Spiritual Nourishment, Spiritual Calendar

Fasting Is a Shield

Light of the Path: Gnosis as Taught by Imam Sadiq (An Annotated Translation of Misbah al-Shari’ah)

 

By Imam Sadiq

Translated by D. D. Sodagar

 

Chapter Twenty: On Fasting

Imām Şādiq said, “The Prophet of God said, ‘Fasting is a shield’; that is, it is a cover that protects against the afflictions of this world and is a veil that covers the chastisement of the Hereafter.

“When you fast, your intention in fasting should be to restrain yourself from indulging the carnal desires and to prevent your will from following in the footsteps of Satan.

“[When you fast, try to] behave like one who is ill: Crave not food or water but rather long every moment for your cure from the disease of sin.  Cleanse your interior from filth, negligence, and darkness, which prevent you from dedicating yourself solely to God the Exalted.

“A believer was once told, ‘You are weak, and fasting makes you weaker,’ and he said, ‘I consider fasting to be an insurance against the evil of the very long Day [of Judgment], and to endure [hunger and hardship] in obedience to God is easier than to endure His chastisement.’

“The Prophet of God said that God the Exalted said, ‘Fasting is for My sake, and so I will reward it.’

"Fasting kills the [material] longings of the soul and the carnal desires of the [brute] nature.  In fasting lie the revival of the heart; the purgation of the body; the reformation of one’s exterior and interior; appreciation for [God’s] blessings; kindness to the poor; increased humility, soft-heartedness, and weeping [in repentance for one’s sins]; the cord of recourse to God; diminished carnal desire; a lighter burden of sin; and multiplied righteous deeds.  The benefits of fasting are beyond enumeration, but that which we have enumerated here suffices him who has a mind and is capable of fasting.”