Question 66 : Assalamualaikum Sheikh. May Allah have mercy on you and your family.
I have a question re intermittent fasting. In the community, one of the ways to burn fat really quickly is through intermittent fasting.
So essentially, what intermittent fasting is: a fast of food for a period between 12-14 hrs (some more than that). One may drink water during the periods of fasting. So by doing so, one can have more portions of food during the feeding periods instead of having to eat smaller portions of food throughout the day to reduce fat. Such fasts last as long as u see results. So there are no determined length of fast. It is all on the individual.
My question is, is such practice allowed in Islam since it is not so similar to a fast in Ramadan?
Answer : Walaikumussalam Brother,
Before I begin answering, ti ensure what I understood from your question that Intermittent Fasting is a method to for weight loss such that a person does not eat anything for 12-14 hrs or so, except drink water, then they may eat food thereafter. This way the person can eat more (ie larger? Or more frequent?) portions of food during the non fasting period instead of eating small portions only throughout the day. Is this halaal or haraam?
Once again let us consider if there is any direct text from Quran or Hadith to render it haraam or is there a sound anology based to the texts or is there a principle derived from texts that renders this practice haraam? Otherwise the default for life style choices is they are halaal unless prohibited by a text, an analogy to it or in contradiction to a principle derived from it.
As far as I know, there are no texts forbidding the practice of Intermittent Fast that is practiced for weight loss. Nor is there a Qiyas (ie analogy) to text nor a general principle derived from textual evidences from Quran and authentic hadith.
Moreover this will not be a bidah. Why not you may ask? My answer will be that this practice of Intermittent Fast for Weight Loss:
(1) is not with intention of worship to draw closer to Allah, rather it is for weight loss not worship
(2) is not a way that parallels as a rival to a way shown by Allah for anything like it in Islam. Islamic fasting is a way of Islam for Piety whereas this is not to do with being a way for piety,
(3) it is not something that definitely or most likely directly leads to a Bidah.
These are three reasons, any one of which, renders a practice a bidah in Islam (Ref: Qawaid Marifat Bidah by Jizani) thus prohibited whereas Intermittent Fast for Weight Loss does not fall into any of the above three.
One more point to be aware of is that Islam recommends, though does not oblige, a healthy way of eating that is to not fill your stomach but to eat a third, drink to another third and leave the remaining third for air. So during the eating phase of the Intermittent Fast it is recommended to eat to a third and drink another third and leave the remaining third for air.
Ps: A very IMPORTANT Principle – Some people wrongly think that an act is a bidah only if it was done with an intention of worship. Above we noted that an act may not be for an intention of worship but if it has a parallel different way to do something wherein Allah has presribed His way, then even without the intention, the action will be a bidah thus haraam. Not every bidah has an intention of worship (See Qawaid Marifatul Bidah by Jizani and also al-Itisam of Shatabi).