Many people fail to get ahead because they
have no willpower to do what they know they should be doing. Nor can they
help themselves to avoid the things which they know will ruin them. Many
such people would like to give up smoking, to stop using drugs, or to
avoid affairs outside of marriage. Many find that gambling or alcohol
addiction is wrecking their lives. Yet these people have no willpower
to set their life on the right course. They feel helpless, and they have
to deal with a nagging conscience that pricks them with what they could
have done, or should have done.
Yet there are some strong-willed people who
seem to be able to do what they know is right and avoid what they know
is wrong. Such people experience peace of mind knowing that they are doing
the right thing. Their willpower is obvioiusly working for them.
But how do they do it? What is the secret?
The secret is that you can train your willpower.
Suppose you made a resolution to skip lunch
for a month and actually stuck to your decision. You may save your lunch
money, lose a few pounds, develop sympathy for the poor, and give your
digestive system a
much-needed rest. More importantly, you will strengthen your willpower.
The reason this works is that you teach yourself
to avoid lunch even when you know you could have it if you decide. Your
stomach may growl, but you won't listen. Thus you train yourself to ignore
the calling of your lower physical self and reach for the higher goals
of real human achievement. If you stick to your decision day after day
for a month you can develp a regular habit of doing the right thing even
when your desires are calling for something else.
Every year, for one month, able Muslims go
through a similar fasting exercise. They observe the fast as a compulsory
practice which God prescribed in His revealed messages, especially in
His last revealed book. One of the many benefits they experience from
fasting is its training aspect. The willpower they develop in the one
month helps them to continue doing the right thing and avoiding the wrong
throughout the year. They find the fast such an effective method of spiritual
training and of achieving a closeness with their creator that many Muslims
also keep some additional, optional, fasts on other days of the year.
They eat an early breakfast before dawn and a late dinner after sunset.
From dawn to sunset they would have no food or drink; they would also
refrain from sexual activity. Whereas the baser selves regularly call
for these things, Muslims train themselves with the help of God to fulfil
their natural needs in the time and manner which God declared suitable
for human dignity and well-being.
During the fast Muslims also train themselves
to always avoid lying, cheating, backbiting, and all manner of false speech
and immoral actions.