Why do Muslims really fast?

The holy month is finally here and we can't let it slip away without being conscious of its spiritual, social and health goodies.

In the past few days, most discussions on knowledge and spirituality at Islamic gatherings have been centered around Ramadan, its virtues and benefits. The essence of that is to inform and remind Muslims about the holy months and its numerous benefits.

A lot of people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, see this period as a religious moment in which Muslim abstain from foods and drinks between 5am to 7pm. While this may pass for a layman's definition, it should be noted that Ramadan transcends abstinence from food and drink definition.

Abstinence in the sense of Ramadan is much more than avoiding a plate of rice and a bottle of Coke for 14 hours. A fasting Muslim would also have to shun sex,  anger, fight, violence, argument and all social vices.

On the positive sides, Islam wants Muslims to increase in good deeds in the holy month with actions as little as speaking kind words and tangible deeds as helping the poor and the needy.

The significance of this period in the life of Muslims and its impact in the society cannot be over emphasized, because we believe fasting is the greatest good deed of all acts of worship.

This is so because fasting is for Allah, not for a man or deity and it is meant to guide us towards other good deeds.

Allah says in Qur'an 2 verse 183:

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous."

So, the essence of Ramadan is to make us righteous and it is this virtue that endear man to remembrance and obedience of Allah in all his affairs.

According to Prophet Muhammad, (SAW) "fasting is a shield". It protects every body parts from acts of sin pertinent to each of them. Someone who enjoys to listen to idle talks and destroy others with his mouth would try as much as possible to refrain from this for the sake of Allah.

Fasting helps us to give up bad behavior, profanity, immorality and argument. These are actions that constitute sins that could earn man a place in hell fire.

So when the prophet said fasting is a shield, it simply means fasting shields us from hell fire.

Fasting for a whole month also encourages patience and altruism or selflessness because it deprives us of essential commodities and pleasure. Effect of this is increase in sympathy for the poor and the needy.

Health wise, fasting has proven to be a veritable solution to some health problems. Some of its health benefits include weight loss, lower blood pressure and reduced cholesterol. It no doubt has a lot of health benefits for those who are eligible to observe it.

The spiritual benefits and significance of Ramadan is immeasurable. This is the month in which Allah reveals the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

It is the month that is blessed with the night of majesty. That famous night that is greater and better than 1000 months. It is also the month of charity in which every good deed attracts multiple rewards.

It is a month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness for those who spiritually seek Allah's favours in Ramadan.

Hey! Bro. Fuad and Sis. Rahmah, Ramadan has started, and you should  encourage your friends and neighbours to observe the holy month as it should be observed to make the benefits and rewards of this month go round.

May Allah accept every acts of worship we put forward as an act of Ibaadah.

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