The Prophet (PBUH) told us that fasting is a shield-Junna. So what is that? On the surface, a shield is a badge of insignia. However, its deeper meaning is:
- A cover or screen to protect and keep safe, or
- Something to ward off danger
This is an insightful description of Saum. Life in this world is a journey and there are many pitfalls and challenges one encounters along the way. These challenges can be spiritual, moral, mental, physical or social and if left unchecked, can be destructive to the individual.
Allah ta’ala tells us that the legislation of fasting was that the believer could attain, Taqwa. Now, Taqwa is more than just an idea or concept, because ideas and concepts only live in the mind. It is only the application and implementation of such ideas and concepts that finds practical expression in the everyday life. Taqwa is meant to give a practical expression to the Iman of a believer, and that is the whole reason for attaining Taqwa. To make one a better person, a better Muslim, a better believer.
Fasting then, is one of the tools Allah ta’ala has given to this Ummah to safeguard and preserve it, as it traverses that path of life in this world. Over the generations fasting has become an institution that screens the Ummah from the many pitfalls of life’s journey and prepare them to face the challenges of life.
Ramadan, the designated month of obligatory fasting comes with its many blessings:
a) It teaches the believer moderation because moderation makes one thrifty
b) It accentuates ones humanity, so that the believer becomes more humane
c) It teaches humility, sincerity and makes one trustworthy
The institution of fasting has become a clinic where the believers can have their yearly check-up. A whole month to detox. An opportunity to regain control of the Nafs and have a complete tune-up:
- To Check our Islam
- To top up in Iman
- To strive harder for Ihsan
- To strive harder to perfect our Ibadah
- To examine our sincerity and commitment
- To strengthen our brotherhood
- To reinforce our patience
- To increase our generosity
The two worst enemies of man are the Shytaan and the Hawa-passions and desires.
- The Shytaan is external but has the ability to influence man
- The Hawa is internal and is part of his Nafs
The institution fasting can help us to both repel the Shytaan and take control of the Nafs.