Virtues of Fasting
Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) says in the Holy Qur‘an,
“O believers, Fasting has been made obligatory upon you like it was made obligatory upon previous nations, so that you become pious.” (Al Baqra, 183)
Fasting is a spiritual exercise which Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) has chosen for the believers, with it being so effective to the human nature that it has been consistently made compulsory upon all previous nations. The motive behind this exercise is also clearly highlighted by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah), that is for us to become pious.
‘Pious’ in other words means God-fearing. We need to develop a state of heart where we feel that Allah is always watching us. For example, whilst Fasting, a person never tries to eat or drink secretly as he is conscious of the fact that Allah Almighty is watching even if the world is not. This is what is expected of us in every aspect of our lives. And with the help of Fasting, if we are able to develop this, then we are fulfilling the purpose of Fasting.
Allah is the Reward: In a Hadith e Qudsi, RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam narrates that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) has stated “All acts of Ibn Adam (humans) are for himself but Fasting, as Fasting is only for Me and I give his reward (or it can also be read as ‘I will be his reward’).”
In this Hadith, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) attributes Fasting to Himself, as all other acts can be to please people because people can see them, but Fasting is an act which is invisible to the eye and therefore only Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) knows about it. For this reason, Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) has not restricted the reward of Fasting to ten times or up to seven hundred times, as is the case for most good deeds, but instead He has elevated it by saying that ‘I will give the reward’. Or the second meaning could be that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘alah) will be extremely pleased with him and bestow His servant with the great blessing of seeing his Lord.
The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam continues, “Fasting is a shield. When someone amongst you is Fasting, then he should neither talk nonsense nor shout nor yell. And if someone tries to initiate an argument or quarrel, then he should just say, ‘I am Fasting’ (and leave). By Allah in whose Hands lies the soul of Muhammed, the smell from the mouth of a person who is Fasting is dearer to Allah than Musk. There are two moments of cheerfulness for the one who is Fasting. One is at the time of Iftaar and the other when he will meet his Lord.” (Bukhari)
Alhamdulillah, in this part of the Hadith, RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam describes to us the ideal behaviour of a person who is Fasting and the rewards in both the worlds, the ultimate one being the opportunity to witness Allah Himself in Jannah.
Extra access to Jannah! It has been reported in a Hadith that there is a door of Heaven called ‘Rayyan’ (something that quenches and satisfies thirst), and only those people who Fast will be allowed to enter through it. Whoever enters from this door will never be thirsty again. (Bukhari, Tirmizi)
Dear readers, this Hadith shows that those who Fast in this world will have an extra right of entry into Jannah. It also points out that if we overcome the thirst in this world for the pleasure of Allah, then He will satisfy us in a manner that we will never be thirsty again.
Fasting is a Shield! It has been reported in a number of Hadith that Fasting is a shield which protects one from the fire of Hell, just as he protects himself from an enemy in a war. (Baihaqi, Tirmizi)
So this could mean that Fasting itself will act like a shield, protecting us, or that it will prevent us from sins in this world which will eventually prevent us from entering Hell.
A Beautiful Example! RasoolAllah Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam has stated that those who Fast for one day to gain the pleasure of Allah, then Allah will distance them from hellfire and that distance will be the distance covered by a baby crow, when it learns to fly and keeps flying until it dies! (Baihaqi, Tabrani)
Subhan Allah, our most beloved Prophet who is the greatest of mankind in every respect and is also the greatest educator, gives such a beautiful and effective example to encourage us towards Fasting. In the process, he also hints that our intention in good deeds should only be to please Allah Almighty. (Ibne Majah)
The Zakah of our Body! The Holy Prophet Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam states that there is Zakah for everything and the Zakah for our body is Fasting. He further states that Fasting constitutes to half of patience.
As we all know, Zakah is the means of purifying our wealth. In the same way, Fasting purifies our body and soul. Worship is made up of two parts, doing what is commanded and staying away from what is prohibited. Both these elements require patience. In Fasting, we save ourselves from eating, drinking and our carnal desires; this relates to the latter half of worship and thus it is half of patience.