Al-Faqīh Al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ Al-ʿUthaymīn – Allāh have mercy on him – explained some of the benefits of fasting(1), summarised below.
Allāh taʿālā prescribed various kinds of worship, including those that involve spending of what is dear to oneself (e.g. zakāh), withholding from doing what one likes to do (e.g. fasting) and deeds that involve some degree of effort (e.g. ṣalāh, ḥajj). Through these different kinds of worship, those who truly worship Allāh are distinguished from those who worship their desires.
Fasting in of itself has great wisdom behind it, including the following:
- achieving Taqwa, as Allāh taʿlā said in the Qurʾān
- knowing the value of Allāh’s blessings: when a person misses food, drink and the enjoyment of family, he can appreciate the value of having these blessings, and be more grateful to Allāh. As the saying goes: By their opposites, things become clear
- training oneself to develop patience, tolerance, and to avoid extravagance
- teaching the rich the need of the poor, to become more compassionate towards them
- restricting the routes through which Shayṭān travels within the body. Fasting involves vasoconstriction, and blood vessels are the channels through which Shayṭān moves, as the Prophet – ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa salam – told us
- protecting against the accumulation of wastes and fluids, thus it has been observed that some people get healthier through fasting.
- implementing the worship that surrounds fasting: at suḥūr (pre-dawn meal) and ifṭār a person is worshipping Allāh at the same time as satiating his appetite
- devoting ones time to worship: usually a person who is fasting spends more time in worship and the day in which he fasts is not like the day in which he is not fasting. The heedless, careless person is another story, but the astute, resolute intelligent person distinguishes his fasting days from the days he is not fasting
1. Al-ʿUthaymīn, Muḥammad b. Ṣāliḥ. Fatḥ Dhī Al-Jalāli Wa Al-Ikrām Bi Sharḥ Bulūgh Al-Marām. Cairo: Al-Maktabah Al-Islāmīyah, 2006. Print.