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3. Virtues and Wisdom Of Fasting


* Fasting is a great act of worship the Muslim performs by neglecting his desires to please his Lord and hope for His reward. It is a common sense that one who would not give up desired things but for the sake of more desirable ones. In this case the pleasure of Allah, which is the most sought after desire.

* It is an established fact that Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) used to inform his Companions about the commencement of Ramadan and he (peace be on him) also used to tell them that: 'When it is the first night of Ramadan, the doors of Jannah (Paradise) are opened and none of them is closed; and the doors of Jahannam (Hell) are closed and none of them is opened; the devils are tethered; and a caller calls saying: 'O those who seek righteousness, get closer; O those who seek evil, be you at a loss; it is upon Allah to bar (Hell) fire,' and that will happen every night of Ramadan."

* The Prophet (peace be on him) also said: "Ramadan has come to you, the month of Barakah (blessing); Allah covers you with His Kindness during the month, descends Rahmah (grace), removes sins and answers the invocations. Allah sees (in this month) your competitions (for good deeds) and so He boasts to angles about you. Show Allah what is better (than this) by yourselves; verily the wretched are those debarred from Allah's Rahmah (grace)".

* Narrated Abu Huraira that Allah's Messenger (peace be on him) said, "Allah said, All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except Saum (fasts) which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it'. Observing Saum is Junnah (protection or shield from the Hell-fire and from committing sins); if one of you is observing Saum, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, 'I am fasting'. By Him in Whose Hands my soul is the smell coming out from the mouth of a person observing Saum is better to Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the person observing Saum, one at the time of breaking his Saum, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord; then he will be pleased because of his observing Saum". (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 128,Vol.3)

* Of all the good deeds, Allah has favored fasting to be greatly rewarded by Him and distinguished it with prestige once it is observed with the pure intention to please Him alone.

* Fasting is so meritorious for a believer that he would have two occasions of joy, one at the time of breaking his fast, to enjoy the bounties of Allah, because he has been favored with Allah's mercy to observe fast while many others have been deprived of this great blessing. Yet, he would rejoice in the second occasion when he would meet his Lord and enjoy the abundant reward for having observed fasting. On the other hand, fasting intercedes with Allah on behalf of the believer on the Day of Judgement. Of the virtues of fasting is that it is a means for atonement of sins. It is narrated by the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (peace be on him) said: "Whoever fasts in Ramadan with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are forgiven; and whoever gets up in the nights of Ramadan to worship, with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are forgiven; that is when fasting is observed out of belief and without resentment to it as an act of worship or doubt in its reward, Allah will forgive the past sins of the one who observes it.

* It is also a means of achieving piety and righteousness. The Prophet (peace be on him) said: "He who does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah needs not his refraining from eating or drinking". In other words Allah does not accept his fast.

The heart, through fasting, is apt to maintain its tenderness since the desires are not sought rather shunned and tend to be more receptive to the words of Allah.

* During Ramadan evil conceals itself while good comes to the fore and the whole atmosphere is filled with piety and purity.

* It teaches man the principle of sincere love: because when he observes the fasting he does it out of deep love for Allah. And the man who loves Allah truly is a man who really knows what love is.

* It equips man with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life; because when he fasts he is hoping to please Allah and is seeking His Grace.

* It imbues man with a genuine virtue of effective Devotion, honest Dedication and closeness to Allah; because when he fasts he does so for Allah and for His sake alone.

As indicated above, throughout the month of Ramadan we, Muslims, eat not a grain of food nor drink a drop of water from dawn to sunset, no matter how delicious the dish or how hungry or thirsty we feel. What is it that makes us voluntarily undergo such rigours?. It is nothing but faith in Allah and the fear of Him and the Day of Judgement. Each and every moment during our fast we suppress our passions and desires and proclaim, by so doing, the supremacy of the law of Allah. This consciousness of duty and spirit of patience that incessant fasting for a whole month inculcates in us help us strengthen our faith. Rigour and disciple during this month bring us face to face with the realities of life and help us make our life, during the rest of the year, a life of true subservience to His Will.

* It is a Divine prescription for self-reassurance and self-control, for maintenance of human dignity and freedom, for victory and peace. These results never fail to manifest themselves as a lively reality in the heart of the person who knows how to keep the Fasting. When he fasts in the proper manner, he is in control of himself, exercises full command over his passions, disciplines his desires and resists all evil temptations. By this course, he is in a position to reassure himself, to restore his dignity and integrity and to attain freedom from the captivity of evil. Once he obtains all this, he has established inner peace, which is the source of permanent peace with Allah and, consequently, with the entire universe.

It indoctrinates man in patience and unselfishness; because when he fasts he feels the pains of deprivation but endures patiently. Truly this deprivation may be only temporary, yet there is no doubt that the experience makes him realize the severe effects of such pains on others, who might be deprived of essential commodities for days or weeks or probably months together.

* Because of temporary deprivation of food and water, the feeling of hunger and thirst should remind the prosperous individuals of the poor who do not earn their living, of those who suffer from hunger and thirst due to famines and environmental catastrophies and of the many children who die every day of malnutrition. The meaning of this experience in a social and humanitarian sense is that such a person is much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with his fellow men and responding to their needs. And that is an eloquent expression of unselfishness and genuine sympathy.

* Fasting is training for the self, getting it used to good deeds, discipline, obedience, patience and sincerity.

It inculcates endurance, patience, honesty, generosity and sound conscience. During fasting there is no human power which keeps vigilance over people. Only Allah knows the actions of every person whether done secretly or in public. This faith leads the individual to sincere submission, honest devotion, close relation and deep love for Allah.

* It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience; because the fasting person keeps his Fast in secret as well as in public. In fasting, especially, there is no mundane authority to check man's behavior or compel him to observe the fasting. He keeps it to please Allah and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public. There is no better way to cultivate a sound conscience in man.

* It originates in man the real spirit of social belonging, of unity and brotherhood, of equality before Allah as well as before the law. This spirit is the natural product of the fact that when man fasts, he feels that he is joining the whole Muslim society in observing the same duty in the same manner at the same time for the same motives to the same end. No sociologist can say that there has been at any period of history anything comparable to this fine institution of Islam.

* The fasting person feels his equality with all his fasting brethren; he fasts with them and breaks fast with them, and he experiences the general Islamic unity, and he experiences hunger which should make him sympathize with his brethren who are hungry and needy.

No known ideology can originate in man and woman the spirit of brotherhood and the humanitarian sense of contributing for those in distress as fasting in Islam does.

* From a medical aspect there are immense benefits from fasting. The most important uses are:

1. Fasting is the quickest and easiest way of losing weight.

2. During fasting, the person feels physically and mentally healthy and he or she looks younger.

3. Fasting lowers the levels of cholesterol and blood pressure.

4. The dangerous habit of smoking can be reduced or even abolished.

5. Nervous tension is relieved.

6. Dependence on drugs is terminated.

7. Treatment for insomnia by fasting is possible.

8. Digestion of food is improved and bowels are well regulated.

9. Better eating habits are adopted.

10. Fasting purifies and profoundly modifies our tissues.

* It provides man with a transparent soul to transcend a clear mind to think and light body to move and act. All this is the never failing result of carrying a light stomach.



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