The Goals of Fasting

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 taqwa, that is, to become God-fearing. Allah said:

    “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those who came before you; that you will perhaps be God-fearing.” [Al-Qur’an 2:183]

Hence, fasting is a means to achieve taqwa. In fact, all acts of worship and tawhid are methods and means to achieve taqwa, as Allah has said:

“O mankind, worship your Lord, Who created you and those before you, so that you may become God-fearing.” [Al-Qur’an 2:21]

  1. Acquiring the rewards of Allah. Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

    “Allah the Exalted said, ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are his, except for fasting, for it is Mine and I will reward for it.’ “

  2. The Prophet also said:

    “The one fasting has two happy moments: when he breaks his fast, 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.’ “

  1. Fasting 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 one fasting becomes obedient to Allah’s commands. Also, Satan has a stronger hold over the souls that often obey their desires. When the soul abandons its desires, it will become more difficult for Satan to have a hold on the heart.
  1. Being saved from the Fire, for the Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

    “And Allah has those whom he frees from the Fire, and this occurs every night (meaning in Ramadhan).” [At-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah]

  2. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said:

    “Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede on behalf of the slave. Fasting will say, ‘O Lord! I prevented him from food and obeying his desires in the morning. Therefore, accept my intercession on his behalf.’ And the Qur’an will say, ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Therefore, accept my intercession on his behalf,’ and they will be accepted as intercessors.’ “ [Ahmad, al-Hakim and al-Bayhaqi]

  3. There is no doubt that fasting directs to having one’s sins forgiven and erased. The Prophet, upon whom be peace, 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, peace be upon him, said:

    “Whoever fasts Ramadhan with iman and ih’tisab, will have his previous sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

    Imam Ahmad and an-Nasa’i added the following to the above narration:

    “And also what will occur later on (meaning future sins, as well).”

    Fasting with iman entails fasting while believing with the heart in the obligation of fasting during Ramadhan. As for ih’tisab, 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.

narration by Ibn Qudamah

Ibn Qudamah narrated that Ash-Shibli said:

كنت في قافلة بالشام فخرج الأعراب فأخذوها وجعلوا يعرضونها على أميرهم
فخرج جراب فيه سكر ولوز فأكلوا منه والأمير لا يأكل فقلت له لم لا تأكل فقال أنا صائم فقلت تقطع الطريق وتأخذ الأموال وتقتل النفس وأنت صائم فقال يا شيخ أجعل للصلح موضعا فلما كان بعد حين رأيته يطوف حول البيت فقلت أنت ذاك الرجل فقال ذاك الصوم بلغ بي هذا المقام

“I was in a caravan in Ash-Shaam (Syria) and it was hijacked by bedouins, so they took it and handed it over to their Amir (leader). They opened a bag and found sugar and almonds. They all started eating, except their Amir. I asked: “Why aren’t you eating?” He said: “I’m fasting”. I said: “You block roads, you steal from people, you kill people and you say you’re fasting????!” He said: “Ya shaykh! We should keep the ways of reconciliation (with Allah) allways open”. So after a while, I saw this person doing tawaaf around the Ka’bah! I said: “You are that same person!” He said: “Because of that fasting (Allah guided me and) brought me here today”.

[“At-Tawabeen”, 1/276].

Brotherhood- characteristics of a Muslim

The believers are commanded to preserve the spirit of brotherhood and friendship and to avoid anything that may induce enmity and hatred. As Allah said:

“The believers are nothing else than brothers” [Qur`an, 49:10] and

“Shaytan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from Salat. So will you not abstain?” [Qur`an 5:91]

Allah has also granted the believers a favour by joining their hearts. He said:

“And remember Allah’s favour upon you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together so that by His Grace you became brethren.” [Qur`an 3:103]

Further, He said:

“He it is Who has supported you with His help and with the believers and He has united their hearts. If you had spent all that is in earth, you could not have united their hearts, but Allah has united them.” [Qur`an 8:62-63]

Every Mukallaf (competent person in control of all faculties) should safeguard his tongue against all kinds of loose talk, except when it is evident that talking will be a means of beneficence. When talking and being quiet are both equal as a prudent measure, then the Sunnah is to abstain from speech.

Abu Hurairah (Radhiallahu `anhu) reported that the Prophet (Sallallahu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) said: “Whosoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak what is good or be silent.” (Agreed upon)

Imam Shafi`ee said: “If a person wishes to say something then he should think before he starts talking. If there is good, then he should speak, otherwise he should not.”

Sayings Of The Salaf

· Bakr Bin `Abdullah is reported to have said: “Always do something where if you do it and you’re right then you will be rewarded and if you are wrong, you will not be punished. And avoid doing something where if you are right, you will not be rewarded and if you are wrong, you will be punished.” They asked: “What is that thing?” He said: “Ill suspicions of people; if you are right, you will not be rewarded; but if you are wrong, you are sinners.”

· Muhammad Bin Ka`b was asked what qualities are low and not fitting for a believer. He said: “Talking too much, uncovering the secret and accepting the sayings of everyone.”

