Fasting: A Gift for Muslims with Healing Powers

healthyThe month of Ramadan, that we are currently in, is a holy month that is eagerly and enthusiastically awaited by the whole Islamic world. It is so because the Quran, which brings people from darkness into light, to the path of our Lord- the all Merciful and Most Beneficent, was sent down in this month. Fasting during this month is an obligation for Muslims, and an opportunity for them to praise the infinite grace and blessings of Almighty Lord. It is also a physical and spiritual healing; a gift, and a month of blessings, abundance, an opportunity to repent for past behaviour and to seek for mercy from our Lord.

Biological benefits of fasting

All Muslims fast to gain our Lord’s pleasure. Moreover, it also is very beneficial for our bodies.

Stomach at rest

First of all, fasting allows the organs to take some time off and rest. For instance, during fasting, the digestion processes are reduced, and the stomach gets to rest for quite some time. Its epithelia tissue can be renewed completely, which helps the stomach to function in a healthier manner during the rest of the year.

Live with a healthy liver

Fasting also allows the liver, which works non-stop in normal times, to rest for six or more hours. Normally, it is active even when we are asleep, but while fasting, it also finds the chance to rest. Since the volume of blood circulating drops, the heart and the primary veins feeding it are regenerated.

Cell Regeneration

Fasting helps cell regeneration, making our bodies and minds healthier and it slows down aging. It also helps protect us from obesity, fat building, cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases. It contributes to purging our bodies from harmful toxins. While fasting, fat enzymes kick in and help burn fat, creating a condition similar to the effect of a workout session. Even after the 30 days of fasting, the body continues to burn fat at this rate. Normally, during the day, an individual eats without thinking, causing an imbalance in the body. However, when one fasts, because he or she eats only at certain times during the day, the immune system will not have to function unnecessarily, which in turn gives enough time to the immune system to renew itself. The body, because it doesn’t have to deal with time-consuming metabolic activities, can more easily identify harmful cell formations like cancer; and hence, destroys them at the beginning.

Spirituality intensified!

Just like all other religious practices, fasting also intensifies the spirituality of Muslims. It makes them witnesses to each other’s sincere faith in their Lord, their loyalty, patience and sincere efforts, making their fraternal bonds even stronger; and it also reinforces their love and compassion for each other. Muslims, due to this brotherly bond they have, work to eliminate all kinds of negativity that can disturb the sense of calm; and try to build atmospheres of love, peace and serenity for all. They know that their Muslim brothers are also poor servants of Almighty Lord- just like themselves- hoping to gain Allah’s (swt) pleasure; therefore, their feelings of love, solidarity and compassion for one another only intensify in this holy month.

Muslims shun not only eating and drinking during fasting hours, but they also shun bad actions, such as lying, gossiping, saying hurtful words, insulting people or getting angry. They ponder about thirst and hunger; and remember that poor people need their help and understand the importance of helping them.  Regardless of their financial standing, they begin to make their greatest efforts to help the poor. They follow their conscience and not their lower-self; and constantly improve themselves in their quest for complying with the Quran even more sincerely.

Earn a life-time validity for spirituality

A pious Muslim, who fears his Lord, deeply displays this beautiful character of fasting in every moment of his life. He follows the Quran fully throughout his life, and works to live by the morality he hopes that Allah (swt) will approve of.

It should not be forgotten that this is a behaviour that Allah (swt) approves of. However, anything to the contrary – in other words, observing religious practices only in the month of Ramadan, and then walking away from the Quran’s morality after it ends – is something that displeases Allah (swt) greatly. Therefore, let us endeavour to keep the spirit of Ramadan alive throughout the year, and always strive to earn Allah’s (swt) good pleasure, no matter what month we are in.

Meant to be Together Forever

Herbaceous border in full bloom at Priorwood Garden, Melrose, BoFor him, it was a non-ending night. Everything seemed sad. He was facing something he could never think of. It was something that ruined his happiness forever.

While gazing at the dark, cloudy sky through the window, he was thinking why people go so far away from this world, leaving behind others unhappy. Tears dropped out of his eyes as he thought about his loving brother who had died about a week ago. “It is hard to live without you my brother.” He whispered. He had lost a brother who was his inspiration to Deen. He not only loved him because he was his brother, but also because he was a practicing Muslim.

Everything in their room was making him recall the eighteen years he had spent with his only sibling. The football lying at the side on the floor, their favourite books on the shelves and the tennis balls in the basket were making him feel lonely. They were not only brothers, but best friends indeed. Both of them used to go Masjid together, had the same friends and same interests. He opened the common wardrobe and found out the favourite shirt of his beloved brother. It was still aromatized with his beautiful smell. “I wish we could live together forever,” he said to himself, “but no one on this earth lived forever, each and every person has to die.” He thought.

Quran – The Spiritual Healer

He opened the Quran (for he knew that it is the cure for restless hearts), started reciting “Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses and their offspring.”

While reading these lines, he fell asleep and met his brother in his dream where he hugged him and said: “I love you with the core of my heart my pious brother, I hope you acquire Jannah, I will try to do good deeds like you and with Allah’s (swt) mercy we will meet in paradise Insha’Allah. And there we will live together forever!”

