Fasting

source :Osoul Global Center

Fasting is not an act that is meant to torture you. In fact, it is one of the most meaningful forms of worship that Allah has asked us to perform whenever we can. It is the easiest way to see the world differently.  

Fasting

Linguistically speaking, fasting means abstention from something. In an Islamic context, it means intentional abstention from eating and drinking, as well as all that invalidates fasting, from the break of dawn until sunset with the intention of worshipping Allah.[1]

The spiritual concept of fasting

1-Fasting is a means of expressing one’s gratitude for Allah’s blessings. It stops a person from eating, drinking and sex, which are some of Allah’s great blessings. To refrain from them for a considerable time is to show one’s appreciation of these blessings. An aspect of Allah’s grace may be taken for granted, or people may be oblivious to it, until it is denied, and people will then know its importance. They will then recognize Allah’s grace and feel grateful for it. To express gratitude for Allah’s blessings is a duty that is required logically and from the Islamic viewpoint. 

Allah refers to it in the verse that imposes the duty of fasting the month of Ramadan:


‘telling us that the fulfilment of this duty is the way ‘to tender your thanks.’

(2:185)

2-Fasting is a means to maintain a God-fearing attitude. When a person abstains from what is lawful in order to please Allah and in fear of His punishment, that person willingly refrains from what is forbidden. This means that fasting leads one to steer away from what Allah has prohibited. Fasting is indeed made a duty for us in order to nurture this feeling of fearing Allah,

:as He says

‘Believers, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you, so that you may be God-fearing.’

(2:183)

3-Fasting overcomes desire. When man eats a full meal, he thinks of satisfying other desires. When he is hungry, other desires take a secondary place in his interests.

:The Prophet (peace be upon him) advises young people saying

‘Young men, whoever of you can afford marriage should get married, because marriage will help him lower his gaze and maintain his chastity. The one who is unable to get married may fast, as fasting provides protection [against sin].’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 5,065; Muslim, hadith No. 1,400

This shows that fasting is a means that helps man to refrain from sin.[2]

4-Fasting encourages people to be compassionate and kind to those who are in need. When a person fasts and experiences hunger for a long time he will remember his feelings and he will be more willing to be charitable to people who are poor and in need of help. His kindness to such people will earn him rich reward from Allah.

5-Fasting puts the rich and the poor on the same level, as they will all bear the same pain of hunger. This increases one’s reward.[3]

6-Fasting helps to overcome the temptation presented by Satan, who exploits human desires to lead people away from Allah’s path, and such desires are always stronger when one eats and drinks.

:Safiyyah reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said

‘Satan has his way with a human being like his own blood.’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 7,171; Muslim, hadith No. 2,174

7-Fasting helps man to disregard the fleeting pleasures of this life and to look for the lasting happiness in the life to come.

Conditions: The following conditions must apply for the duty of fasting to be valid:

1-Being a Muslim: Fasting is not valid if it is done by an unbeliever. It is an act of worship, and worship cannot be offered by an unbeliever. When an unbeliever embraces Islam, he or she is not required to fast for previous years.

2-Puberty: Fasting is not required of anyone who has not attained the age when Islamic worship applies, which is the attainment of puberty.

:The Prophet (peace be upon him) says

‘Three are exempt from duties.’

Related by at-Tirmidhi, Book 17, hadith No. 1

One of these is a child until attaining puberty. However, if a child below this age understands actions and requirements and fasts, that fast is accepted. Fathers and guardians will do well to encourage such children to fast so as to be familiar with fasting.

3-Sanity: Fasting is not required of an insane or mentally disabled person.

4-Sound health: A person who is ill and cannot fast is not required to fast. However, if he or she fasts, their fast is valid.

:Allah says

‘He who is ill or on a journey shall fast instead the same number of days later on.’

(2:185)

When a person who is ill in Ramadan recovers and is back in good health, he should compensate for not fasting during his illness by fasting the same number of days that were missed.

5-Being in one’s place of residence: A person who is on a journey is not required to fast. However, if he or she fasts, their fast is valid. 

:Allah says

‘He who is ill or on a journey shall fast instead the same number of days later on.’

(2:185)

When a person who undertakes a journey in Ramadan, and avails himself of the concession not to fast, is back in his hometown, he should compensate for not fasting during his travel by fasting the same number of days.

6-Women who are in their period or having postnatal bleeding may not fast. In fact fasting is prohibited for women during the menstrual and postnatal periods.The Prophet  (peace be upon him) stated this clearly.[4]

 However, they must fast the same number of days later.

:A’ishah said

‘We used to have these periods and we were ordered to fast in compensation, but no compensation for prayer was required.’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 321; Muslim, hadith No. 335

Essentials: rukns. The first is the abstention from anything that invalidates fasting from the break of dawn until sunset. This is based on the Qur’anic verse that includes

‘Eat and drink until you can see the white streak of dawn against the blackness of the night. Then resume the fast till nightfall.’

(2:187)

 The second rukn is that a person intends this abstention as an act of worship. It is intention that distinguishes whether a particular deed is one of worship or an ordinary action. Intention also distinguishes between acts of worship. A fast may be an obligatory worship, as in the case of fasting in Ramadan, or it may be a different fast. This rukn is based on the hadith in which

:the Prophet (peace be upon him) says

‘Actions are but by intention and every person shall have but that which he intended.’  

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 1; Muslim, hadith No. 1,907.

Status: Allah has given us the binding duty of fasting the month of Ramadan, making it one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith.

:He says

‘Believers, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you, so that you may be God-fearing.’

(2:183)

:He also says

‘The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of the month, let him fast it.’

(2:185)

Abdullah ibn ' Umar reports that he heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say

‘Islam has been built on five pillars: testifying that there is no deity other than Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), attending regularly to the prayers, paying the zakat, fasting in Ramadan and making the pilgrimage to the Sacred House if one is able to undertake the journey.’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 8; Muslim, hadith No. 16

Furthermore,

Talhah ibn ' Ubaydillah reported that a Bedouin with dishevelled hair said to the Prophet peace be upon him

‘O Messenger of Allah, tell me what fasting Allah has made obligatory to me.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘The month of Ramadan.’ The man asked: ‘Anything else?’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: ‘No, unless you wish to volunteer something.’

Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 46; Muslim, hadith No. 11

The Muslim community is unanimous that fasting the month of Ramadan is obligatory, and that it is one of the pillars of Islam, essentially known to all Muslims, and that anyone who denies this obligation is an unbeliever or an apostate. This means that the obligation of fasting is confirmed by the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the unanimity of Muslims. Muslims also unanimously agree that anyone who denies it is an unbeliever. [5]


references

  1. Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, vol. 3, p. 84; al-Bahuti, Kashshaf al-Qina' , vol. 2, p. 348.
  2. A. al-Kasani, Bada’i'  al-Sana’i' , vol. 2, pp. 75–6.
  3. Al-Shawkani, Fath al-Qadir, vol. 2, p. 233.
  4. Related by al-Bukhari, hadith No. 304
  5.  Ibn Qudamah, Al-Mughni, vol. 3, p. 84.

Categories

Comments

keep in touch

OR

subscribe

dialogs