On the Secrets of Fasting

On the Secrets of Fasting

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves. (2:183)

On the Secrets of Fasting

Ibn `Arabi

translated by Aisha Bewley

Selected from al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya

O you who laugh in the form of the weeper! By us you are the complaint and the complainer.

Is the fast abstention without elevation or elevation without restraint?

They are both together for the one who affirms tawhId by association.

Intellects are trapped and prevented from their freedom of action without nets or snares.

Intellects are impaired from their freedom of action, severely cut off by the Shari’a.

They surrender to what their proof refutes and they believe without perception.

The star of guidance carries them along, swimming between the angels of the spheres.

My self, had it not been for you, I would not have been as if I were Him, were it not for you! Were it not for you!

Fast from phenomenal being and do not break your fast! The God of creation will bring you close, taking charge of you by that.

Inasmuch as it is a fast, intend that. By nature it is your nourishment.

If you reflect on it, there is a meaning in the fast whenever a creature alights at your abode.

“There is nothing like the fast.” The Lawgiver said that to me, so reflect on that!

This is because it is non-action. Where is that which you have done and where is your claim?

The matter has returned to its root. My Lord has seized control of you by that.

If you reflect on the principle of the fast and the basis of its meaning by your meaning,

Someone with news came from Him about your prescribed fast which will divest you.

The fast belongs to Allah, so do not be ignorant. You are merely the place of its manifestation.

The fast belongs to Allah, and yet you are the one dying of hunger, so know that!

The Merciful made you feminine because of what appears from you when He fashioned you (the self).

Glory be to the One who fashioned you! Welcome to Him! He only gave that to you!

You, like the earth, are a bed for it and your source-spring (eye) is described as weeping.

You see the source of the handiwork of Allah between the two of you, so where is your manifestation?

When you called on Allah out of abasement to Him, the Great, He said, “At your service” to you.

The highest pen in His Tablet wrote your pure description from Him.

You are the source of all, not His source. He brought you near from one aspect and put your far from another.

Beware of being content with what pleases you for the sake of what He makes pleasing to you.

Remain with your root in all He desires. Do not forget so as to be forgotten.

This is the knowledge which came to me from one who does not lie.

He brought it down at the command of the One who has the most knowledge of what is between the ascetics and devout.

Praise be to Allah who bestowed on me knowledge of lights and darkness. He gave me a form whose perfection is only by your shelter.

Fasting is abstention and elevation

May Allah support you! Know that fasting (sawm) is both abstention and elevation. One says “the day has reached its full height (sama)” when it has reached its highest point. (The poet) Imru’l-Qays said:

When the day reached its height (sama) and its heat was intense,

i.e. the day reached its fullest extent. It is because the fast has a higher degree than all other acts of worship that it is called “fast” (sawm). Allah elevated it by denying that it is like any other act of worship as we will discuss. He denied its ownership to His servants although they worship Him by it and ascribed the fast to Himself. Part of its affirmation is that He rewards the one who is described by it by His hand even though He connected it to Himself when He stated that it is not like anything else.

Fasting in reality is non-action, not action

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