7 Principles for a Productive Day

magic-monday-quotes-start-your-day-on-a-positive-note3

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful (1)

First principle deals with beginning the day with Allah’s name. Similarly, with every work that one begins in the course of the day, one should recite Allah’s name before it. Allah promises blessings in that work and blessings in our work is what we need. That is to say, even if the quantity of time remains the same for the work, the quality would improve because Allah showers His blessing in that work for His slave. Some examples of these are daily Sunnah Duas, like of leaving one’s house, entering one’s houseand more. Such Duas help keep out Shaitan out of that work.

All the praises and thanks be to Allah, the Lord of the ‘Âlamîn (mankind, jinn and all that exists) (2)

Second principle states all praise is for Allah – whatever the situation may be, whatever the circumstances may be, we have to say “Alhamdulillah” at all cost, understanding that Allah is controlling all the worlds alone as He is the “Rabb”(Lord) of them.

Suhaib (ra) reported that Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “Strange are the ways of a believer for there is good in every affair of his and this is not the case with anyone else except in the case of a believer for if he has an occasion to feel delight, he thanks (God), thus there is a good for him in it, and if he gets into trouble and shows resignation (and endures it patiently), there is a good for him in it.” (Muslim)

This helps us maintain a grateful attitude, not only towards Allah but also His creation as they are linked to Him, All Mighty.

Moreover, productivity increases when one is thankful, as Allah says in Surah Ibrahim, Ayah 7:

“And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed: “if you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings); but if you are thankless (i.e. disbelievers), verily My punishment is indeed severe.”

The Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful (3)

Third principle is derived from the third verse which states Allah is “Ar Rahman” and “Ar Raheem”. The main lesson to be derived from here is that when we commit any mistake we want our Lord to show mercy and compassion to us, likewise we should mercy and compassion to others when they are in fault, as when forgive others, Allah forgives us. In short, what we expect from Allah we should apply that for ourselves as a principle. Softness beautifies the thing and rigidity spoils it.

Humans are not an owner of mercy but we still show mercy because this quality in our Fitrah is from Allah, who is the ultimate Owner of mercy. Hence, mercy should be a part of us; kindness should be adopted in our lifestyle. Being cheerful and soft-hearted makes one feel productive, even if it be for others. Smile, it is a Sunnah!

The Only Owner (and the Only Ruling Judge) of the Day of Recompense (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) (4)

Fourth principle: Remembering that Allah is the Master of the Day of Judgement makes one realize that we will be accountable to Him for all the blessings He has granted to us. Unfortunately, we often forget this reality and waste the blessings of Allah every day, thus we should always be in a state of accountability.

We should be careful of the blessings we receive everyday and to make our day productive we should refrain from wasting them, particularly the blessing of time and health, which we usually don’t value until they’re taken away from us.

Narrated Ibn Abbas: The Prophet (sa) said, “There are two blessings which many people lose: (They are) Health and free time for doing good.” (Bukhari)

Likewise, we will also be answerable for the five questions on the Day of Judgement. It is said that the person won’t be able to move until s/he replies to all five of them. These are:

  1. Where did you spend your life?
  2. Where did you spend your youth?
  3. Where did you earn from?
  4. Where did you spend?
  5. How much did you implement of the knowledge (Ilm) that you gained?

(Tirmidhi)

Indeed, this world is a cultivating ground for the result that will bear in the hereafter. Hence, keep in mind you are in a state of accountability 24/7 in front of Allah regardless if we are young or old.

You (Alone) we worship, and You (Alone) we ask for help (for each and everything) (5)

Fifth principle: We worship only Allah and seek Help only from Allah; this shows us trust and hope in Allah alone. ‘Alone’ is made specific here to highlight the fundamental of Tawheed. If we get into some trouble, for example if our house gets on fire, the first thought that should come in our mind is to pray to Allah for it, next should be to call the fire brigade. To use the means that Allah has provided us is indeed allowed but the trust in the source of those means alone is Allah!

Seventy thousand people will enter Jannah without accountability, they are:

  1. The one who never asks for Ruqyah from someone else.
  2. They don’t believe in superstition
  3. Who will not ask for cure from fire
  4. They trust in Allah the most   (Bukhari)

Guide us to the Straight Way (6)

Sixth principle: We seek the Straight Path from Allah; we need to understand and get Ilm of Deen every day, learning Deen from Quran and Sunnah; that is the Straight Path. Once, the Prophet (sa) was sitting with his companions and he made a straight line stating this is the Straight Path, the path of Quran and Sunnah.

The Way of those on whom You have bestowed Your Grace, not (the way) of those who earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians) (7)

Seventh principle is companionship: good company is blessed by Allah and bad company is either misled or had angered Allah.

Narrated Abu Musa: Allah’s Apostle (sa) said, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is  like that of the musk seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Bukhari)

We need to check who are we friends with? Our company can make us productive; as believers, we motivate each other to do good and refrain from evil.

We should not be amongst those who will regret not following the Straight Path or about their company as Allah says in Surah AlFurqan, Ayah 27-29:

And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist) will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (sa). “Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend!  He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaitan (Satan) is to man ever a deserter in the hour of need.” In the end, we never know when death will approach us, it can be in a matter for seconds or whatever Allah wills, but we should try to make our days as productive as possible by following these principles. Moreover, since we recite Surah Al-Fatiha many times a day in our Salah (prayer)it should keep us in constant remembrance about how we can make our day productive by following the seven principles derived from it.

Adapted from a workshop organized by “Youth Talk”. Summarized for Hiba Magazine by a team member of ‘Youth Talk’, Karachi.