah’s consent in deeds of worship.  

However, there are several benefits of worship and several aspects that are related to our interests. For example, those who perform prayers can look at life more positively compared to those who do not perform prayers; they are less affected by the pressure of worldly events, and they are not targeted by the threat of illnesses such as stress and depression. A person who performs fasting may be healthier than those who do not; he can enable the machine called the body to restore itself at least once a year with this worship. As we have mentioned at the beginning, they are not the real reasons of worship but the wisdom behind them; in other words, although they are not the main purpose, we can say they are “extra gains”.

Disciplining life is a wisdom that manifests itself in all deeds of worship like a person who performs prayer programming his life according to five daily prayers, trying to keep away from the sins that will prevent prayer, a person who performs fasting starting a systematic diet that he cannot break when he wishes, and assuming a cooler perspective on the events because of the training of patience thanks to this worship.

After this introduction, we can say that Ramadan and fasting make a lot of contributions to the material and spiritual body; therefore, Badiuzzaman Said Nursi uses the following expressions for fasting: “delicious hunger; fasting with seventy benefits”.

- Fasting has such beautiful effects on the body that the body looks forward to Ramadan in order to collect those health gifts. For example, the digestive system, which starts to work as soon as man is born and starts to suckle his mother’s breast with his mouth, can have a rest in Ramadan. Although it is accepted that even a car needs to undergo periodic maintenance at certain intervals, how can it be not accepted that it is necessary for some of the organs of the human body, which start to work when man is born, to have a rest at least for a month and to be made resistant to diseases through this way? It is never possible.

Today, modern medicine cannot deny the fact of fasting. Dr. Henry Lahman treats his patients through fasting in the hospital in Dresden, Saxony; on the other hand, the following statement of Dr. Hellmut Lutener draws our attention to this point: "Fasting is the most natural way of discharging the poison and dirt stored by the body for years." The following statement of the famous Arab physician Harith b. Kalda is very significant: "Stomach is the home of diseases, and diet is the first step of treatment."

Yes, digestive system virtually breathes through fasting. The miraculous effect of fasting is observed in the liver. The liver, which works throughout life and wears out, has tens of other functions besides digestion. With the intake of even 10 grams of food into the body, a lot of burden falls on the liver in the digestive system, which works like a computer; therefore, the only time to relax for the liver is the time of fasting. The liver, which works to balance the nutrients that are taken and the food that is burned, becomes relaxed during fasting related to storing food. As a result of this relaxation, the liver, which also prepares the globins, which are vitally important for the body, helps to strengthen our defense system.

Fasting is very useful in terms of medicine; it is not possible to be affected adversely from fasting except for some patients with very special cases. Adrenaline and cortisone hormones mix with blood more easily in the fasting body. Since those hormones are effective on cancer cells, they prevent the proliferation of cancer cells; in other words, they act as a shield against cancer. Fasting enables the fats surrounding the internal organs to melt, increases the body’s strength of resistance and fitness, and enables many organs to gain resistance against diseases.

The stomach is also affected positively by fasting. The stomach secretes conditionally in all cases but acid does not accumulate during fasting though there is an accumulation of secretion when one is hungry. As a person intends to fast, conditioned secretion stops; therefore, acid secretion stops too. Thus, stomach muscles and secretory cells rest during Ramadan. As the blood volume decreases during the day due to fasting, the heart is also relieved. Since the decrease in water between the cells causes tissue pressure to decrease, the heart is always comfortable during fasting. When food residues are not burned well, the vessels are worn out.  When a person fasts, all the food in the blood is burned toward iftar (sunset) and there is no more left. Thus, fat and similar residues cannot cause contraction in the vessels. Consequently, another benefit of fasting is that it protects us against arteriosclerosis.

There are many other benefits of fasting like the epithelial cells, which work in the body with the duty of continuous secretion, becoming healthy again, the stimulation of the bone marrow since the nutrients in the blood are minimized, and the production of blood.

- In addition to the material contributions of fasting, its major benefits are immaterial and spiritual. Our most important goal is to develop the soul, to make it have virtues, to elevate it to high character, to make it have praised ethics, to save it from idleness, to make it disciplined, to protect its attributes from unconcern and its feelings from excessiveness, to make it have seriousness and guidance and encourage it to attain the endless degrees of perfection; that is, to make the spirit mature and perfect. Ramadan is a spiritual climate in which we can realize this goal. It is known that this goal can be achieved only by worshipping. The tree of fasting has all the fruits that will mature the spirit.

For example, patience becomes a faculty in a person who fasts. Since the world is a place of distress, patience is one of the most important things that we need in every stage of our life journey. The fasting person does not stretch his hand to the boons that are available even though he is very hungry; though his body desires water desperately, he waits for the time of iftar (sunset) to quench his thirst; thus, he actually practices patience.

It is actually a necessity for a believer to be reliable in his world. Otherwise, his belief becomes doubtful. A person who has not proved his credibility to people will not be convincing no matter how much he mentions about his trustworthiness because it is highly probable for him to prefer his interest to Allah’s consent when he finds an opportunity. Fasting trains and matures man regarding the issue; though no one follows a person, no one sees him, and though boons are very close to him, he endures hunger and thirst, which is very hard for the body; this definitely makes man cover a lot of ground in the way of being trustworthy.

Today’s man does not keep his promise very much. The person who leaves his spirit to the atmosphere of fasting gets rid of this weakness, attaining the maturity of keeping his promise because to remain hungry and thirsty for hours and to curb the soul means to keep one’s promise of worshipping made to Allah.

The believer should have dignity; he should not mention his needs to anyone other than Allah; he should raise and open his hands and bow only in the presence of Allah. The willpower that man gains through fasting prevents the risk of giving up his dignity when he faces even a small problem.

Those high attributes, more of which can be mentioned, become man’s character thanks to fasting and they remain in the spirit as a gift of fasting throughout life. In that case, we can say, ‘Fasting is a very effective divine incentive that leads the spirit to the valley of maturity’.

- One of the several benefits of this blessed season is to intend to perform fasting against sins. With this characteristic, Ramadan makes the breezes of the hereafter blow in our life. It increases the distance between us and the sins that poison our spiritual life because there is no place for sins in the mind of the person who is fasting. He cannot have any thought other than to attain his Lord’s consent. The fasting person also fasts in terms of sins. His eyes and ears also fast in the face of harams (forbidden things). His tongue fasts in the face of telling lies and backbiting. His feet do not go to haram places and stumble in such places. Pubs are also chained as devils are chained. Sins lose their charm; even if they wear their brightest clothes and agitate pleasures, they cannot overcome the shield of fasting. It is a clear fact that a fasting person loses the desire to commit sins.

Yes, the doors of the pubs are locked and notices saying, "We are closed due to Ramadan" are put up on the windows; the nests of sins stop their activities in this blessed month; they all mean this in a sense: "Change your life with a brand-new start." Those who forget the ways leading to those places thanks to the spiritual doping provided by Ramadan and fasting will attain real salvation.

Those who benefit from Ramadan properly and those who fully understand the reality of fasting and abide by it are freed from the shackles of sin and enjoy the unique happiness of worshipping Allah. However, the most acceptable and best property of worship is the one that is constant (regular). If the fasting we perform keeps us in the same direction throughout the year, we can gain three million years of holiday, that is eternal happiness, rather than the three-day holiday after Ramadan.

Ramadan and fasting make many contributions to and benefit our material life, spiritual life, social life, world and hereafter. We improve and get elevated in terms of belief and humanity to the extent that we benefit from Ramadan and fasting.

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