The body provides boundaries for a person. It tells us where to start and where to stop. This is the first experience of boundaries that a person has in their childhood. In the same way that the human mind feels that it is buried in one's body, it either perceives the body as its "house" or as a foreign place.
The nafs (ego) and the crippled modern person have problems with their bodies. The body in this context has been transformed into an arena of dominance. The nafs is oppressive. The crippling of the soul through narcissism is not limited to just the nafs.
The place in which we live is only a very short distance from that which the hands of our restrictive bodies can reach.
This short distance indicates the insignificance of humanity before the Creator. The distance which the nafs wishes to cover, on the other hand, can reach as far as trying to possess God-like features. Thus, the first thing for the narcissist nafs to overcome and the first area that it must surpass is the body. For this reason the body is alienated. The alienation of the person against the place in which they live cripples that person.
The "self" which lacks a material existence tries to realize itself through the body that is concrete.
The scale has become the most important equipment for the modern person. The scale is used before and after every meal. The calories are measured in a very sensitive way. Foods are added and subtracted. The body becomes a piece of wood which the "self" designs and shapes by carving.
The dominance of the nafs over the body can appear in two ways: either being overweight or underweight.
Do these two cases not have anything in common? How can we find a midway between social narcissism and culture?
One interpretation is that the fast provides us with this opportunity. I think that the fast has an important function in enabling us to eliminate the dominance of our nafs over our bodies through hunger and joy.
Fasting is not only an act that brings us into contact with the body by fasting via the Creator. Fasting is avoiding foods and eating at an appropriate time. The fast has a state of hunger which is limited by a certain time. This state of hunger is observed collectively, which also provides an opportunity for a therapeutic environment as our nafs is calmed both in our own bodies and in other bodies. The simultaneous and respectful observance of God's order not to eat, taken by millions of people, is a collective form of self-therapy which people who are suffering in a narcissistic culture such as America will never experience.
During the fast the nafs is rid of pleasure and by experiencing hunger it forsakes the desire to dominate the body. One of the most important points that separates times of hunger and eating in the fast is that the times are set by a timing that is beyond the discretion of the nafs. We have a calendar for this. When the time starts - a time that is determined by the Creator of the Universe - the nafs perceive that they cannot spontaneously swallow food and gain pleasure.
Food becomes part of a parade in our imaginary world. However "our hands" are so shortened that although we crave for food, we see that we need to stop and act accordingly. Thus the nafs retrieves to its inner boundary, which is its own reality. Our bodies become freed from the dominance of our nafs.
The other aspect that makes the act of fasting interesting is that it puts the decree to eat alongside that of hunger. When humankind receives the decree from the Creator of the Universe that they should "eat" at a determined time, they are expected to eat. The human mind cannot decide that they shall "remain hungry". This is the answer to the nafs' attempt to create a perfect body through remaining hungry. As the nafs is not able to discretionarily make the decision to eat, it also is aware that it is not able to remain hungry. Our nafs best perceives the reality that it is not in control during the month of Ramadan; this is the ultimate collective and therapeutic environment. We remain hungry and eat food on the command of the Creator. The common way has been achieved. A person transforms themselves from a self that obeys its desires and perceives the body as perfect to a manifestation that establishes the perfection of the Creator. A person transcends themselves and enters a transcendental dimension. Our bodies are not our servants or our fields of dominance; they are houses in which we reside as guests.