Thoughts of a Fasting Person
By Sheykh ‘Abdel Thaahir Abu As-Samh
It appears to me in every year from fasting the month of Ramadan that fasting softens the heart, diminishes one’s desires and makes soul nearer to submissiveness, limits internal sensations, softens the dense screens that accumulate on the insight of the heart due to addicting food and drinking. It appears to me that the heavy physical and animal loads of soul get lightened and it becomes stronger and healthier in the days of fasting to the extent that it has strong determination regarding the good deeds.
There is actually no wonder to see this. That is because food and drink are mostly considered the causes for negligence, weak determination, loss of insight, many physical and spiritual diseases, slow movements and actions instead of running and winning.
Souls cannot reach a great rank unless the bodies exert many efforts in this regard. As for the one who fulfills to his body all it needs such as food, drink, and desires, he is closer to the animals and can hardly catch up the race. Have not you ever seen the trainers of horses if they want them to win the race? They prevent them from eating a lot of fodders; rather, they may confine to making them drink milk only and when the day of the race comes, they will be like the uncontrollable wind. The poet said:
I have left extra matters of living until I brought her back to a condition that (even) the ascetic does not accept.
I hoped to run quickly to the highest ranks and if you want to get it, then you should lighten yourself (by leaving such extra matters).
Really, if one wants to get the highest ranks should leave extra mattes. Therefore, we see the Sufis advise their students to fast if they explored every possible ways and found nothing like it in disciplining, educating, cleaning soul from the impurities of desires and the evil whispers of the devil.
If you read the biographies of the Salaf (i.e. righteous predecessors) of the ascetic scholars and noble scholars of Hadeeth and analyzed their strong determination, braveness and boldness in addressing the kings and to declare publicly the truth, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, spending long times in fulfilling many acts of worship, writing books and treatises, and the blessings that Allah, The Almighty, bestowed on their times, we will certainly come to know that fasting is the reason behind all of such noble things.
In spite of the severe poverty of the Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, they conquered many cities and did what the nations of iron, fire, poisoned and choking gazes could not have done in a quarter of a century, but why? Because they used to fast most of the days and their hunger was used to be more than their fullness. Bedouins are still the most purified people and there is no reason for this except hunger and their mouths are free from extra matters whose gazes and smokes blind the insight of the heart.
One may say: why do we feel slack, weak, sleepy, and lazy (while fasting)? This occurs at the beginning of fasting and then goes off, especially if the fasting person does not wrong himself with filling his stomach with different foods when breaking his fast as if he remained hungry to fill his stomach and made his stomach empty to fill it for individuals like this will surely be afflicted with severe diseases and many illnesses; the severest of them is hardening of the heart and dry eyes.
How can the one whose stomach is filled with food to have awaking heart and understand the words of Allah, The Almighty, and His Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him? O Allah, forgive and have mercy, and You are the best of the merciful.