Today I would like to cite a few quotations about fasting from Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, a famous Turkish Quran commentator known for including subtle philosophical and psychological analyses in his tafseer. He firstly points out that the struggle against the lower self is possible only through fasting and states that no other means are as effective as fasting in calming the ambition that the human being has towards evil and shamelessness. Due to this, it is impossible to think of a spiritual path that excludes fasting.
In his words, because fasting enables the human being to control his/her most primitive instincts with the limitations it brings on eating, drinking, and sexual activity, “it increases the flavor of life and the value of willpower, and it is a most beautiful habit.”
Thanks to the ability to control one’s self, which is achieved through fasting, one can successfully stop at the boundaries drawn by Allah (s.w.t), and attain the standing of taqwa, which was designated as the purpose of fasting in Baqara 2/183, by avoiding sins and rebellion. For fasting breaks lust, defeats the desires of the self, prevents one from transgressions and ugly deeds, trivializes the ambitions for prestige and status, brings out the flavor of life and living, increases the heart’s connection to Allah (s.w.t), and bestows upon the heart an angelic delight. Of all the desires that land us in trouble, the most deep-rooted ones have to do with eating-drinking and sexuality. Our humanity comes from our ability to master these drives.