Reflection No. 167 on Q 2:183 – Fasting
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
Yā ayyuhal-ladhīna āmanū kutiba ‘alaykums-siyāmu kamā kutiba ‘alal-ladhīna min qablikum la-‘allakum tattaqūn
O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may become God conscious.
(Sūratul baqarah, No. 2, Āyat 183)
God consciousness or taqwā is the goal of the worship prescribed in Islam. The God conscious attitude is what is most beloved to the Almighty, for it shows attention and submission to the Creator. The benefits of God consciousness revert back to the believer, ensuring happiness and peace of mind in life.
Fasting creates an altered state of consciousness, allowing higher levels of spirituality and eventually an exalted sense of God consciousness. When the body refrains from normal indulgences for an extended period of time, there is a reaction – both physical and spiritual. The physiological changes humble the spirit, making it realize its vulnerability and dependence. When performed correctly, the month of fasting purges the toxins from the soul and polishes it so the light of Allah can shine through.
Tafāsīr give us the following food for thought regarding this verse about fasting:
The address in this verse is to the believers. Allah calls them, inviting them to listen to an important truth. Imam al-Sādiq (a) says about this: The sweetness of the call erases the weariness and difficulty of the worship. It is like parents who when asking children to do something difficult make it palatable with a loving reminder of their relationship.
To make fasting easier to accept, Almighty Allah tells the believers that it an act prescribed for many nations before them. A heavy task seems lighter when you know that you are not the only one doing it. There is strength and support in numbers.
Fasting has a purpose. Worship that is purpose driven is more motivating and exciting. There is a goal in mind. Achieving a higher level of God consciousness is the destination and a journey with a clear destination seems shorter.
Let us recite this verse often while fasting to remind and inspire yourself, lest you forget the ultimate goal of fasting.
Sources: Āytaullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed), Tafsīr-e Namūneh; Aghae Muhsin Qaraati, Tafsire Nur