Human beings are created to be free and choose what to do with their own lives. However, sometimes the path toward growth is not through being free to have whatever we desire but to abstain from what we really wish while it is deviating or is a barrier against reaching the perfect version of ourselves. Here, the history of fasting finds its meaning. This is a ritual in which one, by his/her own free will, chooses to abstain from certain activities; this could range from not eating or drinking for a specific time, etc. Many faiths and religions, throughout history, encouraged their followers to fast in a certain way, each aiming at the spiritual elevation of their adherents. Islam is also among those religions which have made fasting an obligation upon its followers under certain circumstances, accepting the fact that this was not a tradition unique to Islam:
"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 Godwary." Quran (2:183)
In what follows, we will have a look at the practice and history of fasting in the five most prominent non-Abrahamic faiths.
Looking at the history of fasting in primitive tribes and cults, we find some evidence regarding their belief in the spiritual impact of fasting and "was a practice to prepare persons, especially priests and priestesses, to approach the deities." Some Hellenistic cults believed fasting to be the prerequisite for reaching divine revelation for their priests. Some others thought that fasting "was one of the requirements for penance after an individual had confessed sins before a priest." 
Fasting was also common among Native Americans, practiced in private, or as a part of public ceremonies. The individual fasting often included the ones who had recently entered puberty, and they had to spend some time alone, from one to four days. During this time, they had to reach a particular spiritual maturity by observing certain rituals. Also, "It was not uncommon for an adult to fast, as a prayer for success when about to enter upon an important enterprise, as war or hunting" . Moreover, fasting was considered a requirement for religious heads to be able to fulfill their duties. The public fasting happened as a part of the initiation into religious societies, the length of which "ranged from midnight to sunset, or continued for four days and nights." The fast of these ancient tribes often included abstinence from food and water. The Native Americans saw fasting as "a means to spiritualize human nature and quicken the spiritual vision by abstinence from earthly food… as a method by which to remove "the smell" of the common world." 
Ancient Egyptians and Babylonians also practiced abstinence from food and drink as "a form of penance that accompanied other expressions of sorrow for wrongdoing. Like people of later times, these nations viewed fasting as meritorious in atoning for faults and sins and thus turning away the wrath of the gods." 
The Hindu faith also includes some form of fasting, which is ultimately aimed at spiritual awareness and growth by forming a balanced relationship between the body and the soul. Hindus believe that fasting can be a means of concentration on spiritual attainment through abstaining from worldly indulgences and distractions. Another purpose of fasting in Hinduism is self-discipline, which is made possible through "training of the mind and the body to endure and harden up against all hardships, to persevere under difficulties and not give up. According to Hindu philosophy, food means gratification of the senses, and to starve the senses is to elevate them to contemplation." 
Hindus have specified certain days for fastings, such as Purnima (full moon) and Ekadasi (the 11th day of the fortnight). Moreover, depending on the god or goddess each individual worships, certain days of the week are dedicated to fasting. They also fast on special feasts and festivals, including "Durga Puja," "Navaratri, Shivratri, and Karwa Chauth. Navaratri is a festival when people fast for nine days."  It is noteworthy that some kinds of fasting in Hinduism are only obligatory for women.
The practice of fasting in Buddhism is seemingly limited to monks and religious leaders. It is said that the Buddha had undergone long periods of fasting during the time he was learning from other teachers as a kind of self-mortification. While there is no record for Buddha's fasting after this time or his recommendation for fasting to his followers, many Buddhist monks tend to fast on certain occasions as a way of self-purification and spiritual elevation. They would eat only one meal a day and would fast on the days of the new and full moon.
As a part of Buddha's concept of moderation and avoiding excessive manners, intermittent or prolonged fastings are not encouraged in this faith. However, fasting for a reasonable amount of time and refraining from excessive eating is considered a useful way of preserving health in Buddhism.  In general, fasting in Buddhism is limited to refraining from eating solid food, such as meat.
