Saturday 16 March 2024

Responding to Objections about Islam: Why Muslims starve themselves by during month of Ramadan?

There is general ignorance and resultant misconception about Islam, its basic pillars, form of worship, rituals and festivals among the non Muslims around the world. Thus most of the objections raised against Islam are generally because of ignorance and insuffient knowledge. We have been trying to address these objections, misinformation and disinformation, beside naked criticism about Islam in our series of posts, which have been combined in our reference page: The Rebuttal: Countering disinformation being spread about Islam.

Today we share an objection which basically stems from the ignorance of one's own faith for many even do not know what their faith directs and expects of them. And one of the objection is about fasting by Muslims in the month of Ramadan. In one of many posts on Ramadan, one non Muslim objected: Why Muslims starve themselves by during month of Ramadan?

We start answering this question from a verse from Qur'an in which its is said that fasting is made obligatory to all Muslims as was made for the previous people:

O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop God-consciousness. — Quran 2:183

The first thing that we make it clear that fasting is not exclusive to Muslims only. In fact fasting has been observed by the Jews and Christians as ordained by the Holy Scriptures they follow. It is another thing that by and by Jews and Christians (mostly) have distanced them from the teachings of their Holy Books and drifted away from the obligation made upon them of fasting. Muslims have firm faith that when they fast, they fast exclusively to please Allah, and in return Allah has promised special rewards for them for they have abstained all pleasures otherwise Halal for them for sake of Allah.

Let us see how fasting is observed by the Jews and Christians, traditionally and not practically as very few adhere to fasting being a Divine obligation:

Fasting in Judaism: There are six days in a year when observant Jews fast. Two “Major Fasts” call for a fast from sundown on the day before to sundown on the day itself, and four “Minor Fasts” call for a fast from sunrise to sundown. Jews have many fast days, most famously Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Unlike the days of Ramadan, that is a full-day fast, from sunset one evening before to nightfall the following evening. Fasting in Judaism requires a strong commitment. While some contemporary fasts may involve choosing specific items to abstain from, traditional Jewish fasting entails refraining from everything. It goes beyond abstaining from food and includes restrictions on water consumption, extending to activities like brushing teeth and bathing.

Fasting by Christians: Fasting is a practice in several Christian denominations and is done both collectively during certain seasons of the liturgical calendar, or individually as a believer feels led by the Holy Spirit. Many Christians also fast before receiving Holy Communion. This is known as the Eucharistic Fast. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, written in the first century A.D., directed Christians to fast on both Wednesdays, in remembrance of the betrayal of Christ by Judas on Spy Wednesday, and Fridays, in mourning of the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday.[17] Historically, the Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican and Methodist denominations of Christianity have emphasized the importance of the Friday fast, which has traditionally involved fasting and abstinence from meat, lacticinia and alcohol. In Western Christianity, fasting is observed during the forty-day season of Lent by many communicants of the Catholic Church, Lutheran Churches, Anglican Communion, Moravian Church, Methodist Churches, Western Orthodox Churches, United Protestant Churches and certain Reformed Churches, to commemorate the fast observed by Christ during his temptation in the desert.

Therefore, it should not come as a surprise for people of other faiths why Muslims "starve" themselves during the month of Ramadan. In fact fasting has many health benefits, And for this very reason, the concept of intermittent fasting is getting popular around the world.  Besides it is regarded principally as a method of self purification. By cutting oneself off from worldly comforts, even for a short time, a fasting person gains true sympathy with those who go hungry as well as growth in one's spiritual life.
  • The first object of fasting in Islam is that it has been Divinely ordained for us to fast, for the sole pleasure of our Creator. We leave what is otherwise Halal for us during the period of fasting, that commences from pre-dawn to sunset. 
  • Secondly, fasting is prescribed only for the able bodied, adult and healthy men and women. Even there are concessions given for the travelers to abstain from fasting and make up for the missed fasts during travel when back from journey.
    • (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew. - Surah 2 Al Baqarah (The Cow):184
    • Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. - Surah 2 Al Baqarah (The Cow):185
    • In one of his Hadiths, Allah's Messenger Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, "Allah said, 'All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.' Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, 'I am fasting.' By Him in Whose Hands my soul is' The unpleasant smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his fasting." - Sahi al-Bukhārī Hadith 1904
  • The fasting also creates a feeling of affection and love for people who are less blessed, for both the rich and poor feel the same amount of thirst and hunger when they are fasting.
  • Since Islamic calendar is based on lunar movement rather than sun, the month of Ramadan keeps advancing by ten days every year. This means one will be fasting in severe winters to severe summers and men fasting would know how the poor brave their fasts during the extreme weather, specially the summers.
No matter how one fasts, it has numerous health, spiritual and social benefits. 

