Morals of Fasting
For Muslims, the lunar month of Ramadan is an annual training period for an
examination wherein all the perceptual organs of the body are disciplined,
those organs given to us by God as a trust with a view for us to become His
vicegerent on Earth.
Fasting provides an opportunity to fine-tune the body, to develop qualities of
endurance, to control anger, a hot temper and a malicious tongue.
The fasting person should avoid such actions that might arouse passion in
oneself or in others such as casting lustful eyes at a woman, and abstain from
thinking of carnal thoughts and fantasizing pleasures incompatible with the
It is a well known fact that animals can be brought under control by keeping
them occasionally hungry and then feeding them at planned intervals.
Similarly, humans can tame the animal within themselves and become their
masters through fasting for one whole month.
One of the objectives of fasting is to bring unruly passions under control.
One who can rule his desires and make them work as he likes, has attained true
God puts our faith to a severe test for one moth for many long hours a day
with strict non-indulgence in physical gratifications.
Muslims believe that if they succeed in this test, more strength develops in
them to refrain from other sins and the brain responds by sending frequent
signals to protect themselves by rejecting evil immediately.
From a moral point of view, during fasting one becomes more sympathetic and
tolerant towards those in needy circumstances.
It brings about a better realization of human understanding. In this world of
today, with the population explosion where two thirds of the world go to sleep
on an empty stomach, the quicker this realization takes place, the sooner the
problems would be appreciated and solved.
It is only during such time as Ramadan, that one can reflect and make an
inventory of the importance of the basic moral values affecting oneself and
the community as a whole.
Perhaps it would be interesting to consider why fasting was not made
compulsory every single day of one's life. God gives us a month of compulsory
fast, then gives us eleven lunar months to determine whether we have achieved
the desired result for the balance of the year.
This eleven month grace period is the reasoning behind why we should not be
fasting every single day of our lives. If we had done so, then we would have
been under continuous compulsory restrictions of the Islamic fast all the time
through out the year and we would not have had the complete and unrestricted
freedom to have done as we like, and hence our will power would not have been
given a chance for development of a strong personality.
Personality grows much more when we are free to do any wrong we would like but
do not do it under unrestricted conditions such as during the eleven months
following the Ramadan fast.
Both during Ramadan and after, God gives us the opportunity to examine our
spiritual profile and see where the defect lies. If there are any tint of
jealousy, hatred, malice, miserliness, cheating, intrigue and unforgiving
thoughts and actions, Ramadan is the time to overcome these traits.
We can learn a lesson from the Japanese to whom every defect is a treasure
which needs prompt correction.
The effect of fasting on the human personality is capital and decisive. It
enables man to subdue the strongest worldly urges raging within him and brings
a harmonious equilibrium between the temporal (the body) and the spiritual
(the soul) both coming together in peaceful coexistence.
Dr. Ebrahim Kazim is a medical doctor living in Trinidad and Tobago. Together
with his wife he established an Islamic academy in Trinidad in 1985.