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Ramadan and Yom Kippur fasting are holy healthy diets for sawm/tsom

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The following article appeared on the Islamicity website.

The Swiss Muslim Academic Dr. Tariq Ramadan states: “The philosophy of fasting calls upon us to know ourselves, to master ourselves, and to discipline ourselves; the better to free ourselves. To fast is to identify our dependencies, and free ourselves from them.”

The Arabic word for fasting (Sawm) has a two-fold meaning as described in Qur’an and Hadith. The primary meaning of sawm is to hold back, to refrain, to abstain — the deeper mystical meaning is to rise beyond, to move past former limits. The Hebrew word for fasting (Tsom) has a similar double meaning.

So sawm/tsom (fasting) fulfills its two meanings; restrain or abstain, pertains to the restraint engendered by the fast; to rise beyond pertains to the self-improvement results, God bestows upon those who fast with sincerity and knowledge. Thus a fast is both a holding back and a lifting up. The body-mind and its appetites are self-disciplined, and through this self-discipline; a subtle but profound spiritual awakening begins.

By observing our religious duties of sawm/tsom humans are provided the means by which to alter our personal reality, in order to shape what we ourselves can become. By holding back the body-mind, the soul-mind attains moments of self-perception, and the spirit awakens and begins to unfold itself. And our generation really needs these life-saving activities.

In an ordinary year, almost one-third of Americans who die will die from smoking, overeating and drinking, and physical inactivity. The lack of self-restraint so evident in much of modern life leads us first to pleasure-seeking, and then increasingly to self-induced suffering.

Millions of people spend billions of dollars on pills, diet books, and gym memberships but still lack the self-discipline to control themselves. In America, young people are leading the way in increasing self-indulgence. In the majority of states (30 out of 50), the percentage of overweight or obese children is at or above 30%.

We have largely lost the spiritual value of self-restraint that is so important in the Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Muslim traditions. That self-restraint was practiced every year by voluntary........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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