Fasting, sawm is the 4th pillar of Islam that allows Muslims to share the hunger and thirst of the needy as a reminder of our religious duty, Zakat, 3rd pillar of Islam, to help those less fortunate.
Abstaining from food, drink, and sexual relations for 11 to 16 hours in a day during a month, allow Muslims to possess self-retainment.
Allah teaches us that if we can restrain from our essential needs then we are also capable of controlling our desires. Thus, we are accounted for our actions and choices we make.
Fasting is not only beneficial for our physical well-being, but it benefits our mental and spiritual health too.
Spiritual wellness acknowledges our search for deeper meaning in life. It does not only enable people to be connected to a higher power, but also to those around us.
People have more clarity when it comes to making everyday choices, and their actions become more consistent with our beliefs and values.
Islam develops this spiritual wellbeing through its six articles of faith, Aqida al-Islam and five principles, Arkan al-Islam.
David R Williams and Michelle J Sternthal’s ‘Spirituality, religion and health: evidence and research directions’ stated that time-use data for Australia have shown that 14% of households engage in some form of religious activity weekly, and only 10% engage in religious activities daily.
Most of us Muslims perform our daily prayer and fast the month of Ramadan yearly. Hence, in according to these statistics, we are part of the 10% Australians who engage in religious activities daily.
And as fasting, sawm is one of the five principles of faith, it implements and strengthens our spiritual connection with Allah hence, we fast yearly.
Fasting detaches us from unnecessary matters in life and improves our relationship with Allah and sequentially, our relationship with others.
Consequentially, we perform good deeds with dedication and maintain focus on what matters to us the most while relying on Allah.
Moreover, during the month of Ramadan, our rewards are doubled and our sins could be forgiven.
As Abdur Rahman ibn Awf reported: The Messenger of Allah (s), said, “Verily, Ramadan is a month in which Allah Almighty has obligated its fasting. I have instituted for Muslims the practice of prayer at night. Thus, whoever fasts it with faith and expecting reward will be rid of sins like the day he was born from his mother.” (Hadith)
Hence, the month of Ramadan is indeed a holy month, when we sacrifice eating and drinking to gain Allah’s favour. Yet, fasting benefits us physically, mentally and spiritually and empowers us, as Muslims with self-discipline, sincere commitment, patience, and empathy.