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Fasting in the Bible and How it differs from Muslim Fast

MIT
6/8/2017
116 views

All praises and thanks are due and belong to Allah, and may His salutations be upon the final and the last Prophet and Messenger; Prophet Muhammad, his family and companions.

Fasting is one of the most important and prestigious deeds and devotions, which signifies a servants complete submission to the Will of his Creator and Lord. It is an act of worship that was peculiar to all pious servants of Allah who ever lived in this world since the time of Prophet Adam till today and was part of the legislations of all Prophets and Messengers of Allah even though its form and nature may differ from one prophet and Messenger to the other, but they share in the same essence. The Glorious Qur’an emphatically declared this fact as in the following verse:

 يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become righteous.” (Al-Baqara:183)

Thus, fasting was a religious practice in the scriptures of the Jews and Christians before the advent of Islam and the Messengers that received such revelations fasted according to their dictates. In Exodus, it is mentioned that Prophet Musa (Moses)-peace be upon him-fasted for forty days:

Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant—the Ten Commandments.” (Exodus 34:28 NIV)

At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, before His great miracles and teaching, He fasted forty days. Afterwards, the devil tested Jesus while He was weak with hunger: “And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. . . . Again, the Devil took Him up into a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.”’ Then the Devil left him. And behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:28-11).

HOW THE BIBLE FAST DIFFERS FROM THE MUSLIM FAST:

A scholarly review of the concept of fasting in the Bible reveals that it was not a religious requirement on the adherents of the Bible. Unlike the Muslim Fast, it is a spiritual exercise carried out on demanding occasions for various motives. The Bible teaches that fasting merits neither God’s favor nor a place in paradise. Christians may fast for one of the following reasons: 

• To demonstrate their satisfaction in God (Matthew 4:4
• To humble themselves before God (Daniel 9:3
• To request God’s help (2 Samuel 12:16Esther 4:16Ezra 8:23
• To seek God’s will (Acts 13:2-3
• To turn from sin (Jonah 3:5-10
• To worship God without distractions (Luke 2:36-38)

The Muslim fast differs from the bible fast in various ways and nature. In Islam, the ordinances relating to the fast are clearly stated and defined.  Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. It is a month of rejuvenation and cleansing. The true purpose of Ramadan, like all forms of Islamic worship is to draw people closer to God of Allah.

The major differences between the Bible fast and the Muslim fast can be seen through the following:

Specific time of fasting: the bible did not specify a particular time of fasting and hence, christains and jews who fast do that according to their own will anytime they wish. In Islam however, the time of fasting and the duration of the fasting are clearly stipulated. The holy Qur’an declared:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلْقُرْءَانُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَٰتٍ مِّنَ ٱلْهُدَىٰ وَٱلْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ ٱلشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ

“ Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was revealed. Guidance for humanity, and clear portents of guidance, and the Criterion. Whoever of you witnesses the month, shall fast it.” (Al-Baqara:185)

Fasting in the Bible is not a religious requirement that is obligatory on Jews and Christians, hence, only a few Bible followers fast to attain some motives. However, in Islam, fasting is regarded as one of the five pillars of Islam, which all able Muslims must uphold. Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

Islam is built upon five: to worship Allah and to disbelieve in what is worshiped besides him, to establish prayer, to give charity, to perform Ḥajj pilgrimage to the house, and to fast the month of Ramadan.”(al-Bukhārī 8, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 16)






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