Fasting in the blessed month of Ramadan is the fourth pillar of the five pillars of Islam, and it refers to abstaining from food, drink, and certain activities from dawn until sunset.
The month of Ramadan includes numerous physical and psychological benefits, and while the psychological benefits of fasting may be less well-known than the physical benefits, they are of great importance.
Sawm in Ramadan helps develop and cultivate the skill of self-control, which is considered a fundamental factor for long-term success.
When reflecting on the philosophy of al Sawm, we find that it is a great religious and educational method that helps to cultivate and refine the soul and to elevate it above desires.
Through fasting, a person becomes capable of acquiring good habits and getting rid of bad habits, as fasting serves as a powerful motivation for Muslims to resist their desires and impulses.
What is Ramadan fasting?
In language, Ramadan fasting is defined as abstaining from a specific thing, whether it be an action or a word.
It is derived from the verb “Saama” which means to hold back. Fasting involves abstaining from things such as talking, eating, drinking, or other similar activities. Source
The Sawm Ramadan Month Definition According to Scholars
The definitions of fasting during Ramadan vary among scholars, with each school of thought having its own opinion. Here are some examples:
- The Hanafi school defines sawm as abstaining from three things, which are eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse, by a specific person at a specific time, with the presence of intention.
- The Maliki school defines fasting as abstaining from the two pleasures of the mouth and the private parts, or anything that takes their place, as an act of obedience to Allah, with the presence of intention before the time of dawn or during it so that this abstention includes the whole day.
- The Shafi’i school defines Islamic fasting as a specific person abstaining from a specific thing at a specific time.
- The Hanbali school defines fasting in Islam as abstaining from specific things at specific times by a specific person, with the presence of intention.
The Significance of Fasting during Ramadan
In light of the general wisdom of legislation, which is to connect the creature to the Creator and prepare humans to achieve their caliphate on earth through personal and social ethics, the wisdom behind fasting can be clarified as follows:
1- The wisdom behind al sawm is that it involves pleasing Allah and sacrificing one’s personal existence by abstaining from food and drink.
And one’s sexual desires by refraining from sexual activities, seeking only the pleasure of Allah, who cannot be approached by others through such acts of worship.
2- Fasting is a means to free oneself from the slavery of desires and materialism, and to cultivate the process of controlling and mastering one’s impulses, reminding humans that freedoms are limited for the good of humanity and those who live with them.
This is a difficult struggle that teaches patience, and endurance, strengthens willpower, and prepares individuals to face all the possibilities of life, both sweet and bitter, and all its challenges, making them a complete person in mind.
Who Must Fast During Ramadan?
Fasting Ramadan is obligatory for every obligated Muslim, both men, and women, and it is desirable for those who have reached the age of seven or more and are able, male and female, and their guardians must instruct them to do so if they are able.
The Mechanics of Sawm
Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory for every sane adult Muslim, and there are many hidden rulings in fasting that teach Muslim patience and closeness to Allah.
Ramadan Fasting Rules- Who Must Stop Sawm The Month?
There are certain exceptions to al sawm during Ramadan that are recognized in Islamic jurisprudence. Here are some of the most common exceptions:
If an individual is ill or has a medical condition that requires regular medication or food intake, they are exempt from fasting. However, they are encouraged to make up for the missed days of fasting after they recover.
If an individual is traveling during Ramadan, they are permitted to break their fast. However, they must make up the missed days of fasting at a later time.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Pregnant and breastfeeding women are exempt from fasting if it poses a risk to their health or the health of their child. They can make up the missed days of fasting at a later time.
Women who are menstruating are exempt from fasting during Ramadan until their menstrual cycle ends. They can make up the missed days of fasting after their cycle is over.
Old age and chronic illness:
Individuals who are elderly or have a chronic illness that prevents them from fasting are exempt from fasting. They can make up the missed days of fasting by providing food to the needy or by making a donation to charity.
