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The Status Of Fasting In Islam

EsinIslam Ramadan Explorer

Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltut

The need of man to religion:

The divine wisdom decreed that man is motivated by a power makes him realize the truth and open the way of goodness for him. By this meaning, man is close to the Highest Assembly which its nature is pure and free of oppression. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "Surely, those who are with your Lord (angels) are never too proud to perform acts of worship to Him, but they glorify His Praise and prostrate before Him." [Surat Al A'raf: 206].

Man is also motivated by a power that blocks the ways of the truth and beauty to make him delve into ignorance and possessed by desires, whims, and the love of malice and revenge. By this sense, man is close to the lowest assembly which its nature is wicked and full of evil, seduction, error, and corruption. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "[Iblis (Satan)] said: O my Lord! Because you misled me, I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (mankind) on the earth, and I shall mislead them all. * Except Your chosen slaves amongst them (i.e. faithful, obedient, true believers of Islâmic Monotheism)." [Surat Al Hijr: 39 - 40].

Thus, man falls between these two powers which must exist in life: The life of work and the life of destruction and building.

In order to reinforce the good side in man and to show the beauty and glory of the truth, the divine wisdom decreed that man must be helped against the power of evil. So, man is given guidance that comes down from the sky to the chosen ones of Allah's Messengers to show guidance to the people and call them to it. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "He (Allâh) said: "Get you down (from Paradise to the earth), both of you, together, some of you are an enemy to some others. Then if there comes to you guidance from Me, then whoever follows My Guidance he shall neither go astray, nor shall be distressed. *But whosoever turns away from My Reminder (i.e. neither believes in this Qur'ân nor acts on its teachings.) verily, for him is a life of hardship, and We shall raise him up blind on the Day of Resurrection." [Surat Taha: 123 - 124].

That guidance is the religion of Allah which He sent down to His Servants in all His Books, and all Messengers called to it. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "Say (O Muhammad peace be upon him): "We believe in Allâh and in what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down to Ibrâhîm (Abraham), Ismâ'îl (Ishmael), Ishâq (Isaac), Ya'qűb (Jacob) and Al-Asbât [the offspring of the twelve sons of Ya'qűb (Jacob)] and what was given to Műsâ (Moses), 'Isâ (Jesus) and the Prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between one another among them and to Him (Allâh) we have submitted (in Islâm)."" [Surat Al 'Imran: 84]. It is the religion of Islam which is the only accepted religion to Allah. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "And whoever seeks a religion other than Islâm, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers." [Surat Al 'Imran: 85].

Components of religion:

This religion consists of elements or components to purify the heart through knowing the truth and believing in it. It also promotes oneself and feelings, purifies souls, and motivates emotions toward goodness and virtue. These components and elements are known as the pillars of religion which are: Islam has been built upon five matters: The testimony of faith and admitting the prophethood of Muhammad, establishing Salah, paying Zakah, performing Hajj, and fasting.

On the occasion of Ramadan in which Allah ordained fasting, we prefer to speak about fasting in Islam.

Fasting is an old act of worship:

Fasting is known to man since the beginning of time. Religious men knew it as a means of drawing nearer to Allah, whereas atheists knew it as a means of cultivation and sport. It is not exclusive to a sect without the other or a religion without the other, but it is a natural practice which every living needs from time to time even if its images and times differ by the change of times and nations.

The reality of fasting in Islam:

Fasting is abstention from food, drink, and sexual intercourse for the sake of Allah from dawn to sunset. Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "So, now have sexual relations with them and seek that which Allâh has ordained for you (offspring), and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night)." [Surat Al Baqarah: 187]. So, whoever eats, drinks, or practices sexual intercourse deliberately is not fasting, and whoever abstains from these things forgetfully or for sickness, or for other reason without having the intention of fasting for the sake of Allah is not fasting.

This is the general reality of fasting according to Islam.

Moreover, it is a hidden form and has no outward features such as Salah, Zakah, and Hajj, therefore fasting was a secret between a person and his Lord who knows and rewards for it. There are many Hadiths exhort to fasting, call people to it, and describe the great reward which Allah prepared for fasting people.

Allah (Glory be to Him) says in the Divine Hadith: "Each good deed will be rewarded ten times up to seven hundred times. With the exception of fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it."

"He has left his food, drink and desires for My Sake."

If this is the status of fasting in Islam and in the sight of Allah, it is not proper for a person to use foul language, tale bearing, laying, backbiting, or violation to the limits of Allah, usury to people's money, listening to lying, flattering the foolish, supporting oppressors, or helping corrupting people. "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)"

It is shameful to see many foreign people comply to the general Muslim manners by abstaining from food, drink, and smoking before the fasting Muslims caring for their feelings, whereas we see many Muslims in the streets, in buses, clubs, governmental offices, and in public places where they violate the sanctity of Ramadan and harm Muslims' feelings under the pretext of freedom and underestimation of general manners. Allah says : "They are the worst of creatures." [Surat Al Bayyinah: 6].

The wisdom of fasting:

Allah (Glory be to Him) ordained the fasting of Ramadan every year to be an example for good manner and patience. By observing patience, intentions become sincere and wills are reinforced so as to stand firm in the face of obstacles. Life contains desires, whims, and the motives for anger and revenge. It also contains better and worse, poverty and richness, sickness and health, weakness and power, leaving countries, families, and friends, and Jihad in the cause of Allah. It contains many obstacles and hardships that come across, so man has to be patient, fear Allah, and return to Him. For all these, Allah ordained fasting to instill in souls the virtue of patience and the fear of Allah.

In order to maintain the outputs of fasting, a person must keep to patience and fear of Allah during the night. So, he is not allowed to practice extravagance during the night in food, drink, or amusement otherwise the light of his heart shall wane away and the manners which he obtained during Ramadan will cease, and he shall go back to his oppression and evil. Moreover, he shall not gain a reward from his fasting but as the Prophet said: "Except hunger and thirst" and as if he is destroying with his left hand what he has built with his right.

If people fast while holding these meaning in their hearts, the wisdom of Allah which He placed in fasting shall achieve its fruit and people shall gain power against life temptations and lead an honorable life that is full of love and intimacy. Thereby, a person draws nearer to the Highest Assembly and receive the divine legislations and social duties powerfully, firmly, sincerely, and faithfully.

O Muslims, this is the trust which Allah granted you with which he rears you, so perform it as He commanded: "O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you)." [Surat Al Anfal: 27].

"O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fast) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al Muttaqűn (the pious)." [Surat Al Baqarah: 183].

And peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his Companions.

EsinIslam Ramadan Team

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