Ramadan is the time when Muslims are required to fast. But we might wonder: Is our fasting accepted? Do we really observe the conditions that are essential for fasting? After all, what are these conditions? Can the fast (Sawm) of those who do not perform the prayer (Salat), talk behind other people’s back, drink Alcohol, etc. be accepted? Does it bring all the benefits of fasting on body and soul, in its real sense of the word?
Or even sometimes, some non-Muslims show interest in performing fasting (Sawm). They might want to know what it feels like to fast. To know why Muslims are so enthusiastic about this act, or as they say to put themselves in Muslims' shoes. Indeed they are welcomed to take part in this beautiful ritual. Yet, they should note that Islam has specified some conditions for fasting (Swam) to be accepted.
What Are the Conditions that Make Fasting Meaningful and Pleasurable?
Converting to Islam
Having faith in the pillars of Islam
Being in sound mind and Not being unconscious [i]
Having the intention (Niyyah) of fasting
Avoiding whatever renders fasting void
Also, the one who is traveling, a menstruating woman, and the person who would receive harm by fasting are not required to fast.
As stated earlier, fasting is not the mere act of not eating and drinking. Rather it is a multi-dimensional practice. Aside from being a bodily endeavor, fasting is the spiritual effort of Muslims to elevate their souls and reach Allah’s satisfaction. So, not eating and drinking will not necessarily bring about the many spiritual and psychological effects of fasting. It is a process that influences the manner and the soul of the person, with the passage of time.
It is a whole series of actions that are accepted only when one has embraced Islam previously, believes in the Oneness of Allah and performs other practical principles of Islam such as prayer (Salat) as well.
In other words, if there were no spiritual and divine side to this action, it would not be called fasting (Sawm) anymore. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “It is possible that a person who fasts, does not receive any benefit from his/her fasting other than hunger and thirst” . Why would anyone want to bear hunger and thirst just for the sake of it? There must be something to motivate one going through such a challenging practice.
Intentions are the driving forces for actions, which determine their value and their expected effects. This is true for fasting as well, same as any other obligatory practice in Islam.
Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship and not a mere physical practice. Thus the first prerequisite for this act is to be done with the intention of serving Allah. There may be someone who is only interested in the health effects and physical benefits of fasting. Yet without a divine intention, his/her practice cannot be called fasting in Islam. This does not mean that you need to perform a special ritual before fasting; you should only be aware of your own will to fast and the reason why you fast.
Muslims believe that they fast for Allah [ii]. And what they have for breaking their fast is given by Allah, as a manifestation of His infinite mercy [iii]. With this in mind, Muslims feel inner joy and bliss after a long day of fasting with all its hardships. Since they find a meaning for their efforts. Then, they ask Allah to accept their act of worship [iv], regardless of its physical benefits or any other worldly attitude. At last, they whisper their needs and wishes to Allah, knowing that He is “all-hearing and all-knowing” .
We are born free, and Allah has endowed us with the power of choice. We choose to refrain from eating and drinking consciously. We choose to secure our tongue, eye, and ear from any vices. We choose to surrender to the will of Allah, and we choose to get closer to our divine Creator.
If our power of choice is undermined by any circumstances (e.g., not being mentally sound, being unconscious, not having the intention for fasting), fasting loses its meaning and necessary function. That is to emphasize human being's free will to be better, to go forward and prove his/her value.
[i] i.e., one must be aware of what he/she is doing, or be in control of his/her actions.
[ii] A Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) .
[iii] اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنَا: “O Allah: For You have we fasted” 
[iv] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنَا :“and with Your sustenance have we broken our fasting” 
[v] فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا : “so, (please) accept form us” .
- Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.18-17.
- Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 145.
- Dua after breaking the fast (Iftar)
“Modesty and faith are connected with one another just like two things fastened by a rope. If one of them is gone, the other is also lost” . Imam Baqir (AS). Modesty is a special sense that prevents one from saying inappropriate words and making mistakes. It refers to an uncomfortable feeling accompanied by embarrassment, caused by one's anxiety about being exposed to some unworthy or indecent conduct. This concept, as one of the highest and most fundamental moral qualities, is known as Haya in Islam. Modesty in Islam describes shyness and shame, but Haya represents a more profound implication that is based on faith. In many sayings (Hadiths), it has been quoted that modesty is linked with faith and originates from it [1, 2]. Hence, it is one of the most important characteristics that every Muslim should acquire and possess ; particularly Muslim women (“haya is a good characteristic for all, but is better for women” ).
