Fasting and Breakfasting is a practice we find in almost all faith.
The most recent ‘Breakfasting Festival’ we witnessed in many parts of the word is widely known as ‘Eid-al-Fitr’. The day is marked on the 1st day of Shawaal, after a month long Sawm(Fasting) of Ramadan.
What is Eid? According to dictionaries the meaning of the Arabic word ‘Eid’ is ‘Festival’. The word ‘Eid’ has come from the word ‘awdat’ which means ‘to turn’, ‘to recur’, ‘to come again’ etc.
There are 2 Eid in Muslim tradition: Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha. The meaning of ‘Fitr’ is ‘Breakfasted’ and ‘Adha’ means ‘Sacrifice’.
Practice of Eid-al-Fitr: The package of this Eid consists of ‘Fasting and Breakfasting’. Therefore I need to understand first what is ‘Fasting’.
From scriptural instruction what I understood is it’s about training a person to live a disciplined life by taking control over own nafs (self/ego). In the 1 month( or 40 days or any certain period of time) training one has to use every organ of them in God’s prescribed way. Such as-
- Be in Remembrance of God
- Speak truth and nicely
- Abstain from gossip, slandering and backbiting
- Abstain from stealing, hurting, adultery
- Treat humans and other creations with love and compassion
- Give to the needy (without desiring any return from them)
- Abstain from eating and drinking only from dawn to dusk, eat in between sundown and dawn (or a variation of controlled eating) Etc.
- In short – Do good, See good, Think good, Eat good, and Stay Good. 🙂
My observation of the holy Scriptures tells me that even during the training period except for the ‘Eating and drinking’ there is no mention of resuming/practicing the behaviors like telling lies, speaking in not humble manner, gossiping, backbiting, slandering, hurting people, stealing, and so on right after the evening prayer. My question was then- why do we need to abstain from eating for that certain time? And what are we supposed to accomplish with this act? Many people say, ‘God will bestow upon you many sawab/rewards in return’. From the scriptures and spiritual teachers what I’ve learned says: that practice leads us towards getting control over our eating so that we eat moderately, just as much needed to stay healthy and when we have extra food we can give to the ones who need. The purpose is also to get control over greed.We are prescribed to apply that training the rest of our life. And what about the spiritual practice? 🙂 Aren’t we prescribed to maintain the healthy behavioral, moral and spiritual practice for the rest of our life as well?
This 1 month training is for bringing a balanced Life, by getting the body well tuned with the Soul. See Most of the practices in fasting regards to the spiritual practices with the body and mind. A body without connection to Soul is nothing but dead corpse. No?
God’s design is so Neat and Balanced! Let’s make a self-inquiry at which part of practice are we putting much stress on now-a-days. Body, Soul, or both?
Now, the Festival Day :)- The Festival of Breakfasting. What might it mean? Is it about Breaking all the virtues we learned? Or it might be about celebrating the successful completion of a Great Training on the path of God? So it can be marked as the ‘Beginning’ of a New Life after Training. After all what is a training for! Obviously to develop or upgrade our knowledge or skills to apply in our works and any area of life.
So..why should we observe the ‘Fast’ every year? Why this recurring Training? So that we can keep check on ourselves since we usually tend to slip, more or less. It reminds me of the first-aid training at Red-Crescent Society. Every trainee needs to take the training once in every 2 years (if they are interested to serve).
Fasting, Breakfasting Festival and lifelong activities which is prescribed by God. What are some rewards or Purposes for all these?- ‘Paradise! A Place where you will be given what you want’.
So much only for ‘what we want’! Such powerful desire that keeps us driven. What is it that we want? Umm.. there might be many many varieties of answer to this as there are many people on earth. But which one is most preferable?According to the holy scriptures of God The Most Desirable in fact the Only Desirable in every world is ‘God’ :).
N.B. It would be really interesting to see an assembly of verses on the above topics from different scriptures.Here are some from the verses that I came across while studying-
Joel 2:12 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning:
Mathew 6: 16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Mark 2:18 Now John’s disciples and the Pharisees were fasting. Some people came and asked Jesus, “How is it that John’s disciples and the disciples of the Pharisees are fasting, but yours are not?”
19 Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. 20 But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.
Srimad Bhagavad Geeta
6:15 Thus always keeping the mind balanced, the Yogi, with his mind controlled, attains the Peace abiding in Me, which culminates in nirvana.
6:17 To him who is moderate in eating and recreation, who is moderate in his exertions of actions, who is moderate in sleep and wakefulness, to him accrues Yoga which is destructive of sorrows.
6:6 The self is the friend of himself who has conquered himself by the self. But to him who has not conquered himself, his own self stands in the position of an enemy like the (external) foe.
8:6 Of whatever being thinking at the end a man leaves the body, to him alone, O son of Kunti, he goes because of his constant thought of that being. 7 Therefore at all times, meditate on Me and fight; with mind and intellect fixed on Me you shall come to Me alone, no doubt.
8:15 Having attained Me, these Mahatmas (great souls) do not again take birth, which is the abode of pain and is not eternal, they having reached the Supreme Goal.
2:183 O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).
2:184 (Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need – but whoso doeth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better for you if ye did but know –
33:35 Surely the men who submit and the women who submit, and the believing men and the believing women, and the obeying men and the obeying women, and the truthful men and the truthful women, and the patient men and the patient women and the humble men and the humble women, and the almsgiving men and the almsgiving women, and the fasting men and the fasting women, and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard, and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember– Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.
More on fasting from Quran.