📖Sunan Ibn Majah 1639
Mutarrif, from the tribe of Banu ‘Amir bin Sa’sa’ah narrated that ‘Uthman bin Abul-‘As Ath-Thaqafi invited him to drink some milk that he poured for him. Mutarrif said: “I am fasting.” ‘Uthman said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: ‘Fasting is a shield against the Fire just like the shield of anyone of you against fighting.’”
From this hadith, we can learn the following:
- Fasting is a means of protection: The hadith states that fasting acts as a shield against the Fire (referring to Hell). This means that observing fasting serves as a protection from the punishment of Hellfire.
- The significance of fasting in Islam: Fasting is considered a crucial act of worship in Islam. It involves abstaining from food, drink, and other physical desires from dawn until sunset during the month of Ramadan. This hadith emphasizes the importance of fasting and highlights its spiritual and protective benefits.
- The comparison to a shield: The hadith draws a parallel between fasting and a shield used in battle. Just as a shield provides defense against an opponent’s attacks, fasting acts as a shield to safeguard a person from the punishment of the Fire in the Hereafter.
- The authority of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): The hadith attributes the statement about fasting as a shield against the Fire to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). This indicates the significance of the Prophet’s teachings in shaping Islamic beliefs and practices.
Overall, this hadith highlights the virtues and rewards associated with fasting in Islam, emphasizing its protective nature against the punishment of Hellfire. It encourages Muslims to observe fasting as an act of devotion and a means of seeking Allah’s mercy and forgiveness.
Purpose of Fasting
God has prescribed fasting for believers for several reasons. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is an essential act of worship during the month of Ramadan. Here are some reasons why Allah wants fasting from believers:
- Obedience and Worship: Fasting is a commandment from Allah, and by observing it, believers demonstrate their obedience and submission to His will. It is a way of worshiping and seeking closeness to Allah.
- Self-Discipline and Self-Control: Fasting teaches believers self-discipline and self-control. By abstaining from food, drink, and other lawful pleasures from dawn until sunset, Muslims learn to control their desires and develop restraint over their physical urges. It helps in purifying the soul and developing a sense of self-restraint.
- Spiritual Reflection and Remembrance of Allah: Fasting provides an opportunity for believers to engage in spiritual reflection, introspection, and increased devotion to Allah. By refraining from worldly distractions and focusing on acts of worship, Muslims strive to enhance their relationship with Allah and increase their consciousness of Him.
- Empathy and Compassion: Fasting fosters empathy and compassion towards those who are less fortunate. By experiencing hunger and thirst firsthand, believers develop a deeper understanding of the struggles faced by the needy and are encouraged to engage in acts of charity and generosity.
- Purification and Forgiveness: Fasting is believed to purify the soul and seek forgiveness from Allah. It is a means of seeking repentance for past sins and starting anew. Muslims believe that fasting during Ramadan leads to the forgiveness of sins if done with sincerity and devotion.
- Strengthening Faith and Building Taqwa: Fasting helps in strengthening faith and cultivating taqwa, which is the consciousness of Allah and fear of His displeasure. By practicing self-restraint and striving to adhere to the principles of Islam, believers develop a heightened awareness of Allah’s presence in their lives.
Benefits of Fasting
Fasting Research Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine
The 2016 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Japan’s Dr. Yoshinori Ohsumi for his discoveries of the underlying mechanisms of a physiological process called autophagy. Autophagy is a natural process by which the body degrades and recycles damaged cells, proteins and toxins. Autophagy comes from two Greek words, auto meaning “self” and phagy meaning “to eat.” This is the body’s way of cleaning house. It happens during starvation, calorie restriction, and fasting. If the body fails to engage in autophagy, damaged cells and structures can accumulate dangerously. Autophagy is one method that the body uses to naturally neutralize cancer cells and degrade cells infected by harmful bacteria and viruses… Today, we are learning that intermittent fasting can deliver numerous health benefits. Overeating can cause significant harm, including increased risks of cardiovascular, weight, blood sugar, brain, mood and other health concerns. Intermittent fasting, on the other hand, has been linked to numerous health benefits, including:
1. Decreased diabetes risk
2. Decreased cardiovascular risk
3. Improved longevity
4. Protection against cancer
5. Reduced risk of neurological concerns
6. Decreased inflammation
7. Balanced lipid levels
8. Reduced blood pressure
9. Reduced oxidative stress
10. Balanced weight
Reference: LifeSpa, Fasting Research Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine. Is it Right for You?, John Douillard, 2018