· A man said to `Amr Bin `Ubaid, “A man has been saying bad things about you.” `Amr said to him: “Listen! You have not honoured the sitting in this man’s company because you conveyed to me his speech. Further, you did not consider brotherly rights when you informed me what I dislike about my brother. But inform him that we all are dying. The grave will surround us all and the Day of Resurrection will collect all of us and Allah will judge amongst us; He is the best of judges.”

· Luqman said to his son: “My son, I admonish you with qualities that if you hold to, you will always be honoured as the head of your people: Be good (have good manners) with the near and far; do not lose your temper with the respected people; protect your brothers and their honour; and join your kin. Have your brothers and relatives trust about you that you would not accept any tales from any person who intends to deceive you and corrupt the relationships. Take friends in a way that if you leave them, you will not say bad about them, neither will they say bad about you.”

Form the Muwatta of Imam Malik

Yahya related to me from Malik that Muadh ibn Jabal said, “The last advice the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, gave me when I put my foot in the stirrup was that he said, ‘Make your character good for the people, Muadh ibn Jabal!’ Book 47, Number 47.1.1

Yahya related to me from Malik from Ibn Shihab from Ali ibn Husayn ibn Ali ibn Abi Talib that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Part of the excellence of a man’s Islam is that he leaves what does not concern him.” Book 47, Number 47.1.3

Yahya related to me from Malik that Yahya ibn Said said that he heard Said ibn al-Musayyab say, “Shall I tell you what is better than much prayer and sadaqa?” They said, “Yes.” He said, “Mending discord. And beware of hatred – it strips you (of your deen).” Book 47, Number 47.1.7

Advice from Abu Bakr (ra)

‘Abdullah ibn Hakeem reported that Abu Bakr radiyallaahu `anhu delivered the following sermon:

“To proceed, I indeed advice both myself and you to fear Allah, to praise Him as he deserves to be praised, to combine hope and fear, and to unite persistency with supplication (and prayer). For indeed, Allah praised Zakariyyah and the members of his household by saying:

Verily, they used to hasten on to do good deeds, and they used to call on Us with hope and fear, and used to humble themselves before Us.” (Qur’an 21:90)

And know, O slaves of Allah….that Allaah has taken covenants from you, and that He has purchased (from you) that which is little and fleeting for that which is plentiful and everlasting. Here among you is the Book of Allah, whose wonders never run out, and whose light never extinguishes. Believe in Allah’s speech, be sincere to His Book, and seek light from it for the Day of Darkness. Indeed, you have been created only to worship (Allah). And Allah has entrusted you to noble scribes [the blessed angels who record our deeds] who know what you do. Also know, O slaves of Allah, you come and go (on this earth) for an appointed time, and when it is that your time will come you do not know. If your are able to coincide your appointed time with a deed that you are performing for the sake of Allah, then do so. But you will not be able to do so except with Allah’s help…There are people who spent their lives for others, all the while forgetting themselves (i.e. their duties towards their Lord); I forbid you from becoming like them. So hasten, hasten (to perform good deeds), and then there will be salvation, salvation! Verily, you are being pursued from behind by that which travels with greet speed (ie, the time of your life).”

According to another account, Abu Bakr radiyallaahu `anhu also said,

“Where are the brothers you once knew? Where are the companions you once knew? They have reached where they were meant to go, having been met by the deeds they performed in their days gone by. They reside there (in the Hereafter) either in misery or happiness. Where are the arrogant tyrants who built the townships and encircled them with walls? They are now underneath stones and wells. Where are those whos faces were beautiful and full of light, those who were impressed by their youth? Where are the kings? Where are those who were granted victory on the fields of war? Time has caused them to decay, and they are now in the darkness of their graves. There is no goodness in saying that which is not spoken for the countenance of Allah, There is no goodness in wealth that is not spent in the path of Allah. There is no goodness in a person whose ignorance has overcome his forbearance. And there is no goodness in a person who, when it comes to doing something for the sake of Allah, fears the blame of a blamer. Between Allah and any person there is no familial relation, and so none can hope to receive anything from Him through such a relationship ( i.e. since no one is related to Allah, none can hope for the kind of help they receive from relatives on this earth based on family loyalty and love), nor can one hope that Allah will save him from evil (based on the same reason.) He gives goodness and saves from evil only through obedience to Him and the following of His commands. there is no such thing as something that is good if it leads to the Hellfire, and there is no such thing as something that is evil if it leads to Paradise…Because you are needy and poor (to Allah), I advice you to fear Allah, to praise Him as He deserves to be praised – and to ask for His forgiveness; for indeed, He is oft-forgiving. I have said what I needed to say, and I ask Allah for forgiveness, for both myself and you.”

“There are five dark matters and five lamps (to illuminate them (or in some cases, to counteract them)). Love of this world is darkness, and At-Taqwa (piety, righteousness, the fear of Allaah) is its lamp. Sin is darkness, and its lamp is repentance. The grave is darkness, and its lamp is (the phrase) ‘None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.’ The Hereafter is darkness and its lamp is the good deed. The Siraat (the bridge over Hellfire that every person will have to cross in the Hereafter) is darkness, and its lamp is certainty of Faith.

