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Why I Fast

The Greek physician and father of modern day medicine Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink as a remedy for certain illnesses.  It is recorded that Hippocrates said “when a patient is fed too richly, the disease is fed as well… excess is against nature.”  Although fasting was a tradition of ancient and mediaeval medicine, billions of souls in every corner of the globe have been fasting this year as the Bahá'í and Muslim Fast overlaps for the first time ever, marking a special moment in interfaith history. Bahá’is just finished their fasting period, which takes place for 19 days before the first day of Spring. While we abstain from food and drink, the purpose of the Fast is spiritual in nature - thoughts are centred on prayer, meditation and reflection to refresh the soul before the Bahá'í New Year (Naw Rúz).  

There are many reasons to fast, and it makes me happy to share about this special period with my friends and colleagues. While speaking with a friend, he asked me why I fast, to which I replied “to be detached”. He interrupted to share that he fasts too, every Sunday night until Monday night or even Tuesday. When I asked why, he responded with “the same reason as you”. While I was confused at first, I was also touched as I never would have expected him to also practise fasting. Yet, this interaction made it clear to me that in the West, fasting is becoming a widely-recognised practice associated with both health and religion. As well as practising detachment from food and water, the Fast forces us to become aware that our mind is in control of the choices that we make, rather than our physical needs.  Abstaining from food and water during the day builds trust within yourself on how disciplined you can be, whilst also strengthening your sense of spirituality. I try to spend my time more prayerfully, thinking about a few adjustments I can make to my life. As the Bahá'i Fast takes place in the final month of the Badi (Bahá’i) calendar, it’s like an internal spring cleaning of old habits before life begins to blossom again in Spring.

ʻAbdu'l-Bahá, the son of the Prophet-Founder of the Bahá’i Faith, tells us all the Messengers of God fasted whilst they were being enraptured with Divine Revelation from the Voice of God. It’s natural to want to experience the same emotions that the Messengers of God experienced to draw closer to them. When you love someone, you want to feel the things they feel as “… every sincere soul who has a beloved aspires to whatever condition his beloved is experiencing: If the beloved were sad he would wish for sorrow, and if joyous he would aspire to joy”.  Fasting helps us to follow the example of the Messengers and be mindful of Their situations. At the same time, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá shares that “weakening one’s self physically does not necessarily contribute to spiritual progress”.  True spiritual progress involves inner strength, resilience, clarity of mind and a gradual unfoldment of a relationship with something beyond ourselves - whether you believe in God or another manifestation of this idea. 

“Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquillity.” Bahá'u'lláh

"Why I Fast", written by Nora Jamali

1 Kommentar

Amazing Piece. Well Done!!

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