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Fasting has no Equivalent

Farid Haibatan

category: Ramadan


reads: 9268

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The blessings related to fasting are truly astounding. Those who fast are able to scale the ranks; expiate their sins; tame their desire; give much in charity; engage in a variety of acts of worship; give thanks to their Creator; avoid being swayed by impulses of disobedience and violations; distance themselves from the blazing Fire; and tap on the doors of Paradise. Fasting possesses so many virtues; some of these are presented below.

1. Sa’ihun: an honourable description

Allah describes the righteous believers in the Qur’an with many names. One such description is sa’ihun. Allah says, ‘(The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are) those who repent to Allah, who worship Him, who praise Him, who are the sa’ihun, those who bow down (in prayer), who prostrate themselves (in prayer), who enjoin virtue and forbid vice, and who observe the limits set by Allah. And give glad tidings to the believers.' [1]

Sa’ihun literally means travellers and many scholars mention that this refers to those who fast. Some scholars of the Arabic language state that the fasting person was named a traveller [sa’ih] because a traveller has no provision with him but eats wherever and whenever he finds food.

2. Fasting has no equivalent

Abu Umamah relates, ‘I approached the Messenger of Allah and asked, “O Allah’s Messenger, command me with a matter by which Allah will benefit me” (in another narration, ‘Command me with an action by which I will enter Paradise’) He replied, “Take to fasting for it has no equivalent”.’ [2]

It was said that smoke (from cooking) was never again noticed during the day in Abu Umamah’s house and if it was, then people knew for sure he had guests.

3. Allah claims the action for Himself

This reveals its sublime and dignified status. The Prophet said, ‘Allah ‘azza wa jalla said, “Every deed a person does is for his own self except fasting; it is for Me and I compensate for it”.’ [3]

One reasoning given is that fasting is free of riya’, which means to perform an action not solely for Allah but to be noticed by others in order to seek their awe, praise or worldly gain. Ibn al-Jawzi said, ‘All acts of worship are noticeable (by others) when performed and it is rare for it to be free of some tarnishing, except fasting’ [4]

4. Superiority of reward

Al-Qurtubi discusses the meaning of the aforementioned hadith ‘and I compensate for it’. He says, ‘This means that the measure of rewards for actions (in general) are known to people and that they are multiplied anywhere from ten to seven hundred fold to whatever Allah wills, to the exception of fasting as Allah rewards one for it without any pre-determined measure.’ [5]

Al-Manawi states, ‘This is a sign of the immense compensation and rich rewards for it because if al-Karim (The Most Generous) informs that he will grant an offering without any intermediary, this necessitates its swiftness and merit’. [6]

5. The suitability of fasting

Allah is al-Ghani (The Rich), al-Qayyum (The Self-Sustainer and Supporter of all) and al-Samad (The Self-Sufficient Master, Who has no need for food or drink and Whom all creatures need).

Al-Hafidh said, ‘The lack of need for food and other desires is a characteristic of the Lord jalla jalaluhu; because a fasting person draws near to Him in a manner appropriate to His own attributes, He ascribed it to Himself’

Al-Qurtubi said, ‘The actions of slaves are all in agreement to their own dispositions except for fasting. This is appropriate to one of the characteristics of al-Haqq (The One True Deity); it is as if He is saying, “My servant draws near to Me with a matter that is connected to one of My attributes”.’ [7]

6. Fasting expiates sins

The Prophet, salla Allah 'alayhi wa sallam, said, ‘The trials [fitnah] a person experiences through his family, wealth, self, children and neighbour are expiated by fasting, prayer, charity, commanding virtue and forbidding vice’ [8]

7. Praise from Allah and supplication from the Angels!

The Prophet said, ‘Indeed Allah sends His salah (praise, grace, honour, blessings, mercy) and His angels send salah (ask Allah for them to be praised, graced etc.) upon those who take the pre-dawn meal’ [9]

If Allah and His angels send salah for those who take the pre-dawn meal, which is an aid to fasting, what do you think about fasting itself?

8. A formidable shield

The Messenger said, ‘Fasting is a shield from the punishment of Allah.’ [10]

He also said, ‘Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire.’ [11]

He also said, ‘Fasting is a shield from the Fire just like one of your shields in battle.’[12]

Al-Manawi says, ‘A protection in this world from disobedience by curtailing desire and preserving the limbs and in the Hereafter from the Fire.’ [13]

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr stated, ‘As a virtue of fasting, this is surely sufficient for you!’

9. The summer fast

Abu Musa relates, ‘Allah decreed upon Himself that whoever goes thirsty for Him on a hot day, that He would grant him water on the Day of Judgement.’ [14]

Fasting in summer is a quality of faith because of the length of a summer day and the severity of its heat.

10. The winter fast

The Prophet said, ‘Fasting in winter is easy prey.’ [15]

‘Umar Ibn al-Khattab said, ‘Winter is prey (for the taking) for worshippers.’ [16]

Al-Hasan said, ‘Winter is an excellent time for the believer; its nights are long in which he stands for prayer and its days are short which he fasts’.

11. Al-Rayyan invites

‘In Paradise, there are eight doors. One of these doors is called al-Rayyan and only those who fast will enter through it.’ [17]

‘Indeed there is a door in Paradise called al-Rayyan. Those who fast will enter through it on the Day of Judgement. It is only they who will enter it and when they have entered, it will be closed so that no one else can enter.’ [18]

Al-Zarkashi said, ‘Rayyan means to be well-sated with drink, the opposite to thirst; it was named this in compensation for the thirst and hunger endured by those who fasted.’ [19]

‘Izz al-Din Ibn ‘Abd al-Salam said, ‘As for the restriction of those entering Paradise through the door of al-Rayyan to only those who fasted, they were set apart because of the distinction and nobility of their worship’ [20]

12. A fine finale

The Prophet said, ‘Whoever passes away on a day he fasts will enter Paradise.’ [21]

Al-Manawi said, ‘i.e., whoever completes his lifetime with a day of fasting either dying while fasting or after having broken the fast for that day, will enter Paradise along with the forerunners and foremost generations or without any previous punishment.’ [22]

13. An intercessor

The Prophet said, ‘Fasting and the Qur'an will intercede for the servant on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say, “My Lord, I forbade him food and desire so accept my intercession for him”. The Qur'an will say, “My Lord, I prevented him from sleep at night, so accept my intercession for him”. So their intercession will be accepted.’ [23]

14. Accepted supplication

The Prophet said, ‘Three supplications are responded to: the supplication of the one fasting; the one oppressed and the traveller.’ [24]

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