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It is the greatest heedlessness to see the fast as a simple diet. Actually, we are not going on any diet by eating at the nighttime the two meals that we normally eat at daytime. The fast is a worship that Allah commanded with the verse:

O you who believe! Prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may deserve God's protection (against the temptations of your carnal soul) and attain piety. (The Qur'an, Al-Baqarah Surah, 2:183)

Worships are performed for Allah's pleasure, as a debt to Allah, and as a duty which must be fulfilled. For this reason, there must not be any expectations of returns or any anxiety of gaining a benefit.

What is described by Islam as Nafs'al-Ammarah (the evil commanding soul) and human's struggle against it, is also mentioned in many philosophical doctrines, in biological and psychological theories and schools. Whether we accept the term “subconscious” of the Psychoanalysts or we talk about instincts, or observe the conditioned and unconditioned reflexes with the reflex-oriented psychologists, in all of them we will see Nafs'al-Ammarah, which is mentioned in Islam, and find the repetition and corroboration of it with different expressions. According to Islamic faith, the soul is created in order for humans to live, reproduce and to carry out their worldly dealings. However, at the same time, commandments are decreed for humans so that they will not obey their souls, but will control it, and will protect themselves from its harms by ruling over it.

Just as uncontrolled vapor pressure blasts its container, and if controlled, it drags the train along, so too does our evil commanding soul need certain mechanisms of restraint, control and regulation. And fasting comes first among those mechanisms. Allah says: “ Prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may deserve God's protection...”

Many people asked me about the “benefits” of the fast and other worships. I never forget; on the eve of the last Ramadan, while I was going to the Tarawih Prayer (special extra 20-part prayer in Ramadan) at the first night, a young girl asked me: “There was no fast today; so what did you eat so much that you go to the tarawih prayer to digest it?” This girl was a Muslim child of a religious family; however, she was not aware of the meaning of the matter. She did not have the Islamic culture. She thought that the 20-part tarawih prayer was a kind of bodily exercise so as to digest the abundant meals eaten at iftar (meal eaten to break the fast after sunset). It was commanded by Allah, but for that particular aim, she thought. We cannot-God forbid-explain away the Divine Wisdom; but of course, it is possible to guess and to feel it. It is a very simple way of thinking to interpret the worships in such a low level.