Fasting strengthens body, sharpens mind and purifies soul

Jasmin Merdan / Getty

By Dr. M. Qutbubdin

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic calendar, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. This practice is called Siyam. In addition to fasting, Muslims also engage in other forms of worship during Ramadan, including Qiyam (nightly prayers), Zakat (giving of alms to the poor), Sadaqa (voluntary charity), and Aitikaf (retreat in a mosque for spiritual reflection). Ramadan is considered a holy month in Islam, and it is a time for Muslims to deepen their spiritual connection with God and reflect on their actions and behavior.

Ramadan is often described as a month of rigorous training for Muslims. Fasting from food, water, and other basic needs during daylight hours is one of the most noticeable aspects of Ramadan, but it is also a time for Muslims to practice self-discipline and self-restraint in other areas of their lives. This includes avoiding negative emotions and behaviors such as anger, greed, envy, lust, hatred, and revenge. Instead, Muslims are encouraged to focus on positive virtues such as patience, kindness, generosity, forgiveness, and compassion towards others. Through this practice, Ramadan aims to cultivate spiritual growth and a deeper connection with God, as well as empathy and solidarity with those who are less fortunate.

The aim of the practices during Ramadan, such as fasting and engaging in acts of worship, is to develop better-coping skills and cultivate a balanced personality by training one’s thoughts and behaviors. In the Quran, this process is referred to as Tazkiyatun-Nafs-o-Qalb-war-Ruh, which means purifying the ego, heart, and soul in order to achieve Taqwa. Taqwa is an Arabic term that can be translated as “God consciousness” or “fear of God,” and it is a central concept in Islam. The ultimate goal of Taqwa is to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with God, and to live a life that is guided by moral and ethical principles. By practicing Taqwa, Muslims aim to become more aware of God’s presence in their lives and to cultivate a sense of awe and reverence for God. This, in turn, can lead to greater inner peace and fulfillment, as well as a deeper connection to the world around them.

In order to achieve a Hayatae Tayyiba or a pure life, Muslims are encouraged to replace negative habits with positive ones. This process involves two steps: Takhlia, which means getting rid of bad habits such as anger, jealousy, envy, hatred, greed, and lust; and Tajlia, which means cultivating good habits such as patience, tolerance, understanding, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

Through Takhlia, Muslims aim to eliminate negative behaviors that can harm themselves and others, and that can lead to a sense of inner turmoil and unrest. By replacing these negative habits with positive ones through Tajlia, Muslims can cultivate a sense of inner peace and harmony, and become better equipped to deal with the challenges of life.

In Islam, the ultimate goal of this process is to achieve a state of purity and balance in all aspects of one’s life, including one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions. By doing so, Muslims can develop a deep sense of inner peace and fulfillment, and live a life that is guided by moral and ethical principles.

Applying the concept of training the body, mind, and soul can have immense benefits for physical and psychological health. As psychiatrists, we know that faith can play a significant role in the psychological, mental, and behavioral health domain.

Research has shown that spirituality and religious practices can have a positive impact on mental health and well-being. Engaging in spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and acts of worship can help individuals to cope with stress and anxiety, and promote feelings of inner peace and well-being.

In addition, cultivating positive virtues such as patience, tolerance, forgiveness, and compassion can help individuals to manage negative emotions and improve their relationships with others. By developing a sense of inner peace and balance, individuals can become more resilient in the face of life’s challenges, and experience greater fulfilment and satisfaction in their lives.

Overall, incorporating spiritual practices and virtues into one’s life can have a positive impact on both physical and psychological health, and can lead to a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

Fasting and other spiritual practices can be useful in managing a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders, relationship issues, and addiction. Fasting can help to cultivate a sense of self-discipline and self-control, which can be helpful in managing addictive behaviors and reducing impulsive behaviors.

Additionally, fasting and other spiritual practices can help individuals to develop a greater sense of mindfulness and self-awareness, which can be helpful in managing symptoms of anxiety and depression. By becoming more aware of their thoughts and emotions, individuals can learn to recognize and challenge negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive and constructive ones.

Furthermore, the practice of fasting and engaging in acts of worship can help individuals to develop a deeper sense of connection to a higher power or purpose, which can provide a sense of comfort and support in difficult times. This can be particularly helpful for individuals struggling with feelings of loneliness or isolation.

Overall, incorporating spiritual practices such as fasting and other acts of worship into one’s life can be a powerful tool in managing a variety of mental health conditions and transforming one’s mindset and behavior.

“LE – MA -ALLAHI -O – LA – TUBALI” is a phrase in Arabic that means “Be with Allah and don’t worry about anything.” This phrase reflects the idea that placing one’s trust in Allah and relying on Him can bring a sense of peace and security, even in difficult times.



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