Fasting, A Gift From Your Creator (2/2)
Shaykh Muhammad Yusuf Islahi
It is well known that Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) 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 Prophet (Peace be upon him) said: "Every good deed is rewarded from ten to
seven hundred times over, but God 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."
Gift of Qur'an......
Association of fasting with the month of Ramadan reminds us that it was during
this month that Allah perfected His blessing upon mankind by giving us His
Last Book, the Qur'an.
"Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the Qur'an as a guide to mankind,
also clear (signs) for guidance and judgement (between right and wrong). So
everyone of you who is present (at home) during that month should spend it in
fasting." (The Qur'an, Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:185)
Fasting in the month of Ramadan thus takes on a new spiritual and moral
significance. It is the month in which we celebrate the praises of our Lord
God for the great gift of the Qur'an. We glorify Him and extol His holiness by
fasting during this month.
The Qur'an not only shows man the right path, but also guides human reason and
lays down a clear criterion between right and wrong, good and evil. It is not
just a book of do's and don'ts, but is the repository of infinite wisdom, and
a guidance to the highest moral and spiritual excellence as well as to
material and temporal success.
The Qur'an regards human reason as the greatest single gift of God to man, and
addresses its message to it, but it can function properly only if it is free
and objective in its outlook. Fasting helps free human reason from the tyranny
of unruly lusts and appetites, whims and caprices, individual and social,
which often overwhelm and enslave it. Fasting puts human reason back in the
driving seat by restraining, not suppressing or destroying three dominant
human desires: desire for comfort, desire for food, and desire for procreation
of his species. The Qur'an liberates human reason from the clutches of blind
but powerful and unbridled emotion and sentiment.
The Straight Path............
Following the path of good is often unpalatable, and involves struggle against
one's own desires and interests. It may also sometimes mean doing or saying
what one considers true but is not popular and hence risking the anger and
displeasure of others, sometimes of those most dear and near. To stand firm
under these circumstances steadfastly following the right path requires a
great deal of inner strength and self-restraint - a prime moral and human
quality - to choose what is right and then abide by it notwithstanding the
difficulties and sacrifices. "Wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that
leads to destruction, and many there are that follow it," whereas "strait is
the gate, and narrow is the way, which leads to life, and few are they who
find it." (Matthew 6:13-14)
Islam seeks to guide man onto the path to eternal life and prepares him for it
through worship, prayers, charity and fasting. All these are meant to enable
man to exercise control over his own life and have the moral courage to take
the path of truth, justice and compassion. It wants reason to take charge of
the ship of life and steer it wisely and safely through the stormy and
dangerous seas of this life under the guidance of Divine Revelation. That is
the message of Ramadan. Let us heed the message and proclaim:
"God is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is the way that is
straight." (The Qur'an, Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:51)
Source: Everyday Fiqh