The Baha'i Fast:

arthra

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Baha'is have begun to fast for the next nineteen days during the month of 'Ala or loftiness (March 2 - March 20th). The Baha'i Fast means that we abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset... The Fast is only required of those fifteen years of age till seventy years of age.

If one is ill or travelling a long distance during fast, or doing really hard manual labor they are also exempt. There are no make-ups ... that is if you are not fasting due to the above you don't have to make it up later.

The purpose of the Fast is to focus on our spiritual food..that is chant the revealed verses and immerse ourselves in the Writings. It is also a good discipline and helps us focus on transforiming our spiritual life.

The following is one of the prayers revealed for the Fast:

Praise be to Thee, O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by this Revelation whereby darkness hath been turned into light, through which the Frequented Fane hath been built, and the Written Tablet revealed, and the Outspread Roll uncovered, to send down upon me and upon them who are in my company that which will enable us to soar into the heavens of Thy transcendent glory, and will wash us from the stain of such doubts as have hindered the suspicious from entering into the tabernacle of Thy unity.
I am the one, O my Lord, who hath held fast the cord of Thy loving-kindness, and clung to the hem of Thy mercy and favors. Do Thou ordain for me and for my loved ones the good of this world and of the world to come. Supply them, then, with the Hidden Gift Thou didst ordain for the choicest among Thy creatures.
These are, O my Lord, the days in which Thou hast bidden Thy servants to observe the fast. Blessed is he that observeth the fast wholly for Thy sake and with absolute detachment from all things except Thee. Assist me and assist them, O my Lord, to obey Thee and to keep Thy precepts. Thou, verily, hast power to do what Thou choosest.
There is no God but Thee, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise. All praise be to God, the Lord of all worlds.

—Bahá’u’lláh

__________________
 
Have a blessed period of the fast Art and all other Baha'i friends!

luna

My favorite quote on fasting:

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
 
Thanks for post Lunamoth!

I also like the one about fasting that Jesus referred to in the Sermon of the Mount that His followers should fast secretly not making it obvious to the world so the "reward" would be more spiritual.

From a recent article:

Fasting is symbolic - "a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires," according to the Baha'i writings.

"It 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," the Writings say.

Additionally, Baha'u'llah said fasting helps people become better aware of the sufferings of the poor.

'Abdu'l-Baha, the son and appointed successor of Baha'u'llah, described how the Prophets of God - including Moses, Jesus and Baha'u'llah - all fasted. Thus, he said, the Baha'i period of fasting allows believers to get closer to the founders of the great religions by experiencing the same thing.

Duane L. Herrmann, compiler of a handbook about the Baha'i fast, notes that abstention from eating is not the real point. The point, he says, has to do with the "inner spirit of detachment, of which eating (is) merely a symbol or outward reflection."
 
Can't we regard fasting a side effect of civilisation? At one point we used to sacrifice people for the gods?
 
Can't we regard fasting a side effect of civilisation? At one point we used to sacrifice people for the gods?

Well thanks for your post Postmaster.. I've been thinking about you lately and hope that things are well with your family.

Fasting has been around for a very long time and is found I think in most all the world's religions.. It may be the actual regulations of fasting differ but it seems the principle of fasting is pretty universal.

The Baha'i Fast is a personal obligation for Baha'is and no body checks to see if we are fasting. It is more a personal discipline... In the evening, many Baha'is will have a common meal to break the fast together and this creates a good bond among the believers.

In an informal conversation Hand of the Cause Mr. Faizi was asked why we should fast and here is his reply:

Did Bahá'u'lláh say why we should fast if our energy is less in the afternoon and our work is service to God and we[therefore] do less efficient work?

A. We fast, pray, contribute to the funds, etc., because we love Him.


..........................




 
Can't we regard fasting a side effect of civilisation? At one point we used to sacrifice people for the gods?

Hi postmaster,

That's an interesting point.

Is it possible that it is a sign of our progression, our maturity? For example early humans understood that sacrifice was an essential part of it, but perhaps misunderstood or misinterpreted what sacrifice really meant, and sacrificed others. But in this day, we are coming to understand that self-sacrifice is what is required.
 
Hi postmaster,

That's an interesting point.

Is it possible that it is a sign of our progression, our maturity? For example early humans understood that sacrifice was an essential part of it, but perhaps misunderstood or misinterpreted what sacrifice really meant, and sacrificed others. But in this day, we are coming to understand that self-sacrifice is what is required.

That would be pertinent only if fasting was a new concept. As Art mentioned, fasting has been around for a long time. Maybe as long as religion. Fasting may seem new to those that have never encountered it in their own religon, but all religons have some sort of tradition of fasting.

The Fast has always been a marvelous time of rejuvenation for me. This is the first year I have not been able to fast as I have in the past. I am a newly found diabetic and am following the doctor's guidelines. I am modifying the fast a little for me and hope I will still acheive the "renewal" I have experienced in the past. I am rising early with my wife and eating breakfast before daybreak. I am eating a light meal at lunch, and then waiting for sunset to "break fast" with my wife.

Mick
 
Thanks for the thoughts Arthra.

Fasting has been around for a very long time and is found I think in most all the world's religions.. It may be the actual regulations of fasting differ but it seems the principle of fasting is pretty universal

So was sacrificing to the Gods, from South America to the Med and North Africa, who knows where else.

