As you may be aware many religions actually employ fasting either as a punishment, for health, or a way to get to know "whatever god said person has chosen to adore" better. In Islam the fast is necessary so that one is able to draw closer to Allah.
O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may be Godwary.
Interestingly, not everyone has to fast. When someone is ill or travelling and as such unable to fast for their own health, they are excuse from fasting. This is similar to cases we saw when football payers at the last world cup did not fast, although some did. Anyway, this guidance makes sense, as ideally we do not want people harming themselves. However, the one reason not to fast actually blows my mind. Apparently, you do not have to fast if you feel you can't and you can afford to feed a needy person.
Those who find it straining shall be liable to atonement by feeding a needy person.
This is a conundrum, as surely if you are fasting, the hungry person you are feeding is also meant to be fasting. So, you are not only not fasting, but you are making someone who is meant to be fasting not fast either. Additionally, it does away with the need to fast at all, as you can just claim that its too hard and you would not be lying. After all not eating food is pretty hard......or is that just me?
So why would a Muslim fast? The answer is easy, as doing good things results in good things happening to you, and Allah has deemed fasting a good thing. Hence fasting will make good things happen, because...... magic.
Should anyone do good of his own accord, that is better for him, and to fast is better for you, should you know.
Verse 185 moves onto the important Ramadan fast which is important for so many reason that make you scratch your head. Importantly, during Ramadan you do not have to fast for any of the reasons outlined above, however you have to make it up. Well unless you are giving food to the needy as surely that already is your fast. But now, some interesting facts about Ramadan.
1) Ramadan is based in the hottest time of the year where Islam started! So it is safe to say that Allah is a sadist. In fact the word Ramadan means excessive heat.
2) Ramadan can only start when the new moon in the ninth month is actually visually observed. No time for silly things like lunar calenders, i.e. lets live in the stone ages yay!
3) Apparently the month of Ramadan is not really a month in the strictest terms, after all you do get longer days in certain parts of the world. However, Allah did accommodate for this by giving accurate descriptions about this in the Koran as follows.
Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you, and so that you may complete the number, and magnify Allah for guiding you, and that you may give thanks.
Okay I lied, its not accurate, but they did try.....
Interestingly in verse 185 we get to learn why the Koran is the true word of god, and its so darn simple. Basically, it does not just lay down the laws, but it tells you how to obey these laws.
The month of Ramaḍān is one in which the Qurʾān was sent down as guidance to mankind, with manifest proofs of guidance and the Criterion.
Or if I tell you to act like a dog, then act like a dog, or you will suffer. Seems pretty much like any other book I have ever read that details laws.
Verse 186 gives us a testable claim about Islam, as it references that prayers towards Allah will be answered.
I answer the supplicant’s call when he calls Me.
Now I will be the first to admit that scientific studies have been done on Muslim prayers and the gyrations associated with them. However, they do not prove that Allah answers prayer. All they have proven is that prayer is like any other meditation and the gyrations associated with islamic prayer can help erectile dysfunction like most sport does.
Luckily for the men and women Allah does permit sexy time in the evenings when one is allowed to break the fast. This is deemed necessary as Allah recognises that sex is a natural desire.
You are permitted, on the night of the fast, to go into your wives: they are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.
The sex thing is good, however it does make me wonder how fasting is justified as its not natural to not eat. But don't trust me on this, the Koran even says fasting is not natural.
Allah knew that you used to betray yourselves, so He pardoned you and excused you. So now consort with them, and seek what Allah has ordained for you,
So there you go, natural is good, but not natural is also good. Seems like a bit of a dilemma to me.
Oh, and for some reason, the following lines of sunrise I really found beautiful.
eat and drink until the white streak becomes manifest to you from the dark streak at the crack of dawn
And no that does not mean Allah is real.
In closing this reading we get given the same reason to fast yet again , i.e. doing good things will make good things happen to you. Now if only this was how things really worked.
See you next time.
The version of the Koran I am reading is the John Meadows Rodwell translation. An online version can be found at the al-quran.info website
Additionally, for commentary I am utilizing the commentary of Maulana Muhammad Ali which is available at muslim.org/english-quran/quran.htm