Fasting, particularly in Ramadan, is one of the core pillars within Islam, in which able bodied Muslims are required to refrain from eating and drinking between sunrise (fajr) and sunset (maghrib). It is an action that is meant to ground us, as we try to step away from our worldly desires, and recognize the bounties and blessings of our Lord. Fasting also symbolizes an act of spirituality and restraint in the name of Allah. This restraint is not only that of the physical being but of the soul, as it allows one to detox from our sins, and engage in good deeds, such as giving to charity or reciting Quran.
“O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it had been prescribed for those (communities) who came before you. So that you may exercise taqwa (piety).” (2:183)
The Three Levels of Fasting
This action of piety contains three levels: the physical level, the moral level, and the spiritual level. The physical level, also the post basic level is the fasting of the stomach. This is where the ‘stomach’ symbolizes physical desires such as food, drink, and sexual desires. This level of fasting includes those who simply refrain from the list of “muftirat” (that which invalidates the fast). The moral level is also known as the fasting of the tongue and other limbs. This level includes that which is forbidden, but extends to avoiding the misuse of the body (tongue, eyes, hands & feet). This is the difference between a person who fasts and backbites, versus an individual who chooses not to. The last and final level, also considered the fasting of the heart, is a level for exceptional people (khaul khass). These are people who fast and solely focus all they do for Allah (s.w.t) and give no attention to mundane issues of the world.
“It is the month in which you have been invited to be guests of Allah (s.w.t), and you have been made in it the people who have the honour of Allah” – Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w)