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Overeating takes away the true spirit

Governments of the region appeal to the public to avoid overeating since it not only creates problems relating to health but also counters the spirit of Ramadan.

Islamic teachers warn Muslims against over-indulgence in lawful food at the time of breaking fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly.

“There is no receptacle more odious to God than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra food?” they say.

Some families habitually stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during the month than in the course of several other months put together.

Such a practice runs counter to the spirit of the Holy Month, which is to experience hunger, and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, appetite is aroused and craving intensified and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure increases and exaggerated its force; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The true meaning

Muslims believe that the spirit and secret nature of fasting is to weaken the forces, which are “Satan’s means of leading us back to evil.” It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not fasting. No benefit is derived fasting if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

“One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the night Prayers (Tahajjud) and to recite the praises (Awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God: ‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power. (Al-Qadr, 97:1)’” the teachings say.

Fear and Hope

Scholars also say that after the fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one’s fast will be accepted, so that one will find favour with God or whether it will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.

The story is told of Al Hasan bin Abil Hasan Al Basri. He once found a group of people laughing merrily. He said: “God, Great and Glorious is He, has made the month of Ramadan a racecourse, on which His creatures compete in His worship. Some have come in first and won, while others have lagged behind and lost. It is absolutely amazing to find anybody laughing and playing about on the day when success attends the victors and failure the wasters. By God, if the veil were lifted off, the doer of good would surely be preoccupied with his good works and the evildoer with his evil deeds. In too full of joy to indulge in idle sport, while for one who has suffered rejection laughter will be precluded by remorse.”

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