“Fasting Breaks the Desires”
– Imam al-`Izz Ibn `Abd Al-Salam
“As for breaking the desires, hunger and thirst break the desires of a disobedient person. Regarding this, it has been authentically reported from him [s: the Messenger of Allah] – upon him be peace – that he said: ‘O youth, whoever amongst you is able to marry should do so because it is effective in lowering the gaze and guarding one’s chastity. Whoever is not able, then fasting will be a restraint for him…’ The word ba’ah (الباءة) means ‘marriage’ (nikah). The word wija’ (الوجاء) means crushing the thighs [s: literally to crush the testicles of a horse or the veins of the scrotum, i.e. the inner parts] of a horse. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) made breaking the desires through fasting like destroying and terminating the pillars of desire. It has come in the hadith that: ‘Shaytan flows in a person like blood flows [s: through the body] (so constrict his flow through hunger)’…”
- Fasting is a preventative measure – it stops a person from doing a certain action.
- Fasting puts one in a heightened state of awareness of what one is doing. This causes one to be more wary of one’s actions.
- Fasting is a controlling mechanism, i.e. it restrains a person and restraint is what is required in order to halt one’s desires.
And to Allah belongs all praises.
 Bukhari, Sahih (#1905) and Muslim, Sahih (#1400).
 What is in brackets is not the words of the Messenger of Allah but that of a narrator (rawi) and hence is an example of mudraj (where the narrator’s own locution intervenes into the transmission of the narration). See al-`Iraqi, al-Mughni `an Haml al-Asfar fi ’l-Asfar on the margins of the Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din of Imam al-Ghazzali, vol.1, p.232.