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The Role of Fasting in Self Building and Self Purification

Fasting is a special spiritual training that God wanted His servants to pass through; in order to attain perfection in his celestial life. Fasting is one of the greatest acts of worship

 which leaves tremendous influence on one’s effort for self-perfection, self-purification and self building. Fasting is a kind of bonanza to man by His Creator, for him to attain pity and spiritual perfections; as most good deeds in this month of blessing and mercy are rewarded many folds, that, it is only Allah that knows the rewards He bestow to a fasting person. That is why; fasting should be seen as a great service to humanity; who all the months of the year found themselves, deep in sins and hopelessness. What a blessing and show of love and affections to the generation

of Prophet Muhammed (Saw) to be rewarded with the virtues of fasting. In this whole month of devotion, there is a special night that has the blessing of more than 83 years of worships.

There is no doubt; fasting is a combination of two- part – negative and affirmative.

The first part consists of self restraints and abstinence from drinking, eating, sexual intercourse and fabricating lies against Almighty Allah and the Holy Prophets and Imams as well as other matter described in books of Islamic Jurisprudence. The Second part consists of devotion, intention and desire to seek God’s Nearness, which in reality are tantamount to the soul of worship.

The reality of fasting consists of self-restraints and voluntary relinquishment of material pleasure with the intention of God’s Nearness.

In Islamic law, fasting is the abstinence from eating, drinking, sexual intercourse, discharge of semen, telling lie against Almighty Allah, and Holy Prophet and Imams. Nevertheless, the scope of self-restraints has not been limited to the above mentioned regulation; rather it covers much wider dimensions. In traditions, it has been mentioned that simply abandonment of

eating and drinking is not enough; a true observer of fasting is he who prevent all his limbs and body parts from sins. In other words, the eyes should be prevented from forbidden scenes and the same is applied to the ears, tongues, hands, and feet. Such fasting belongs to God’s servant.

In a tradition the Holy Prophet of Allah (saw) was quoted to have said; “O people! The month of God with blessing, mercy, and pardon has come to you, a month which is the best among all others for Almighty God; its days are the best days; its nights are the best nights and its hours are the best hours. It is the month in which you have been invited by Almighty God for a feast, and have been selected as the recipients of special favour. Your breathing merit the reward of praise, while your sleeping in this month earns the reward of worship. In this month, your deeds are accepted and prayers are granted.

Therefore, with true intention and pure hearts beseech Almighty God to bestow upon you His special favour to be able to observe fasting and recite the Holy Quran, because the most unfortunate and wretched one is he who deprived of God’s pardon during this great month.  

This is how special God Almighty Has elevated mankind in the month of Ramadan. One of the main obstacles on the way towards God’s remembrances and invocation is overeating and being a slave of the stomach. So, fasting is meant to train

humanity on the essence of hunger and thirst and subservient to the One and Only Creator of mankind. It is also meant to show to those who have enough food and drinks, the essence of being hungry and thirst; so as to be appreciative to the blessing of Allah (SWT). It pertinent to say, a person who strives day and night to arrange good and delicious food and fill his stomach with different

sorts of tasty food will never union with Almighty God, develop affection and establish secret communication with him. With a stomach full of food, one cannot have a mood for worshipping and supplication.

Imam Ali (as) narrated on the night of Ascension (Mi’raj) Almighty God said to the Holy Prophet (a.s) “O Ahmad! How sweet and beautiful the hunger, silence and seclusion are? Wisdom, heart’s tranquility, nearness to Me, continuous grief,

righteous talks, thriftiness and indifferent at the time of ease and hardships the characteristics acquired by My servant as result of hunger, silence and seclusion.     

Interestingly, hunger during the time of fasting is a serious training and blessing to mankind. For the first time, mankinds the world, over are subservient and submissive to their Creator. There is doubt; if Fasting is observed as properly as recommended by the sharia, it will exert tremendous impact upon

self-building, self perfection and self purification. Fasting is extremely influential during the stages of purification of self from sins and other indecencies and making it ready for perfection, decoration and utilization of the Divine Illumination. An observer of fasting, through abstinence from sin, can control subdue and ultimately force the imperious self into submission.  The duration of fasting is a period of quitting sins and practicing self-asceticism – a period of straggling with the self and practice self- restraint. During this period, an observer of fasting purifies his self from sins and other indecencies and abandons his legitimate pleasures such as eating and drinking. Through these means, he can

purify and illuminate his self because hunger results in attaining internal purification and more attention to Almighty God. The hungry very often have feeling of contentment or joy that cannot be felt when the stomach is full.

