Bismi’Llāhi ir-Ramān ir-Raīm

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


When people think of fasting, detoxification is one of the first benefits that comes to mind. I have, however, frequently noticed that many have romantic notions about what this ultimately entails. Detoxification is popular because it sounds like a great idea, as it is. Who doesn’t want to feel clear, unencumbered, clean, and healthy? In performing a detox, however, there are certain considerations worth noting.

First, Allāh ﷻ created the body to function perfectly well in spite of our lack of awareness of much of what it does, and without our conscious participation. The body knows far better than we do about how to detoxify itself. Physical detoxification is primarily achieved through bodily excretions (feces, urine, perspiration, and exhalation). It’s that simple. There really is no better physical detox. It is only when the body is quite toxic, and therefore quite sick, that we need to take something more (a juice cleanse, herbal formulation, etc.) to get right into the tissues and drive toxins out. However, this is always harder on the body, as this assisted detoxification is generally a taxing process that requires a certain amount of vitality to finance the operation.

The detoxifying power of fasting is straightforward. By giving the body a break from digestion, the body is able to dedicate resources to the restoration and repair of tissues. As more body fluids (blood and lymph) are available to circulate through tissues, resident toxins are flushed out and into the pathways of elimination. This is where hydration and regular bowel and fluid movements are key. Toxins that do not exit in a timely manner enter the bloodstream to be redistributed throughout the body and reabsorbed, rendering the body toxic once more.

One of the challenges of the fast of Ramaḍān, however, is that while we are not eating, we are also not drinking. As a result, the final movement of toxins out of the body might slow down. Therefore, it is particularly important to abstain from anything during the non-fasting hours that is detrimental to the body. In other words, if you don’t tox, you are less in need of detox. So, before you get excited about detox, consider the ways in which you actually contribute to toxicity in your body. Respect and assist your body by not being a part of the problem in the first place. We live in a time in which we are inundated with junk that is passed off as food. The closer you stay to what Allāh ﷻ intended and provided—permissible (ḥalāl) and wholesome (ṭayyib)… organic whole foods, fresh, in-season, chemical-free, minimally-preserved)—the more likely you are to remain clear and healthy. The spiritual implications are profound (more later). The Prophet Muḥammad’s ﷺ guidance is as poignant as ever:

What is permissible is clear and what is forbidden is clear. In between, there are some doubtful matters. Whoever is cautious in the doubtful matters will save his religious commitment and honor, but whoever falls into doubtful matters will fall into sin, like a shepherd who grazes his flocks near a private pasture and is likely to enter it at any moment. Every king has a sanctuary, and the sanctuary of Allāh ﷻ is the things that He ﷻ has forbidden. There is a piece of flesh in the body of man which, when sound, the whole body is sound; and when corrupt, the whole body is corrupt, and that is the heart.

And Allāh ﷻ knows best.


© Ḥakīm Ilyās Kāshānī