I found this excerpt from a talk given I believe by Roger Nixon a number of years ago, and thought you’d enjoy it.
The last month of the Baha’i year is the month of fasting, when Bahá’ís abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset. Many people ask why we fast and assume it is for health reasons, or in order to loose weight. Although fasting is, of course, beneficial to one’s health, the Bahá’í Fast is observed because it is a law prescribed for our spiritual development. Periods of fasting have been observed by people of different religions throughout the ages, and the Bahá’í Fast is a continuation of that tradition. The main purpose of a religious fast is to commemorate the “Act of Revelation”, the Act of God’s communion with His Holy Messengers, when He inspires Them with His laws and teachings.
We know that Moses did not eat or drink while He was on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments for the Jewish people; Buddha fasted for extended periods during the times of His “Enlightenment”; Jesus withdrew to Mount Tabor in the Holy Land, where He prayed and fasted for 40 days; and the Muslim Fast during the month of Ramadan commemorates the Revelation of the Holy Qu’ran by the Prophet Muhammad.
In this age we have the example of Bahá’u’lláh, Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Who revealed over 100 volumes of Holy Writings during the 40 years of His Ministry. Whenever a new Revelation from God descended upon Him, He, too, fasted. The Words of God came to Him like torrents of spring rain, and His secretaries had to develop a special style of shorthand, called “Revelation writing”, in order to record them.
When fasting, we are somehow linked to this divine process, as we not only commemorate the priceless gift of a new Revelation from God, but also meditate on the revealed Word of God, often called “the Bread of Life”. One can say that we are feasting on the Bread of Life during the Fast! Naw Ruz has been ordained as a Feast to follow the Fast and — happily — includes food and drink to keep body and soul together!
Here’s a prayer of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, recently translated at the Baha’i World Centre:
O Divine Providence! As I am abstaining from bodily desires and not occupied with eating and drinking, even so purify and sanctify my heart from the love of anyone save Thyself, and shield and protect my soul from corrupt desires and satanic qualities so that my spirit may commune with the breaths of holiness, and fast from the mention of all else besides Thee.
What’s your experience with the fast? Post your comments here: