Morality in Fasting
The word fasting is generally misunderstood by a large number of Muslims although they observe fasting during the Blessed month of Ramadan; and it is not understood at all by the majority of non-Muslims. There is a great difference in observing the fast merely as a duty and in observing it with a sound knowledge of its blessing and benefits. The spirit of fasting is what really counts.
The Objects of Fasting
The object of fasting is to attain a higher degree of Taqwa or righteousness. The important question is how does fasting enable one to guard against evil and become more righteous?
Sympathy and consideration for others are Islamic virtues which fasting helps one to develop. One is able to realise the pangs of hunger, thirst and other discomforts suffered by one’s less fortunate brethren and stirs one to offers charity where it is needed. One is also reminded of the noble and charitable character of the Most Beloved Prophet (Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam) of Islam who was constantly distributing his possessions to the poor. Fasting enables one to become more in sympathy with suffering humanity.
Fasting enables one to feel more grateful to Allah Almighty for all His blessings. When one denies oneself nourishment throughout the day, one appreciates it all the more and reminds one to be ever grateful to Allah Almighty for His favours. Not only should one show and express gratitude to Allah Almighty for providing one with good food but one should also express gratitude for the numerous other kinds of blessings which one enjoys. Allah Almighty reminds us in the Noble Qur’an al kareem:
And truly the Lord is gracious to mankind, but most of them are not grateful. (27:74)
Be grateful to Allah for whosoever is grateful, is grateful for the good of his own soul. (31:3)
It should also be emphasised that gratitude is rewarded by Allah Almighty:
And Allah will certainly reward the grateful. (3:145)
Obedience to Allah Almighty is essential. A Muslim fasts in obedience to Allah Almighty’s command.
A Muslim undergoes the rigours of fasting from dawn until sunset during the month of Ramadan primarily because the fast has been prescribed by Allah Almighty. He is fasting in obdience to Allah Almighty’s command and while fasting he should be mindful of the need to obey all other commandments of Allah Almighty also.
Fasting is a religious practice, in one form or another, has been prescribed or recommended by religions of the world as it is recognised that a certain degree of abstinence from worldly and physical inclinations is conducive for spiritual development.
The Moral and Spiritual Progress
There is no doubt that observation of the Islamic fast during the month of Ramadan calls for resolve, determination and steadfastness which is forcefully demonstrated particularly by Muslims fasting under climatic conditions which are hard to bear or who are in parts of the world where the duration of the day is very long. There are also other conditions which could be mentioned such as service in the armed forces. On the other hand, there are other conditions far less rigorous where the days are short and the climate very pleasant. Nevertheless under all conditions steadfastness of purpose is required in order to observe and maintain the rules of fasting. The cultivation of steadfastness is an essential quality for progress in the spiritual field and this quality is developed through fasting about which we read in the Noble Qur’an al kareem:
And we will surely try you until we distinguish those among you who strive for the cause of Allah and those who are steadfast. (47:32)
Verily the steadfast will have their reward without measure (39:11)
The spiritual advantages gained from observing the Islamic fast are numerable which have have been testified by millions of devout Muslims who have experienced them and borne witness to the words of Allah in the Noble Qur’an al kareem:
And fasting is good for you, if you only knew. (2:185)
Fast as a Shield and Intercession
Abu Huraira reported the Messenger of Allah Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam saying: “Allah said: “Every action of the son of Adam is for him except fasting for that is solely for Me. I give the reward for it. The fast is a shield. If one is fasting, he should not use foul language, raise his voice, or behave foolishly. If someone reviles him or fights with him he should say, ‘I am fasting, `twice. By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the breath of the one who is fasting is better in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection than the smell of musk. The one who is fasting is happy at two times: when he opens his fast he is happy with it, and when he meets his Lord he will be happy that he has fasted,”[Ahmad, Muslim, and an-Nasa’i]
Abu S’aid al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam , said: “No servant fasts on a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the hellfire seventy years farther away his face.”
Abdullah ibn’Amr reported that Messenger of Allah Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said: “The fast and the Qur’an al kareem are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. “The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’The Qur’an al kareem will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’And their intercession will be accepted.”[Ahmad]
Deed to Enter Paradise
Abu Umama reported: ” I came to the Messenger of Allah Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam and said: ‘Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.’He said: ‘Stick to fasting as there is no equivalent to it’. Then I came to him again and he said: ‘Stick to fasting’. [Ahmad, an-Nasa’I, and al-Hakim].
Sahl ibn Sa’d reported that the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said: “There is a gate to Paradise that is called ar-Raiyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: ‘Where are those who fasted?’ When the last one has passed through the gate. It will be locked.”[al-Bukhari and Muslim].
– A Gift from Allah
– Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It has been an integral part of all major religions.
– Fasting a Mean of Taqwa
Prescribing fasting the Qur’an al kareem says: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed to you as it was to those before you. That you may (learn) self-restraint.”(2:183).
The original Arabic word translated here is self-restraint is Taqwa, which has a much broader significance.
Reward by Allah
It is well known that the Beloved Prophet Muhammad Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam regularly observed fasting in other parts of the year besides Ramadan, and he always exhorted his followers to do the same. But it is in the month of Ramadan when the entire Muslim community all over the world observes fasting that a special meaning emerges. It transforms fasting into an institution that elevates the human soul to unprecedented heights. The beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said “Every good deed is rewarded from ten to seven hundred times over but Allah says fasting is the exception, it is for Me, and My servant forgoes his eating and drinking for My sake, so I Myself will reward My servant for it.”
Ramadan the Month of Morality and Spirituality
It is a chaste and divinely Purified moth who’s arrival is anxiously awaited for eleven months by every believer. In this blessed month a particular obligation (Fard) of Allah is observed by Muslims with the purest of feeling of dedication, which results in self-purification, as well as the disappearance of hypocrisy from the heart of the Mu’min. The Most Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said that when Ramadan begins, the gates of the Heavens are open. A further saying is that the doors of Paradise are opened and those of Hell are shut. In another occasion the beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam says that two doors of Paradise are opened, Hadrat Suhail bin Sa’d Radi Allahu anhu says that the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said that there are eight gates leading to Paradise- one is named Bab-ur-Rayyan, and this gate is reserved exclusively for entry to Paradise by those who observed fast (Bukhari).
Hadrat Abu Huraira Radi Allahu anhu reported that the Prophet Salla Allahu ta’ala ‘alayhi wa Sallam said, “when the first day of Ramadan begins, the Shaitan and rebellious jinns are imprisoned and the gates of Hell are shut. In fact no exits of Hell are opened and a proclaimer proclaims: “All those seeking good, and all those with evil intention, refrain from evil! And Allah is a fair is a fair Judge. He frees people from Hell. And this action of Allah continues every night during this month”. In other words that proclaimer proclaims this every night and Allah through His mercy frees many from the fires of hell.
While fasting one should not only abstain from eating, drinking, and indulging in pleasure but also exert caution in talking, work, business, and other matters. The hands and feet should not endeavour in vice; the tongue should refrain from foul language, anything forbidden by the Shari’a. In other words, the one who is fasting should become a practical example of Taqwa.
The commentators of Quran Majid have observed that the words in verse 183 of Chapter 2 namely:
‘Fasting has been ordained for you’
apply to each every limb of the human body:
- Fasting of the tongue is to restrain it from wrongs it is liable to commit.
- Fasting of the ear is to restrain it from listening to profane talk;
- Fasting of the eyes mean abstinence from obscene scenes or sights for fun and frolic.
- Fasting by the ‘inner self’ is to get rid of green and passion.
- Fasting by the heart is to cast out love of worldly things
- Fasting of the ‘spirit’ is to refrain imagining to oneself the pleasure of the Hereafter Fasting of the soul is the total rejection of all except Allah