Love and kindness are two of the main components of Islam. To the extent that Allah regards Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as kind and benevolent towards people of all nations in the Holy Quran: “We did not send you but as a mercy to all the nations (21:107).” And says that if he had not been gentle to people, they would have surely scattered from around him. (3:159)
Imam Hussain (AS), following in his grandfather’s footsteps, also placed particular emphasis on this prophetic trait and ethic. He was not only gentle and affectionate towards his children, family, and relatives, but also showed great care, compassion, and respect towards others, even his enemies. The whole Fifty-seven years of Imam Hussain (AS)’s life are replete with such exemplary behavior. He did not give up this attitude towards others even in the hardest situations, like when he was at war with his enemies in the desert of Karbala.
Here we will see only a few examples of Imam Hussain’s (AS) love and affection towards others in the last days of his life:
Imam Hussain (AS)'s Attention to Children:
During the battle, in Karbala, Imam Hussain (AS) would sympathize with his family and children and treated them with love and care whenever possible.
At the night before Ashura, Imam Hussain (AS) refers to his relatives and companions as the best ones ever: “It is a fact that I am not aware of any companions more faithful and honest than my companions and any relatives more righteous and kind than my relatives.” Imam Hussain (AS) then permits all his companions to leave him without any restrictions to save their lives, but they don’t accept. On several occasions, such as the morning of Ashura, he addresses them with the most respectful titles like “the nobles.” Also, it is narrated that during the battle, Imam (AS) would be present near his martyred companions himself, and wept and prayed for them one by one, even for the African slave, Jawn.
Imam Hussain (AS) never used foul language or even one wrong word against his enemy. He would not hesitate to take advantage of any opportunity to stop the violence and invite his enemies to peace. For instance, when Imam Hussain (AS) and his companions came across Hur, and his army, who were supposed to intercept Imam Hussain (AS) outside Kufa, Imam Hussain (AS) quenched their thirst. He, along with his companions, also even gave water to their horses.
Another example of Imam Hussain’s compassion for the enemy is his encounter with Umar ibn Sa’ad and the other commanders of the enemy’s army on the day of Ashura, and his effort to persuade them to stop the war. In fact, Imam (AS) did not want them to commit an unforgivable sin- i.e., killing the innocent Imam (AS) and his companions- that would make them end up in hell.
So, it was only Imam Hussain's (AS) love and mercy towards humankind that touched every one’s heart, even his enemy to the extent that some of whom, like Hur, would surrender to righteousness, accompany Imam Hussain (AS), perform their prayer in congregation behind him, fight against his enemy and finally be martyred along with him.
This is Imam Hussain’s (AS) lesson of tolerance and benevolence towards all human beings, which is beyond any religion or sect; that if one does not want to follow a particular religion, he/she can at least live a human life .
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.
The issue of art and drawings in Islam is among those topics that have not been directly mentioned and ruled on in the Quran. Therefore, one might wonder if drawings in Islam is allowed (Halal) or not and if yes, then are all types of drawings permitted (Halal)?
There are a few traditions narrated about drawings in Islam that are usually used to answer this question. However, since the answer can be derived from the Quran, this text tries to answer the question based on the Quranic verses.
Now, you might be asking how it is possible to understand the ruling on drawing while there is no direct mention of it in the Quran. The answer is clear; the Quran provides us with a set of fixed frameworks that work as a criterion for us. And whenever we come to a question that we think was not an issue at the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), we can study it, based on the Islamic criteria and find the answer.
Drawings in Islam and all other types of art are considered as tools to make things more beautiful and to create a feeling of admiration in their audience. Allah (SWT) has created this universe most superbly and has ordered all His creatures to admire and praise Him for this beautification. After creating the human, He looked at his creation and admired His own creation: “He formed you and perfected your forms, and provided you with all the good things. That is Allah, your Lord! Blessed is Allah, Lord of all the worlds!” (40:64)
Apart from the whole magnificent scenery of the universe, created by Allah (SWT), there are also some verses of the Quran that indicate the importance of beauty in the eyes of our Creator. And that is why the Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s saying, “Indeed Allah is beautiful and likes beauty” has become so famous . The importance of beauty in the eyes of Allah is visible in different verses of the Quran:
“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer … Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’” (7:31-32)
Creativity is a blessing with which Allah (SWT) has provided human beings (not to mention all the artistic creations of other creatures). And therefore, human beings have always created new things using their creativity, the effect of which is evident in the history and the Quran, e.g., in building houses, castles, making clothes, or designing jewelry, etc.
However, the Quran does not admire all types of art. For example, making sculptures or figures to worship and as idols are considered to be negative. For instance, Prophet Abraham (PBUH), facing his people who were worshiping lifeless and dumb idols, addresses his father and says: “What are these images to which you keep on clinging?” (21: 52)
While in another Surah of the Quran, making statues and sculptures and other pieces of art so far as they are useful for human beings are referred to as positive and admirable. An example is when The Jinn built those pieces of art under the observation of Prophet Solomon (PBUH): “They built for him as many temples as he wished, and figures, basins like cisterns, and caldrons fixed [in the ground] …” (34:13).
Besides, the main ruling on doing artworks can be derived from a Surah in the Quran called Surah Al-Shu’araa’ which means Poets.
In this Surah Allah (SWT) clearly describes the essence of forbidden (Haram) and allowed (Halal) art with a direct mention of poetry which was popular in Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s time:
“As for the poets, [only] the perverse follow them. Have you not regarded that they rove in every valley and that they say what they do not do? Barring those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and remember Allah much often, and vindicate themselves after they have been wronged. And the wrongdoers will soon know at what goal they will end up.” (26: 224-7)
In these verses, Allah (SWT) states that only perverse people would follow and admire the poets. And in describing the poets, it is mentioned that “they rove in every valley,” meaning that they make up things from their imagination. At the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), ‘most poetries were about the beauty of women, adultery, and pervert behaviors.’ However, Allah (SWT) does not forbid poetry completely; rather, He ‘makes the exception of faithful poets’ in the next verse. ‘Those who use their art as a tool to defend justice and to reveal oppression and injustice.’ 
From the above verses of the Quran, we can conclude that any form of art or any other tool is allowed (Halal) provided that they are used in the way of Allah, and if used in the way of Satan, they are considered to be forbidden (Haram). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be familiar with the Islamic jurisprudence to distinguish the right from wrong from an Islamic viewpoint.
Another point that needs to be considered about different forms of art and drawing is that they should not go against the Islamic jurisprudence. Including erotic pictures or scenes in drawings or illustrations is one example of what makes this form of art forbidden. Therefore, as long as the drawing or making sculptures do not have any adverse harm for human soul and improvement, the ruling is as follows: “There is no harm at all in the sculpture, photography, and drawings of living beings whether or not they have a soul. Also, it is permissible to sell, buy, or keep pictures and statues. There is no objection to showing them in an exhibition as well” .
- Al-Kafi. Vol. 6, p. 438
- Tafseer-e Noor, Qara’ati, M. Vol. 6, p. 381
- Painting and sculpture