Fasting is a mandatory act of worship for all Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. Besides the obligatory fast during Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to observe voluntary fasts on specific days known as Sunnah fasting.
Beyond its spiritual significance, fasting also offers several health benefits, as experts and scholars have observed. Scientific research has shown that fasting does not have any significant adverse effects. So, let’s explore the wisdoms of fasting from both the perspectives of Islamic Shariah and health.
1. Enhancing Piety
The primary wisdom of fasting, from the Islamic perspective, is to strengthen the piety of Muslims. Ramadan is a blessed month, and individuals observing fasts during this time eagerly seek blessings from Allah. This heightened sense of spirituality encourages people to engage in virtuous acts and devote their time to positive activities, ensuring that their fasts are not in vain.
2. Self-Control and Nafs
Fasting teaches self-control and helps in taming one’s desires and impulses. When fasting, Muslims refrain from actions that could nullify their fast, such as eating, drinking, gossiping, getting angry, lying, and more. Through fasting, one becomes mindful of curbing unhealthy habits. For instance, if you were prone to making unwarranted comments about others, fasting could help you reduce or eliminate this habit.
3. Cultivating Social Empathy
In ordinary days, people might eat three full meals with varied menus, along with snacks. However, during Ramadan, you must endure hunger and thirst throughout the day. This experience serves as a reminder that not everyone enjoys the same standard of living or is as fortunate. Many people around the world suffer from hunger and poverty. Fasting acts as an educational tool, fostering empathy for those in need, inspiring acts of charity, such as distributing meals to the less fortunate.
From a health perspective, fasting can benefit your body by helping you avoid unhealthy eating habits, like fast food, which tends to be high in cholesterol and other detrimental elements.
4. Seeking Forgiveness
Ramadan, as previously mentioned, is a sacred month teeming with blessings, making it an opportune time for individuals to compete in performing good deeds. Fasting during Ramadan is one such good deed, undertaken with the hope of seeking forgiveness from Allah. Consequently, people are more inclined to engage in various acts of worship, such as performing prayers consistently, thereby ensuring that their fasting is accompanied by devotion.
5. Detoxifying the Body
The human body contains a variety of waste and toxins. When fasting, abstaining from food and drink for the better part of the day prompts the body to convert stored fats into energy for daily activities. During this process, the body also disposes of toxins bound to fat. This waste and toxins are excreted through bodily fluids like urine, sweat, and feces.
6. Achieving Ideal Body Weight
The reduced food intake and meal frequency during fasting generally lead to eating smaller portions. You eat only during Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) and Iftar (meal to break the fast), and these times do not usually allow for large meals. This results in a lower calorie intake, and fasting inadvertently supports healthier weight management.
7. Sharpened Mental Acuity
From a health perspective, fasting can lead to improved mental sharpness. Hormone cortisol levels in the body decrease during fasting, making it easier to manage stressful situations and thoughts. With a calmer mind, you can think more clearly and handle challenging issues more effectively.
8. Enhanced Immunity
During fasting, the body produces more lymphocytes or white blood cells than on regular days. The production of white blood cells can increase by up to ten times, bolstering your immune system’s capabilities in fighting off harmful bacteria and infections.
9. An Affordable Doctor and Medicine
Lastly, fasting serves as a cost-effective prescription for health. It encourages a balanced and measured approach to food consumption. The Prophet Muhammad recommended breaking the fast with dates and water, a practice that has health benefits as it provides a quick energy source.
Fasting discourages excessive eating, particularly of heavy foods like meat and bread immediately after Iftar. This dietary practice aligns with the goal of fasting and its intended spiritual benefits.
With these various wisdoms of fasting, you have numerous compelling reasons to embrace this sacred practice. Fasting is even recommended for some individuals who are unwell.
If you have doubts about your ability to fast due to a medical condition, consult a healthcare professional for guidance. Happy fasting!