1.0 TRAINING IN CONTROLLING
THE FOOD APPETITE
Abundant epidemiological evidence has proved that diet is a co-factor in heart diseases and cancer. People or communities
with excessive intake of certain types of foods are at increased risk for these diseases. Tobacco is linked to lung and oral
cancers. In all such cases there is weak will power to control appetite for food or tobacco. Saum teaches appetite control. The advantages of saum should not be
looked at only as deprivation of food for a limited time. The focus should be looked on the long-term benefits that a person
undertaking saum gets from strengthening will-power and stopping eating or smoking
even if they feel like to eat more.
2.0 TRAINING IN CONTROLLING
THE SEX APPETITE
Saum helps in control of the sex drive. Saum is a general protection, al siyaam junnat . It is protection for one unable to marry, al
saum wijau li man lam yastati’u an baa’at. It is a means of instilling sexual
self-control, al saum li man khaafa al 'uzuubat.
3.0 TRAINING IN BEHAVIORAL
Saum is an exercise and training in patience. Saum is half of patience, al saum nisf al sabr. It helps control of aggression. A person in saum
who is insulted does not respond in kind but just says 'I am in saum'. Saum helps control the tongue; a person in
saum who does not achieve this control gets not rewards from the fast.
4.0 PERSONAL EMPOWERMENT
Saum is freedom from the daily routines of life. It therefore leads
to personal Empowerment. Saum has a beneficial impact on the daily routine of life.
Saum breaks the normal routines of life that revolve around meals. It creates a
different psychological milieu that liberates the mind from the routines of life and gives it an opportunity to reflect on
the bigger issues of the creator, the good and the bad. It is surprising to many people to discover that their daily life
routines are tightly controlled by the pattern of meals. A person in saum feels
a sense of liberation in Ramadhan when the routines of daily life are changed. Ramadhan is therefore a time of stock-taking
when a person can look back in his her life when he or she is in a different mood. Saum
is empowerment. A person in saum is able to control the appetite for food and to
withstand hunger for a whole day. This is an exercise in self-control and self-discipline that empowers the person. This empowerment
can be transferred to other life activities.
5.0 TRAINING IN COMPASSION
Voluntary hunger in Ramadhan gives the rich practical experience of hunger that makes them understand and appreciate
the suffering of the poor. It teaches compassion for the poor and the hungry in a practical way. Without this obligatory saum the wealthy would never taste physical hunger. The Qur’an emphasized the
virtues of giving food to the needy. The prophet taught the virtue of feeding others, fadhl al ‘it’aam especially the hungry, it’aam al jai’u. This can take any of the following forms: sadaqat, kaffaarat, zakat al maal, and zakaat al fitr. The prophet
taught the virtue of sharing food when he said that the food of suffices 4. He also taught that food not needed should be given to the needy, man kaana ghaniyan
‘an al ta’aam faliyuwajihahu ila ghayrihi. Food security has been an important factor in the growth of human civilization. Early humans were hunter gatherers who
spent most of the waking day looking for food and even with that they could not be sure that they could get their day’s
meal. When humans settled down in communities and started domesticating plants and animals they were able to assure themselves
of food without having to search the whole day. With the problem of food security solved humans could devote energy to tasks
of building a sophisticated human civilization. The family unit must ensure food security especially since it has children
and pregnant women who are very vulnerable to malnutrition. The prophet recommended putting aside food reserves for a whole
year to ensure food security for the family. There is no true problem of food security in the world as a whole. The problem
is poor distribution. Whereas food is being wasted in rich countries, humans in poor countries are starving. Situations of
war and civil disturbance also create conditions of temporary food insecurity.