Today(17 July) is the 8th of Ramadhan, let us start with recitation of the special prayer for this day: “O Allah, grant me this day compassion for the orphans, and enable me to provide food (to the hungry), to greet others in an expressive manner, and to keep the company of the virtuous, with Your bounty, O Refuge of the hopeful!”
The month of fasting is a pause from the daily routine life of the year, and has numerous benefits that provide the opportunity to develop the soul, the psyche and the body. Since the early times in Iran, Muslim physicians have been emphasizing the specific importance of fasting. Abu Ali ibn Sina, the famous Islamic-Iranian multi-sided genius, who in addition to being a top philosopher was also an outstanding physician, has mentioned in his medical masterpiece, “al-Qanoun fi’t-Tibb”, or the Canons of Medicine, the curing of patients through fasting. Even modern day medics believe that with fasting, one can cure many diseases including obesity, migraine, allergy, and blood pressure, pain in joints, and several skin diseases. In the West, the therapy of fasting is being called a surgery without knife. French physiologist and researcher Dr. Alexis Carl says: with fasting one can preserve the balance of the body and its healthy performance. Naturally all are inclined to act according to their instincts, but if these tendencies are not properly controlled for the sake of the self and the society, there will be chaos everywhere, including the ruining of personal life. Therefore one should be dominant over his/her self. Certainly gluttony is worse than starvation or being deprived of eating and drinking. Thus, Ramadhan affords us the excellent opportunity for refraining from eating and drinking during certain hours of the day, so as to create harmony between the body and the spirit.
A famous hadith from Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) says: “fast, in order to be healthy.” The Prophet considered the stomach as the source of all pains and refraining, and in addition to the spiritual aspects of the commandment of God regarding fasting, he has referred to the fasts as the best medication for keeping the stomach orderly and healthy. According to the Prophet’s First Infallible Successor, Imam Ali (AS), fasting is the best means for health. Researchers have confirmed these points, since basically fasting purifies the blood and cleanses it from toxic elements. For example, the ill cells are speedily removed and replaced by healthy cells in the body of a fasting person. As a result, such a person feels energetic, fresh and exuberant. Researchers have realized that fasting is effective for the proper functioning of the human brain as well, and it develops intellectual abilities and sharpness. In view of these factors, the obligatory fasting of the month of Ramadhan is a wonderful spiritual exercise in boosting the morals and in coping with ease and confidence regarding the problems and hardships of life. A month of fasting increases self-control concerning our behavior and manners, and also improves our psychological health.
Fasting is a wonderful formula for the gradual growth and development of a person’s personality, right since adolescent, and into manhood. The voluntary restrictions of the daylight hours of Ramadhan is a kind of self-growth, which first the parents impart to their teenage children, who later on become efficiently disciplined as well as conscious of their responsibilities to God’s commandments and the social order, For instance, refraining from eating and drinking and certain other lawful pleasures during daylight hours, as well as controlling the tongue and other organs of the body, is actually a dynamic exercise for teens in regulating their desires. This delay has very constructive impacts on human beings and creates a certain kind of skill and ability to manage his/her desires. In the past programs, we got acquainted with some characteristics of the pious people. In the initial ayahs of Surah Mominoun the Almighty outlines certain characteristics of the faithful. These ayahs say:
“Successful indeed are the believers, who are humble in their prayers, and who keep aloof from what is vain, and who are givers of poor-rate, and who guard their private parts.”
Thus, as is clear, success has a broad meaning which includes both material and spiritual aspects. Worldly success means mankind should live in freedom, honour, and dignity. But success in afterlife means eternal bliss and the rewards of Paradise for the good deeds one had done during life. In expressing the characteristics of the faithful, the holy Qur’an stresses the importance of the daily ritual prayer which is the most important means of communion between God and the human being. The ayah by emphasizing the humbleness of a person during prayers, means to say that politeness is an essential factor of a person, and is indicative of the gratitude of us human beings towards our Almighty Creator for having granted us the gift of life. Here the holy Qur’an says that the prayer of a believer is not a meaningless move, but actually an act of cognizance of the Almighty and the purpose of life and creation. In other words, remembrance of God is the means for awakening the soul and the spirit and for keeping us away from sins and other harmful deeds. Prayer thus builds piety and virtue, thereby inspiring us towards constructive and creative acts.