The Benefits of Fasting For Ramadan Month
There are many great benefits of fasting in Ramadan that cannot be counted, and below we will learn about these benefits.
Physical and Mental Health Benefits of Sawm
Sawm has many health benefits, which can be summarized as follows:
1- Helps remove toxins from the body
Toxins are found all around us, in the air, in food, and as a result of chemical reactions that occur inside the body.
Many of these toxins are stored in body fat, and during fasting, this fat is burned, which helps to get rid of toxins.
2- Benefits the digestive system
Fasting gives the digestive system a rest and helps maintain fluid balance in the body. During Ramadan, some people are forced to change a number of their bad habits.
Such as reducing smoking and coffee consumption, both of which have a significant effect on the stomach and digestive system.
In addition, sawm can be a treatment and symptom reliever for some digestive diseases, such as reflux esophagitis and irritable bowel syndrome.
3- Helps treat infections and allergies
Some studies have shown that fasting during Ramadan helps to treat infections, some allergies, arthritis, and skin diseases such as psoriasis.
4- Reduces blood sugar levels
Fasting helps to break down glucose, which reduces insulin production and thus relieves the pancreas, leading to a decrease in blood sugar levels.
5- Helps burn fat
As mentioned, fasting helps break down glucose, which makes it easier to burn fat to produce the energy the body needs, especially fat stored in the kidneys and muscles.
6- Treats high blood pressure
Ramadan Fasting is one of the most important natural ways to lower blood pressure levels, as it helps to reduce the risk of artery hardening and reduce metabolic and hormonal rates such as adrenaline, which helps to lower blood pressure levels.
7- Promotes healthy eating habits
Medical studies have shown that fasting during Ramadan reduces the desire to eat processed foods and fast food and promotes the desire to eat healthy foods.
8- Boosts the immune system
As previously mentioned, fasting helps to get rid of toxins and fat from the body and promotes healthy eating habits, which in turn boost the immune system.
Spiritual Benefits of Sawm
Ramadan Fasting is considered a spiritual school that purifies and energizes the soul. Examples of the spiritual benefits of fasting include:
- Strengthening the fasting person’s relationship with their Lord through seeking the pleasure of Allah and committing to His obligations.
- Increasing piety and refraining from physical, mental, and spiritual sins.
- Purifying the soul and making the person eager to do good and avoid evil.
- Feeling a sense of tranquility and peace of mind as a result of the spiritual benefits of fasting, worshiping Allah, and feeling grateful for His blessings and favors.
Social Benefits of Sawm
The month of Ramadan is characterized by social cohesion at both the family and community levels, and this benefits individuals in many ways. Some of the social benefits of sawm include:
- Equality between the rich and the poor without discrimination, as all Muslims fast whether they are rich or poor from dawn until dusk.
- Contributing to the removal of hatred and animosity among people, by making the rich feel the suffering of the poor who cannot afford their basic needs, which encourages them to give their wealth to charity and help the poor.
- Unifying individuals and resolving disputes, as family members gather around the iftar table, and relatives, friends, and acquaintances gather in social gatherings. These gatherings remove any animosity and resentment among Muslims and strengthen the bonds of love between them, and restore kinship ties.
- Abstaining from harming others, is a means of protecting oneself from offensive language, conflicts, and disputes. It is also a means of training oneself to develop patience and forbearance.
Fasting in language means refraining from a certain thing, and in terminology, definitions of scholars differ, but they agree on the meaning of refraining from the things that break the fast from dawn to sunset.
There is no difference in meaning between fasting and sawm, and Ramadan fasting is also called patience because the fasting person restrains themselves from desires.
As sawm is one of the best voluntary acts of worship that a Muslim can do to get closer to their Lord.
Whether it is on the days mentioned in the texts that highlight the virtues of fasting such as the 6 days of Shawwal, the fast of Arafah, and the fast of Ashura, or on other days that are not forbidden to fast by Islamic law like the two Eid days.