When a person
is overcome by material desires and cravings, he becomes negligent of his
spiritual being and indifferent to the obligations imposed on him by his
Creator. To help man in combating this onslaught, the Almighty has made fasting
compulsory once every year for one whole month -- the month of Ramadhaan. With
Ramadhaan comes restriction on our eating and marital relationship. Compared
with some other forms of worship subscribed by Islam, fasting is somewhat
demanding because its aim is to discipline and channel our soul. This objective,
obviously, can only be achieved by a tough training programme.
When we are
having sehri, all of a sudden we hear the azaan and we stop eating at once. Now
however much we feel the need or want to do things not allowed to us during our
fast, we do not give in to our wishes and temptations. This restriction remains
till the maghrib azaan as God has appointed this time for us to discontinue our
fast. Therefore, as soon as the muazzin begins his azaan, we rush forth to eat
and drink. After this, there is no restriction throughout the night. We spend
the whole month of Ramadhaan in the same way. There is no doubt in the fact that
we feel a certain amount of weakness and inability to perform to our full
capacity but the patience and piety we acquire in return is as essential to the
soul as air, water and food are to the body, for man does not live by bread and
water alone but also by that which comes from his Lord.
obligatory on every adult and sane Muslim. If during Ramadhaan, a person is ill
or is travelling or is unable to keep fasts due to some reason, then he is
required to keep the fasts he has missed whenever he is able to do so.
We gain a lot
from fasting. The greatest achievement is that a man’s soul is liberated from
the shackles of his wishes and desires and moves a step further towards the
lofty summits of knowledge and intellect. He moves a step closer to the Kingdom
of Allah by rising above all mundane needs. For this purpose, fasting puts a
restriction on all such things which cause an increase in our desires and
incline us towards pleasure. When a person endures such constraints, he is able
to break his bond with this world and come closer to his Creator. It is this
aspect of fasting because of which God says that fasting is for Him and He alone
will bestow the reward for it.
achievement of fasting is that the doors of temptation and revolt are closed to
a great extent. It is the tongue and the private parts on which the devil
attacks the most. The Prophet (sws) said that whosoever could give him guarantee
of the two things one between the two cheeks and the other between the two legs,
he would guarantee him Paradise. Fasting puts a check on both these instincts
and weakens all inclinations of going overboard with these two. It makes it easy
for a person to do all things that are pleasing to Allah and refrain from those
which are displeasing to Him. It is this fact which the Prophet (sws) has stated
by saying that Satan and his army are chained during the month of Ramadhaan.
thing which a person gains from fasting is that his actual distinction --
freedom of will -- is given a great chance to develop and strengthen so that his
character become adorned with the qualities of resolve and determination. He
gets disciplined enough to control all sorts of emotions and reactions arising
in his self. If a person’s will power is weak he can neither control his wishes
from exceeding the limits nor can he remain steadfast on the Shariah. Moreover,
he cannot keep such emotions as greed, provocation, hatred and love in check.
This requires patience and to be patient it is necessary that he possess a
strong power of decision making. Fasting increases this power and disciplines
it. It is this power that helps a person to stand for the truth instead of evil.
This is the reason that the Prophet (sws) called fasting a shield and asked
Muslims to use it in combating evil by just saying: ‘I am fasting.’
thing a person attains from Fasting is that it inculcates and strengthens the
spirit of sacrifice in a person and urges him to show compassion to people who
are less fortunate than he. To experience hunger and thirst in a fast brings him
closer to the poor and makes him realize their needs. Fasting effects everyone
according to his own disposition. People who are sensitive become even more
sensitive to and aware of the suffering and sorrow around them.
thing that a person achieves in Ramadhaan is that the solitude and isolation he
has in this month inclines him to spend more time in reciting the Holy Quran
with a view to understand and practice its teachings. Allah revealed His Holy
Book in this month and made this the month of fasting so that people could thank
Him for this bounty. Different Ahaadith have revealed that Gabriel used to come
to the Holy Prophet (sws) in this month to hear and recite the Quran.
