Jun 25, 2012

The Importance and the Excellence of Fasting

By Asrar BenHoucine

Narrated by Abu Huraira: Allah's Apostle said, "When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained”. (Sahih Al-Bukhari) [i]

I truly believe that this would be our chance for excellence. If this happened throughout the year our jihad would be a lot easier. We would no longer be at war with the devil for one, but still at war with ourselves. Now that we know that we have no enemy during the month of Ramadan, we have to embrace that which is good for us; in health, spirituality, mentally, and the love of all mankind in need, and work hard in training our nafs (self) in that which benefits us now and in the hereafter.

If you have trouble fasting, maybe you should first find the reason for your troubles, whether you might be too weak to fast so many hours, then you would have to choose a better diet, foods that last longer in your system, like wheat and grains. Make sure you wake up for Sahr (meals before Fajr). Now if your reason is something else, like you just don’t for your own personal reasons then this article might be for you. The thing about Islam is there is nothing prescribed to us unless it benefits us in some way.

…whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, and then all his previous sins will be forgiven." (Sahih Al-Bukhari)[ii]

So now, one would be fighting one’s own bad habits. Some may ask why I still do bad things during Ramadan if the shaytan is tied down. This is just our own nafs (self), bad habits that are obviously hard to break. If we are so used to doing something a certain way, even if the main influence (shaytan) is no longer present doesn’t mean we will no longer do it.

An example could be starting to drink alcohol. Let’s say you don’t drink but were tempted, this is where the shaytan would start his work, convincing you that it is ok if it is just one drink, then two, and then three….etc. After making a habit of this he would no longer need to work on you anymore. Get my drift? The shaytan shows us things that are forbidden and convinces us that they are halal in some way, but you are always the one in control. He can’t make us do anything; he could only convince us too.

And He (sal-Allahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said :( The reward for) all the actions of the son of Aadam are multiplied (from anywhere between) ten times to seven hundred times).

And Allah (Subhaanahu wa Ta'aala) said in a hadeeth qudsee: (…except for fasting, then it is for Me and I will give reward for it; He left off his desires and his food for My sake. For the fasting person there are two pleasures: his pleasure at the time of breaking his fast and his pleasure when he meets his Lord. And the smell emanating from the mouth of the one who is fasting is better in the Sight of Allah than the smell of musk).

Fasting is unlike any other deed, those who fast, fast only for Allah because this is done in secret. It can’t be done to show off, nor for mere pleasure. It is done because we must give Zakat and we can’t give proper Zakat if we don’t understand the meaning of it. We pay Zakat because this is the money of the poor. This belongs to them. If we don’t pay this money it is like we are stealing from them. Now have you ever heard of someone say you don’t know how it feels unless it happens to you? Well this is very true, even to be a proven fact! Sawm (fasting) means to put our intention into action. We all want to stop poverty and we, ourselves would never want to be poor. If we were, we would want someone to be just as giving as we intend to be. So to better understand poverty and to do what is mandatory upon us-giving Zakat, we fast so we know how it really feels to be hungry. To have that pain in our stomach and not be able to satisfy it because “we have none,” wouldn’t this be the best way to fully and truly sympathize with others in the same situation? Subhan Allah! Isn’t Allah ever so caring?

Besides the fact that this is an order from Allah and we must obey all orders, it would only be silly to not fast. Like I mentioned earlier that fasting benefits us more than harms us. Well… there is no harm really. 

Some of the many Benefits of Fasting:
  • The Messenger of Allah (sal-Allahu 'alayhe wa sallam) said: (Fasting is protection), i.e. protection from the Fire of Hell. (Sahih Al-Bukhari)
  • Allah (Subhana Allahu wa Ta'aala) says: {O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may attain taqwa}, (Surah al-Baqarah: 183).
  • Fasting allows the body's digestive system and the stomach to rest allowing the body to recuperate and strengthen. This is beneficial for many ailments.
  • Likewise, fasting allows the smoker to take a break from smoking and in doing so assists him in abandoning it.
  • Fasting is a purification of the soul, and helps it upon becoming good; worship, patience and sincerity.  
  • The fasting person feels a sense of equality with the rest of his fasting brothers and sisters; so he fasts with them allowing for the feeling of sincere.  Islamic brotherhood/sisterhood is to be nurtured.
I am truly excited that Ramadan is almost near, sadly there are those who don’t realize how much khair (blessing) there is in this month, but I hope all who have took the time to read my article feel much more knowledgeable about fasting during the month of Ramadan, now knowing it is only to better oneself. So if one loves oneself which most people do, sometimes too much, then fasting would be the best thing to do. It may hurt a bit but it is training, and Allah is so caring that even when it hurts it goes away so quickly. Also like I mentioned earlier, that pleasure you feel when you get to eat will be the same pleasure you get when you see Allah. We should live for our next life, not this life. Make this life a preparation for the next. Because whether we realize how real the next life is, you would not like to show up there empty… I would like to leave you with the best hadith for those who fast. I pray that this reaches you with the utmost eeman (faith).

The Prophet said, "There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Raiyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, 'Where are those who used to observe fasts?' They will get up, and none except them will enter through it. After their entry the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it."
(Sahih Al-Bukhari)[iii]

[i] Vol. 3, Book 31, Hadith 123
[ii] Vol. 3, Book 31, Hadith 125
[iii] Vol. 3, Book 31, Hadith 120

I'd love to hear your views on this topic.  Please post in the comments section below! :)


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