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 The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action, and Cha

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PostSubject: The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action, and Cha   Mon 5 Oct - 21:18


The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for
Thought, Action, and Change!

9/7/2007 -
"Fasting in
Ramadan develops in a person the real spirit of social belonging, of unity
and brotherhood, and of equality before God. This spirit is the natural
product of the fact that when people fast they feel that they are joining the
whole Muslim society (which makes up more than one fifth of world's
population) in observing the same duty, in the same manner, at the same time,
for the same motives, and for the same end. No sociologist or historian can
say that there has been at any period of history anything comparable to this
powerful institution of Islam: Fasting in the month of Ramadan. People have
been crying throughout the ages for acceptable 'belonging', for unity, for
brotherhood, for equality, but how echoless their voices have been, and how
very little success they have met..." says Hammudah Abdalati, in Islam
in Focus.

"What is fasting?" "How does the fasting of
Muslims in Ramadan differ from the fasting of other faiths?" "Why
should one 'torture' one's body in the first place?" "What do you
really gain from fasting in the end?"...These are a few questions that a
number of non-Muslim friends and colleagues often ask us, usually out of
fascination with this spiritually-uplifting practice of Islamic faith, and at
times out of pity and sympathy for us, thinking, why should anyone suffer
from hunger and thirst like Muslims? I wouldn't be surprised if many of us
shared the same negative perception of Fasting.

It is important to note that Fasting in Arabic is called,
"Sawm", which literally means 'to be at rest'. Fasting in the month
of Ramadan (the 9th month of the Islamic lunar calendar) is one of the Five
Pillars upon which the "house" of Islam is built. During this
month, every able-bodied Muslim, is required to fast, everyday from dawn
until dusk

12 Reasons To Fast!
1. Fasting is an institution for the improvement of moral and spiritual
character of human being. The purpose of the fast is to help develop
self-restraint, self-purification, God-consciousness, compassion, the spirit
of caring and sharing, the love of humanity and the love of God. Fasting is a
universal custom and is advocated by all the religions of the world, with
more restrictions in some than in others. The Islamic Fast, as opposed to
mere starvation or self-denial, is an act of worship and obedience to God,
thanksgiving, forgiveness, spiritual training, and self-examination.

2. Ramadan gives us a break and provides us with a rare opportunity to think
about our own selves, our future, and our families. It is a time to give our
selves a mental break and to temporarily forget about the hundreds of worries
and stresses we are constantly bombarded with. In hectic times, such as ours,
and in places like the West, this valuable time to think about our lives, on
individual basis, is a luxury and is desperately needed! It is a unique month
of self-analysis, and of taking stock of one's moral and spiritual 'assets
and liabilities'.

3. Fasting indoctrinates us in patience, unselfishness, and gratitude. When
we fast we feel the pains of deprivation and hunger, and learn how to endure
it patiently. The meaning of this powerful experience in a social and
humanitarian context is that we are much quicker than anybody else in
sympathizing with the oppressed and needy around the world, and responding to
their needs. "It is the month to visit the poor, the sick, and the needy
to share their sorrows. It is the month where the food, sustenance and the
earnings of a believing Muslim increases and they are blessed," says the
Final Prophet of God, Muhammad (peace be upon him), a man who was known for
his noble humanitarian causes, for social justice, and for being the first to
respond to other's needs, despite the fact that he himself lived a very
simple and humble life. It is only during such a trying time as Ramadan that
we can reflect on the condition of those in this world who may not be as
fortunate as us.

4. Fasting in Ramadan enables us to master the art of mature adaptability and
Time-Management. We can easily understand this point when we realize that
fasting makes people change the entire course of their daily life. When they
make the change, they naturally adapt themselves to a new system and
schedule, and move along to satisfy the rules. This, in the long run,
develops in them a wise sense of adaptability and self-created power to
overcome the unpredictable hardships of life! A person who values
constructive adaptability, time-management, and courage will appreciate the
effects of Fasting in this respect as well.

5. It cultivates in us the principle of sincere Love, because when we observe
Fasting, we do it out of deep love for God. And a person, who loves God,
truly is a person who knows what love is and why everyone on this Earth
should be loved and treated justly, for the sake of God.




















