- Hijab Is an Adornment
- Benefits of Pomegranate
- 10 Tips for Guaranteed Weight Loss
- 25th Zilqad `Dahwul Arz`
- The recommendation for Iftar meal
- Ramadan Nights' Salaats
- The Best Time to Perform Hijama
- Muslim Pro
- A Few Pages from the Book of Uhud
Spiritual fasting can encompass the fasting methods listed above or can be quite different. However, its goal is more holistic: to purify the mind, body, and soul, rather than just the body. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even tribal religions all encourage fasting as a method of penance, ceremonial preparation, purification, mourning, sacrifice, and/or to enhance mental or spiritual powers.
Ramadan is a good example of a spiritual fast. In fact, the Qur'an states that it is more than just a physical fast or just a spiritual. In fact, fasting during Ramadan benefits the Muslim's physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies, for: ''O you who believe. Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, so that you may have taqwa'' (Surat al-Baqara, 2:183). Taqwa is translated in many ways: God-consciousness, God-fearing, piety, and self-restraining. It also has physical, spiritual and emotional connotations.
As this verse indicates, the intention behind the Ramadan fast is not only to benefit the physical being, but the mental and spiritual one as well. Most spiritual fasts have these goals in common, even if their methods are different.
The Benefits of Fasting
There are four main aspects of fasting in these three categories: going without food and water from sunrise to sunset, avoiding negative thoughts and actions, praying the tarawih prayer, and focusing one's life on spiritual instead of physical actions.
Physically, going without food from sunrise to sunset benefits the body in many ways. According to Shahid Athar, studies done in Iran and Egypt show that such fasting has no adverse medical effects and may even have some beneficial effect on weight and lipid metabolism. He states: ''The physiological effect of fasting includes lowering of blood sugar, lowering of cholesterol, and lowering of the systolic blood pressure. In fact, Ramadan fasting would be an ideal recommendation for the treatment of mild to moderate, stable, non-insulin diabetes, obesity, and essential hypertension.'' This opinion agrees with that of Haas, who remarks that ''fasting can be a cure for almost any disease.''
Longevity studies also illustrate fasting's benefits. Studies on laboratory animals and humans consistently show that restricting caloric intake increases longevity and slows down the production rate of free radicals in the body. Therefore, it is no surprise that reducing these free radicals helps to prevent cancer. Thompson, Jiang, and Shu (The Center for Nutrition and the Prevention of Disease) mention that ''cancer that occurs at numerous organ sites, including the colon and breast, is inhibited by energy restriction, and the inhibition is proportional to the degree of restriction imposed.''
Fasting can also be fundamental to healing various addictions, such as coffee, cigarettes, tea, drugs, alcohol, shopping, work, and food. The medical community has long accepted that addiction can be cured by breaking the addict's habitual cycle. Breaking the cycle is the most popular curative method used in addiction therapy today. To cure one's addiction to smoking, doctors prescribe nicotine patches, which are intended to help people resist cigarettes and break their habitual cycle. Patients also are asked to avoid friends or situations in which they usually smoke. Sometimes, drug addicts are even physically restrained to prevent them from taking drugs. In the case of coffee addiction, naturopaths advice their clients to detoxify their bodies by going without coffee for at least a day, and then building on the ensuing strength.
However, the goals of fasting Ramadan are not only physical. Withholding or resisting negative thoughts and actions is also mentally beneficial. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is reported to have said: ''Fasting is not [abstaining] from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: 'I am fasting, I am fasting.'''