Answered by: Maulana Muhammad Afzal Hussain
What is the wisdom behind fasting in Islam?
بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمنِ الرَّحِيْم
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Wisdom Behind Fasting:
Shah Wali Allah ad-Dehlawi mentioned in his book ‘Hujjatullahil Baalighah’, you should know that sometimes a person comprehends, due to Allah’s inspiring him with this knowledge, that his physical animalistic form is keeping him from what would constitute his fulfilment in terms of its obeying the angelic side. Therefore, he comes to detest the animalistic side and seek to shatter its force. He won’t find anything that helps him to do this such as hunger, thirst, for swearing sex, and practising vigilance over his tongue, heart, and limbs. Persistence in this is a cure for the sickness of his soul. There follows him one who learned this from the truthful news bearer (The Prophet) with the witness of his heart, then next the one whom the prophets guided out of solicitude for him, while he did not realize it so that he gets the benefit of this in the next life through the shattering of the (animalistic) form.
Fasting is a great deed which strengthens the angelic side and weakens the animalistic side. There is nothing like for polishing the face of the spirit and subjugating the physical nature. Therefore, Allah said, “Fasting is for my sake and I reward it.” His sins are forgiven to the extent that the animalistic form is diminished and through this is achieved a great similarity to the angels, so that they love him. The attachment of love helps affect the weakening of the animalistic side and this is his (prophet) saying ‘The bad breath of the one who fasts is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.’
’[Hujjatullahil Baalighah, Translated by Marcia K. Hermansen, chapter: The Inner Dimensions of the Fast, page: 224-225]
Abu Bakr Jabir Al-Jaza, said in his book ‘Minhajul Muslim’ that, Fasting provides benefit for the soul, the society and health, and they are as follows: From the spiritual benefits of fasting is that it accustoms one to patience and strengthens one’s patience. It teaches self-restraint and helps one to practice it. It places the gift of piety in the soul and cultivates it, and particularly the piety which is the outstanding reason for fasting that is mentioned in Allah the Almighty’s statement: “Fasting has been made obligatory for you just as it was made obligatory for those who were before you so that you may have Taqwa (piety).” [Sura Al-Baqarah: 183]
From the social benefit of fasting is that it accustoms the (Muslim) community to organization and unity and love of justice and equality. It makes a feeling of mercy and good character in the believers. Likewise, it protects society from evil and vices.
From the health benefits of fasting is that it cleanses the intestines and benefits the stomach. It also purifies the body from excesses and deposits, and it lessens the settling of fat and heaviness of the stomach with fat. It is narrated in a hadith that Prophet said: “Fast and be healthy.” [Ibn As-Sunni and Abu Nu’aym, and As-Suyuti graded it, Hasan]
Only Allah Knows Best
Written by Maulana Muhammad Afzal Hussain
Checked and approved by Mufti Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham