Fasting in Ramadan is an essential Muslim Ritual. Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan, meaning that they try to stand against all human temptations. They do not eat and drink from dawn to dusk, besides trying not to do all the evils which they are ordered no to do, like telling lies, backbiting, etc. Quran insists on the importance of fasting in many verses. The most relevant Quranic reference to Fasting in Ramadan is as follows:
"O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be God-wary. That for known days. But should any of you be sick or on a journey, let it be a [similar] number of other days. Those who find it straining shall be liable to atonement by feeding a needy person. Should anyone do good of his own accord, that is better for him, and to fast is better for you, should you know." (2: 183-184)
But what are the effects and the outcomes of Fasting in Ramadan? Why does the holy Quran insist on Fasting, calling it a ritual for the believers to come to Allah's way? Let's study a few purposes and effects of fasting together.
Fasting in Ramadan is a great help in growing patience. Tolerating hunger and thirst for long hours makes one more tolerant. It augments the power of self-control, be it physically or mentally, control over habits and putting aside bad and wrong behaviors. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) calls Ramadan the month of patience: "O people, surely there is a month in which exists a night, worthier than a thousand nights, and that's the month of Ramadan. Allah obliges us to fast, and that is the month of patience." 
According to the verse above (2: 183), the purpose of Fasting is getting closer to Allah, and being more devoted to Him. This verse is referring to the reality behind those hardships, which is finding a better self and a more Allah-knowing creature. And this is the path of perfection for each of us. It brings us good, both here and in the afterlife  Besides, through submitting to Allah's will, despite its challenges and hardships, we learn to serve Him under any circumstances and lay our trusts on whatever He had destined for us. Fasting in Ramadan is a chance to remind us that Allah's command is above any of our desires and wishes, and at the same time, His will undoubtedly results in our own benefit.
Fasting is a ritual that is done just for Allah. One who fasts is only considering the satisfaction of Allah, and that is their ultimate goal. As a result, Allah gives extra values to those who fast. He considers his/her sleeping worship, his/her silence a remembrance of Allah. He accepts his/her rituals and responds to his/her Dua . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) narrates that Allah said: "fasting is for me, and I AM the one who praises that."  This has a lot to say; it shows the greatness of the strives of human beings to keep themselves away from sins and also eating, drinking, and sexual intercourse. He has created us and knows the difficulty, and He is the one who best knows how to praise the efforts of His own creatures.
According to a research done on the effects of fasting on growing self-esteem, reducing stress and depression and better mental health on 60 medical students, it's been concluded that the test takers who fast had higher self-esteem, less depression, and anxiety, obsession, phobia, paranoid thoughts, hostility, etc. 
Besides its beneficial mental effects, Fasting has great impacts on physical health. Our body uses the sources of unused energy inside during Fasting, and that causes the repulse of many toxic combinations in our body. Some medical practitioners believe that Fasting is a great cure for cancer. It also cures many digestive diseases in the stomach, intestines, and bladder. In another study on medical students, the results showed that Fasting had a significant effect on the immunity of their cells and total better cell activity .
These are just some of the purposes of Fasting. One needs pages to write about the positive effects of this ritual. In our other articles, we will discuss Fasting more.
- Thavab-al-Ammal, p 143
- Kanzol Ammal, Hadith 564
- Savvab ol Ammal, p 77
- Saduq, "While there is no Faqih," Vol. 2. P 43
- Javanbakht, Maryam (2010) Study on the effects of fasting in the month of Ramadan on self-esteem and mental health of medical students Fundamentals of Mental Health, Pp 73-266
- The effects of Fasting from the Medical Practitioner's point of View, Zanjan University at
Before the appearance of a group called ISIS, I always wondered if it is possible for people to easily behead men, to kill children and cut the bodies into pieces. I had repeatedly heard and read the event of the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, in which the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), who was the leader (Imam) of Muslims at his time, and the males of his family and companions were martyred, beheaded and cut into pieces.
While I was reading those events, I started thinking about what kind of a person is capable of doing such horrible acts? Who were the people of that era who stood against their leader and watched him getting martyred and beheaded, because he could not morally and ethically accept the caliphate of a corrupt leader over the Muslim society?
I found answers to my questions in the past few years when some terrorist groups began to take advantage of some of the verses of the Holy Quran and use it as a pretext for their evil purposes. These terrorist groups, the most recent of them Taliban, Al-Qaida and ISIS, are very much the same as those who considered themselves Muslims and stood against the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the leader of Muslim society, who was the manifestation of Islam, under the name of supporting the corrupt oppressor caliph; Yazid.
Having people with different attitudes who all believe that they are true Muslims makes it hard for truth-seekers to find the right path in life.
In this article, we will revise the reasons for which a group like ISIS would appear, grow and spread in the world in the name of Islam. We will try to clarify a few points by which we can make a border between the real Islam and the unreal Islam that is being used as the tool of terrorism.
To begin, let’s see what the main types of Muslims that we face these days are.
The passive depiction of Islam is the sort of Islam that is at peace with EVERYTHING in this world. Whatever happens, the passive Muslim will not show any reactions. These types of Muslims believe in having a safe and calm life. They have no considerable social or political involvements. If an issue arises in the community or the society, they prefer to remain silent and show no reactions toward it, as it may cause some harm to them or their benefits.
One may think that this type of Islam is the best as it does not harm the believer or others in the society. But the fact is that according to Islam or any other Abrahamic religion, he who remains silent, at a time when he has to stand against an oppressor or to help a human in a reasonable need, has no value in the eyes of God in this world or the other .
It is also firmly narrated by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that “whoever starts his day with no efforts on Muslims’ issues IS NOT A MUSLIM” . This is how Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) excludes passive Muslims from the true Islam.
In the same way it is stated in the Holy Quran that: “Why should you not fight in the way of Allah and the oppressed men, women, and children, who say, ‘Our Lord, bring us out of this town whose people are oppressors, and appoint for us a guardian from Yourself, and appoint for us a helper from Yourself’?” (4:75)
The wild representation of Islam is much worse, much more inaccurate and much further from the real context of Islam than the passive representation. Silent Muslims will cause damages to others by not helping them at the right time, while Wild people who act, using the name of Islam, will hurt the society, families, and a whole generation that is to come.
All terrorists who call themselves Muslims and make the world an unsafe place for human beings are amongst those wild creatures. They kill children, men and women all over the world by using their invented and wrong interpretations of a few verses of the Holy Quran, trying to demolish the religion of God.
They ignore all the verses of the Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors that emphasize tolerance, kindness toward human beings and animals, protecting the environment, supporting the truth, gentle speaking, respecting the humankind, and observing the rights of the previous religions.
Facing this representation of Islam, one may think that these people are either very ignorant and indolent that will not even spend some time on understanding the real Islam, OR use some parts of Islam as a part of a bigger plot by which they can reach their hypocritical goals.
But put aside the passive and the wild representations of Islam, and let us find out what the true Islam is and how we can recognize the true Islam from among its different representations.
We do not insist that every truth-seeker should conclude accepting Islam as his religion, but there are hints and guidelines for every truth-seeker to realize the true path of life.
Here we will count a few of these hints:
A) Have no prejudice in searching for the truth
It is important that even those who have specific beliefs, start researching and rebuilding their mindset. If we do not keep thinking about our beliefs, we will be dogmatic people who have no logical answers to other people’s questions about their ideas.
Not being prejudiced about our views gives us an open mind. Therefore, if we face a belief that may be contrary to ours, but we find it closer to the truth than ours, we should be able to change our idea and follow the best route.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Avoid prejudice, as it begins with ignorance and ends up in regression” .
B) Support the truth
“Do not mix the truth with falsehood, nor conceal the truth while you know” (2: 42).
Most of us experience situations in which we have to choose between our benefits and the truth. This is what we call fairness. It is essential to be careful about taking the right side even if it is against our benefits. Although sometimes by supporting the truth we may lose our worldly benefits, it is important to remember that reaching the ultimate purpose of humanity is hidden in taking the right side.
C) Listen carefully and completely
“… So give good news to My servants, who listen to the word [of Allah] and follow the best [interpretation] of it. They are the ones whom Allah has guided, and it is they who possess intellect” (39: 17- 18).
Unfortunately, the wrong presentations of Islam come from the point where people take some advice from the Quran and leave the rest instead of looking at it as a whole. For example, those who stand for the rights of Muslim women and try to revive their rights, stick to a few verses of the Quran that are about women.
They do not understand Islam’s aim of ordering women to observe the Islamic dress code, so they start campaigns against it. While if they read the Quran as a whole alongside with the prophet’s teachings, and put different pieces of the puzzle together, they will realize that the Islamic dress code, plus men’s and women’s etiquette of looking, plus men’s role in supporting the family and women’s role in calming the atmosphere of the house, and many other pieces of the puzzle are to make the society a better place for all members to live in.
D) Animals’ Rights
According to the Quran, all the creatures [including animals] have been created to serve human being (2: 29). But if we need to use animals for our needs, we should not forget that we have a huge responsibility towards them as living creatures. The rights of animals are of much importance in Islam, and we have a lot of narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his successors with regards to them.
An example is a narration by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “When you stop riding an animal, do not keep sitting on them while having a [lengthy] conversation with others; instead, descend and [let the animal rest, and] then talk” .
E) Love for humanity
And finally, the Golden Rule that if we all follow, we will experience a peaceful life in this world and the hereafter is stated in the letter of Imam Ali (AS) to his son who said:
“O, my child! Make yourself the measure (for dealings) between you and others. Thus, you should desire for others what you desire for yourself and hate for others what you hate for yourself” .
At the beginning of this article, we read those who martyred Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions on the tenth day (Ashura) in Muharram of 61 AH, are the ones who took advantage of the name of Islam to gain their worldly desires. We discussed that the same thing is happening in our era and different terrorist groups, by misusing the name of Islam, try to divert people from the true guidance and the peaceful path of life.
This reminds me of the famous saying “every day is Ashura, and every land is Karbala.”; Which means the confrontation between right and wrong always exists. This may be a simple confrontation in family relations, at work or in the community, or it may be a more significant conflict between the countries.
No matter we are Muslim or Christian or Jewish. The fact is that the history repeats itself. And it is vital for us to be wise enough to realize the truth and support it. Imam Hussain (AS) on the tenth day (Ashura) faced the massive army of Yazid and told them:
“If you neither believe in religion nor fear the hereafter, then at least be free from tyranny and arrogance” .
- Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 74, p. 311.
- Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 164.
- The Quran, Chapter 4 (Al-Nisa’), verse. 75.
- Mizan al-Hikmah, vol. 4, p. 2770.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 173.
- Majlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 64, p. 214.
- Nahjul – Balagha; letter 31.
- wedMajlisi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.74, p. 91.
Racism and ethnocentrism are closely linked to the sense of superiority that lies within every human being. This issue has a long history - as long as human life, and is still an ongoing behavior that causes serious problems among human beings.
Racism is an important issue that Islam has considered; the issue whose history dates back to nations existed long before the birth of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). This unequal treatment was so weaved into people’s lives which they didn’t even realized its vile nature. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), also, lived in a society where racism was very common. The situation became even harder when people started to follow the religion of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). That was when racism out of tribal prejudice was extended to segregation based on religion, and many people who followed Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) were driven from their homes or hometowns.
The specific conditions of the era in which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) lived, as well as the deep roots of this wrong attitude in the history of humankind, were the main reasons why Allah (SWT) makes many recommendations about racism in the Quran. The Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP), also, worked really hard to clear the minds of people from tribal, religious, and any other types of racism.
During the Arab ignorance, privileges such as lineage, race, wealth, number of children, and affiliation with a powerful tribe were considered the criteria of superiority over others. The verses of the Quran indicate that the number of children and folks were so important to them that in some arguments they even went to a cemetery and started to count the number of their dead ones:
“Rivalry [and vainglory] distracted you until you visited [even] the graves.” (102: 1-2)
It should have been hard for people of that mindset to accept that their lineage, children, tribe and wealth is of no importance in the eyes of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). According to an account, he said, “All the people, from the past or at present, are as equal as a comb’s teeth; therefore neither Arabs are superior to non-Arabs, nor white people to blacks. You are only distinguished by your piety and righteousness” .
However, although the Quran was revealed in such an environment that was limited in various ways and had a limited connection with the world outside the island, and the issue of ethnicity, race, and tribal life prevailed in all its aspects, it did not take on such a color at all. Allah addresses people in the Quran using the following phrases: "O children of Adam," "O people," "O you who believe," or "O you who have faith." The Quran removed racial privileges in that racist environment, and with the beautiful logic of "you are all children of man and were created from one parent," Allah declared them all brothers and sisters belonging to the same family:
“O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most God wary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all aware.” (49:13)
As the verse above implies, One’s character and status are only measured by the level of submission to Allah and following His commands, not social or financial conditions.
Apart from racism based on lineage, race, wealth, etc. people before and at the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) believed that religious beliefs gave them superiority over others.
Based on that belief, people of different faiths were always conflicting with each other, instead of having sound arguments about different issues. Therefore, religious discriminations had been severely condemned by Islam, emphasizing that belonging to the followers of religion does not make people good or bad. But, it is their actions and their level of obedience toward Allah that give them superiority:
“The Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing,’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing,’ though they follow the [same] Book. So said those who had no knowledge, [words] similar to what they say. Allah will judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that about which they used to differ.” (2: 113)
The issue of fairness and justice among human beings is so important in Islam that the Quran has taken care of all different aspects in which people may act unjustly toward each other. Apart from racial issues that have been ongoing for ages, the issue of undermining and suppressing women in different domestic and social aspects, and depriving them of their rights had been a challenging issue in most parts of the world.
The Quran condemns this segregation and states that men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah:
“Whoever acts righteously, [whether] male or female, should he be faithful, We shall revive him with a good life and pay them their reward by the best of what they used to do.” (16:97)
Also, the necessity of observing women’s rights had been emphasized in many narrations from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his progeny. Imam Ali (AS), says in an account, “Women are Allah’s trusts upon you, do not hurt them, and do not put pressure on them” . Therefore, men should be careful with their manners in treating women whether in family or in society.
To conclude, the only thing that gives superiority to people is their piety and faith. Looking at the issue like this makes people closer to each other and all differences in color, race, ethnicity, shape, wealth, etc. create no distance between people. People gather around based on their spiritual interests and try not to judge each other, since the only one who is aware of the most faithful is Allah (SWT):
“… And be wary of Allah. Indeed Allah knows best what is in the hearts.” (5: 7).
- Al-Shaykh Al-Mufid, Al-Ikhtisas, p.341.
- Muhaddith Nuri ,Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.2, p.551.