Spiritual Foundations of Fasting

Spiritual Foundations of Fasting

Dare words

“Why say humanity when it is bestiality that would be appropriate to say if we were less afraid of words! » We borrow this phrase from Marcel Godin, Quebec writer and former journalist. With a lightened conscience, because he belongs to a new continent, the author appears lucid. Far from the danger of “words”, he allows himself the sobriety and distance necessary to discuss them, and ingenuously expresses his astonishment that we do not call things by their names.

What do we call humanity? Why call it that if it's really just bestiality? asks the author. His work entitled “A grudge against God”1 traces the story of a Quebec teenager from tender age to adulthood. A desperate and tenacious growth that goes through an unloved childhood and years of boarding school with the “Fathers”, under a sky heavy with frustration and guilt.

If we took God less as the perch of human stupidities, the work would well have borne the title of“a grudge against humanity” which lowers itself to the level of bestiality.

Humanity and bestiality

The author's main character represents the model of a being consumed, like many in the world, by harmful living conditions. Furthermore, contrary to this first model, the world is full of beings consumed by opulence. The first, needy, exhaust themselves2 in the quest for their vital needs. The latter, well fed, exhaust themselves in enjoyment. All together exhaust themselves in life here below. This is how bestiality presents itself to us with a human face.

The notion of bestiality in the Koran concerns any being leading a life confined to earthly needs. A life cut off from God, which sequesters its own purposes, which lacks meaning and does not aspire to the last life.

Man, what a creature!

The Quranic revelation informs us about angels and animals. The first, created from light and devoid of instinct, are infallible to God's orders. The latter present a model of life based on instinct and which is not subject to any divine prescription.

Created from a body of flesh and “divine breath”3, each of these two components exercises a particular power over Man in its own favor. The first tends to make him an “intelligent beast”. The second, luminous and divinely inspired, restores to Man, once developed, his quality of honored creature.

The dual composition of Man is at the origin of the difficulty we experience in defining him. Indeed, it is a great labor to ignore divine revelation and try to define oneself with so little knowledge.


“O! Man, do we read in the holy Book, who deceives you about your Generous Lord who created you? »4

Defining man far from revelation leads to unfortunate frustrations. A great “deception” is that of presenting Man as an intelligent beast abandoned to his fate in an immense universe and waiting to end in nothingness, while the Generous Lord is there. For some, our creature is completely subject to the inevitability of History and only has value through the work it provides. For others, it must be freed from all moral considerations and has value only through its potential to procure enjoyment. Unconcerned about the “big news”5 of the Resurrection, both advocate the bestiality of Man.

This treasure, which is the son of Adam by the divine breath it contains, must be freed from the hole of bestiality and put to good use. Indeed, it is a precious creature because of the interest that God attaches to it. This is evidenced by the number of Messengers He has dedicated to him and the predestinedness in the eternal life that He reserves for him.

Make your choice

“He who has purified his soul will certainly succeed,” pronounces the Exalted God, “and he who has degraded it will certainly lose.” »6 The soul is degraded under the influence of the heavy bestial nature and impervious to the memory of God. The term “purify” translates the conventional meaning of the original Arabic term, which means valorization and fruition.

Endowed with reason, Man can improve in both directions. His choice will have repercussions on his future and his eternal life.

In Islam, controlling one's bestial inclinations is a main axis of work on oneself. A work of valorization of the being which allows the will to triumph over necessity and impulses. This is one of five principles, known as the “pillars of Islam”, according to which Islamic education must evolve. We borrow the expression of the latter from Abdessalam Yassine in his work “the revolution in the age of Islam. »

  1. The consciousness of belonging to sovereign God is the attestation of faith.

  2. The multi-daily attitude of prayer is the person submitted to God who practices presence.

  3. The detachment from earthly goods through alms and donations is the person present to God who concretely proves his submission.

  4. The sacrifice of pleasures and passions through the discipline of fasting which is not limited to depriving oneself of food, but requires sexual continence, the lowering of social tensions through giving, affability to counter the bad mood natural to egos virulently frustrated, the refusal of emotion and excitement, mastery of the language and all organs. Fasting is the annual test of purification which allows the Islamic person to regain the balance of the spiritual side that eleven months of freedom are designed to disrupt.

  5. The symbolic abandonment of everything to go to God on pilgrimage is the opportunity, at least once in life, to escape daily constraints and overcome the ego that is a homebody and stuck to its habits of comfort.

Looking forward to fasting

To alleviate our “bestial tensions” and promote our spiritual ascension, God has prescribed fasting for us in a month of mercy. The purpose of fasting is very explicit: “so that you may attain piety”7 specifies the Koran. Experience shows that during the month of Ramadan spirituality increases considerably, as evidenced by the mosques overflowing with faithful in pious adoration.

Drinking, eating, anger, resentment, slander, lying, so many acts that God curbs or proscribes during this month or elsewhere to promote our celestial nature in us.

A respite, a moment of relaxation and spiritual relief. After a fierce battle against the annoying demons, they are now removed from the scene. We have time to better feel the needs of the soul, its nostalgia for its Lord. We would really like the whole year to be one long Ramadan.


1 Published by Robert Laffont in 1969

2 By the formula “exhaust oneself in” we try to express the meaning of the Koranic concept of “Taraf” cited among others in the Koran v.33/s.23.

3 The reference is made to the Koran: v.9/s.32, v.29/s.15 and v.72/s.38 on the theme of the creation of Man and Adam, may God greet him , especially.

4 Quran v.6/s.82

5 Quran s.78

6 Quran v.9/s.91

7 Quran v.184/s.2