Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Bahá'í Fast

The Bahá'í Faith sees great value in the practice of fasting as a discipline for the soul. Bahá'u'lláh designated a nineteen-day period each year when adult Bahá'ís fast from sunrise to sunset each day. This period coincides with the Bahá'í month of Ala (It is an Arabic word meaning Loftiness), from March 2 to 20, immediately after the termination of the Intercalary Days (Ayyám Al Há), and is followed by the feast of Naw-Rúz (the Bahá'í new year).

“O Pen of the Most High! Say: O people of the world! We have enjoined upon you fasting during a brief period, and at its close have designated for you Naw-Rúz as a feast. Thus hath the Day-Star of Utterance shone forth above the horizon of the Book as decreed by Him Who is the Lord of the beginning and the end.”
Baha'u'llah , the Kitáb Al Aqdas-p16

During these nineteen days the fast is observed by abstaining from both food and drink from sunrise to sunset.

Abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sundown, and beware lest desire deprive you of this grace that is appointed in the Book.”
Baha'u'llah , the Kitáb Al Aqdas-p17

Women who are nursing or pregnant, the aged, the sick, the traveler, those engaged in heavy labor, as well as children under the age of fifteen, are exempt from observance of the Fast.

“The traveller, the ailing, those who are with child or giving suck, are not bound by the Fast; they have been exempted by God as a token of His grace. He, verily, is the Almighty, the Most Generous.”
Baha'u'llah , the Kitáb Al Aqdas-p16

The period of fasting is viewed as a time of meditation and prayer.

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.


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