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The Baha’i Fast

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The Baha’i Fast falls during the month of Ala–the last month of the Baha’i calendar. During these 19 days, Baha’is abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset. While this abstention from food and drink is a test of one’s will and discipline, the Fast is not just about abstaining from food. The Fast is, primarily, a spiritual practice.

The Baha’i Fast

March 1, 2012, in Articles > Holy Days & Baha'i Calendar, by
The Baha'i Fast 620x412


The Baha’i Fast falls during the month of Ala – the last month of the Baha’i calendar. During these 19 days, Baha’is – with the exception of women who are nursing or pregnant, the elderly, children, the sick, those travelling and those engaged in heavy labour – abstain from food and drink between sunrise and sunset.

While this abstention from food and drink is a test of one’s will and discipline, the Fast is not just about abstaining from food. The Fast is, primarily, a spiritual practice.

For 19 days, those observing the Fast partake in a rich spiritual experience. The Fast is a time of joy and invigoration of our lives. It is an opportunity that comes once a year for us to take a step back and reconnect with what truly matters to us. It is a period of respite from the daily routines and hectic schedules that so often consume and overwhelm us.

Abdu’l-Baha said:

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.

Fasting is not as hard as people might think. In fact, many people – including those who really love their food – look forward to it each year.

The Fast is a time of prayer and of drawing closer to God. The abstention from food and drink is, in itself, a physical practice. However, it is a symbol and reminder of greater spiritual truths. While practising detachment from the physical world and from the desires of our physical beings, we are reminded that we are – in fact – spiritual beings.

Being reminded of our true spiritual reality, it is only natural that we find ourselves longing to strengthen this spiritual identity. It is a reminder to us that we are far more than the clothes we wear, the jobs we have, and the lifestyles we lead. We are reminded of what really matters to us – the things that really make us who we are.

Abdu’l-Baha said:

Fasting is the cause of awakening man. The heart becomes tender and the spirituality of man increases. This is produced by the fact that man’s thoughts will be confined to the commemoration of God, and through this awakening and stimulation surely ideal advancements follow.

… O God! As I am fasting from the appetites of the body and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and make holy my heart and my life from aught else save Thy Love, and protect and preserve my soul from self-passions… Thus may the spirit associate with the Fragrances of Holiness and fast from everything else save Thy mention.

The Fast creates in us feelings of prayerfulness and contemplation. As we pray and meditate more, we are able to recalibrate our lives to find an inner balance.

Shoghi Effendi said, of the Fast:

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. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character.

This, more than the mere abstention from food and drink, is the purpose of the Fast.

A very happy and blessed Fast to all our readers out there who will be observing it! I hope that it is a period of reinvigoration and recuperation for all of you.

Posted by

Sara Mazloum Ferdowsi

Sara Mazloum Ferdowsi

Discussion 20 Comments

Lovely post. If you are looking for a tool to inspire reflection over this Fasting period, this little booklet may be useful (it’s designed especially for parents however a lot of sections will be applicable to anyone). It’s broken up into 13 small sections which will take about 10 mins each so you can pace yourself up to Naw Ruz (it also contains goal setting for the New Year). Happy Fasting! http://www.enablemetogrow.com/2012/03/02/dream_and_scheme/

chelsea

chelsea (March 3, 2012 at 10:00 PM)

Thanks Chelsea! What a great site and useful tool to use during the fast. Thank you for sharing 🙂

Sara

Sara (March 3, 2012 at 12:46 AM)

Thanks Sara – wonderful article. Happy fasting! xx

Maryam

Maryam (March 3, 2012 at 2:59 AM)

Thanks Maryam! Hope you’re enjoying the Fast as much as I am xoxo

Sara

Sara (March 3, 2012 at 12:47 AM)

great article Sara! for food lovers like ourselves, it helps us to really appreciate food alot more for the rest of the year!

Joonwin

Joonwin (March 3, 2012 at 8:28 AM)

JoonWin! Thanks for your support. yes you’re definitely right 🙂 hope you’re well. xoxox

Sara

Sara (March 3, 2012 at 12:50 AM)

[…] a few days into the Baha’i Fast and as always for me, the first days are kind of hard! These early days are when your body is […]

Thanks for sharing Sara. I was fortunate to share breakfast this morning with a friend before fasting and she told me that her mother and her who live in different states share breakfast and prayers over skype every morning during the fast. What a bounty of technology.

Ali

Ali (March 3, 2012 at 10:48 PM)

Hi Ali, thank you for your support. What a lovely way of starting the fast with loved ones. I wish I could do that as well.. too bad there’s the time difference with my family. I think I’ll skype-in with my family when they are saying their prayers anyway. That’ll still be really special. xoxoxo

Sara

Sara (March 3, 2012 at 12:54 AM)

[…] you would already know from previous posts, Baha’is are currently observing the Fast. In this time, I find myself asking: how does the […]

The Fast and Sacrifice | Baha'i Blog

The Fast and Sacrifice | Baha'i Blog (March 3, 2012 at 1:36 AM)

[…] Baha’is, Naw Ruz also has deep spiritual significance. Naw Ruz marks the end of the 19-day Baha’i Fast, which is a period of reflection and profound spiritual reinvigoration for Baha’is. Naw-Ruz […]

Naw Ruz: Spiritual Springtime | Baha'i Blog

Naw Ruz: Spiritual Springtime | Baha'i Blog (March 3, 2012 at 11:14 PM)

[…] the Faith we are enjoined to sacrifice. Among other things, the Fast, it seems, could have been ordained in order to exercise our sacrifice muscles — to keep the […]

What are we Willing to Sacrifice? | Baha'i Blog

What are we Willing to Sacrifice? | Baha'i Blog (October 10, 2012 at 9:25 PM)

[…] in this special period of the Baha’i year, and join fellow Baha’is around the world in The Fast, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned from fasting over the years. Probably the […]

Now I am ready to do my breakfast, after having my breakfast coming
yet again to read additional news.

terre haute marketing

terre haute marketing (January 1, 2015 at 5:58 AM)

Thank you for sharing your reflections!

I am a Baha’i and a Yoga teacher, I have also been creating some meditation and reflection audio recordings to do during the fast for anyone who is interested 🙂

https://www.yogaavecmoi.com/bahai-fast-meditations/#itemId=5a9e6364e2c483d263d2a0ed

Nahal Haghbin

Nahal Haghbin (March 3, 2018 at 4:41 AM)

Thank you New Plymouth for the informative article
Happy fasting from Auckland

NFT

NFT (March 3, 2019 at 6:53 AM)

I’ve taken my whole life already. We did not have anything to eat in our youth and today I eat only once a day and little. I do not know life without fasting. I do not bother with the little food. Even on holidays not. My family knows that.

Margrit Rita Hurni

Margrit Rita Hurni (March 3, 2019 at 8:38 AM)

I wish everyone a meaningful Fast! Thank you Baha’i Blog for this article!

Criselda R. Figuerres

Criselda R. Figuerres (March 3, 2019 at 11:36 AM)

Thanks for your well wishes Criselda, and we hope you have a happy and meaningful fasting period too!

Naysan Naraqi

Naysan Naraqi (March 3, 2019 at 12:28 PM)

Excuse me, I have only now seen that my corrected program has not corrected Tehran and it has been corrected incorrectly. It’s written (Theran instead of Teheran .) Because I still have to dictate everything because of a hand operation, I did not pay attention to the mistake, it’s Teheran of course

Margrit Rita Hurni

Margrit Rita Hurni (March 3, 2019 at 1:42 PM)

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