We have reached yet another month of Ramadan. All praise is to our Lord who has given us this opportunity.
Talks on the benefits of fasting have also started. Let them start; what needs to happen will happen. Whatever the environment requires to be said will be said; there is no escape.
Eventually, the real escape with fasting is to God alone; the connection is to Him alone and its benefit also, can be requested from Him alone.
I repeat, thinking that it is time for the article I wrote on June 14, 2016 to be read once again, with hopes that you experience a Ramadan filled with goodness, mercy and abundance:
"Lately we are hearing a great deal about the social-economic benefits of fasting in relation to it strengthening the immune system, providing physical and spiritual calm to relax the respiratory and nervous systems, increased insight, spiritual preparation of the attention and understanding the state of those who are hungry and grasping the necessity of social aid.
There is no need to make these seem negative at first sight. Since modern day people are largely conditioned to the rabbit syndrome (i.e. internalizing being beaten with a stick at failure, being awarded with carrots at success), they might be wanting to take action knowing what they will gain with their act of worship or what negative treatment they will deserve. Or emphasizing such benefits, the rationalization certain people desire in taking action to perform acts of worship, might also have a good response.
Sharee', who also takes in to consideration humans' natural disposition in relation to acts of worship, touches on the matter of benefits with more general statements rather than giving details. For example, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali mentions the following hadith in his 'Ihya al-Ulum ad-Deen': Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, 'Aisha, continue to knock on the door of heaven. Upon this, Aisha asked, 'How and with what is that possible oh Messenger of God?' He answered, 'By fasting.''
Sharee' performs a general check of state on the benefit plan through notions that are connected to human state. For example, while God in the Quran, 'Indeed, the patient will be given their reward without account' (Zumar, 39:10), the Messenger of God explains the relationship between fasting and patience and between patience and faith by saying, 'Fasting is the half of faith' and 'Patience is the half of faith.
Therefore, the efforts of preachers (theologians) on the above mentioned benefits of fasting by producing certain theoretical and practical results aimed at convincing the believers or to render them satisfied in their acts of worship by strengthening their gains from them should not be negated.
However, when we evaluate the matter solely in terms of faith, it is crucial that we know these pragmatist approaches will become invalid. Such that faith is not divided in to parts; just as it is a total acceptance, it also necessitates being loyal to the commitments brought on by this acceptance.
In this aspect, the intellect becomes included in faith in terms of understanding that there are matters it is incapable of understanding in the God-slave / command-commitment relationship that, while believing becomes reasonable with it, rationalizing it turns from being a principal orientation in to a secondary orientation. In other words, the mind is essential for faith, however, rationalization will become optionally required (in a way that it will change based on the disposition and ration of people).
Hence, there is only that in which they believe for the believer and, in this sense, the command to fast, is a divine order and is valuable as it is a subject of the commitment specific to it. Its certain wisdoms are intrinsic that observing the Ramadan fast as an obligation of servitude, is to be the object of those wisdoms in all known and unknown dimensions.
Let alone, fasting is one of the acts of worship whose practice is directly present in its definition. Fasting, 'sawm' (swm) in Arabic, is described in Ragip el-Isfahani's 'Müfredat' (Curriculum) as, 'keeping oneself away from, avoiding a physical action such as eating food, speaking or walking' (…).
Ghazali describes fasting as, '[Sawm] means to pull yourself away and leave [eating and drinking]. This is a private act of worship which has no visible aspect. Yet, all deeds other than this are visible. As for fasting, it is a transcendent, private deed that consists of patience and is seen and known by Allah [God] alone.'
The conditions of fasting in a healthy way as a divine order is the subject of Islamic jurisprudence, while the possible ways of its acceptance as it is transcendent is the subject of metaphysics.
In this sense, the response of rationalizing fasting as an act of worship is nothing other than encouraging people to fast and hence, eliminating the concerns of those who have health and spiritual concern regarding fasting to increase the number of those observing the fasts.
What is essential for the believers is to know that they are the addressees of the command to fast and by being the one in the know, to assume the task as a commitment. Thus, having knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence on fasting is obligatory and, becoming the object of the rationalizations made with various reasons and intentions, is optional. Because in the last analysis, they are both related to grasp, understanding and being satisfied.
Yet, in the first and last analysis, faith and the commitments requires by it always exceed grasp, understanding and being satisfied.”