Favor from Allah on the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (s)
Adapted from an article by Jamaluddeen Khan
O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint. (Quran 2:183)
Is fasting a burden for us? Has it been prescribed and ordained in order to torment us? Certainly not! Any Muslim with an iota of iman (faith) in his heart knows that Allah Almighty will never allow us to do something which is harmful to us. Fasting is a secret ‘ibadah (worship) that is done for Allah Almighty, and it is one that is free from evil traits of showing off and boasting. How can you show off that you’re fasting? No one but you can know that you’re fasting. Allah Almighty has thus concealed the reward for fasting, because this special form of worship surely deserves a special type of reward. We do however know from a Hadith that the fasting person will also be able to enter Paradise from whichever Gate he or she wishes. The Prophet Muhammad Mustapha (s) said that the worst thing that man can fill is his stomach. Why? When your stomach is full, you become lazy and worshipping Allah Almighty becomes difficult. The Prophet (s) also said that one third of the stomach is for food, the second third is for water, and the last third is for air. However, most of us keep that last third for desert!) But seriously, there is great wisdom in eating little. All of the saints would fast continually, and this is from the Sunnah of the Prophet (s). Fasting is not only for Ramadan, it is for the entire year: i.e. voluntary fasting on certain days like Mondays and Thursdays, the Day of `Ashura, six days from Shawwal, days of Rajab and Sha`ban and so on. One reason Ramadan is compulsory is so that we can realise the value of fasting, and then become lovers of fasting!
The Blessed Prophet (s) said that there are two joys or delights for the fasting person. One is at the time he breaks his fast, and the second is when he meets Allah Almighty. The first delight is not due to the food he sees in front of him, but it is due to the realisation that he has completed yet another day in service and obedience and submission to Allah Almighty. The second delight is obvious – how great it will be to meet our Lord when our books of good deeds are full and we have lived a life waiting to meet of Sustainer! Allah Almighty has said that He Almighty loves to meet those who love to meet Him!
Prophet Musa (as) used to speak to Allah Almighty directly, for which he was known as Kaleemullah. However, when he spoke to Allah Almighty his speech had to travel through seventy veils before it reached Allah Almighty. Prophet Muhammad (s) said that the du`a (supplication) of the fasting person at the time of iftar (breaking the fast) reaches Allah Almighty without any veils in between.
Fasting is a training to suppress our desires, our nafs, the lower self. We are being trained to stay away from what is halal (permissible) – food, drink and relations with our spouses. This abstention is only for a few hours, a few hours when the sun is above us. If we can abstain from what is halal, then why can we not abstain from what is haram during the rest of the year? The true spirit of Ramadan is after the month has passed, to see if we succeeded in the training, but so often on Eid, or the day after Eid, all the old habits and wrong doings become the order of the day again. Does this make sense? Why “waste” our time in Ramadan then? Allah does not need our fasting. Fasting is for our own benefit.
Imam Al-Ghazali says that there are three types of fasting. One is of the average Muslim (one who submits to the Will of Allah Almighty), he fasts only from food, drink, and marital relations. The second is the fasting of the mu’min (believer) – he fasts from everything that is forbidden – bad language, bad thoughts, looking at bad things, listening to bad things, etc. The third and most supreme type of fasting is that of the muhsin (one who has perfected his faith in Allah Almighty) – and this is fasting from everything other than Allah. To such a person, a Knower of Allah, nothing in the world exists besides Allah. Wherever he looks, he sees Allah, whenever he thinks, he thinks of Allah! What category do you and I want to find ourselves in?
May Allah Almighty bless us and forgive us in this month, and may we give some of the barakah of our fasting to all those around the world who are in difficulty, sadness or distress.
© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America