Fasting is one of the secondary principles (Furoo-ed-Din) of Islam. The holy Qur’an cites the following verses about fasting and the month of Ramadan:
“Ramadan is the (month) in which the Holy Qur’an was sent down to you, as a guide to mankind, and clear signs for guidance and salvation.” (2:185)
“Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.” (2:183)
Ramadan is the month of purification, self-discipline, and devotion toward the remembrance of God. It is a month during which the holy Qur’an was revealed by God to Prophet Mohammad (peace and blessings upon him).
Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha, the current Sufi Master of the M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi® School of Islamic Sufism®, has illuminated the spiritual significance of Ramadan and the reality of fasting in his teachings. The word “Ramada” ( ??????) ) means a land parched with the intense heat and dryness, a land which is so dry in its extreme thirst that its surface is cracked open, and the sections of the surface begin to curve up at the ends creating bowl-like shapes. The surface is almost detached from the ground facing the sky, waiting for the pure and life giving rain to quench its thirst.
This represents the yearning of the body and soul of the sincere seeker of the truth during the month of Ramadan. The seeker in his or her thirst and yearning avoids and turns his back to earthly pleasures. In his solitude, he turns toward the source of Life in his heart, awaiting the flow of knowledge and love from the spring of his heart.
Fasting in Arabic is called “Sawm”. The word “Sawm” means “jejunum”. It was so called because the jejunum is a portion of the small intestine which does not retain any food in it and is found to be without content after death. Therefore, it is clean and empty of any kind of waste. The root of the word “jejunum” is from the Latin word “jejunus”, meaning empty.
The person fasting called (Sau’em) represents the one who is going through the process of purification. By refraining from food, drinks, and other cellular pleasures during the day time, and avoiding desires, negative thoughts, hard feelings, low attributes, and all unnecessary words and actions, he purifies his entire system.
Purification of all aspects of one’s being, meaning cleansing of the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels, creates the necessary balance and harmony to connect to the essence of existence through the Source of Life within. This is when the Love of the Beloved enflames the flame of love in our hearts.[i]
Hazrat Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Pir Oveyssi, in the book Al-Rasa’el, in the treatise on Purification and Enlightenment of Hearts states[ii]:
“Fasting in Shari’at (the Law) is abstention from food and drink, and fasting in Tarigh’at (the Path) is abstention from the illusions of the mind, and complete devotion to the love of the Lord.”
By understanding the true meaning of fasting, it becomes apparent that fasting is not limited only to the holy month of Ramadan. The seeker cherishes the love experienced, and lessons learned in the month of Ramadan, and use them as guidelines for growth and development. He or she then devotes three days per month to fasting throughout the whole year.
i. Hazrat Salaheddin Ali Nader Angha , Lectures, Pleasant Hill , CA , September 1992.
ii. Hazrat Molana Shah Maghsoud Sadegh Angha, Al-Rasa’el-Purification and Enlightenment of the Hearts, (M.T.O. Shahmaghsoudi Publication®, Tehran, 1975) p.5