Daoist's concept of fasting is more about mind rather than the body. Therefore, they encourage a form of "fasting of the heart" (xinzhai), which will result in a more pious life . However, they also believe that the fasting of the body will ultimately result in a clean body and a pure soul. In the book of Mencius, one of the famous Chinese scriptures, fasting is considered as a means of self-purification even for the one who has darkened his/her soul by vices:
"But although a person is ugly, it is possible, through fasting and purification, to become fit to perform sacrifices to the Lord-on-High" 
In this tradition, one must avoid doing any evil deed and keep away from harmful hobbies and desires. The followers of this tradition try to read more of their religious scriptures as they fast to connect more to that Higher being and find peace .
Zhang Yuchu wrote in the Ten Daoist Commandments: "Anyone cultivating Dao must fast for a clean body as well as a pure heart, and he must visualize the spirits and read Daoist scriptures silently in his mind. It is as if facing the Higher Emperor, communicating with him with the heart." 
It seems that most Zoroastrians implicitly reject the practice of bodily fasting, which in their view would weaken the body and prevents one from appropriately attending his/her spiritual duties and satisfying physical needs . The only form of fasting which they find permissible "is that of abstaining from sin" . There is also a reference to this prohibition in Avesta, the religious Zoroastrian text:
"It is requisite to abstain from the keeping of fasts. 2. For, in our religion, it is not proper that they should not eat every day or anything, because it would be a sin not to do so. 3. With us, the keeping of fast is this, that we keep fast from committing sin with our eyes and tongue and ears and hands and feet. 4. Some people are striving about it, so that they may not eat anything all day, and they practice abstinence from eating anything. 5. For us it is also necessary to make an effort, so that we may not think, or speak, or commit any sin; and it is necessary that no bad action should proceed from our hands, or tongue, or ears, or feet, which would be a sin owing to them. 6. Since I have spoken in this manner, and have brought forward the fasting of the seven members of the body, that which, in other religions, is fasting owing to not eating is, in our religion, fasting owing to not committing sin." 
However, there is a tradition of fasting in this religion at the time of mourning for a departed soul, which is only limited to not eating meat. As the Avesta suggest:
"In every habitation where anyone departs, passing away from the world, it is necessary to endeavor that they may not eat and not consecrate fresh meat for three days therein. 2. Because the danger is that someone else may depart, passing away; so the relations of that former person should not eat meat for three days." 
So far, we have reviewed the history of fasting in five well-known non-Abrahamic faiths, which reveals the spiritual roots of this practice from the beginning of the time. In the next article, we will study the ritual and history of fasting in three Abrahamic religions; that is Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
- native american fasting
- Das, Subhamoy. "Religious Fasting in Hinduism." Learn Religions, Feb. 11, 2020, learnreligions.com/why-fast-in-hinduism-1770050.
- Mencius, translated by Irene Bloom, Colombia University Press, New York. Book 4B, part 25.
- M. N. Dhalla, Zoroastrian Civilization from the Earliest Times to the Downfall of the Last Zoroastrian Empire 651 A.D., New York, 1922. P.187.
- Sad Dar, Translated by E. W. West, from Sacred Books of the East, volume 24, Clarendon Press, 1885. Chapters 78th and 83rd.
“When I was younger, I always wondered how I could distinguish between love and lust. My father used to say “all these little or great worldly loves we go through, are all here for us humans to eventually experience The love, one drop at a time, and to increase our capacity for it. That’s why when we look back at our previous experiences of feeling in love, we laugh at our naivety for calling that love! And that the love we are feeling now IS the real thing. Ignorant of the fact that a little down the line, we will again be laughing at what we are calling love now.”So let us find out why has God made love? What kind of love, are we expected to feel? My father says “Love is a sign from God. Love is a miracle, and miracles are here to make us believe” .
I started my article on dating and falling in love using the introduction of a love story book. As any reader knows, love or dating and falling in Love is not something that can be accepted in some lands and be ignored in some others. Dating and Falling in Love know no borders. Every human being from the time he/she sets foot in this world would experience dating and falling in love in one way or other, with different things, people, pets! Lands, etc. It is actually the liveliness of love that keeps human beings move forward. This dating and falling in love could be for money, status, education, or opposite sex.
In this article, I would like to talk about Love for opposite sex and its rulings according to Islam and dating in Islam.
