Episode 2: Why Fast?
Fasting is one of these special acts just referred to; it is, in fact, one of the five important acts of worship called the pillars of Islam. The other four are the profession of faith - there is no god (worthy of worship) except Allah (the one true God) and Muhammad is His Messenger, - the five daily prayers, the payment of the poor due (zakat) and the pilgrimage (hajj). These different acts of worship are to the soul as food is to the body. All kinds of food, like proteins, fats and carbohydrates, serve to make the body healthy, but each one contributes to one’s health in a special way, and plays a role that cannot be fully played by the others in achieving that purpose. Similarly, all the acts of worship help to keep our souls sound and healthy by instilling taqwa [in general, it means ‘God consciousness,’ ‘God awareness,’ ‘fear of God,’ and so on] in them, but each has a special role to play in this process, and people who perform these experience in their hearts the special character of the feelings they engender.
When we fast - the Islamic way - we abstain from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset. We do this for the sake of God and in obedience to Him. We thus make a clear statement that our real submission is to God and not to the temptations of our bodies however strong they may be. And for this God gives us a special reward. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) stated,
“In paradise there are eight gates among which is a gate called al-Rayyaan which only those who fast will enter.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
And every good deed will be rewarded ten-fold, save for fasting, about which Allah stated,
“Is done only for my sake and I shall reward it.” (Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Fasting is good not only for our souls but also for our bodies. It helps to make us healthier. Furthermore, abstention from food and drink for a number of days increases will power and weakens the sexual desire. Therefore, it is especially recommended for young men who are not able to marry.