Fourth Pillar: Saum - Fasting Purifies and Lead to Self-Mastery
The ritual of fasting in Al-Islam is filled with wisdom. To fast is to refrain from eating food or drink, to abstain from sex, from emotional extremes, and from the pleasures in which we normally overindulge in during the daylight hours. We perform this fast for 29 or 30 days during the Islamic month of Ramadhan.
During this month, Muslims also pray more and they read more of the Generous Qur’an. In fact, it is the goal of every Muslim to read the entire Qur’an by the end of the month by reading 1/30th of the book each day.
The ritual of restraining oneself from eating and drinking and indulging in our other appetites is symbolic of the real principle of the Ramadhan fast, which is the mastery over self. You master yourself by mastering your appetites and your desires. He or she who can discipline their desires, drives, the urgings of their body can guide that body and its miraculous powers to make progress in the world in service to Allah and humanity.
The fast of Ramadhan gives the individual the opportunity to bring himself or herself back into harmony by disciplining the physical, mental, and spiritual (emotional) appetites. A corollary to this self-control is the strengthening of one’s resistance to temptation, wrongdoing, and bad behavior and bad thinking.
All of the activities that occur during Ramadhan are geared towards returning the individual back to the state of being that Allah intended when HE first created the human being. This natural state is called Fitrah and the great celebration or Holiday (Holy Day or Wholesome Day) that commemorates the victory over self is called Eidul Fitr or the return to the original (self).
When the human being gains control over self and resists wrong-mindedness they will automatically and naturally return back to their good state of mind and spirit. When a human being returns to the natural state that Allah intends, they will solve all of the problems that confront them and they will be inspired to many beautiful and useful things into the world.