Folders
Ramadan
 

Training the Soul Beginning from the Body

The fasting person is a hungry person. The hungry person does not forget themselves, gravitating towards the external world and making it an object for themselves as those with full stomachs do. On the contrary, they turn towards themselves and become their own object due to their hunger.

Just as the person who always looks around rather than looking at themselves does not see that which is improper - for example the dust or dirt on their clothes-, just as they need to look at themselves in order to realize this situation, mankind can only become aware of their defects and mistakes when they objectify themselves. As such, they can take themselves under control and restrict and eliminate undesirable behavior.

Due to the close relation between the body and the spirit, there is an obligation to start training the spirit from the body. When we think that fasting is an act of worship that lasts one's life, we could say that these two ways of training must continue for a lifetime.

When we start observing nothing but ourselves by refraining from eating and drinking, we are able to be in harmony with the principle of "fasting with all the organs". In terms of hunger, fasting leads the person to material training, whereas the effort to avoid all negative habits leads them towards a spiritual development. This is an expression of the necessity to take into consideration the training of human beings who consist of souls and bodies as well as the material and spiritual aspects.

The first aim of worship is to ensure that Muslims have strong souls and characters. Fasting is completely a physical form of worship and is related to the body. Thus we can conclude the following: Due to the close relation between the body and the spirit, there is an obligation to start training the spirit from the body. When we think that fasting is an act of worship that lasts one's life, we could say that these two ways of training must continue for a lifetime. The fasting person is one who does not dismiss this constant worship from their mind by keeping in mind the reason for their hunger. The fasting person is one who tries to improve themselves by conducting behavior that is expected of him.

In fasting there exists the inevitable acceptance of one's own existence due to the hunger experienced and also the perception that they are impotent before the Divine Creator. When the idea that a person does not come into being spontaneously combines with the reality that they cannot create even the smallest creature, this leads that person to the Creator Who possesses eternal power. In this sense, fasting is an instrument and a springboard for the servant to accept their own existence and perceive the existence of Allah.

There are several reasons why the fasting person keeps fasting although they are hungry and although no physical power restricts them:

There are several reasons why the fasting person keeps fasting although they are hungry and although no physical power restricts them:

When fasting, a person makes sacrifices in their basic eating and drinking needs in order to acquire the approval of Allah and they abandon their comfort. A person who makes such sacrifices in their most basic needs for Allah without expecting any material gain may also make sacrifices for other reasons that have lower significance. It is evident how much humanity needs sacrifices that will be made without any material expectations in terms of social solidarity and cooperation.

By being a means of helping people to avoid all kinds of food and drink, whether they are alone or not, fasting helps people avoid becoming creatures that live by their instincts. In this sense, fasting is the most important part of training the will. It leads a person to acquire the ability to control their behaviors even when they are alone. The person who does not eat or drink even when they are alone due to a promise given to Allah will be able to respect the rights of others not only when they are in public but also when they are alone. Fasting helps a person make a habit of controlling themselves and thinking about the consequences of their actions.

Doing whatever comes to mind without thinking about it first or doing whatever you like without distinguishing whether it is right or wrong is at the center of all the crimes committed within society. Fasting embodies the "ideal person" who does not submit to difficulties or afflictions, who controls themselves and does not deviate from their principles despite any advantages that may be promised.

As distinct from the worship of prayer, which is a collectively exercise, the activity of fasting, which is solitarily performed, implies the following: Even though there remains nobody who has faith or worship in the world, you can live alone in an Islamic fashion without any physical support or help.

Fasting helps the rich who have experienced no difficulties in finding food to comprehend the state of the poor by going through this state of abstinence. It creates the feeling of compassion in the heart and leads people who are better off to engage in several charity activities in order to help the poor.

As the activity of fasting cannot be monitored by others, it encourages the person who is fasting to do the right thing without expecting the appreciation of others. "Human responsibility" transforms itself into "divine responsibility" in the mind and soul of people who are fasting. The person who is fasting is the one who ignores other people and struggles hard to endear themselves to Allah.

The fact that in experimental psychology it has been discovered that "a person can acquire a variety of new habits as a result of training that they undergo for thirty to forty days" might explain why it is required that the fast be performed consecutively for thirty days

The person who breaks the fast when there is no one else around should punish themselves. They should not pretend to be innocent, making up excuses. Such behavior enables a person to make a decision although it is to their disadvantage in terms of the law, and enables them to respect any decision made. The one who breaks their fast secretly but who fears Allah and confesses to doing so, accepting their punishment, provides a testimony for themselves. The person who is able to provide a testimony for themselves for the approval of Allah will not give false testimony against someone else without fear of Allah.

It is obvious that breaking the fast before the evening adhan (call to prayer) has been recited or breaking the fast even one minute before the proper time, or continuing to eat after dawn requires some form of punishment. The gravity of the fast aims to make the Muslims comprehend the perception of time, to adapt their lives to that time and teaches them that it is necessary to utilize time in the best possible way.

The fact that in experimental psychology it has been discovered that "a person can acquire a variety of new habits as a result of training that they undergo for thirty to forty days" might explain why it is required that the fast be performed consecutively for thirty days. For instance, the same number of days - or even more - might have been achieved over the course of a year if one fasted for three days a month. Fasting subjects all Muslims to a month-long training every year and helps them acquire good habits by getting rid of bad habits, and thus is more beneficial for society.

For the complete text see: Ali Murat Daryal, Dini Hayatýn Psiko-Sosyal Temelleri (Psyco-Social Foundations of Religious Life), M.U.I.F. Yayinlari, Istanbul 1994, pages.119-144
 

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