Posted by: bbburnley | July 27, 2012

Beyond Hunger – Why Muslims Fast

The first and main reason why Muslims fast is because God has commanded it in the Holy Qur’an. Fasting is something that was commanded to every people God sent Prophet’s to. Fasting is an act of worship that is marked by many of the world’s religions, including Christians, Jews and Hindus.

Fasting also aids a person to develop their self-discipline. Not being able to eat or drink despite the free availability of food has a psychological dimension to it, especially when one is around people who don’t fast in Ramadan, for instance at work or at school. Muslims are expected to increase in the amount of worship they perform during Ramadan, including reading from the Holy Qur’an, observing recommended and voluntary prayers. Also, a Muslim is expected to refrain from foul language, backbiting, lying and getting into arguments, etc, during Ramadan. Through this it is hoped that a person will develop the discipline to continue this behaviour throughout the remainder of the year. There are health benefits too, including reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, as well as scientific evidence which suggests that it can slow the ageing process down and potentially increase your life span.

As noted above, fasting is observed by many of the world religions and have been used by adherents not only to improve self-discipline but also strengthen their spirituality. In Islam, fasting is said to bring you closer to God and there are many Qur’anic verses and Hadith traditions that express the virtues of fasting and how beloved an act of worship it is to God.

But there is a social aspect to fasting too.

The first is that it makes one more appreciative of the many bounties God has afforded us, creating a respect for the availability of food and drink that we normally take for granted and how little we actually need to survive. This also has the effect of making us more aware of those who suffer from hunger and thirst with no choice in the matter and develops a heightened sense of sympathy for them, which leads to an increase in charitable giving and generosity towards our fellow humans. Many Muslims see Ramadan as a month of giving, choosing it to give their Zakah (compulsory alms) and other donations of wealth to where its needed the most.

Ramadan especially creates a sense of fellowship with other Muslims too, through recognition of fasting together, with neighbours exchanging the gift of dates and food. The nights of Ramadan are given over to communal prayers and thanksgiving for the revelation of the Holy Qur’an, which was first revealed in the month of Ramadan.

If you would like to experience fasting in Ramadan, why not join us on 15th August 2012 in a day of sponsored fasting and a shared iftar (opening of the fast), 8pm at the Burnley and Pendle Faith Centre. You can contact the Building Bridges office for a copy of a sponsorship form to raise funds for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement for the Syria Crisis Appeal. 



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