بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
So I came across another article that told us why Muslims fast in Ramadan.
The only problem was that it – like most of the articles before it – failed to mention the MAIN reason that fasting was enjoined.
No, it’s not to feel empathy with the poor. [I heard that so many times when I was younger!]
What did Allah say?
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2) : 183]
So, this is the reason that fasting was prescribed: to increase us in taqwa (piety).
What is fasting, after all? It’s staying away from three HALAL (lawful) things (food, drink and sexual intercourse with one’s spouse) from dawn to dusk during Ramadan.
Why? Well, just because Allah said so.
So, this begs the question: If we can give up the halal from dawn to dusk for 30 days, just because Allah said so, why can’t we give up the haram (unlawful) outside of Ramadan just because Allah said so?
I read or heard (can’t remember) a shaikh say something very interesting. He pointed out that many people fast but do not pray (and such a fast is invalid by the way) which did not make any sense (how could a person who wanted to increase in piety leave the prayer??).
Apart from the fact that prayer is the greater pillar, fasting was tougher than prayer! You had to do it for a whole day whereas a simple prayer could be done in 5-10 minutes.
He pointed out that these people do the more difficult act of worship and leave the easier one.
Does that make sense? Obviously not.
So, we need to make sure that we know the purpose of fasting, because if we don’t, we won’t get the benefit of performing this great act of worship.
So, what is the goal of fasting? Is it just hunger? Or is there a bigger goal?
The following article tells us the major goal of fasting as well mentioning other goals that can be achieved. I’d advise everyone to read it carefully and write it down in your Ramadan journal*.
[*You don’t have one yet?? What’s that saying….”Those who fail to plan, plan to fail”……..?]
The Goals of Fasting
The Muslim Creed (Vol. 9, Issue 10), Sha`ban 1422
Published by The Daar of Islamic Heritage
The acts of worship that the Muslims practice seek to achieve certain goals and benefits that Allah wants His slaves to acquire knowledge in them and to comprehend and achieve them. Among these acts of worship is fasting during the lunar month of Ramadhan, which has several goals that the Muslims must strive to achieve with his heart and by his actions. These goals are as follows:
1. Achieving At-Taqwa, that is, the fear from Allah. Allah said, what translated means, “O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” [2:183]. Hence, fasting is a means to achieve At-Taqwa. In fact, all acts of worship and Tawhid are methods and means to achieve At-Taqwa, as Allah has said, what translated means, “O mankind! Worship your Lord (Allah), Who created you and those who were before you so that you may become Al-Muttaqun.” [2:21]
2. Acquiring the rewards of Allah. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Abu Hurayrah related to the Prophet, that he said, what translated means, “Allah the Exalted said, ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are his, except for As-Siyam, for it is Mine and I will reward for it.'”
3. The Prophet also said, “The Saim has two happy moments: when he breaks his fast he is happy, and when he meets his Lord he is happy because of his fast.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. About his saying, “When he breaks his fast he is happy,” and Imam Muslim’s addition, “Because of his breaking his fast,” Imam Al-Qurtubi commented, “It means he is happy because his hunger and thirst have ended, since he is allowed to break his fast. This happiness is natural and this is apparently the desired meaning. It was also said that his being happy is because of his breaking the fast, means that he has fulfilled his fast, and as a culmination for his practicing the acts of worship. His saying, ‘And when he meets his Lord he is happy because of his fast,’ means he is happy because of the rewards for fasting and its complete awards.'”
4. As-Sawm purifies the soul and helps it acquire the habit of obeying Allah and His Messenger by defeating the desires of the heart. Fasting teaches refraining from following the desires because the soul of the Sa-im becomes obedient to Allah’s commands. Also, Satan has a stronger hold over the souls that often obey the desires. When the soul abandons its desires, it will become more difficult for Satan to have a hold on the heart.
5. Being saved from the Fire, for the Prophet said, what translated means, “And Allah has those whom he frees from the Fire, and this occurs every night (meaning in Ramadhan).” [At-Tirmithi & ibn Majah]
6. Ash-Shafa`ah (the right of intercession). The Prophet said, “As-Siyam and the Quran will intercede on behalf of the slave. As-Siyam says, ‘O Lord! I prevented him from food and obeying his desires in the morning. Therefore, accept my Shafa`ah on his behalf.’ And the Quran says, ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Therefore, accept my Shafa`ah on his behalf,’ and they will be accepted as intercessors.'” [Ahmad, Al-Hakim & Al-Bayhaqi].
7. Having the sins forgiven. There is no doubt that fasting directs to having one’s sins forgiven and erased. The Prophet said, “The five prayers, and from Friday to the next Friday, and Ramadhan to the next Ramadhan, are erasers for what occurs between them, as long as major sins are avoided.” [Muslim]. Also, the Messenger of Allah said, what translated means, “Whoever fasts Ramadhan with Iman and Ihtisab, will have his previous sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim]. Imam Ahmad and An-Nasaii added the following to the above narration, “And also what will occur later on (meaning future sins, as well).” “With Iman” entails fasting while believing with the heart in the obligation of fasting during Ramadhan. As for Ihtisab, it means that one anticipates the reward and his fasting is therefore only for the sake of Allah and not to imitate his people and community or for any other worldly gain.
Yes, another book.
It’s amazing just how much (free) information we have available, isn’t it? And are we trying to benefit from it?
This book is online: Ramadan and Fasting by Abdel Kader Kamel Tayeb.
There’s a nice intro where he explains why we fast. He also has a nice long section where he mentions the virtues of fasting and Ramadan.
Attention all parents [Yes Brothers, educating your child is your responsibility too, not just your wife’s.]: He also has a section called “Educating your children in Ramadan“.
I just discovered this book today so I haven’t read it. Overall, it seems quite decent though.
I mentioned in an earlier post why it is that we fast.
Here’s a nice khutbah on the issue of piety, what it means and how fasting opens the way to being pious. Also, the lecturer talks about the fasting of the heart. This is an important topic that is not discussed much.
You can read the article here.
[Sorry, I tried to copy and paste it here but I got some funny results.]
So, why DO we fast? The usual reply is “Oh, so we can feel like the poor.”
Erm, no. That’s just a small part of it.
The real reason has been mentioned by Allah in the Quran:
“O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [Al-Baqarah (2):183]
So Allah tells us that the reason that fasting has been prescribed is so that we can be Al-Muttaqoon i.e. those with taqwa (piety).
Here’s a nice lecture that explains what taqwa is, why we need it and how fasting helps us to to attain it: