The Fast approaches..

arthra

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From March 2 to March 20th Baha'is from fifteen years of age to seventy years old fast, that is, take no liquid or solid food from sunrise to sunset.

Abdul-Baha explains some of the reasons for this:

Besides all this, prayer and fasting is the cause of awakening and mindfulness and conducive to protection and preservation from tests....

(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 368)

So it is a kind of spiritual discipline that Baha'is engage in.

Ye had written of the fasting month. Fortunate are ye to have obeyed the commandment of God, and kept this fast during the holy season. For this material fast is an outer token of the spiritual fast; it is a symbol of self-restraint, the withholding of oneself from all appetites of the self, taking on the characteristics of the spirit, being carried away by the breathings of heaven and catching fire from the love of God.

(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 69)


If the Baha'i is ill or making a long journey and is fatiqued they are not required to fast. Also if they are engaged in hard manual labor they are exempt.
 
Exemptions that are medical from the Fast are inclusive and general.. and we are encouraged to follow the advice of a physician.

"Verily, I say that God has appointed a great station for fasting and prayer. But during good health its benefit is evident, and when one is ill, it is not permissible to fulfil them."

When we miss a day or so of fasting there are no "make ups".. When you feel better you can resume with the fast with everyone else...until it concludes.

No body is standing over you to check how you fast.. It's really more like an "honor system":

"But while a universal obligation, the observance of the nineteen-day Fast has been made by Bahá'u'lláh the sole responsibility of the individual believer. No Assembly has the right to enforce it on the friends, or to hold anyone responsible for not observing it."

The Bab specified the month of 'Ala (Loftiness) for fasting and it was also adapted by Baha'u'llah with some modifications and so it occurs the same time every year before the vernal equinox March 21st or our New Year which is Naw-Ruz the ancient New Year of Persia/Afganistan and parts of the Middle East.

Our months are nineteen days each month so the Fast lasts nineteen days.

Baha'is from fifteen to seventy years of age fast.

See:

The Bahá'Ã* Fast

The Baha'i Fast

- Art
 
"Do not bring our fasts to an end with this fast..."

One of the excercises I decided to assume during this Fast was to review the prayers for the Fast.. and so selected one to contemplate:

Do not bring our fasts to an end with this fast, O my Lord, nor the covenants Thou hast made with this covenant. Do Thou accept all that we have done for love of Thee, and for the sake of Thy pleasure, and all that we have left undone as a result of our subjection to ur evil and corrupt desires. Enable us, then, to cleave steadfastly to Thy love and Thy good pleasure, and preserve us from the mischief of such as have denied Thee and repudiated Thy most resplendent signs. Thou art, in truth, the Lord of this world and of the next. No God is there beside Thee, the Exalted, the Most High.

~ Baha'u'llah

(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 256)
 
What refuge is there beside Thee...

Cast not away, O my Lord, him that hath turned towards Thee, nor suffer him who hath drawn nigh unto Thee to be removed far from Thy court. Dash not the hopes of the suppliant who hath longingly stretched out his hands to seek Thy grace and favors, and deprive not Thy sincere servants of the wonders of Thy tender mercies and loving-kindness. Forgiving and Most Bountiful art Thou, O my Lord!

Power has Thou to do what Thou pleasest. All else but Thee are impotent before the revelations of Thy might, are as lost in the face of the evidences of Thy wealth, are as nothing when compared with the manifestations of Thy transcendent sovereignty, and are destitute of all strength when face to face with the signs and tokens of Thy power.

What refuge is there beside Thee, O my Lord, to which I can flee, and where is there a haven to which I can hasten? Nay, the power of Thy might beareth me witness! No protector is there but Thee, no place to flee to except Thee, no refuge to seek save Thee.

- Baha'u'llah

(Compilations, Baha'i Prayers, p. 254)
 
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