Love is an essential need for the human. Without love life is dark and colorless. Muslims, like any other human beings, fall in love and may spend days and nights weeping for their beloved, until they can unite with their loved ones.
However, the main point of being committed to any religion and obeying its rules is for human beings to gain control over themselves. Human beings in facing different issues of life should show this self-control, and love is one of these issues.
From what I have seen among most non-Muslim cultures and religions when they fall in love, they start dating. They meet each other at different places and make memories together. Then they can grow their love and go through sexual relationships. They would even feel so much in love that they decide to live together as lover partners. In some cases, this loving partnership may end up with a baby. And in very optimistic ways, one day their grown-up children will happily shout in a church that “I knew that mom and dad would finally get married!”. As I said, that is the optimistic side of it. Otherwise, at the end of some of these relationships, we have depressed single parents with unwanted children.
Since dating and falling in love takes one’s mind away, when a Muslim falls in love, by considering Islamic advice she/ he can avoid its negative consequences.
According to Islam, when someone feels fallen in love! with someone, he/ she should consider that person as his/ her “spouse to be.” So, the lover can determine if he/ she can live with his/ her loved one for the rest of his/ her life, and would they make a happy family and reach their goals? If the answer is positive, then they should start to get to know each other better. In most Islamic cultures, the starting point happens through families and dating in Islam is not very common. The boy proposes to the girl in a proposal ceremony. If the girl and the families are OK at this step, then the “bride to be” and “the groom to be” can start to know each other better.
Since dating in non-Muslim cultures may be followed by different kinds of sexual lust, such as touching, hugging, kissing, etc., Islam would call this sort of dating forbidden (Haram).
But this does not mean that the “groom to be” and the “bride to be” are not allowed to meet up and talk together for better recognition of each other. In Muslim families, they usually meet up at the girl’s house, where her parents are also around. Yet, some boys and girls may find it useful to go out together for a meal or talk in social places. That is for them to know each other better in different situations.
According to Islam, it is not forbidden (Haram) for a man and a woman to be together in a place where other people can come and go, and there is no fear of committing a sin. So, dating is Islam is not forbidden provided that the above conditions are observed. However, both parties should make sure to limit these meetups to a few sessions. At the end of these few sessions, they can usually decide if they want to marry or not.
And if they don’t want to marry, they should stop their meetings. Also, if they decide to get married, they should proceed to the next levels. This can be a temporary marriage for engagement period and then a permanent Islamic marriage contract. The engagement may take a few days or a few years. But they are known as a married couple during this time, and there is no prohibition for them to be together. “After the recitation of the marriage formula, the couple may enjoy each other unless a certain enjoyment is agreed to be delayed to the night of consummating the marriage, in which case he has to observe the specified term.” 
When two people start dating without a serious intention of marrying their partner, they start wasting their time on a useless relationship, solely for fun and enjoyment. Most of the time one of the parties is aware that he/ she does not see a future for this relationship. The other one keeps hoping for a marriage proposal. When it never happens, disappointment would fill his/ her life.
Also, people who keep dating with no intention for marriage would enjoy a relationship in which, unlike marriage, they are irresponsible towards their partner.
When other youths see how easy some people have fun with the opposite sex, they would be encouraged to date, too.
Usually, after many years of dating, when both parties have lost their younghood eagerness, they would shape a family. Although it is still very good to start family life, their life is much different from those who marry and have children at a younger age.
To conclude, dating in Islam for the sake of having fun with opposite sex and without a legal Islamic marriage contract is forbidden (Haram). But meeting up for further recognition is allowed (Halal). The main reason that makes dating in Islam prohibited is to protect both parties of possible damages of an unstable relationship. Thus, pre-marriage meetings (unlike dating) should be free of any kind of sexual lust, and only for the sake of finding a suitable spouse.
So, it is not forbidden (Haram) to fall in love according to Islam. But managing this love and controlling the self is of high importance. This would prevent people from committing great sins like adultery.