There are two types of modesty: natural and acquired. An example of the former is the feeling of shyness and humility naturally occurring in a young child that makes him/her cover the private parts of the body from others. Or, in the story of Eve and Adam (PBUT) where they realize their nakedness and try to hide their genitals. This kind of modesty is common sense that exists within all human beings, believer or non-believer: “God Almighty divided the modesty among people just as He divided the provision” , and what differentiates them from animals: “If modesty did not exist … the promises wouldn’t be kept … Nobody would do any good, and nobody would refrain from the evil … if it weren’t for modesty, many people wouldn’t stop sinning.” . Modesty serves as a cover on the soul that conceals the defects and calms down wrath and lust . No one can, therefore, justify his/her sins and mistakes because of not being naturally given a sense of modesty.
The latter, on the other hand, can be only attained as a result of knowing and perceiving the Glory of Allah and minding His presence everywhere and in every second. In Islamic ethics, modesty is more than just a question of how a person dresses and acts in social interactions; instead, it is reflected in a Muslim’s conduct before God, before others, and even when one is alone.
Modesty towards others entails that one has decent and reasonable behavior in public, avoids indecent talks and vain activities, and respects everyone around him/her. If one has developed this ethical aspect within him/her and obeyed this sense, he/she will become ashamed when someone notices him doing something wrong. This feeling will be even worse when the other person is in a higher position. This, consequently, stops him/her from repeating that action.
To clarify the importance of modesty towards people, Imam Ali (AS) said that the evilest of all is who is not ashamed of his actions in front of people .
Modesty towards others includes especially the opposite gender and involves not gazing at them , harming them in any way or indulging in any forbidden (Haram) relation with them. In Surah Nur, Allah guides both men and women to the key to modesty by saying that believing men and women should lower their gaze and guard their modesty (24:30-31).
A good instance of modesty in the interactions between opposite genders is described in Surah Qasas, verses 23-26, between the daughters of Shoaib (PBUH) and Moses (PBUH). These verses demonstrate that the daughters of the prophet work and appear in society, but they care about how they interact with others; they concentrate on what they should do without having unnecessary dialogues with men. They communicate as much as necessary, with respect and dignity. Their speech is direct and clear-cut with Moses, so are Moses’s words. Even the way they both walk is with care and shyness .
Modesty towards oneself means that a person treats himself fairly in private. It is caused by the unpleasant feeling that arises when thinking of or doing something improper which consequently stops one from forbidden (Haram) thoughts or illicit acts. It was mentioned that when one does something indecent and suddenly notices the presence of others, he becomes ashamed (if he still possesses the natural modesty that is laid within his soul); a higher level of Haya is being ashamed of oneself when no one else is present. This kind of modesty is known as the yield of faith: “The shame a person feels from himself originates from [his] faith.” .
Modesty towards God is called the best level of modesty : “be modest in front of Allah for He has a right to your modesty” . To accomplish this, one should first believe that nothing can be concealed from God “Does he not know that Allah sees [him]?” (96:14). In fact, Allah sees and knows everything, and is closer to humans more than themselves: “and We are nearer to him than [his] jugular vein” (50:16). Consequently, a modest person toward God will avoid any indecent act, in public or private, and will leave sinful thoughts behind.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 106.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 75, p. 309.
- M. al-Kulaynī, “Al-Kafi”, vol. 2, p. 106, T. 5.
- A. Q. Payande, “Nahj Al-Fasahah”, p. 578, T. 2006.
- S. H. al-Amili, “Wasail al-Shia”, vol. 20, p. 135.
- M. B. Majlesi, “Mofazzal monotheism”, Chapter: Human Senses.
- “Nahj al-Balagha”, no. 223
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 5464
- M. B. Majlesi, "Bihar al-Anwar”, vol. 101, p. 40.
- N. Makarem Shirazi, “Tafsir Nemooneh”, vol. 16, p 58-59.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 4944.
- “Ghurar Al-Hikam”, no. 5451.
- H. T. Nuri Ṭabarsi, “Mustadrak al-Wasail”, vol. 8, p. 462.
One of the main differences between Islamic and non-Islamic lifestyle is manifested in the eating habits. Not eating pork and not drinking wine are two of these practices which are indeed evident in the life of a Muslim. This article will briefly analyze some of the reasons why Muslims do not consume pork.
However, it is important to keep in mind that the central philosophy behind all religious rules including Islamic rules and regulations is only known by the All-Wise and All-Knowing God who is the Creator of the whole universe and all the creatures.
Pork is forbidden in different Divine religions. For instance, the Bible says about pork: "And the swine ... he is unclean to you. Of the flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you." (Leviticus, 11:7-8). The same command is repeated in Deuteronomy, 14:8.
Christians often depict Satan in religious anecdotes in the form of a pig. The Gospel of Barnabas mentions that Pig is Satan personified and that the pig’s body has the spirit of Satan. The present Bible among the Christians (Matthew 8-32 Marks 5-13, Luke 8: 28-39) describes how Jesus thrust the soul of Satan inside the herd of swine and sent them towards the river .
