Question and answer details
|Hi, I understand that it is easy not to eat for a long time. But it is difficult not to drink for a long time. Water makes 75% of our body. Can you explain to a reader like me why in Muslims' fasting they do not drink water for long time? Keep up the good work.|
Many thanks for your question. Fasting is a topic that fascinates many who are not Muslim. It is also one of the questions most often on the minds of those who are new to Islam, because they have not fasted before and they don't know what to expect.
I remember the first time I fasted during Ramadan. Actually, I wasn't Muslim at the time, but I fasted with my pupils in school because they had asked me if they could pray in my classroom during Ramadan.
It was the least thing I thought I could do to show my solidarity and support for them. Little did I know that the following year, I would be Muslim myself, fasting as a Muslim during Ramadan during the hours of daylight.
What did it feel like to fast for the first time? Well, in fact, you hit the nail on the head by asking about water, because I found that it was not the lack of food that was a problem, but the desire for something to drink.
Not being able to take a sip of water from time to time was, for me, the greatest hardship of the fast. As you say, our bodies are made up of seventy-five per cent water and we soon begin to moan and complain when the normal supply is denied us.
Muslims read in the Quran what means:
(And we send down water from the sky according to (due) measure, and We cause it to soak in the soil; and We certainly are able to drain it off (with ease). With it We grow for you gardens of date-palms and vines; in them have you abundant fruits: and of them youeat (and have enjoyment) (Al-Mu'minun 23:18-19)
Water is just one of the many gifts we take for granted in this life. Just think how many times we have recourse to water during the day. We not only use it for washing right at the start of the day, but we use it for making tea and coffee, for preparing and cooking our food, for cleaning around the house, and so on.
One of the effects of fasting during Ramadan is that it brings all of these things into focus, helping us to remember all the many blessings we receive and take for granted, such as food and water, and the love of the people who are dear to us.
In Ramadan, we give thanks for these things. We can even thank Allah Almighty for the rain, which is so often a nuisance to us, yet which during those fasting days of Ramadan, would be most welcome to trickle down our faces. In life we take too much for granted.
We also remember all of those in this world who do not have the good fortune that we have of being able to drink or eat whenever we wish. There are many people who will not end the days of Ramadan with a special meal of celebration, but will go hungry because they have neither food nor drink.
All of this, though, is just a prelude to telling you about why Muslims fast. They don't do it to feel good, or to soar to great heights of spirituality, or for any other reason than the fact that Allah Almighty has commanded them to do so. It is one of the five so-called "pillars" of Islam, which are required of all Muslims.
These five pillars held us to live as Muslims. The first is to declare that there is no god but Allah, and that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is His Messenger. The others are to pray at five given times during the day, to pay a certain amount of one's left-over wealth to the poor, to go on pilgrimage once in one's life to Makkah if we are physically and financially able to do so, and to fast during the month of Ramadan.
We read in the Quran:
(Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, and also clear signs for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting.) (Al-Baqarah 2:185)
By the way, despite what anyone may claim, Islam is eminently sensible and practical. It is also very reasonable, so you will see that fasting is for those who are at their homes. In other words, those who are travelling are not required to fast.
So what, then, is the fast about? Why do Muslims fast at all? Again, we have recourse to the Quran:
(O Ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may learn self-restraint.) (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
Muslims fast because Allah has commanded them to do so. Why else would anyone choose to do such a thing? They fast to please Allah.
In fasting, they give up not only food and drink. In fact, the fast is total. Between the hours of daylight, Muslim men and women refrain from food, drink and sexual relations with their wives or husbands.
They also refrain from such things as smoking, bad language and even bad thoughts. What use would it be to fast all day if a person was thinking ill about others? The only thing he would gain by doing this, according to our Prophet, is that at the end of the day he would be hungry and thirsty.
So, yes, water is included in the fast. For some it is easy. For others (like myself) this is the most difficult part of the fast. The lack of water means that towards the end of the day, about one or two hours before it is time to break the fast, I tend to get a headache or feel drowsy. However, knowing that we do this for Allah and by doing so we please Him, is enough for any Muslim to carry on the fast willingly.
When we consider the terrible sufferings which have just been undergone by our brothers and sisters in Gaza, who have not only lost their homes and their own limbs, but also their children and family members, it is nothing to go without water for a few hours.
When we see how heroically they endured this suffering, giving thanks to Allah even while the bombs were falling around them, it encourages all Muslims to do this small thing in giving up food and water for Allah's sake.
When the day's fast is over, all Muslims will join with their family and friends, to break the fast and to give thanks for the gift of food and water, which we so often take from the hand of Allah without even a thought.
It feels good to have fasted during the days of Ramadan, most importantly because it has reminded us that we have been called to be Muslim and that we have carried out this fast for Allah's sake.
I hope this answers your question. Please keep in touch.