- Bahmanpour, Sedigheh, God Is Here, p. 1
- love in Islam
Leaving behind the town where one is born and raised is a daring decision, which is often followed by many challenges and difficulties. You enter a new world, have to live with new people, and speak a new language. Yet it becomes even more daring when your mission is to spread a peaceful message, to lead people toward what is right and remind them of human values, which they might have forgotten, or put aside. Imam Rida (AS), the eighth infallible Imam (AS) of Shias, was made to migrate to another country and live among the people whom he didn't know. Nevertheless, his eminent personality and unique characteristics won him such a position among the people of that town that they still honor him centuries after his demise, a person whose fame went beyond any borders and reached every corner of this world.
In what follows, we will have a glance at the life journey of Imam Rida (AS), this honorable figure.
Ali ibn. Musa al-Rida was born on December 29, 765 A.D in Medina. His father was Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the seventh infallible Imam of Shias, and his mother was Tuktam . He is a descendant of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), the Prophet of Islam. His most famous title was al-Rida, meaning "the satisfied one" and was chosen for him due to his utter devotion and submission to Allah, which also brought him Allah's satisfaction. As Imam Jawad (AS), his son, said, "The Almighty Allah named him Rida because He was pleased with him in the heavens and the Prophet of Allah (PBUH&HP) and the Imams of guidance (AS) were pleased with him on earth" .
According to some sources, Imam Rida (AS) married twice in his lifetime. His first wife was Sabika, who was a descendant of Maria, prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP)'s wife &. It is reported that Imam Rida (AS) married his second wife on al-Ma' mun's suggestion, the caliph of the time, to marry his daughter, Umm Habib. This incident happened around 817 A.D. Al-Ma' mun's intention on forming this tie was to get closer to Imam Rida (AS) and to continually have him under his supervision to avoid any action against himself by Imam Rida (AS) &&.
There is a disagreement on the number of his children, yet one thing is definite; he had a son called Muhammad, also known as Imam Jawad (AS), who would follow the leadership after him .
On 799 A.D. and after the demise of Imam Musa al-Kazim (AS), the period of Imam Rida (AS) 's leadership began, in which he followed his ancestors' path in enlightening Muslims and reminding them of the true message of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). In the first 17 years of his leadership, which he spent in Medina, he turned into one of the well-known figures among Muslims praised for his many virtues, including his significant command of Islam and Islamic sciences . The contemporary caliphs during Imam Rida (AS) 's period of leadership include Harun al-Rashid, Muhammad al-Amin, and al-Ma' mun all belonging to the Abbasid dynasty.
After the death of Harun al-Rashid, his two sons, al-Amin and al-Ma' mun, initiated a dispute over succeeding their father's crown. To secure his position and realizing Persians favor over Imam Rida (AS) and the teachings of Ahl-ul-Bayt, al-Ma' mun sent orders to Imam Rida (AS) to leave his town and join him in Khorasan, a province in Iran. If Imam Rida (AS) would side with him, al-Ma' mun thought, his throne would have become stronger, and he could have defeated his brother effortlessly . Therefore, on 817 A.D. Imam Rida (AS) was made to migrate from Medina to Iran. The route which al-Ma' mun's representative chose to take Imam Rida (AS) to Khorasan was intentionally planned not to pass any city in which the adherents of Imam (AS) resided to avoid any possible gathering against al-Ma' mun's throne . Nevertheless, he met many people on his way to Khorasan, which asked him to make a speech for them or tell them a hadith, the most famous of which was the hadith which he narrated in Neyshabur on the request of a Muslim scholar. This hadith, best known as the "Hadith of the Golden Chain (Silsilat al-Dhahab)", whose source goes back to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and is one of the most authentic hadiths in Islamic texts, emphasizes on the importance of adhering to the Imam of the time who are chosen by Allah to continue the path of spreading His message in the absence of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) .