Ausat ibn Ismaa’eel (may Allah have mercy on him) reported that, one year after the Prophet’s Death, he heard Abu Bakr radiyallaahu `anhu deliver the following sermon:

“The messenger of Allah stood among us the previous year just as I am standing here before you today.”

Abu Bakr radiyallaahu `anhu then began to cry; according to one account, he cried so uncontrollably that he was not able to speak for a while. Finally, after a long pause, Abu Bakr radiyallaahu `anhu continued,

“O people, ask Allah for well-being (physical, but especially spiritual well-being; and also, well-being in the hereafter), for with the exception of certainty of Faith, there is nothing better that He gives to anyone than well-being. Always be truthful for truthfulness is the companion of piety – and both of them are in Paradise. And beware of lying, for it is indeed the companion of wickedness, and both of them are in the Hellfire. Do not break off ties of family relationships; do not plot against one another; do not despise one another; do not be jealous of one another – but instead be slaves of Allah, brothers unto one another.

Az-Zubair ibn Al-‘Awwaam radiyallaahu `anhu reported that Abu Bakr radiyallaahu `anhu said during one of his sermons,

“O group of Muslims, be shy of Allah (the Possessor of Might and Majesty), for by the one Who has my soul in His Hand, I seek cover when I go out to relieve myself in the wide-open desert by using my robe as a veil. I do so out of shyness to Allah, the Possessor of Might and Majesty.”

The rights of a Muslim

We are currently living in a situation where all types of rights are being violated especially that of a brother to another brother. Let us try to implement some of the basic rights towards each other.

Abu Hurairah (Radhiallaho anha) reported: The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Every Muslim has five rights over another Muslim (i.e., he has to perform five duties for another Muslim): to return the greetings, to visit the sick, to accompany funeral processions, to accept an invitation, to respond to the sneezer [i.e., to say: `Yarhamuk-Allah (may Allah bestow His Mercy on you),’ when the sneezer praises Allah].”

[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

(Riyad-us-Saliheen – Hadith No. 895)

Humble before Allah

From the words of Ibn Taymiyyah:

“…And the worshipper – the more humble, needy, and subdued he is before Allah – the closer he will be to Him, and the dearer he will be to Him, and the greater in status he will be to Him. So, the happiest of the Creation is the one who is greatest in servitude to Allah.

As for the Creation, as it is said: be in need of whoever you wish, and you will be his prisoner; be sufficient from whoever you wish, and you will be his adversary; be kind to whoever you wish, and you will be his authority…

So, the greatest in status and honor the slave is with others is when he is not in need of them in any way, shape, or form. If you are good to others while not being in need of them, you will be greater in their eyes. When you are in need of them – even if for a sip of water – your status is reduced in their eyes in accordance with what it is you need from them. And this is from the Wisdom and Mercy of Allah, in order that the Religion all be for Allah, and that nothing be associated with Him.

Because of this, when Hatim al-Asamm was asked: ‘With what can one protect himself from people?’ he answered: “That you freely give them from what you have, and that you are cold and indifferent towards what they have.” However, if you are in a position to be compensated from them, and they are also in need of something from you, and the needs of the two sides become equal, you become like two merchants, none of whom has any virtue over the other. If they are the more needy side, that is when they will become subdued.

So, with the Exalted Lord, the most generous you are to Him is when you are most in need of Him. With the Creation, the most insignificant you are to them is when you are most in need of them…”

[‘Majmu’ al-Fatawa’; 1/67]

The ones who prefer others over themselves

But those who before them, had homes (in Medina) and had adopted the Faith,- show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the (latter), but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their (own lot). And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls,- they are the ones that achieve prosperity. Al-Hashr 9

On the day of the battle of Yarmuk, I went out to find my uncle on the battlefield, and I had with me a container of water. I said to myself that he had some life left in him, then I would quench his thirst with the water and wash the dirt from his face. Suddenly, I came across him, and he was going in and out of conciousness. I asked him: “Do you want me to give you some water?” so, he nodded his head. Suddenly, he heard another wounded man in the distance calling out in pain. So, my uncle motioned for me to go tend to him. I went to him and saw that he was Hisham, the brother of ‘Amr bin al-‘As. I came to him and asked if he wanted me to give him some water, and suddenly, we heard the sound of another man calling out in the distance in pain. So, he motioned for me to go tend to him. I came to him to find that he had already died. So, I went back to tend to Hisham only to find that he had died as well. Then, I went back to tend to my uncle only to find that he, too, had died.”

So none of them, in their love for others had died without quenching their thirst. Such a proof of sacrifice and brotherhood is unparalleled in human history.

This incident was reported by ‘Abdullah bin al-Mubarak in ‘az-Zuhd’ (1/185), Ibn Hajar in ‘al-Isabah’ (7/34), and also in Ibn al-Mubarak’s ‘al-Jihad’ (1/100) by way of Abu al-Jahm bin Hudhayfah al-‘Adawi, by way of ‘Umar bin Sa’id. The muhaqqiq of ‘al-Jihad’ mentions that the chain’s narrators are all trustworthy, and Allah Knows best.