Answered by Shaykh Hamza Karamali, SunniPath Academy Teacher
In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate
Convincing your friend of the health benefits of fasting will probably not do him much good. Our worship is performed for Allah's sake, not for particular worldly benefits that we might thereby accrue. While it is true that everything Allah has decreed is ultimately for our own benefit, fasting with the intention of improving one's health rather than for the sake of Allah vitiates its reward in the next life, as mentioned by Imam Ghazali in his Ihya.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of following the Shari`ah is the polishing of the heart that results from putting aside one's own preferences in order to express one's slavehood to Allah. By refusing to capitulate to the selfish desires of one's own ego, the coarseness of the heart is gradually smoothed so that it reflects the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace), "None of you truly believes until his desires are in accordance with what I have brought." A Muslim who reaches this state has found Paradise in this world before the next, and this state is the greatest worldly benefit that Shari`ah confers, greater than wealth, greater than long life, greater than honour and prestige.
And Allah knows best.
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