12 Jul 2010

The purpose of Fasting

by Syed Qutb

{"O you who believe! Fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may acheive taqwa."}[al-Baqarah; 183]

"...And it is only natural that fasting would be obligated for the same Ummah upon whom Jihaad in the Path of Allah is obligated, in order to establish His way of life on this Earth, and in order to lead humanity, and to become witnesses over the people. So, fasting is the manifestation of this intense, strong will, and it is the manifestation of the human being's connection with his Lord - the connection of obedience and submission - just as it is the manifestation of one rising above all of his material needs and withstanding the pressures and pains of doing such, all in pursuit of Allah's Pleasure.

And all of these are necessary components in preparing the soul to withstand the burdens of the path that is filled with obstacles and hardships, and that is surrounded on each side of it with desires and passions, and which throws in the face of the one traversing it thousands of deceptions!

Of course, this is all in addition to that which time has shown to be the physical benefits of fasting. Even though I generally do not like to connect the obligatory acts of worship and divine injunctions with the physical benefits that are obvious to the eye - since the underlying wisdom in them is to prepare the human spirit for its proper role on Earth, and to condition it for the complete reward that is awaiting it in the Hereafter - with this, I do not want to deny that which science has shown to be the physical benefits of these obligatory acts and injunctions...

And so begins the obligation of answering this call which is beloved to the believers - the call that is mentioned to them along with its underlying reality. Then, it is confirmed and established - after making this call to them - that fasting is an ancient obligation upon the believers in Allah from all religions, and that the primary purpose and goal of fasting is to prepare and condition their hearts to have taqwa, transparency, sensitivity, and fear of Allah:

{"O you who believe! Fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may acheive taqwa."}

Such is the overall goal and purpose of fasting announced: it is taqwa. So, taqwa is what wakes up in the heart, while it is fulfilling this obligation, the obedience to Allah and the pursuit of His Pleasure. Taqwa is what shields these hearts from ruining one's fast with sins, even those that simply appear in their conscience. And those whom the Qur'an is addressing know the value of taqwa with Allah, as it is a goal that their souls yearn for! And this fasting is simply one path to this goal. As a result, raised before their eyes is a goal and a guiding light that leads them by way of fasting...{so that you may acheive taqwa."}"

['Fi Dhilal al-Qur'an'; 1/167-168]

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