On reaching Merv, the town al-Ma' mun chosen as the center of his caliphate, Imam Rida (AS), was summoned by al-Ma' mun to both welcome him and inform him of an important decision he had made with regard his throne. He first welcomed Imam Rida (AS) warmly and then told him that he had decided to leave the crown to him, yet Imam (AS) firmly refused this idea. He then came with another offer, asking Imam (AS) to be his heir and successor of his throne. But Imam (AS) refused to accept this offer, too, since he knew al-Ma' mun had certainly another plan in mind and only wanted to win Imam Rida's (AS) support to save his own position against possible threats. Nevertheless, al-Ma' mun didn't give up and repeated his offer, this time implying a death threat on Imam Rida (AS) in case of his refusal. Therefore, Imam Rida (AS) was reluctantly made to accept being al-Ma' mun's successor, under certain conditions: "So, I accept if I do not give any command and do not prohibit, I neither give Fatwa (religious creed) nor do I judge, I neither assign anyone to any task nor do I change anything's position." . As a result, al-Ma' mun gave allegiance to Imam Rida (AS) as his crown prince on March 817 A.D. in front of people.
As it was mentioned above, "Imam Rida (AS) knew about al-Ma 'mun's intention and told him, 'you want that people say, 'Ali b. Musa (AS) is not uninterested in the world and leadership, but it is the world that is uninterested in him. Do not you see how he (AS) has accepted to become the crown prince greedy for caliphate?' He answered those who asked him why he accepted to be the prince, "I accepted that unwillingly and under pressure.' The conditions Imam Rida (AS) declared for taking this position were, in fact, his withdrawal from cooperation in the government of al-Ma' mun, because Imam (AS) said that he neither would assign anyone to work nor would depose anyone; he neither would break a custom nor would he change anything in the current situation" . This dubious agreement ended when al-Ma'mun felt his position in danger due to the threats he received from other members of the royal family and decided to remove Imam (AS) by murdering him.
Moreover, Imam (AS) had revealed his hostility toward al-Ma' mun's caliphate through many of his manners. One of the most notable instances is his attendance in Eid-al-Fitr prayer. Despite al-Ma' mun's constant request on Imam Rida (AS) to lead the Eid prayer, Imam (AS) refused due to the conditions he had set on accepting al-Ma' mun's successorship. Yet, upon al-Ma' mun's insistence, he agreed to lead the prayer provided that he would attend it the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did. Therefore, despite the people's expectation to see Imam (AS) coming for the prayer in the pompous manner of caliphs, he appeared in modest clothes and barefooted while reciting Takbir (Allah-u-Akbar, e.g., Allah is the Greatest) [i]. When people saw Imam's (AS) manner, they also followed him and took off their shoes and said Takbir. Terrified for this gathering to end in a rebel against his throne, al-Ma' mun ordered one of his handlers to ask Imam (AS) to return and leave off leading the prayer. Therefore, Imam (AS) went back home without performing the prayer .
Despite being a crown prince and having the opportunity to use the pretentious joys of wealth, Imam Rida (AS) led a simple life and treated everyone with honor and respect regardless of their social level or wealth. It is reported that when the food was served in his house, he would call everyone, even the servants, to sit and eat with him. When others saw this manner of Imam (AS), they would recommend him to separate his food from his servants and treat them differently, yet he would say, "All are created by God, Adam is their father and Eve is their mother. Everyone will be dealt with by God according to his deeds. Why should there be any discrimination in this world."
In another account, a man praised Imam (AS) and told him, "By God, there is none who is superior to you in the nobleness of your ancestry." Yet, Imam (AS) replied, "My ancestors are honored merely for their Godliness, piety, and worship." Another man once declared," By God, you are the best in the world." The Imam checked him by saying: "Don't you declare an oath. Any man who is more pious than me can be better than me" .
Following his forefathers' footsteps, Imam Rida (AS) cared deeply for the people in less desirable circumstances and tried to help them by all means. According to an account, Imam Rida (AS) had given all his money away at once on the day of Arafah. One of his companions found Imam's (AS) action to be harmful to him, yet he answered, "It is, in fact, useful. Never regard an action which will be rewarded on the hereafter, as a compensation" .
In another account, a man on his way back from the holy pilgrimage to Mecca (Hajj) came to Imam Rida (AS) and asked him some money since he had lost all his money on his journey. Imam (AS) went inside his house, returned after some time, and without showing himself passed a significant amount of money to the man from behind the door and told him, "Take this money and make the most of it. Now leave here instantly, so that neither I see you, nor do you see me." When Imam (AS) was asked of the reason for this manner, he replied, "I didn't want him to see him ashamed and feeling belittled because of his request" .