Fastingnperiod gives mankind a lot of opportunity to dominate self and return to the Celestial path of righteousness and pity. Our society as constituted today lack the spirit of pity and assistance. But, it is important to say, fasting is very effective in acquiring piety; thus the Holy Quran defines acquiring piety as

the main objectives behind fasting; “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, even as it was prescribed those before you that ye may ward off (evil). (2:183) Interestingly, they are important lessons we have to take into consideration as we begin and end the fasting period. Firstly, fasting prevents one from engaging into sins and other indecencies for a whole month and, thus, he succeeds in dominating his self to keep this habit even after the month. Secondly, fasting is veryinfluential in achieving self-purification, decoration of the inner self and God’s Nearness. It is an act of worship that results in self-nourishment and

self-perfection provided that it is observed with sincerity and well intention.

Thirdly, by abstinence from lawful pleasures and quitting sins, the heart of the fasting one is cleansed and polished to be free from all scattered thoughts and memories of other than Almighty God earning the decency of absorbing the Divine blessing and illumination. In this stage, God’s blessing and favours are

bestowed upon him. It has been narrated that breathing and sleeping of the fasting ones will be rewarded. Fourthly, the days of fasting are best times for worship, prayer, supplication, recital of the Holy Qur’an; invocation and charitable deeds, because during this period self is relatively better prepared for heart presence, devotion and attention to Almighty God as compared to any other period. Fifthly, the Holy month of Ramadan have been called the best times, the spring of worship and the most appropriate opportunity for paying attention to Almighty God; from the cause, the special virtues of Ramadan and worshipping during it have been emphasized a lot in traditions. When Ramadan arrived, Imam Jafar Al-Sadiq (a.s) used to advise his children by saying; “Endeavour in worship because in this month, people’s sustance is distributed and their demises are registered. Those who will be returned to Almighty God are decided

in this month. In this month too, there is special night the worshipping in which excels the worship of one thousand months.           

These lessons ought to be catalysts to moral and spiritual rejuvenation of Muslims and humanity during and after the fasting period. Let thousands of new flowers of love, tolerance, righteousness, piety, charity, and morality blossom as we

end the fasting period. We cannot afford to failed in turning new leaves at the end of the Ramadan; because, the Prophet (saw) was reported to have said, that, anybody who fasted throughout the month of Ramadan, and did not experience any significant improvement or has not change his bad habits before the fasting

period, is just an indication that, his fasting was not accepted by Almighty Allah (SWT). May Allah make us among the fortunate ones whose fasting will be accepted and rewarded with the Celestial Light, mercy, forgiveness, piety, unity, tolerance and love in all our activities? May we attain Taqwa (faith) at

the end of this Ramadan period and witness improvement in our lives as Allah’s vicegerent on earth. There is no doubt; Muslims and humanity in general have no option than to go back to Almighty God for his mercy and protection; because, the world we are living in today, is a theater of  anarchism, war, crisis, poverty amidst affluence, development and underdevelopment, piety and wickedness, hopeful and hopelessness, morality and immorality.


Finally,I conclude with a special prayer, “Oh God! Please guide us towards the straight path leading to perfection: enlighten our darken hearts with the light of faith and Your knowledge; remove the dark intense veils of egotism, selfishness, whims and passions of self; open our exoteric heart’s eyes of witnessing Your

Unique Beauty; strengthen us on the path of self – building and

self-purification, remove from our hearts the love and desires of other than You; remove the veils of negligence and satisfy our thirst with the pure fountain of your love and Nearness. Oh God! Please enlighten our heart with the heavenly light of faith and certainty by awakening us from the deep sleep of ignorance, so that we may discover our lost selves and do not waste our

precious lives in ignorance like before Amin. Ramadan Kareem brothers and sisters in humanity  .                                  

 Bukhari Muhammed Bello Jega

Wrote from Wuse Zone 4, Abuja