“Fasting doesn’t make you weak.”
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Recently, I attended a dawah course.
The teacher was talking about the things that the daee (caller to Islam) needs to do in order to strengthen themselves for the great task ahead i.e. calling people to Islam.
He mentioned quite a few things including qiyam al-layl (the night prayer). [For those who don’t understand how that could help, please read the explanation of Surah Al-Muzzammil.]
One of the things that he also mentioned was fasting. And he said something that really struck me:
[I’m quoting from memory.]
“Fasting doesn’t make you weak. It gives you strength.”
That’s what many of us think, isn’t it? We think that fasting tires us out (which is probably why we are so unproductive in Ramadan).
However, as the brother, may Allah reward him greatly, pointed out, it doesn’t tire us out, it actually does the exact opposite.
One of the main acts of worship of the Prophet (salallahu alaihi wasallam) and the Prophets (alaihimissalam) before him, and their companions (radiallahu anhum) was fasting.
Be honest: When you read their stories, do they seem like tired people or more like energizer bunnies*?
[*I hope you understand where I’m coming from. In our time, the energizer bunny is the epitome of the thing which just keeps going on and on.]
I get exhausted just reading their stories because…they were so active. They did more in one day than most of us do in a year.
There’s an ayah (verse) in the Quran that (for me) summarises why they were so full of life:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّـهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ
O you who believe! Answer Allah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he (salallahu alaihi wasallam) calls you to that which will give you life.” [Surah Al-Anfal (8) : 24]
The commentators point out that the life means 1) the life of the heart and the soul and 2) the eternal life (i.e. Paradise).
Now, you might say: “Wait, I thought you were talking about physical energy? The ayah talks about spiritual energy.”
Well, I don’t think that there’s any contradicition because:
1) When we get re-energised spiritually, we also feel physically refreshed.
There were many times in my life when I went to a hifdh (Quran memorisation) class, or an Islamic lecture, completely exhausted. I was so tired at the beginning of the class.
By the end? I felt like a spring chicken. It’s amazing. Because I felt spiritually recharged, I also felt physically recharged.
I think that many of you would also have gone through similar situations.
2) If we answer Allah’s call i.e. apply the Shariah, we WILL be physically fit.
Why? Well, because it calls us to pay attention to our bodies and also because acts of worship like fasting and the night prayer (the two main acts of worship in Ramadan) are not just good for spiritual health, they are known to be good for physical health as well.
3) If we want to get the eternal life, we need to start working.
That alone is enough to turn one into an energizer bunny.
4) Good only results in more good.
If we obey Allah in one aspect, that will only result in more good. How can one fast (do something good) and expect that to lead to a bad thing (exhaustion)? No, that can’t be, because good only results in more good, so that exhaustion is not coming from the fasting.
So, if we understand these points, we’ll be able to understand how the earlier generations were so full of life.
Now, what am I trying to say?
Well, every Ramadan, we all complain how we are also so tired due to fasting in the morning and praying at night.
Those acts cannot be tiring us out because they are the ones giving us life and energy so there has to be something else draining our energy.
Perhaps it’s our negative attitude? Allah knows Better.
Either way, we need to change our perspective and approach both of these acts (and the whole Shariah in general) in a better manner.
Perhaps after we do that, we’ll see a different (and better) Ramadan this year, insha-Allah, hopefully one where we’ll all be full of life.