Imam Rida (AS) was famous for his many debates with great scholars of different sects and religions in his time about religious and jurisprudential issues. When he was in Medina, he would sit in the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) mosque, and people brought their questions and problems to him to solve. Also, when he migrated to Merv, Al-Ma' mun brought many knowledgeable and well-known scholars to engage in a debate with Imam (AS) and, of course, secretly desired to belittle Imam's (AS) position should he defeat in any of these debate sessions. However, all these scholars were amazed by Imam's (AS) vast knowledge and excellent command of religious matters and admitted his superiority over them . When al-Ma' mun saw that these debate sessions are turning into a threat against his seemingly high position, he tried to restrict them and forbid Imam (AS) from holding these gatherings anymore .
Moreover, in the hadiths and narrations left by him, Imam Rida (AS) includes many recommendations regarding health, medicine, proper eating habits, ways to prevent diseases, and personal hygiene. His book called, Tibb al-Rida (AS), also known as Risala al-Dhahabiyya (The Golden Treatise), contains these kinds of information.
The reason for all the significant characteristics that Imam Rida (AS) manifested in his manners was definitely his deep faith in Allah. He was so immersed in his devotion to the One and Only Creator, which didn't even take a step without first considering His satisfaction.
This devotion both appeared in his manners toward people and the way he worshiped his Lord. It is reported that he would instantly interrupt a debate session on hearing the call to prayer (Adhan) to attend his Beloved Lord and perform Salat. Numerous accounts narrate his long and sincere worship at night. Once, Imam Rida (AS) told the man to whom he gave his shirt away, "take care of this shirt with which I have prayed a thousand rak' as every night for a thousand nights and wearing which, I have finished recitation of the Qur'an for a thousand times" .
Imam Ali ibn Musa al-Rida was finally martyred by al-Ma' mun through giving him a poisonous fruit in 818 A.D . After establishing Imam (AS) as his successor, which he did to strengthen his throne and win the favor of Persians by having Imam's (AS) support, al-Ma' mun found that Imam (AS) was not the kind of person to be suppressed and taken benefit from. Imam Rida (AS) implicitly showed his hostility and opposition to al-Ma' mun's crown on many occasions and gatherings. Therefore, in one of their meetings, he gave Imam (AS) a poisoned fruit, which resulted in his death two days later . Imam Rida's (AS) body now rests in a shrine in Mashhad, Iran.
[i] It is a tradition to say Takbir loudly on the Eid al-Fitr before the prayer.
- Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 14.
- Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, V.49, P.4.
- Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā, vol. 2, p. 91.
- Kulaynī, al-Kāfī, vol. 1, p. 492.
- Yāfiʿī, Mirʾāt al-jinān, vol. 2, p. 10.
- Ṭabarī, Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī, vol. 7, p. 149.
- Qarashī, Ḥayāt al-Imām ʿAlī ibn Mūsā al-Riḍā, vol. 2, p. 408.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 271.
- Ṭabrisī, Iʿlām al-warā bi-aʿlām al-hudā, vol. 2, p. 64.
- S.M.R. Shabbar, Story of the Holy Ka'aba And its People, p.85. Pdf.
- Motahari, Majmūʿih āthār-i ustād shahīd Motahari, vol. 18, p. 124.
- Sadūq, Maʿānī l-akhbār, p. 371.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 259.
- Jaʿfarīyān, Ḥayāt-i fikrī wa sīyāsī-yi Imāmān-i Shīʿa, p. 443-444.
- S.M.R. Shabbar, Story of the Holy Ka'aba And its People, p.90. Pdf.
- Ibn Shahr Āshūb, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib, vol.4, p.360.
- Mohammad-Baqer Majlesi, Bihar al-Anwar, vol.49, p.101.
- Ṣadūq, ʿUyūn akhbār al-Riḍā, vol. 1, p. 152.
- ibid, vol. 2, p. 172.
- Ṭūsī, al-Amālī, p. 359.
- Āmilī, al-Ḥayāt al-sīyāsīyya li-l-Imām al-Riḍā, p. 169.
- Mufīd, al-Irshād, vol. 2, p. 270.