Still not ready to give fasting a try?


Originally published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer

In response to the Boston Tea Party, King George III ordered a blockade of Boston Harbor. Concerned by the anticipated economic strain, our Founding Fathers turned, not to arms or protest, but to God.

In the summer of 1774, Thomas Jefferson drafted a “Day of Fasting, Humiliation, and Prayer” resolution. And so, on June 1, 1774, among others, George Washington, according to his diary, “went to church, fasted all day.

This Independence Day, close to 90 percent of all Muslim American adults were engaged in fasting, humiliation and prayer — and they will continue do so for the rest of July. From sunrise to sunset, they, too, will refrain from partaking in any food and drink and will immerse themselves in the remembrance of God.

What’s more, it will be a Christmas-of-sorts in July. As Christmas is known as the “season of giving,” Muslims endure hunger and thirst throughout the day, thereby empathizing with those who struggle to put food on their tables. This, in turn, develops a sense of charity within Muslims.

Recognizing the very real problem of hunger right here in America, over 250 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) visited Capitol Hill this past May to meet their local representatives and offer their help in combating hunger.

The initiative not only exhibited a love for America, but also for Prophet Muhammad, who once stated, “He is not a believer who eats his fill while his neighbor goes hungry.” Addressing many of our country’s current lawmakers and remembering the service of all those up to our Founding Fathers, the president of AMYA, Dr. Bilal Rana, stated, “We came to Capitol Hill, not to ask, but to give.”

Aside from enjoying the increased charity and the reformative atmosphere, those who have never taken part in fasting have much to look forward to if they are willing to take the leap. Fasting, aside from giving our digestive and renal systems a much-needed break, helps detoxify the body and curb habits of overeating, especially in light of the obesity epidemic ravaging our country. It reveals our psychological dependence on food and instills a self-control that has become rare in our society.

Still not ready to give it a try?

That is understandable; a whole month of fasting can be daunting. A new study conducted at the University of Southern California, however, revealed that fasting for as little as three days can regenerate the entire immune system.

Simply refraining from food and drink for some period of time can “flip a regenerative switch.” Considering that fasting constitutes a digestive, renal, psychological, and immunological cleansing, Benjamin Franklin was unmistakably right when he said, “The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”

Hesitant because it seems like an Islamic act of worship? Not to worry. Moses fasted for forty days and nights when he received the Ten Commandments and Jesus followed suit when he overcame the devil’s temptation in the desert (Exodus 34:28 & Matthew 4:2). In fact, aside from the Abrahamic religions, fasting is found in some form or the other in almost all other religions.

So whether it was John Hancock’s fasting, humiliation and prayer; his signature; or both that led to America’s independence is for every person to decide for themselves. But it is indisputable that our Founding Fathers were convinced of God’s intervention.

Fasting, humiliation and prayer just might be the cure – our Founding Fathers certainly believed so.


About the author

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Sohaib Awan

Sohaib Awan serves as the Chairman of the Muslim Writers Guild of America and as a Vice President of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association, USA. He is currently a student at Northeast Ohio Medical University pursuing his medical doctorate.

Continue the conversation with Sohaib at or @Muslim_Ink

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