The benefits of fasting
The benefits of fasting from physical to emotional, mental and spiritual. Fasting is a natural cleanser and purification, not just from food but also from sin. Even the ancient Greeks recognised its benefits.
“Instead of using medicine, better fast today,” said Plutarch, a Greek Moralist. Fasting has been around for centuries and was performed by the people of the past; its advantages are endless.
Staying away from food for long hours cleanses the body and rests the digestive system. Dr Razeen Mahroof, an anaesthetist from Oxford, says about fasting, “A detoxification process also occurs, because any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body.” The body is purified from excess food and fat.
Fasting is a natural remedy, which helps to free up energy which can then be used more productively. It is estimated that after a heavy meal the body uses 65% of its available energy to digest that meal. So if you fast, you have energy that is freed up because there is no meal to digest. So the energy can then be used by the body to heal itself, to mend broken tissues and cells.
It also opens the way for healthier eating habits, if the suhoor and iftaar are in line with the sunnah. The prophet (peace be upon him) used to take a light suhoor and a light iftaar.
Though Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) recommended taking suhoor and said that there is blessing in the suhoor meal, he was not extravagant, and did not fill his belly with a large feast.
He (peace be upon him) is reported to have said, “The worst container a human being can fill is his stomach.” (Ibn Majah)
Mental and Emotional Benefits:
Fasting clears a person’s mind. The individual becomes less occupied with the vanities of this world and more concerned with the hereafter, if the prophetic way of fasting is observed. During Ramadaan and any other voluntary fast, the individual spends time reading the Qur’an and their tongues are wet with the remembrance of Allah. Thus, attaining the pleasure of Allah becomes their primary goal and they forget the distractions of this world.
In addition, fasting has been proven to improve brain health. It helps with the homeostatic process of neuronal autophagy, and increases levels of BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor), positively affecting the cognitive part of our brains. Furthermore, the risk of many diseases including Alzheimer’s, Huntington’s, brain trauma, depression and ischemic strokes have all been shown to decrease with fasting.
Recent research has also found that after a few days of fasting there are higher levels of endorphins in the blood making the individual more alert and attentive, giving a sense of mental wellbeing.
These benefits are too many to enumerate. Fasting helps the individual get closer to Allah, to earn the pleasure of Allah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that Allah has said, “Fasting is for Me and I will give reward for it…”
This indicates that fasting is between the individual and Allah. Moreover Allah will reward the fasting person as much as He wishes, and however He wishes; and Allah’s rewards are infinite!
During the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting, the gates of paradise are opened and the gates of hell are locked and the devils are chained. Allah makes it easier for us to come closer to Him, and simpler to earn good deeds.
Also, Allah admits into His mercy many of His slaves and saves them from the Hellfire.
An added bonus of fasting is that it will give us access to the gate of Paradise called Ar-Rayyan.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There is a gate in paradise called Ar-Rayyan, through which those who fast will enter on the Day of Judgement and no one besides them will enter it.” (Sahih Bukhari)
Fasting is a prophetic remedy for the body, mind, heart, and soul. It contains many benefits, some of which can be felt immediately and others which will be shown to us on the Day of Resurrection.
May Allah make us amongst those whom He admits to His Mercy, and those from whom He accepts their fasts, and those whom He admits to Paradise through the gate of Ar-Rayyan.