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Fast

All praise be to the one true God Who hath assisted His loved ones to observe the Fast and hath aided them to fulfill that which hath been decreed in the Book. In truth, ceaseless praise and gratitude are due unto Him for having graciously confirmed His loved ones to perform that which is the cause of the exaltation of His Word. If a man possessed ten thousand lives and offered them all to establish the truth of God’s laws and commandments, he would still be beholden unto Him, since whatsoever proceedeth from His irresistible decree serveth solely to benefit His friends and loved ones.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


All praise be unto God, Who … enjoined on them the Fast that those possessed of means may become apprised of the woes and sufferings of the destitute.
(Bahá’u’lláh, )


Even though outwardly the Fast is difficult and toilsome, yet inwardly it is bounty and tranquillity. Purification and training are conditioned and dependent only on such rigorous exercises as are in accord with the Book of God and sanctioned by Divine law, not those which the deluded have inflicted upon the people. Whatsoever God hath revealed is beloved of the soul. We beseech Him that He may graciously assist us to do that which is pleasing and acceptable unto Him.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, XVI)


Exemption from fasting is granted to:
(a) Travellers
i. Provided the journey exceeds 9 hours.
ii. Those travelling on foot, provided the journey exceeds 2 hours.
iii. Those who break their journey for less than 19 days.
iv. Those who break their journey during the Fast at a place where they are to stay 19 days are exempt from fasting only for the first three days from their arrival.
v. Those who reach home during the Fast must commence fasting from the day of their arrival.
(b) Those who are ill.
(c) Those who are over 70.
(d) Women who are with child.
(e) Women who are nursing.
(f) Women in their courses, provided they perform their ablutions and repeat a specifically revealed verse 95 times a day.[5]
(g) Those who are engaged in heavy labour, who are advised to show respect for the law by using discretion and restraint when availing themselves of the exemption.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 38)


Fasting is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.
(Shoghi Effendi, )


Fasting is the cause of the elevation of one’s spiritual station.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


In a letter written on its behalf to an individual believer, the Universal House of Justice offers the following guidance: “Concerning the permissibility of brushing one’s teeth without swallowing water during the Fast, the House of Justice does not wish at this time to legislate on detailed matters pertaining to the Fast. The general principles are known, and when the friends encounter specific details that seem not to be explicitly covered, they should make their own decisions after prayerful and conscientious consideration of the principles, and then carry out their decisions with a clear conscience. Keeping the Fast is a spiritual obligation and it is a matter between each believer and God.”
(Universal House of Justice, found in “Abiding in God’s Law: the Bahá’í Fast", republished from the January/February 2012 issue of The American Bahá’í)


In clear cases of weakness, illness, or injury the law of the Fast is not binding. This injunction is in conformity with the precepts of God, eternal in the past, eternal in the future. Well is it with them who act accordingly.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


In truth, I say that obligatory prayer and fasting occupy an exalted station in the sight of God. It is, however, in a state of health that their virtue can be realized. In time of ill-health it is not permissible to observe these obligations; such hath been the bidding of the Lord, exalted be His glory, at all times. Blessed be such men and women as pay heed, and observe His precepts. All praise be unto God, He who hath sent down the verses and is the Revealer of undoubted proofs!
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 134)


One of the deeds in obedience to the law is obligatory prayer. He Who is the Bearer of divine mysteries hath called it the ladder of ascent. He (1) saith: “Obligatory prayer is a ladder of ascent for the believer.” Within it are hidden and concealed a myriad effects and benefits. Indeed, they are beyond computation. How great would be a man’s indolence and his injustice to himself if he were to abandon this ladder of ascent and attach himself to earthly treasures.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, X)


Some people lay stress on fasting. They affirm that in augmenting the weakness of the body they develop a spiritual sensibility and thus they think to approach God.
Weakening one’s self physically does not necessarily contribute to spiritual progress. Humility, kindness, resignation, and all these spiritual attributes emanating from great physical strength are acceptable to God. That an enfeebled man cannot fight is not accounted a virtue. Were physical weakness a virtue the dead would be perfect, for they can do nothing.
If a man be just, kind, humble and merciful and his qualities are acquired through the will-power—this is Godlike. A child cannot kill a man; but a Bonaparte can abstain from war, from shedding blood, from devastating countries. A dumb person will not speak ill of any one, a paralyzed hand cannot strike; but a strong arm can refrain from striking. Justice, love and kindness must be the instruments of strength, not of weakness.
Exaggerated fasting destroys the divine forces. God has created man in a way that cannot be surpassed; we must not try to change his creation. Strive to attain nearness to reality through the acquisition of strength of character, through morality, through good works and helping the poor, through being consumed with the fire of the love of God and in discovering each day new spiritual mysteries. This is the path of intimate approach.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Divine Philosophy, p. 99)


The definition of a journey is nine hours by the clock. Should the traveller stop in a place,
anticipating that he will stay there for no less than one month by the Bayan reckoning, it is incumbent on him to keep the Fast; but if for less than one month, he is exempt from fasting. If he arriveth during the Fast at a place where he is to stay one month according to the Bayan, he should not observe the Fast till three days have elapsed, thereafter keeping it throughout the remainder of its course; but if he come to his home, where he hath heretofore been permanently resident, he must commence his fast upon the first day after his arrival.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 113)


The fears and agitation which the revelation of this law [fasting] provoke in men’s hearts should indeed be likened to the cries of the suckling babe weaned from his mother’s milk, if ye be of them that perceive.
(Shoghi Effendi, Directives from the Guardian, p. 27)


The law of the Fast is ordained for those who are sound and healthy; as to those who are ill or debilitated, this law hath never been nor is now applicable.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


The laws of God, such as fasting, obligatory prayer and the like, as well as His counsels regarding virtues, good deeds and proper conduct, must be carried out everywhere to the extent possible, unless some insurmountable obstacle or some great danger presents itself or it runneth counter to the dictates of wisdom. For indolence and laxity hinder the outpourings of love from the clouds of divine mercy, and people will thus remain deprived.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, IV)


The traveller, the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by the Fast; they have been exempted by God as a token of His grace.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 24)


There are also no obligatory prayers for the Fast. But there are some specific ones revealed by Bahá’u’lláh for that purpose.
(Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 461)


There are various stages and stations for the Fast and innumerable effects and benefits are concealed therein.
(Bahá’u’lláh, )


There are various stages and stations for the Fast and innumerable effects and benefits are concealed therein. Well is it with those who have attained unto them.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


These are the days of the Fast. Blessed is the one who through the heat generated by the Fast increaseth his love, and who, with joy and radiance, ariseth to perform worthy deeds.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting, XV)


These are the days whereon Thou hast bidden all men to observe the fast, that through it they may purify their souls and rid themselves of all attachment to any one but Thee, and that out of their hearts may ascend that which will be worthy of the court of Thy majesty and may well beseem the seat of the revelation of Thy oneness.
(Bahá’u’lláh, )


This Fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


Thou hast endowed every hour of these days with a special virtue, inscrutable to all except Thee, Whose knowledge embraceth all created things.
(Bahá’u’lláh, )


Verily, I say, fasting is the supreme remedy and the most great healing for the disease of self and passion.
(Bahá’u’lláh, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)


Vowing to fast (in a month other than the one prescribed for fasting) is permissible. Vows which profit mankind are however preferable in the sight of God.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 38)


We beseech God to assist His people that they may observe the most great and exalted Fast, which is to protect one’s eye from beholding whatever is forbidden and to withhold one’s self from food, drink and whatever is not of Him.
(Bahá’u’lláh, )


We have commanded you to pray and fast from the beginning of maturity; this is ordained by God, your Lord and the Lord of your forefathers. He has exempted from this those who are weak from illness or age, as a bounty from His Presence, and He is the Forgiving, the Generous.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 12)


We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period, and at its close have designated for you Naw-Ruz as a feast... The traveller, the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by the fast. Abstain from food and drink, from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book.
(Bahá’u’lláh, Synopsis and Codification of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas, p. 12)


Well is it with you, as you have followed the Law of God and arisen to observe the Fast during these blessed days, for this physical fast is a symbol of the spiritual fast. This Fast leadeth to the cleansing of the soul from all selfish desires, the acquisition of spiritual attributes, attraction to the breezes of the All-Merciful, and enkindlement with the fire of divine love.
(‘Abdu’l-Bahá, The Importance of Obligatory Prayer and Fasting)