Spiritually, it cleans one inner self and removes the bugs left behind evil and ill thoughts. The spiritual discipline that can help you draw closer to God, humble yourself before Him, resist temptation, seek His guidance, and show solidarity with others. By fasting and praying, you can grow in our relationship with God and become more obedient to His will.

Fasting has pleasant effects of one's health and body.  It can can slow down aging, prevent the development of diabetes, thyroid disorders, hypertension and heart disease and increase the chances of a long and healthy life. It also promotes weight loss. A healthy body weight automatically translates to healthier joints and a great body image. The concept of intermittent fasting which has lately become very popular and is widely adopted is based on the fasting which is applicable to people of the varying faiths.

Fasting also has its social dimension. Since the basic purpose of fasting is to discipline oneself, A fasting man is not allowed to use foul language and be harsh to others for it is against the spirit of fasting. It aids in preventing quarrels, backbiting and lies and fighting. This sudden change can have healthy effects on the society for everyone would be making an endeavour to be good to others to take full benefits of fasting as promised by Allah.

You may like to listen to eminent Muslim scholar of present times, Nouman Ali Khan, giving a short introductory talk on why should we fast:

Thus, Fasting is not merely starving oneself, but is primarily an exercise of devotion to willingly renounce oneself, for a definite period of time, from all bodily appetites in order to form spiritual discipline and self-control.  And Muslims with for this month of 30 days fasting to observe fasting to please Allah and be rewarded.
May Allāh (سبحانه و تعالى‎) help us understand Qur'ān and follow the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, which is embodiment of commandments of Allah contained in the Qur'ān. May Allah help us to be like the ones He loves and let our lives be lived helping others and not making others' lives miserable or unlivable. May all our wrong doings, whether intentional or unintentional, be forgiven before the angel of death knocks on our door. 
وَمَا عَلَيۡنَاۤ اِلَّا الۡبَلٰغُ الۡمُبِيۡنُ‏ 
(36:17) and our duty is no more than to clearly convey the Message.”
That is Our duty is only to convey to you the message that Allah has entrusted us with. Then it is for you to accept it or reject it. We have not been made responsible for making you accept it forcibly, and if you do not accept it, we shall not be seized in consequence of your disbelief, you will yourselves be answerable for your actions on Day of Resurrection.

Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully. It will also help the Muslims to have grasp over social issues and their answers discussed in the Qur'an and other matter related to inter faith so that they are able to discuss issues with non-Muslims with authority based on refences from Qur'an.

May Allah forgive me if my posts ever imply a piety far greater than I possess. I am most in need of guidance.

Note: When we mention God in our posts, we mean One True God, we call Allah in Islam, with no associates. Allah is the Sole Creator of all things, and that Allah is all-powerful and all-knowing. Allah has no offspring, no race, no gender, no body, and is unaffected by the characteristics of human life.

You may read more posts on countering / responding to lies / misinformation and disinformation about Islam: The Rebuttal: Countering disinformation being spread about Islam (Reference Page)

You may also refer to our reference pages for knowing more about Ramadan and fasting:
Disclaimer: The material for this post has been collected from the references given above. If anyone differs with the material contained in this post, one may consult the references and their authors.  If someone has more material about the subject, he/she is most welcome to share in the comments box to make the post all encompassing.

Photo | Resource References: | Wikipedia |

If you like Islam: My Ultimate Decision, and to keep yourself updated on all our latest posts to know more about Islam, follow us on Facebook. You may also refer to our Facebook  Group Islam: The Ultimate Truth for more on Islam and Da'wah.

Please share this page to your friends and family members through Facebook, WhatsApp or any means on social media so that they can also be benefited by it and better understand Islam and the Qur'ān - Insha Allah (Allah Willing) you shall be blessed with the best of both worlds.


Post a Comment

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More