In Islam, there are two primary sources for understanding the orders of Allah: the Quran and the Sunnah . Both the Holy Quran and Sunnah have equal status as far as the obligatory orders (wajibat) are concerned. If one wajib is mentioned in Sunnah only, it has the same weight as one said in the holy Quran only  and vice versa. Both sources mention that eating pork is forbidden.
Allah has announced that eating pork is forbidden in several verses of the Holy Quran:
“You are prohibited carrion, blood, the flesh of swine …” (5:3).
The unclean nature of swine flesh is stated in the following verse:
“Say, ‘I do not find in what has been revealed to me that anyone be forbidden to eat anything except carrion or spilled blood, or the flesh of swine —for that is indeed unclean— or an impiety offered to other than Allah.’ …” (6:145)
The same concept is declared in the verses (2:173) and (16:115).
Imam Reza (AS) mentions regarding the prohibition of pork, “The Almighty Allah has prohibited (made Haram) Pork because it is a horrible and dreadful animal that Allah has created for men to derive lessons from. People should also refrain from sensuality and shameless deeds that cause such a terrible appearance. And that they fear from being transformed into pigs by Almighty Allah. (In the description of past nations it is mentioned that people who committed sexual promiscuity are changed into pigs in the Intermediate world (Barzakh) [i], and they shall be raised as pigs in the Judgment Day (Qiyamat)).
Also, pigs were allowed to exist so that they are a reminder of the metamorphosis (Maskh) [ii] of previous nations into pigs. The second reason for prohibiting pork is that the staple diet of pigs consists of extremely impure (Najis) and filthy things, and its blood contains innumerable harmful germs.” 
Imam Sadiq (AS) said,“The Almighty Allah metamorphosed many nations into animals. Among them are pigs, monkeys, and bears, etc. After this these animals were prohibited from being eaten so that people derive lessons from them and do not consider the sin minor.”
Pork is very harmful to the body but we mention below only some of its harmful effects.
The present-day science of parasitology has proven some serious diseases in human beings caused by the bacteria and germs found in pork. Pork is the main carrier of many germs and parasites such as Faciolopsis buski, Paragonimus, Clonorchis sinesis, Erysipelothrix rhusiophathiae . Moreover, Dr. Joseph Mercola has cited the following diseases caused by pork: Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS), the Nipah Virus, Porcine Endogenous Retrovirus (PERV) and Menangle Virus .
On the whole, the pig is the cause of many serious and fatal diseases, among them, dysentery, trichinosis, tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, jaundice, pneumonia, suffocation, intestinal obstruction, acute pancreatitis, enlargement of liver, diarrhea, emaciation, stone formation in liver, cancer, anemia, high fever, hindrance of growth development in children, typhoid, lameness, heart trouble, abortion, sterility, and sudden death .
It is important to note that despite hard efforts in medical science, many of the pig parasites cannot be eliminated by antibiotics, drugs or vaccines.
Some people assert that by present day means it is possible to eliminate all these parasites and make pork devoid of them, but even upon the supposition that use of sanitary equipment or cooking of meat at high temperatures eliminates all the parasites, nevertheless the harms associated with pork cannot be denied for according to the incontrovertible law, the meat of every animal bears the traits of that animal and, by means of the glands and the hormones secreted by them, influences the conduct of those who consume it.
Thus, consuming pork may transfer the attributes of sexual depravity and indifference towards the affairs of the womenfolk of the family - the most blatant traits of the male members of this species - into the person who consumes it. And perhaps, one of the reasons for the excessive sexual profligacy dominant in the West could be consumption of the meat of this sordid animal .
So since the scope of science and the knowledge of human beings are limited, there might be other harms still undiscovered. However, even if human beings find some way of eliminating all the physical and spiritual harms of something, it does not mean that the forbidden (Haram) law of God becomes permissible (Halal). As mentioned at the beginning of the article, we must submit to the will of God as the Creator of the whole world and the Only One who truly knows about what is good and bad for the creatures and why.
[i] The stage between this world and the hereafter
[ii] In Arabic, Maskh means for something to change form to an uglier one. In the Quran and Islamic tradition, this term refers to a specific divine punishment which was sent upon the wrongdoers and wrongdoing nations in the past (of course not all wrongdoers, but those who committed certain wrong acts) which can be called metamorphosis. For more information, please refer to http://www.islamquest.net/en/archive/question/fa614
- eating in Islam
- Sunnah means the sayings, actions and silent approval of the Holy Prophet and the Holy Imams (PBUT).
- islamic laws
- Uyun al-Akhbar ar-Riďa & Wasa’il al-Shia, ch.1
- food in Islam
- eating pork in Islam
- all about pork meat