FASTING IN ISLAM

FASTING IN ISLAM

By Maulana Alamgeer Qasmi

 

Allah, The Exalted, has addressed all Muslim believers saying:

يا أيها الذين آمنوا كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون

"O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous."

In this verse the Creator, Maintainer, Sustainer, Originator, Allah, The All-mighty states that He had enjoined fasting in some form upon the followers of earlier prophets. And He mentions the purpose behind it: " that you may become righteous." So fasting is a means to attain righteousness, piety and consciousness of Allah SWT(Taqwa).

Fasting is a form of worship that is neither action nor speech. The Arabic words "Saum" and "Siyam" literally mean abstention, as shown in the Qur'anic verse where Maryam, the mother of Prophet Eesa (AW) is told:

فَإِمَّا تَرَيِنَّ مِنَ الْبَشَرِ أَحَدًا فَقُولِي إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَٰنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيًّا

"And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ' Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention (Saum), so I will not speak today to (any) person.'"

In Islamic terminology, "fasting" means abstention from food, drink, and marital intercourse from the break of dawn until sunset with the specific intention of earning reward from Allah.

While abstention might appear to be something negative, it is in fact positive in Islam, for it is done with the intention to abide by Allah’s command, come closer to Him, and earn His approval and reward.

In a Hadith Qudsi, Prophet Muhammad PBUH disclosed that Allah, The Mighty and Majestic, has said, " Fasting is for Me, and I (alone) reward for it" that is because Allah alone knows who fasts sincerely, seeking only His acceptance neither cheating when the opportunity arises nor merely abstaining due to custom or because people expect it from him. Thus, the correct intention to do it for no other reason than to please Allah is an essential pillar of the fast, as it is for all forms of worship, without which the act of worship is unacceptable and invalid.

Another aspect of this Hadith is the indication that Allah's reward is far beyond what can be expected from any human being and is possibly unlimited in nature. As he states in the Qur'an:

انما یوفی الصابرون اجرھم بغیر حساب

"Indeed, those who are patient will be given their reward without enumeration."

Out of the collection of authentic narrations from the Prophet (PBUH), there are several that mention benefits of fasting in the life to come, among them:

●" No servant fasts one day in the way of Allah but that Allah puts between his face and the Hellfire a distance of seventy years." (Bukhari and Muslim)

●" Paradise has a door called 'arr-Rayyan.' On the day of Resurrection it will be said, 'Where are those who fasted?' And when the last of them has entered, the door will be closed." (Bukhari and Muslim)

As for the life of this world, fasting has been shown medically to be beneficial to both bodily and mentally. But humans are more than physical beings simply requiring nourishment from substances of the earth. Fasting provides nourishment for the soul and has the effect of softening hearts. It teaches patience, self-control and appreciation of the provisions and pleasures often taken for granted. It produces compassion and generosity towards those less fortunate who cannot always relieve pains of hunger at the end of the day. Thus, it points one towards many other beneficial acts of worship in the formof assistance to others.

While physical and moral benefits are definitely among the positive results of fasting, they shouldnot be the cause or incentive for it. One's primary objective must be to fulfill his obligation to Allah, to show servitude to Him, and to obey His command. The obligatory fast is the right of the creator upon His creation; of the Lord upon upon His servants. As in all types of worship, it consists of whole-hearted obedience motivated by a combination of love for Allah and fear of His displeasure. The performance of righteous deeds is not an and in itself but reflects and is part of one's servitude to Allah; and this motivates the believer towards honesty and precision in everything he does.