Whatever one eats or drinks, it surely affects the body. A good effect makes health better and a bad effect makes it worse. For a man to be healthy, he is sometimes stopped from eating different things totally or for a certain period of time. Sometimes, he is advised to make less use of a few things. Thus, it brings a good effect to his health. Fasting, is worship and also has some [positive] effects on health.
There is a beautiful Hadees of our Holy Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم:
Meaning, keep fast, you will get health
(Mu’jam-e-Awsat, vol. 6, pp. 146, Hadees 8312)
‘Allamah Abdur Rauf Munavi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has stated that while we eat food for a healthier body, we fast to have a healthier soul and spiritual life. By keeping fast, a man is blessed with health and abundant sustenance (in this world) whereas he will be given a great reward in the hereafter.
(Faiz-ul-Qadeer, 4, pp. 280, Taht-Hadees 5060)
Always remember that every good deed should be done for the sake of Allah’s pleasure. Similarly, the fast should also be kept with the intention of becoming pious and obeying Allah Almighty and the Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. By doing this, you will also receive medical benefits.
Hakeem-ul-Ummat Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has said: Whoever keeps fast to cure a disease and not to get reward, there will be no reward for him. (Mirat-ul-Manajih, vol. 3, pp. 134)
13 Medical Benefits of Fasting
13 medical benefits of fasting, out of its countless benefits, are as follows.
1. Disorders and diseases of stomach are recovered and the digestive system is improved.
2. Fasting moderates sugar level, cholesterol, and blood pressure and thus removes the danger of heart attack.
3. It comforts the heart.
4. Physical tension, mental stress, depression, and psychological diseases end.
5. It decreases obesity and removes extra fat.
6. It greatly increases the chances of conception in ‘childless women.’ (Siraat-ul-Jinaan, vol. 1, pp. 293, summarised)
7. Comparatively, immune system of fasting people becomes stronger than the others.
8. A man keeps away from negative thoughts and so his mind remains pure.
9. There is a decrease in the use of insulin.
10. The fat accumulated around the liver decreases.
11. The danger of chest and skin cancer decreases.
12. Nervous disorders are improved.
13. The compounds that cause burning in the body decrease.
Evidence for the Benefits of Fasting from Different Experts
Several non-Muslim doctors have acknowledged the benefits of fasting. Even in some countries, people are kept hungry for several hours for the treatment of various diseases. Fasting has a good effect on patients' health. Let’s read a few theories about fasting.
٭ A non-Muslim religious scholar said that I am much impressed by the fasting of Ramadan in Islam.
٭ A doctor said that fasting has the potential to protect against diseases.
٭ Another doctor was of the view that fasting is resistance to physical and spiritual disorders.
Liver and Fasting
Liver is an important organ of our body. Its function is to move the food in the body after its digestion and to excrete unnecessary substances. Whenever we eat something, the liver starts its function immediately. Since we keep eating from time to time, the liver gets quite less amount of rest. By keeping fast, we restrain ourselves from eating for a long time and this practice continues for a month [in the month of Ramadan], so the liver gets enough rest. Take it such that the liver refreshes itself in a month and gets ready for the future.
Two Important Points about Sahari
Keeping fast without Sahari can cause physical weakness and affects almost all functions of the body. The Prophet of Allah صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has called Sahari as a food of blessing. (Bukhari, vol. 1, pp. 633, Hadees 1923)
It is harmful to health to sleep straight after [eating] Sahari. Hence, we should wait for some time or do a little walk [after Sahari].
What Should We Eat in Iftar?
Hakeem-ul-Ummat Mufti Ahmad Yar Khan Na’eemi رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه has said, ‘Some fasting people have been observed smoking at the time of Iftar نَعُوْذُبِاﷲ. Something pure should enter the mouth of a fasting person. Cigarette is a pungent, dirty thing. It is also harmful to health to do Iftar with it. Mirqat has stated that it is better not to do Iftar with something baked on fire but with water in summer and with date in winter. When we should not do Iftar with something baked on fire, then how harmful would it be to do Iftar with the fire itself.’ (Miraat-ul-Manajeeh, vol. 3, pp. 155)
Fasting and Use of Medicine
There are two types of patients who take medicine. Some take medicine twice a day while some take three times a day. The best method in this regard is to get the dose of medicine fixed by a doctor. Those who take medicine twice a day should take it in Sahari and after Iftar. Those who take medicine three times a day should take it in Sahari time, after Iftar, and then after Salat-ut-Taraweeh.
Which Patient is Allowed Not to Keep Fast?
Shaykh-e-Tareeqat, Ameer-e-Ahl-e-Sunnat دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ has said: If a patient strongly presumes that his condition will become severe, fasting will prolong the disease, or a healthy man will fall ill, then there is leniency for him not to keep fast on such a day. In the present era, even if some authentic transgressor or a non-Muslim doctor declares fasting harmful to health and suggests not to fast, and patient also ponders over and feels that he should not fast or break the fast, then if he breaks or does not keep the fast, acting upon his own strong presumption, he will not be sinful. He will not be obliged to expiate either for breaking the fast. However, it will be Fard for him to keep the fast again. In such a case, it is better that one takes opinion from more than one doctor. (Blessings of Ramadan, pp. 146)
May Almighty Allah bestow Taufeeq on us for keeping obligatory [Fard] fasts.
اٰمِيۡن بِجَاهِ النَّبِيِّ الۡاَمِيۡن صَلَّى اللّٰهُ عَلَيۡهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم
Note: To receive more information on this matter, read page 19 from the Monthly magazine Faizan-e-Madinah, Ramadan-ul-Mubarak 1438 AH.
(From the medical point of view, this topic is verified by Dr Muhammad Kamran Ishaaq Attari and Hakeem Muhammad Rizwan Firdaus Attari, members of Majlis for Medical Treatment)