What Jesus (pbuh) said about Fasting

by Imam Shabir Ally

The Gospel of Matthew shows that Jesus “fasted forty days and forty nights” (Matthew 4:21). The Gospel of Luke adds the detail that “in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered” (Luke 4:2). Since Jesus fasted, his true followers will also fast, if they indeed follow his teachings. He said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

People had complained to Jesus saying, “Why do the disciples of John fast often, and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink”“ (Luke 5:33). But Jesus replied that as long as he is with them his disciples should not fast, but after he is taken away then “they will fast in those days” (Luke 5:35). This is why Jesus also gave them instructions on how to fast for the sake of God (Matthew 6:16-18). If they were never to fast, such instructions would be pointless.

The Bible shows that the disciples were fasting afterwards: “they had fasted and prayed” (Acts 13:3), and again they had “prayed with fasting” (Acts 14:23). The Bible mentions fasting as one of the observances of a minister of God (2 Corinthians 6:5), and “fastings often” as a proof of the worth of a disciple of Jesus.

Luke 5:33 quoted above reveals that (a) fasting means abstinence from eating and drinking, and, (b) that although the disciples were not to fast until after Jesus was taken away, Jesus himself continued to fast, otherwise the complaint would have been against him also. It is clear that the Jewish Rabbis were fasting (Matthew 9:14, and Mark 2:18). And Jesus too was called a Rabbi (see John 1:38; 3:2; 6:25 and Matthew 23:8). So he too must have been fasting.

The disciples were unable to drive out a demon from a boy, but Jesus drove it out. When the disciples asked how he did it, he said that this kind can be driven out only “by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

This shows that because the disciples were not fasting they could not drive out the demon, and, that Jesus could drive it out because he was fasting. Some copyists attempted to change this verse by leaving out the words “and fasting”. This is how, for example, the Revised Standard Version reads. But this reading gives the passage an impossible meaning that Jesus’s disciples were not praying either. This is perhaps why the Catholic Edition of the Revised Standard Version restores the words “and fasting”. The New Testament From the Ancient Eastern Text also includes the words “and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

God rescued us from this uncertainty by revealing his final incorruptible message in which He instructs all able believers to fast for a month each year. Today Jesus’ true followers are still fasting according to God’s pure instructions. Muslims are the true followers of Jesus and all of God’s Messengers.

Further Reading

What Jesus said about Jesus

All Bible references are to the King James Version except where stated otherwise.

2 Comments

  1. Evangelist says:

    The Bible information is being disproportional used to try to convince people that Islam is the “true” religion when it is not like that. Muslims are not the true followers of Jesus since they do not practice everything Jesus asked us to do in his word.

    • umm yaminah says:

      I have been Christian before I became Muslim. I think the converse of your statement is also true. Christians manipulate the true message of Jesus and use the bible disproportionally to convey a certain message as well to show that it is the true religion. They quote one line here or there to convince people of his divinity. The Reality is that he called himself a prophet/servant. He prayed on his knees and head on the ground (like Muslims) his mother and women who believed in his message covered their bodies (like Muslims) he prayed and fasted (like Muslims)and he also mentioned another messenger to come after him who would convey the message and show people the way (this could only be prophet Muhammad.) His true message was that there is one God to be worshiped which he did not claim to be. His true message was that the path to righteousness was prayer, fasting, good deeds, repentance for sins…it was not to worship him nor to think he came to die for your sins. I think now, as a Muslim, I am more like Jesus than I ever was as a Christian. I hope you find your way. May Allah guide us all to the straight path. ameen.

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