Salam and good day!
Hope everyone is coping well with the fasting month. and may you achieve His barakah (blessings) from the sincerity of performing this deed. insyaAllah. As promised before, today i shall share with you the benefits of fasting and how it can change your life to becoming a better person.
Fasting on its own has numerous medical benefits. Regardless how it is done. These studies can easily be found in the internet. But besides revealing the common benefits, i will also want to highlight the positive outcomes on how fasting is done the islamic way.
Medically, fasting has been shown to elicit the release of neurotransmitters in the brain to give a "feel good" feeling. these are what most of you would know as "endorphins". it is usually released when you're having a workout, except this one without physical activity. God is so kind that He makes us feel somewhat calm and happy even going through hours without food! But we musn't forget of those that go on for longer hours tho.
Also, fasting lowers blood sugar and helps mobilize our excess cholesterol reserve to provide caloric energy for our normal daily activities. So technically, we are not deprived of energy thus no excuse to just sleep the whole day or become flaccid. It'd be a shameful thing in front of those starving kids who made it without sahur (morning small meal) and iftar (break fast) no? ( Tsk tsk.)
As mentioned in my previous post, besides limiting one's self from food, fasting in Islam, also involves abstaining from things that could break your fast. This include sexual activities. But only during the fasting hours (not the whole month ok? So chill. Hehe!). Fasting is known to lower sexual libido. Since we are exposed to a lot things in the media that promotes sexual lifestyle daily ( like hot chics in skimpy clothes, sexy dance moves in music videos, and the obvious foreplay in some movies), men especially, will benefit the ability to control his urges through fasting. As mentioned by the Prophet:
“O youths, whoever among you is able to marry let him do so, for it restrains the eyes and protects the private parts. He who is unable to marry should fast, because it is a shield.” (Al-Bukhari)
Therefore if one is able to restrain from doing permissible sexual acts when he fasts (i'm talking about married men ok?), it would then be convenient for him to restrain from forbidden sex when he is not fasting, right? And it's so obvious here how God love and care for women so much that He impose this law so that we will not be taken advantage sexually! He suruh dikahwinkan cepat2 some more! Unless we are the ones who caused the boiling sexual turmoil in men in the first place lar. So can't really blame all on them can we? InsyaAllah, a God-fearing muslim man will know what is right and wrong. And so does a God-fearing muslim woman.
On an emotional level, fasting helps control negative thoughts and feelings. This will eventually leads to eradicating bad behaviors and actions through habitual practice. Our prophet pbuh said:
“When one of you is fasting, he should abstain from indecent acts and unnecessary talk, and if someone begins an obscene conversation or tries to pick an argument, he should simply tell him, ‘I am fasting.’” (Al-Bukhari)
Psychologically, a fasting person is more calm and peaceful. They are less hostile to other people for their energy is concentrated to the submission to God and having an awareness to the less fortunate. So technically, can a calm and submissive person be angry to another person? No right? Unless they are just fasting purely to withold themselves from eating. Which is not how fasting in Islam is ordained.
For you see, it is not just an act of voluntary deprivation of food at a given period of time. It is also about curbing negative behaviour and a form of purification of the body and soul. It's like our very own human overhaul done only once a year! As been said by our prophet pbuh here:
"Allah has no need for the hunger and the thirst of the person who does not restrain himself from telling lies and acting on them even while observing the fast.” (Al-Bukhari)
So as a good muslim, knowing and incorporating all these levels and aspects of fasting, will help him acquire its full rewarding benefits. And not to mention achieving taqwa (full submission of one self to Allah) and His love. However, if it is not done properly, then one is just simply starving.
“Perhaps a fasting person will gain nothing but hunger and thirst from fasting.” (Ibn Majah)
So i hope with this explanation will help you, our brothers and sisters of different faiths, to understand why we fast and the symbolic meaning behind the ritual in Islam.
As the malay saying goes, tak tahu maka tak cinta! ( i edited into my version lar of course!) ;P