A Greek Orthodox priest once told me, it's more important what comes out of your mouth then what goes into it. So whenever its fasting period for us as it is at present, I give more to charity and am more considerate how I treat people.

Could it be more of a virtue to eat a healthy balanced diet that we know is good for your health and promoting that.

I tried to see the sense in fasting, to think your actually restricting your diet is quite sadistic. God is not sadistic. Knocks your body out of sync and your more likely to loose your brain power and misjudge things more even from a moral point view.
 
Postmaster wrote:

Could it be more of a virtue to eat a healthy balanced diet that we know is good for your health and promoting that.

I tried to see the sense in fasting, to think your actually restricting your diet is quite sadistic. God is not sadistic. Knocks your body out of sync and your more likely to loose your brain power and misjudge things more even from a moral point view.

.....................

Thanks for the post my friend Postmaster!

My view is that fasting for most of us is more of a reminder that there is more to life than eating and if we change our routine and eat before sunrise and afterwards, it means we are willing to alter our everyday habits to transcend them. Most of us could do with some abstinence anyway.. The Baha'i Fast hardly will cause loss of brain power or misjudgement but rather can sharpen our perceptions to crystal clarity and provide an excellent time to focus on the spiritual realities.

- Art
 
Mick,

I'll pray that your fast will be meaningful and a source of great healing..

- Art

Thank you, Art. The first couple of years of fasting were a chore for me, Art. In 1980, though, I think I mixed the right amount of prayer and humility with some joy of doing what was asked of me by Baha'u'llah and I found the reward that Baha'u'llah warns us that we may not acheive if we don't fast. Since then, I have looked forward to the fast as a time that I could rejuvenate my soul.

As you may know, Sassafras and I live as isolated believers. Our only connection with Baha'is, for the most part, is on the internet. We teach the principles daily, but are still surrounded by people that are working with different landmarks than Baha'is. I am sure you are aware of the strength we receive from fellowship with other Baha'is and we truly miss it, but are willing to continue to work for this Great Cause as we are guided to do. In fact, our next move, St. Ignace, MI, is even more isolated than ever before.

Anyway, the fast has been a gift to me for many years.

Postmaster, you wrote, "I tried to see the sense in fasting,..."

Try it for a day. Simply do not eat or drink anything from sunrise or sunset. Be prayerful and thankful. Whether you succeed or not, do it a second day. Maybe you will "feel" the sense in it. I have had friends in the past that were not Baha'is that would fast with me, for a day and some for the whole 19 days. They all thought that it was good for them. One friend fasted with me for many years.

If I am in a Christian church with a friend and they ask us to rise, or kneel, or bow our heads, I do so. Not because I think that there is any special connection with God by doing so, but because it won't harm me and by being involved with others and the way they worship, only helps me.

Being a Baha'i is first accepting the Central Figures and their station. Secondly, it is accepting their Word as the most recent Word of God. We are told to say the Greatest Name 95 times a day, and we do. I am thankful for these directions, because when I do this, I know that act helps me live the life. We are told to fast from sunrise to sunset from March 2 through sunset March 20. I have done that as well and found it helped me live the life. I have never gone wrong by following the directions of God. I have caused myself harm and distress, though, when I ignored these directions or simply followed my own whims or mans directions.

Mick
 
Fasting to me is a reflection of the organised religion you follow and your devotion to it. Your stimulating your sense of devotion which is also a powerfull tool for other aspects of your life. However, I believe there are other better ways to harbour this. If humanity was stupid enough to kill people in the name of Gods, then who knows what we are doing today that could be progression of that.
 
Postmaster,

We fast Postmaster because it is ordained to do so... and because of the many benefits noted above.. It is an obligation for Baha'is.

Grant, O my Lord, that the fire of Thy love and the heat produced by the fast enjoined by Thee may inflame them in Thy Cause, and make them to be occupied with Thy praise and with remembrance of Thee.

But thanks for sharing your views!

- Art
 
One area where unhealthy excess is clear is in the dangerous or ascetic rituals of a destructive religious group. Excessive praying, chanting, fasting, and sleep deprivation can cause anxiety, exhaustion, illness, and eating disorders

From a pro Baha'i site.
The Good Fruit: Is The Bahá'í Faith A Cult

I have a Greek Orthdox friend that fasts quite strictly, he started fasting over a year ago, he's not regained his original weight and seems to have developed an eating disorder from fasting. And as a labour worker this isn't good? In my community the ladies love fasting the most, it's like dieting but only it's justified for God.

In ancient times societies used to go through periods of low food stock and famines, I wonder if it's a reflection of that in some way, embedded in humans still. I can see fasting more convenient for the village life my grandparents used to live, who lived a more syncronised life style, compared to todays rush rush no time for anything attitude.
 
From a pro Baha'i site.
The Good Fruit: Is The Bahá'í Faith A Cult

I have a Greek Orthdox friend that fasts quite strictly, he started fasting over a year ago, he's not regained his original weight and seems to have developed an eating disorder from fasting. And as a labour worker this isn't good? In my community the ladies love fasting the most, it's like dieting but only it's justified for God.

That was an interesting essay on "Cults", Postmaster. Thank you for sharing that with us. Baha'u'llah tells us that "everything" should be in moderation. I would think anybody that fasts until they have an eating disorder is suffering from mental/psychological needs as well. The excessive fasting would seem to be a symptom of other problems. Fasting should never be a cause of physical anguish. It is a physical act that helps us develop spiritually and it should be done in moderation.

Mick
 
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