The prerequisite and guidelines of fasting in the pious month of ramadan!
Allah (swt) says in a Hadeeth Qudsi,
‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me, and I shall reward for it…’ (Bukhari, Muslim)
Allah (swt) singled out fasting for Himself from all other good deeds, because:
- of the honored status of fasting
- it is a demonstration of sincerity towards Him (‘it is for Me’).
No one can see that a person is fasting except Allah (swt).
Quran tells us that a good deed will be rewarded between ten and seven hundred times. However, with regard to fasting, Allah (swt) connected the reward to Himself without specifying any number. “I shall reward him for it.” This shows that the reward of the one who fasts will be beyond measure, without reckoning. This is Allah’s (swt) generosity that He rewards us so immensely for our fasts. Subhan’Allah.
Fasting has not been ordained for the purpose of being hungry and thirsty; rather, Allah (swt) has made fasting compulsory so that a person may attain consciousness of Allah (swt).
Allah (swt) says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ 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-Muttaqun.” (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
تَتَّقُونَ is the key word.
What is Taqwa?
This term was known amongst the Arabs, even before Islam. When a battle horse would lose its horseshoe, its feet would become sensitive. Such a horse would be conscious of every step it takes, he would be watchful as to where he is treading. He would be conscious not to take a step that might hurt him. Arabs would say that this horse is exhibiting Taqwa.
Fasting helps to develop Taqwa – a conscious attitude. Consequently, one tries to only engage deeds which are beneficial to him in this Dunya and Akhirah; and refrains from that which may cause harm and regret.
It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta) that the Messenger of Allah (sa) said:
“There may be people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there may be those who do Qiyam, and get nothing from their Qiyam- but a sleepless night.” (Ibn Majah)
The question is what are we doing to preserve the reward of our fasting? Are we observing our fast in a manner that Allah (swt) has ordained for us; or do our fasts fall below that benchmark? Do we engage in any such actions that might lessen the reward, or even nullify it?
Just as a student is careful not to attempt an exam paper in a careless manner- to avoid negative marking; a slave of Allah (swt) must be conscious of his quality of fast, and must refrain from doing anything that may lead to negative marking in his book of deeds.
FAQs in Ramadan
Often during Ramadan people would go up to the Ulema, and ask them questions like: does using toothpaste break the fast? Or, is it ok to apply oil in one’s hair while fasting? Or, is my fast still valid if I apply Kajal/Kohl/eyeliner in the eyes, or will it make my fast Makrooh? …
We tend to ask such questions frequently, but how many of us come up with queries like: does telling a lie break the fast? Or, is it okay to backbite while fasting? Is my fast still valid if I abuse someone?
How to protect our fast?
- We must guard the tongue
We must guard it against lying, backbiting, slander, gossip, making fun of people, abusing people, vain talks, quarrelling…
The Prophet (sa) said: “Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allah (swt) has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” (Bukhari)
Prophet (sa) said: “If any one of you is fasting, let him not utter obscenities or act in an ignorant manner; and, if anyone insults him or wants to fight him, let him say, I am fasting.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Ramadan is not just about what goes into your mouth, but also what comes out of it
- We must guard the eyes
We can guard our eyes by lowering our gaze. This is helpful in observing chastity. Lower the gaze, and do not let it fall upon things that are prohibited to look at.
Watching movies and TV shows in the nights of Ramadan, and wasting time on social media can result in lessening our reward of our fasts.
- We must guard our ears
Just as we must not say anything bad, we must refrain from lending an ear to that which is Haram- e.g. music, backbiting, slander, indecent talk etc.
Even if, we are not directly engaged in such a conversation, but sitting in the company and listening means that we are a part of it, and we endorse the act.
Tongue, eyes, ears … rather all our body parts should be in the state of fasting. Like even, our hands and feet must not assist us in engaging in any act that is prohibited or disliked by Allah (swt) and His Rasul (sa).
- We must guard our heart
Quran informs us that only Qalb un Saleem will enter Jannah. Ramadan is a time to concentrate upon the soul, and clean it from impurities. The heart must be free from hatred, jealousy, envy, selfishness, arrogance etc. We must let our hearts fast from these evils. There should be a spiritual uplift.
Whatever one does, the intention should be to please Allah (swt), not people. It is best to keep quiet about our voluntary Ibadah. We are doing it for our Akhirah, seeking the pleasure the of Allah (swt). He is watching, and that should be enough for us. Announcing our good deeds leads to Riya and loss of reward.
Three grades of fasting
According to Imam Ghazali, there are three grades of fasting: ordinary, special, and extra-special.
Ordinary fasting- means abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.
Special fasting- means keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet, and all other organs-free from sin.
Extra-special fasting- means fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns, and worldly thoughts; in total disregard of everything but Allah (swt).
Ramadan should be a month of transformation – a change for the better.
Make your Ramadan successful by giving up one bad habit completely for the sake of Allah (swt). This is the time to resolve to be better than we have been before. This is an opportunity to elevate our rank with Allah (swt). May Allah (swt) guide us to use this opportunity to the best of our abilities. Ameen.