6. Fasting elevates the human spirit and increases our
awareness of God. It strengthens our will-power as we learn to rise
above our lower desires. The institution of fasting is both unique and
a shared experience in human history. From the very beginning of time,
humans have struggled to master their physical and psychological
selves: their bodies and their emotions. Hunger is one the most
powerful urges that we experience. Many, through over- or under-eating
or consumption of unhealthy foods, abuse this urge. Thus, when a person
purposefully denies something to their own self that it craves, they
are elevating their mind above their body, and their reason and will
above their carnal passions. "A fasting person empties his stomach
of all the material things: to fill his soul with peace and blessings,
to fill his heart with love and sympathy, to fill his spirit with piety
and Faith, to fill his mind with wisdom and resolution," says H.
Abdalati in Islam in Focus. The person who can rule their desires and
make them work, as they like, has attained true moral excellence.

7. With the clarity of mind and absence of distractions, also comes a
greater focus. As students, the period of fasting, especially early
during the day, serves as a tool to focus our minds on our academics.
In the month of Ramadan, many Muslims try to avoid watching TV,
listening to music, and some other leisure activities, which spares
them more time and energy to be spent on more productive activities
such as academics, intense study of Islam, voluntary prayers, social
and humanitarian causes, and a quality time with the family, to name a
few. It is a reminder of our duty to God, our purpose and higher values
in life, as God Himself describes the purpose of fasting as follows,
"O you who Believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was
prescribed for those before you, so that you may develop consciousness
of God" (Quran 2:183).

8. Fasting has numerous, scientifically proven, benefits for our
physical health and mental well-being. The time, length and nature of
the Islamic Fast all contribute to its overall positive effect. One of
the medical benefits is a much-needed rest to the digestive system. The
reduced food intake during the day allows the body to concentrate on
getting rid of harmful dietary toxins accumulated as natural
by-products of food digestion throughout the year. The length of the
Islamic Fast itself (around 12-14 hours) is in sync with the 'transit
time' of food from the mouth to the colon of the large intestine,
ensuring that no stimulus reaches the stomach or digestive system while
it remains in homeostasis. Therefore, for the vast majority of healthy
individuals fasting poses no medical risks but in fact provides many
health benefits, such as: an increase in serum Magnesium, essential for
cardio-vascular health and prevention of heart complications;
improvement in the quality and depth of sleep; improvement in memory
and slower skin aging over time; increased production of growth
hormone, etc. Also, as a general note, it has been observed that
underfed animals live longer than their heavily fed counterparts and
suffer fewer illnesses during their lives.

9. The month of Ramadan provides us with a sort of "Boot
camp." It is a month of intense moral training. Since we know that
Fasting is a special duty prescribed by God, we learn that any sins may
spoil our record of fasting with God, so we go through great lengths
making sure we are on our best behavior. Many people who experience
fasting in this month, feel the impact that this intense training has
on their habits, and realize the power of this transformative tool
designed to make us better human beings- the ultimate goal of any
spiritual exercise. The entire Ramadan atmosphere provides the driving
force for this positive change.

10. It makes us realize the reality of life and death. Fasting makes us
realize how dependant our lives are on things that we often take for
granted, such as food and water. It makes us think about our dependence
on God and God's mercy and justice. Moreover, it reminds us of the life
after death, which itself has a great impact on our character and our
world-view.

11. Ramadan is a blessed month for a special reason: It is actually the
month in which God first revealed His final message and guidance for
mankind to our beloved Prophet Muhammad. This message has been
perfectly preserved both orally and textually in the form of a Book,
called the Qur'an (The Reading/Recital). Therefore, Muslims try to do
an intense study of the Quran in this month especially, and evaluate
their lives according to the standards and guidance contained in it.

12. After the month of Ramadan is over, Muslims celebrate one of the
two most important holidays in the Islamic year: EID-UL-FITR, or the
Festival of the Fast Breaking. It is a day to thank God for the
blessing and training that He provides us with throughout the month of
Ramadan. EID-UL-FITR is marked by praying in a huge congregation at an
Islamic center or mosque, and by giving a small donation to the poor in
the community. The adults give the donation on behalf of their children
as well. Dinner parties, family outings, fairs, carnivals, and great joyous
celebrations follow the prayer and charity.

In
a nutshell, even though the real purpose of the dynamic institution of
Fasting is to discipline our soul and moral behavior, and to develop
sympathy for the less fortunate, it is a multi-functional and a
comprehensive tool of change in various spheres of our lives,
including: social and economic, intellectual and humanitarian,
spiritual and physical, private and public, personal and common, inner
and outer ---all in one!































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PostSubject: Re: The Fasting of Ramadan: A Time for Thought, Action, and Cha   Mon 14 Dec - 20:21

Fasting is another pillar in other religions. This proves that Islam a religion that serves Man



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