Bismi’Llāhi ir-Ramān ir-Raīm

In the Name of God, the Universally Merciful, the Singularly Compassionate


In the first stage of the fast of Ramaḍān, the body’s ordinary functionality tends to decline, primarily manifesting as episodes of fatigue. On the ordinary plane of existence—from a health-based perspective—we are told that the human being needs a certain amount of “recommended daily allowances” (RDAs) of nutrients and caloric intake in order to give the physical body what it needs for function, repair, and restoration. Indeed, many health practitioners believe that fasting is detrimental, if not dangerous. But as Allāh ﷻ says in the Holy Qur’ān, “Fasting is better for you, if you but only knew.” Unfortunately, to the extent that a health paradigm ignores the spiritual dimension of existence—which ultimately supercedes the physical—its offer of support is ordinary, at best. In fact, it is known that those who practice moderation in what they eat and drink, and especially those who fast on a regular basis, are healthier and live longer than those who do not. Fasting dissolves excess, releases poisons, and rejuvenates the body.

The benefits of fasting are, however, far deeper than physical. To deprive the body of food and drink seems on one level to challenge its very existence. Indeed, fasting challenges our most primordial of fears, of survival, and this is exactly the point—to show the human being that the outer physical life is not as solid as it appears to be, that it is actually quite ephemeral, and to show him that Allāh ﷻ is the true Sustainer ﷻ of your existence. The Prophet ‘Isā (Jesus)ﷺ  said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God ﷻ.’ ” The Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ himself used to fast for days in succession, far above and beyond what was prescribed for his community, and he did not allow others to do as he did. When some companions objected, he responded, “Which of you is like me? I spend the night with my Lord ﷻ. He ﷻ feeds me and gives me drink.” While we may not be able to do so much as the prophets did, we can at least live up to the possibility that Allāh ﷻ has written for each of us.

As the orientation of your soul shifts from being outwardly dependent on the world to being inwardly reliant on Allāh ﷻ, you become less dependent on the world as you are drawn closer to Allāh ﷻ, the Real ﷻ and the True ﷻ. May we all reach this blessed station. And Allāh ﷻ knows best.


© Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī