Category Archives: Fasting

Fasting is a Shield

Fasting is a shield [Bukhari]

Fasting is a shield for a person which protects them from Shaytan, Allah’s punishment and Jahannam. However, one needs to make sure the shield is not damaged in any way. Otherwise it will not be effective in doing its job. The actions that damage this shield and render it useless are sins like Backbiting, Lying, Evil Glance, Swearing, Nonsensical Conversation, Arguments, Slander, Haram Sustenance, and every other evil.

Besides the compulsory fasting in the month of Ramadan, one should try to fast during those days for which Rasoolullah (صلي الله عليه و سلم) has mentioned many rewards, for example:

  • 6 days of Shawwal
  • Day of Aarafah
  • Ashoora (9th & 10th or 10th & 11th of Muharram)

Source: Riyadul Jannah Issue 2 Vol 13

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The Month of Silence

Anas bin Malik ﻰﺿر ﷲ ﻪﻨﻋ relates that Ramadhan arrived so the Prophet ﷲ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ ﻢﻠﺳو ﻰﻠﺻ said, ‘Indeed this month has come upon you, and therein is a night which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it is deprived of all good, and none is deprived of it except one who is truly deprived’ [Reported by ibn Majah],

He who wastes his time in Ramadhan is truly deprived of the virtues and forgiveness of this month. The sahabah ﻰﺿر ﷲ ﻢﻬﻨﻋ ensured that not a moment passed in futility. They would complete their worldly tasks and free themselves two months prior to Ramadhan i.e. by Rajab.

Allah’s acceptance of a fast is not just conditional upon remaining hungry or thirsty but is also dependent upon the fasting of the other bodily organs i.e. the eyes, ears, heart, mind and especially the tongue.

Abu Hurayrah ﻰﺿر ﷲ ﻪﻨﻋ reports that Allah’s Messenger ﻰﻠﺻ ﷲ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ ﻢﻠﺳو said ‘Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, fasting is to refrain from futility and indecency. So if someone abuses you or behaves ignorantly towards you, then say: “I am fasting” ’. [Reported by ibn Khuzaymah].

When fasting we should not even shout or raise our voices let alone argue. This is the month in which we should all remain silent as much as possible and not say or do anything which inconveniences others.

Source: Content Soul

Why Religious Fasting Could Be Good for Your Brain

By Andrea Useem | September 17, 2008
http://pokedandprodded.health.com

Ramadan is in its third week now, and the required dawn-to-dusk fasting often feels like a daily mini–marathon. By late afternoon, hunger and thirst have sucked me dry, leaving me sleepy, slow-minded, and sometimes short-tempered.

I know that the purpose of fasting is spiritual—God will reward us in the next life—but in this lifetime, fasting sometimes makes me an ineffective, irritable person. So I was excited to learn that Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey, MD, had spoken at a recent Renaissance Weekend event about how caloric restriction can improve brain function.

I emailed Dr. Ratey to find out if those benefits might extend to religious fasting, and he sent me a 2006 paper on the brain functioning of men during the Ramadan fast. The researchers studied a small group of healthy men during and after the holy month, looking at their brain activity via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They concluded that “all individual results showed consistent and significant increase of activity in the motor cortex during fasting.”

Other research shows similar results
That research builds on the work of other scientists, including Mark Mattson, PhD, who heads a neuroscience lab at the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. Mattson has done important research on how dietary restrictions can significantly protect the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

In a 2003 article, Mattson and others reported that rats who were deprived of food every other day, or restricted to a diet at 30% to 50% of normal calorie levels, showed not only decreased heart rates and blood pressure, but also “younger” brains, with “numerous age-related changes in gene expression.”

Mattson and his colleagues also shared data from research on humans, which shows that populations with higher caloric intakes—such as the United States and Europe—have a greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s than do populations that eat less—such as China and Japan. The authors speculate that humans may have adapted to conditions of feast and famine; the stress of having little food, they write, “may induce changes in gene expression that result in adaptive changes in cellular metabolism and the increased ability of the organism to reduce stress.”

Although this research is relatively new, with many questions left unanswered, the authors conclude that “it seems a safe bet that if people would incorporate a spartan approach to food intake into their lifestyles, this would greatly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke.” (Of course, how this recommendation translates for individual people remains almost a complete unknown; consult with your own doctor before restricting your diet in dramatic ways.)

But here’s the hard part: Although we know eating too much leads to all sorts of health problems, “it has proven very difficult to successfully implement prolonged dietary-restriction regimens,” reports Mattson and his team. Information and doctor’s orders are rarely enough motivation.

This last observation gave me hope, because it seemed the authors were overlooking the role of religion; it can inspire people in ways information or experts don’t. Would I be undergoing this rigorous month of fasting unless I believed strongly it was the right thing for me to do? Probably not. And the same goes for millions of Muslims around the world.

And many other religions include fasting or dietary restrictions as part of their religious observances. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons, for example, fast one Sunday a month. The Orthodox Church in America notes five separate fasting seasons on its website, in addition to individual fast days; during some of these fasts, all food is restricted, and during other fasts, only certain foods are off-limits. Some Roman Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays, and all do during Lent. Many types of Buddhist monks abide by a code that prohibits eating after noon each day.

Science may only now be discovering that some of these religious practices, both ancient and modern, offer nourishment not just for the soul, but for the body as well.

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Eighteen Reasons For Fasting

O ye who believe! Fasting is ordained for you, even as it was ordained for those before you, that ye may guard yourself (against evil)” Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 183).

Ramadan is a month of fasting and prayers for the Muslims. The fast consists of total abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. There is, however, a greater significance to fasts than mere abstinence from eating and drinking. The real objective of fasts is to inculcate in man the spirit of abstinence from sins and of cultivation of virtue. Thus the Qur’an declares that the fasts have been prescrib�ed with a view to developing piety in man, as is clear from the verse quoted at the top of this page.

How are the many facets of piety sought to be cultivated through the fasts?

  1. The prime consideration in undertaking fast, as in any act of devotion, is to seek NEARNESS TO GOD and beseech HIS PLEASURE and FORGIVENESS. This itself generates a spirit of piety in man.
  2. The wilful creation of the stringent conditions of hunger and thirst for one’s own self, simply in obedience to the Divine Order, measures the FAITH of man in God and helps to strengthen it by putting it to a severe test.
  3. Fasting enhances through creation of artificial non-availability, the value of the bounties of God, which man is apt to take for granted in the midst of plentiful availability, and thus inculcates in man a spirit of GRATITUDE and consequent DEVOTION to GOD. Nothing else can bring home to man the worth of God’s bounties than a glass of water and a square meal after a day‑long fast. This also reminds man that the real joy in enjoying God’s bounties lies in MODERATION and RESTRAINT and not in OVER INDULGENCE.
  4. Fasting makes us deeply conscious of the pangs of hunger and discomfort suffered by the less fortunate among our brethren, who may have to put up with such stringent conditions all through their lives ‑ it thus enkindles in man a spirit of SACRIFICE leading to CHARITY towards his suffering brethren.
  5. Fasting affords man an unfailing training in ENDURANCE ‑ i.e. a SPIRIT OF. ACCEPTANCE of the inevitable, which could well prepare him to put up with the unchangeable situations in life in the same spirit of RESIGNATION as cultivated during the fasts.
  6. Fasting develops COURAGE, FORTITUDE and a FIGHTING SPIRIT IN man to surmount the heavy odds in life with a cool and tranquil mind. It sharpens his, power of CONCENTRATION to overcome obstacles, through a vigorous exercise all through the month, leading to a steeling of his WILL POWER and RESOLVE, which could help him in trying situations in actual life. It is seen that many an undesirable habit which is found hard to leave, is more easily left off during the days of fasting.
  7. Fasting teaches man RELIANCE on God and CONFIDENCE in HIM in facing the bitter situations in life with the comforting thought that these too, ordained by Him, could well be surmounted through His assistance alone, even as the rigorous state of fasting for a complete month. For, fasting develops the quality of PATIENCE in man, with the realisation that, as the days of fasting, though seeming unending do have a successful and, so are all the bitter situations in life. It therefore infuses a spirit of GOOD CHEER, (driving away BITTERNESS and DESPAIR) in his attitude towards life and in his demeanour towards others.
  8. Through quick alternation of the state of plenty and of scarcity, fasting seeks to inculcate in man the right type of attitude in different situations in life‑ of GRATITUDE and THANKSGIVING in plenty and of PATIENCE and FORBEARANCE in difficulty.
  9. Fasting is meant to CONQUER ANGER, not to augment it, and to develop SELF‑CONTROL in man; for the vigorous effort of wilfully putting up with a continued state of hunger and thirst can well be extended to conquer other infirmities of human character that lead man into error and sin.
  10. Fasting inculcates a spirit of TOLERANCE in man to face unpleasant conditions and situations without making his fellow-being the victim of his wrath on account of his adverse conditions, such as deprivation of his basic needs of life, which constitutes the common cause of dissension among men.
  11. Fasting MELLOWS a man and enhances his character, giving jolt to the human instincts of ‘PRIDE, HAUGHTINESS, ENVY and AMBITION, for when fasting, a man’s energies are too sapped to follow these instincts which are the chief causes of discord and conflict among men.
  12. Fasting exposes the weakness of man in the event of his being deprived of but two of the bounties of God ‑ those of food and drink; it thus infuses in him a spirit of MEEKNESS and SUBMISSION, generating HUMILITY and PRAYER in an otherwise arrogant man.
  13. Fasting breathes the spirit of FORGIVENESS in man towards his subordinates, as he himself seeks God’s FORGIVENESS through fasts and prayers.
  14. Fasting affords lessons in PUNCTUALITY through man’s strict adherence to various time‑schedules in the observance of fasts and offering of prayers.
  15. Fasting can be made to effect ECONOMY in an individual’s life, which can be extended to wider spheres.
  16. Fasting enforces in man rigid DISCIPLINE ‑ mental, spiritual and physical ‑ a trait of character which forms an essential ingredient to success in human life.
  17. Fasting provides LEISURE, that could he gainfully employed in devotional or intellectual pursuits. The month‑long duration of fasts creates a proper climate for the SPIRITUAL REFORMATION in man, infusing in him a spirit pf enthusiasm and zest to turn over a new leaf ‑ an opportunity provided every year.
  18. On the physical side, fasting cleanses the human system of the accumulated impurities of uninterrupted eating throughout the year. It prepares the body for toughness and hardihood to face disease or conditions of scarcity. The rigid abstinence that the fast provides, regulates man’s HEALTH, sharpens has INTELLECT, gives spurt to his SPIRITUALLY and enhances the qualities of his HEART. With the cleansing of the human body, it paves the way for its easy and effective rebuilding through meals at the end of the day or after the month is over.

Source: Jamiatul Ulama South Africa

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Fasting in Ramadan – Ahadith from Riyad as-Salihin

Chapters related to Fasting in Ramadan

217. Chapter: On the obligation to fast Ramadan and clarification of the excellence of fasting and what is connected to it

Allah Almighty says, “You who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you..” to His words “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Qur’an was sent down as guidance for mankind, with Clear Signs containing guidance and discrimination. Any of you who are resident for the month should fast it. But any of you who are ill or on a journey should fast a number of other days.” (W2:182-184; H2:183-185)

1215. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah, the Mighty and Exalted said, ‘Every action of the son of Adam is for himself except for fasting. It is Mine and I repay it.’ Fasting is a shield. When someone is fasting, he should not have sexual relations nor quarrel. If someone fights him or insults him, he should say, ‘I am fasting’. By the One in whose hand the self of Muhammad is, the changed breath in the mouth of the faster is more fragrant to Allah than the scent of musk. The faster experiences two joys: when he breaks his fast he rejoices and when he meets his Lord he rejoices in his fasting.” [Agreed upon]

In one variant of al-Bukhari, “He has left his food and drink and appetites for My sake. Fasting is Mine and I repay it. Any other good deed I repay with ten like it.”
In a variant of Muslim, “Every action of the son of Adam is multiplied. A good action receives from ten to seven hundred times. Allah Almighty said, “Fasting is Mine and I repay it. He leaves his appetites and food for My sake. The faster experiences two joys: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets his Lord. The changed breath in the mouth of the faster is more fragrant to Allah than the scent of musk.”

1216. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The one who spends out two kinds of actions in the way of Allah will be summoned from the gates of the Garden and told, ‘O slave of Allah this is better.’ All the people who did the prayer will be called from the gate of the prayer. All the people who did jihad will be called from the gate of jihad. All the people who fasted will be called from the gate of Rayyan. All the people who gave sadaqa will be called from the gate of sadaqa.” Abu Bakr said, “May my father and mother be sacrificed for you, Messenger of Allah. No one called from those gates will feel distress. Will anyone be called from all those gates?” He said, “Yes, and I hope that you will be among them.” [Agreed upon]

1217. Sahl ibn Sa’d reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “There is a gate in the Garden called ar-Rayyan which those who fast will enter on the Day of Rising, and none but they will enter it.” It will be said, ‘Where are the fasters?’ They will stand up and none but they will enter it. When they have entered it, it will be closed and no one else will enter it.” [Agreed upon]

1218. Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “No slave fasts one day in the way of Allah without Allah putting his face seventy years’ journey away from the Fire on account of that day.” [Agreed upon]

1219. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Anyone who prays in Ramadan motivated by belief and in expectation of the reward will be forgiven his past wrong actions.” [Agreed upon]

1220. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When Ramadan comes, the gates of the Garden are opened, the gates of the Fire are closed and the shaytans are chained up.” [Agreed upon]

1221. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Fast when you see it (the new moon) and break the fast when you see it. If it is cloudy, then make Sha’ban complete with thirty days.” [Agreed upon]

In the variant of Muslim, “If it is cloudy, you must fast thirty days.”

218. Chapter: On generosity, charity and doing much good in the month of Ramadan, and increasing that in the last ten days of the month

1222. Ibn ‘Abbas said, “The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, was the most generous of people, and he was even more generous during Ramadan when Jibril met him. Jibril used to meet him every night in Ramadan until it was over and the Prophet would go through the Qur’an with him. The Messenger of Allah was more generous with good things than the blowing wind.” [Agreed upon]

1223. ‘A’isha said, “When the last ten days of Ramadan started, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to pray during the night, wake up his family and intensify his efforts.” [Agreed upon]

219. Chapter: On the prohibition against fasting before Ramadan after the middle of Sha’ban unless that fasting is connected to what is before it and coincides with his habit, like fasting Monday and Thursday

1224. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “None of you should fast a day or two before Ramadan except for a man who customarily fasts. He should fast that day.” [Agreed upon]

1225. Ibn ‘Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Do not fast immediately before Ramadan. Fast when you see the new moon and break it when you see it. If cloud obscures it, then complete the thirty days.” [at-Tirmidhi]

1226. Abu reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When half of Sha’ban remains, then do not fast.” [at-Tirmidhi]

1227. Abu’l-Yaqatan ‘Ammar ibn Yasir said, “Anyone who fasts the day which is doubtful has rebelled against Abu’l-Qasim.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

220. Chapter: On what one says when seeing the new moon

1228. Talha ibn ‘Ubaydullah reported that When the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, saw the new moon, he would say, “O Allah, make the new moon shine on us with security, belief, safety and Islam! My Lord and your Lord is Allah. It is a new moon of guidance and good.” [at-Tirmidhi]

221. Chapter: The excellence of suhur and delaying it as long as one does not fear the approach of dawn

1229. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Have suhur. There is blessing in suhur.” [Agreed upon]

1230. Zayd ibn Thabit said, “We used to have suhur with the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. Then he stood up for the prayer.” Anas said, “I said, ‘How long was there between the adhan and suhur?’ He said, ‘Enough to recite fifty ayats.'” [Agreed upon]

1231. Ibn ‘Umar said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, had two mu’adhdhans: Bilal and Ibn Umm Maktum. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Bilal calls the adhan while it is still night, so eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktum calls the adhan.” He said, “The time between the two adhans was only long enough for the one to go up and the other to come down.” [Agreed upon]

1232. ‘Amr ibn al-‘As reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The difference between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the Book lies in the eating of suhur.” [Muslim]

222. Chapter: On the excellence of hastening to break the fast and that with which one breaks the fast and what one says after breaking the fast

1233. Sahl ibn Sa’d reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “People will continue to be all right as long as they hurry to break the fast.” [Agreed upon]

1234. Abu ‘Atiyya said, “Masruq and I visited ‘A’isha and Masruq said to her, ‘There are two of the Companions of Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and neither of them is lacking in good. One of them hastens Maghrib and fast-breaking and the other delays Maghrib and fast-breaking.’ She said, ‘Which one hastens Maghrib and fast-breaking?’ He said, ”Abdullah – i.e. ibn Mas’ud.’ She said, ‘That is what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, did.'” [Muslim]

1235. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah, the Mighty and Majestic said, ‘The most beloved of My slaves to Me is the quickest to break the fast.” [at-Tirmidhi]

1236. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When night advances from here and day retreats from there and the sun sets, then people fasting should break their fast.” [Agreed upon]

1237. Abu Ibrahim ‘Abdullah ibn Abi Awfa said, “We were with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, on a journey while he was fasting. When the sun set, he said to someone, ‘So-and-so, get down and mix some sawiq for us’ He said, ‘Messenger of Allah, won’t you let it get dark?’ He said, ‘Get down and mix some sawiq for us.’ He said, ‘It is still daytime.’ He said, ‘Get down and mix some sawiq for us.’ So he got down and mixed it for them. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, drank and then gestured with his hand towards the east, saying, ‘When you see the night advancing from here, then the faster should break his fast.'” [Agreed upon]

1238. Salman ibn ‘Amir ad-Dabi the Companion reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When one of you breaks his fast, he should break it with dates. If he cannot find any. then he should break it with water. It is pure.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

1239. Anas said, “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to break the fast with fresh dates before he prayed, and if there were no fresh dates, then with small dry dates. If there were no dry dates, then with a few sips of water.” [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]

223. Chapter: On commanding the faster to guard his tongue and limbs from incorrect actions, verbal abuse and the like

1240. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “When someone is fasting, he should not have sexual relations nor quarrel. If someone fights him or insults him, he should say, ‘I am fasting'” [Agreed upon]

1241. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah does not require someone who does not abandon lies, and acting by them, while fasting to abandon his food and drink.” [al-Bukhari]

224. Chapter: On questions regarding fasting

1242. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “If someone forgets, and eats and drinks, he should complete his fast. Allah has fed him and let him drink.” [Agreed upon]

1243. Laqit ibn Sabira said, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, tell me about wudu’.’ He said, ‘Do wudu’ thoroughly letting the water run between your fingers and snuffing the water well up your nose, unless you are fasting.'” [at-Tirmidhi]

1244. ‘A’isha who said, “Fajr used sometimes to find the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, junub from one of his wives. Then he did ghusl and fasted.” [Agreed upon]

1245. ‘A’isha and Umm Salama said, “When morning found the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, junub from one of his wives, he would still fast.” [Agreed upon]

source: Riyad as-Salihin by Imam Nawawi. Translated by Ustadha Ayesha Bewley

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Fasting and Tafsir of Ma’ariful Qur’an

يٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
‘O those who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as were enjoined upon those before so that you be God-fearing.’ [Surah Baqarah, 183]

Literally, Sawm means ‘to abstain’. In the terminology of Islamic law, Sawm means ‘to abstain from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse: with the conditions that one abstains continuously from dawn to sunset, and that there is an intention to fast.’ Therefore, should one eat or drink anything even a minute before sunset, the fast will not be valid. Similarly, if one abstained from all these things throughout the day but made no intention to fast, there will be no fast here too.

Past communities and the injunction to fast
The verse makes it obligatory for the Muslims to fast in a specified period, but the command in the respect has been accompanied by the statement that the obligation of fasting is not peculiar to them. The fasting had also been enjoined upon the earlier Ummahs (communities of the past prophets). The reference to the earlier Ummahs in the verse shows the importance of fasting on the one hand, and gives an encouragement to the Muslims on the other. It indicates that although there may be some inconvenience in fasting but the same inconvenience was faced by earlier communities. This brings a psychological comfort to the Muslims, because if an inconvenience is faced by a large number of people, it becomes easier to bear. (Ruh al Ma’ani)

The words of the Qur’an ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ (those before you) have been used in general sense including all religious communities from Sayyidina Adam to the last of the Prophets (peace and blessings upon him). This tells us that, like Salah, fasting has also been enjoined upon every Ummah of every prophet without exception.

Commentators who interpret مِن قَبْلِكُمْ (before you) to mean ‘the Christians’ take it just as an example, not aiming to exclude other communities. (Ruh al Ma’ani)

The verse simply says that fasts have been enjoined on Muslims as were enjoined on past communities. From this it does not necessarily follow that the fasts enjoined upon the earlier communities were fully identical in all respects with the fasts enjoined upon this Ummah. There may have been difference in the number and the timings of the fasts etc. and, actually, there has been such a difference. (Ruh al Ma’ani)

By saying لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (so that you be God-fearing), the text has pointed out to the inherent quality of fasting which contributes significantly to one’s ability to become abstaining from the sins and God-fearing. Fasting grows into man a power which helps him control his desires, which is really the foundation of Taqwa, the very special term of the Holy Qur’an which has been tentatively translated as fear of God, abstinence, and the warding of evil.

Ma’ariful Qur’an by Mufti Muhammad Shafi

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