It is this
relationship of the Book of Allah with this month that pious people recite the
Quran in their late night prayers while the general masses hear the Quran in the
Taraaveeh prayer said after the Ishaa prayer. The Holy Prophet (sws) said that
whosoever fasted in this month and stood for prayers at night would be absolved
from his previous sins.
thing that a person gains from fasting is that if he so desires he can become
attentive to his Creator with all his heart and soul. For this, the ibaadat of
Aitakaaf has been prescribed in this month. Although this is not obligatory on
everyone, it is a very essential form of worship to incline our hearts towards
God. In religious parlance, Aitakaaf means that a person should isolate himself
from everyone in the mosque for ten days or less according to his convenience
and devote himself to the Almighty, and unless an indispensable need arises, he
should not come out. The Prophet (sws) was very particular in observing Aitakaaf
throughout his life.
things can be attained from fasting but for this it is necessary that the person
who is fasting should refrain from all wrong doings, which if present during a
fast, obliterate all its blessings. Although these wrongs are many, but there
are some about which everyone should be aware of at all times.
One of these
wrongs is that people tend to make Ramadhaan a month of festivities and fun
time. They think that they are not answerable for the extravagance made in this
month. They relish everything they eat. The result is that instead of trying to
discipline themselves they end up pampering themselves. Throughout their fasts
they keep dreaming about the delicious things they will eat once the fast is
over. The result is that they end up learning nothing from their fasts.
such a thing from happening, it is necessary that a person should eat just
enough to keep him working and not make eating the sole object of his life.
Whatever is obtainable without too much of an effort should be eaten with
thankfulness to the Almighty. Whatever is presented by the family should be
consumed without fuss even if it is not tempting. The rich instead of
overindulging themselves should give more to the needy and the poor. This is
something which increases the blessings of fasting and has been commended by the
wrongdoing one often comes across is that because hunger makes anger easily
provocable people instead of making
fasting a way
of correcting it give hungar as a reason to justify it. They tend to quarrel at
the slightest pretext with their wives and children and those under them. They
do not hesitate to utter any slighting remark which may come to their mind and
sometimes if matters get out of hand even resort to abusing and beating. After
this they tend to defend themselves by saying that things like this happen
which the Prophet (sws) of God has suggested in this regard is that instead of
using fasting as an instigation for anger one should use it as a shield and
whenever a person is incited he should remind himself that he is fasting. If we
can remember this every time we get angry, we will see that slowly and gradually
the greatest of provocations tend to lose their sting. Once we realize that we
can conquer the Satan within our soul, this feeling of conquest gives us peace
and a sense of greatness. Thus such a reminder becomes a means of our
wrongdoing often perpetrated in fasting is that a lot of people, when restricted
from eating and enjoying some other pleasures of life, tend to keep themselves
busy with other things which they think would not harm their fast. They play
cards, read novels, listen to music, watch movies, sit among friends and gossip,
and even indulge in backbiting. When one’s stomach is empty, one tends to enjoy
his brothers’ meat more. The result is that sometimes a person begins his
morning with one of these pastimes and ends when the muazzin announces the break
of fast. It is obvious that all these things ruin a fast.
to this problem is that a person should try to remain silent in respect of his
fast and at least for this month put a lock on his tongue. Allah’s Prophet (sws)
says that if a person keeps telling all sorts of true and false things during
his fast, then God does not need his abstinence from food and drink.
remedy for this is that whatever time he has to spare, he should spend it in
the study of the Quran and Hadith and in understanding his religion. He should
try to learn some of the supplications mentioned in the Quran and also those
narrated in the Ahaadith. In this way, he will keep away from the above
mentioned activities and later use this store of prayers to remember his God.
wrongdoing in this regard is that sometimes a person does not fast for God but
just under pressure of his family or to prevent other people to think badly of
him or just to put on a religious posture. This is also quite obviously
something which negates the purpose of a fast.
The cure for
this is that every person should keep reminding himself about the importance of
fasting and think that if he is going to abstain from food and other things then
why not for Allah. Apart from Ramadhaan, he should keep additional
non-obligatory fasts and try to conceal them and hope that the obligatory ones
will also one day be for Allah alone.