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The Inner Secrets of Fasting

Know that in the fast is a special quality that is not found in anything else. And that is its close connection to Allah, such that He says: “The fast (Sawm) is for Me and I will reward it.”1This connection is enough to show the high status of fasting. Similarly, the Ka`bah is highly dignified due to its close connection to Him, as occurs in His statement, “And sanctify My House.”2

Indeed, the fast is only virtuous due to two significant concepts. Firstly, it is a secret and hidden action thus, no one from the creation is able to see it. Therefore showing off cannot enter into it. Secondly, it is a means of subjugating the enemies of Allah. This is because the road that the enemies (of Allah) embark upon (in order to misguide the Son of Adam) is that of desires. And eating and drinking strengthens the desires. There are many reports that indicate the merits of fasting, and they are all well known.

The recommended acts of fasting
The pre-dawn meal (suhur) and delaying in taking it are preferable, as well as hastening to break the fast and doing so with dates. Generosity in giving is also recommended during Ramadan, as well as doing good deeds and increasing in charity. This is in accordance with the way of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

It is also recommended to study the Qur’an and perform i`tikaaf during Ramadan, especially in the last ten days, as well as increasing upon the exertion (towards doing good deeds) in it.

In the two Sahihs, `Aa’ishah said, “When the (last) ten days (of Ramadan) would come, the Prophet would tighten his waist-wrapper, spend the night in worship, and wake his family up (for prayer).” The scholars have mentioned two views concerning the meaning of “tighten his waist-wrapper”: The first: It means the turning away from women.

The second: It is an expression denoting his eagerness and diligence in doing good deeds. They also say that the reason for his (peace be upon him) exertion in the last ten days of Ramadaan was due to his (peace be upon him) seeking of the Night of Power (Lailatul-Qadr).

An explanation of the inner secrets of fasting and its characteristics
There are three levels of fasting: The general fast, the specific fast, and the further specific fast. As for the general fast, then it is the refraining of the stomach and the private parts from fulfilling their desires. The specific fast is the refraining of one’s gaze, tongue, hands, feet, hearing and eyes, as well as the rest of his body parts from committing sinful acts. As for the more specific fast, then it is the heart’s abstention from its yearning after the worldly affairs and the thoughts which distance one away from Allah, as well as its (the heart’s) abstention from all the things that Allah has placed on the same level. From the characteristics of the specific fast is that one lowers his gaze and safeguards his tongue from the repulsive speech that is forbidden, disliked, or which has no benefit, as well as controlling the rest of his body parts.

In a hadith reported by al-Bukhari: “Whosoever does not abandon false speech and the acting upon it, Allah is not in need of him leaving off his food and drink.”3  Another characteristic of the specific fast is that one does not overfill himself with food during the night. Instead, he eats in due measure, for indeed, the son of Adam does not fill a vessel more evil than his stomach. If he were to eat his fill during the first part of the night, he would not make good use of himself for the remainder of the night. In the same way, if he eats to his fill for suhur, he does not make good use of himself until the afternoon. This is because excessive eating breeds laziness and lethargy. Therefore, the objective of fasting disappears due to one’s excessiveness in eating, for what is intended by the fast is that one savours the taste of hunger and becomes one who abandons desires.

Recommended Fasts
As for the recommended fasts, then know that preference for fasting is established in certain virtuous days. Some of these virtuous days occur every year, such as fasting the first six days of the month of Shawwal after Ramadan, fasting the day of `Arafah, the day of `Ashura, and the ten days of Dhul-Hijjah and Muharram. Some of them occur every month, such as the first part of the month, the middle part of it, and the last part of it. So whoever fasts the first part of the month, the middle part of it, and the last part of it, then he has done well. Some fasts occur every week, and they are every Monday and Thursday.

The most virtuous of the recommended fasts is the fast of Dawud (peace be upon him). He would fast one day and break his fast the next day. This achieves the following three objectives: The soul is given its share on the day the fast is broken. And on the day of fasting, it completes its worship in full. The day of eating is the day of giving thanks and the day of fasting is the day of having patience. And Faith is divided into two halves – that of thankfulness and that of patience. It is the most difficult struggle for the soul. This is because every time the soul gets accustomed to a certain condition, it transfers itself to that.

As for fasting every day, then it has been reported by Muslim, from the hadith of Abu Qatadah, that `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet (peace be upon him): ‘What is the case if one were to fast every day?’ So he (peace be upon him) said: “He did not fast nor did he break his fast – or – he did not fast and he did not break his fast.”This is concerning the one who fasts continuously, even during the days in which fasting is forbidden.

Characteristics of the most specific fast
Know that the one who has been given intellect, knows the objective behind fasting. Therefore, he burdens himself to the extent that he will not be unable to do that which is more beneficial than it. Ibn Mas`ood would fast very little and it is reported that he used to say: “When I fast, I grow weak in my prayer. And I prefer the prayer over the (optional) fast. Some of them (the Sahabah) would weaken in their recitation of the Qur’an whilst fasting. Thus, they would exceed in breaking their fast (i.e. by observing less optional fasts), until they were able to balance their recitation. Every individual is knowledgeable of his condition and of what will rectify it.

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Notes: Taken from Mukhtasar Minhaaj ul-Qaasideen
Translated by Ismaa`eel Ibn al-Arkaan and edited by Abu Khaliyl, courtesy of www.islaam.com
Source; www.islam21c.com
Islam21c requests all the readers of this article, and others, to share it on your facebook, twitter, and other platforms to further spread our efforts.
1. al-Bukhari and Muslim
2. al-Hajj:26
3. Sahih al-Bukhari, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah
4. Muslim

About Shaikh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shafi

Ustadh Abu Rumaysah Refi Shaafi was born and brought up in High Wycombe. He studies with Shaykh Haitham Al-Haddad and Shaykh Abu AbdiRahman Al-Libee. He graduated from Imperial College from the faculty of Computer Sciences. He is currently a Java Programmer Manager. He is the chairman for the WISE (Wycombe Islamic Society). He is very active in his local community especially with his Masjid and working with youth via Islamic Scouts He has translated a number of books such as The criterion between the friends of Allah and the friends of shaytan, The relief from distress (the dua of Yunus Alayhisalam, both by Ibn Taymiyyah and many others. He has also written an explanation of Surah Al-Faatiha called ‘The spiritual cure.’ He currently gives weekly circles in High Wycombe and Watford. He is also a Lecturer for MRDF.

11 comments

  1. Furqan Mahmood

    Arabic answer
    A masculine “He” in relation to Allah does not mean male gender at all. This is because Allah has sent down the Quran in the Arabic language and has expanded its meaning more than what was originally known to the Arabs and the examples are plenty. When we refer to Allah as a He then we deny for him feminine gender and confirm the opposite. But then when we ask so he is male? We say we use that to deny for HIm
    Feminine gender as the pagans used to say but then for HImself He has chosen male reference but has denied any likeness to it. Similar to His other attributes like Hand, Face, FIngers etc. this is because the language Allah has used is to give you a perception only but the true reality of how HE is cannot be encompassed by it. As HE says in ayatul kursi “they cannot encompass HIs KNowledge except for what HE Wills”.
    So HE chose male reference to deny what pagans used to attribute that GOd is feminine but HIs male reference cannot be used similar to our male gender as nothing is like unto HIm. So just because we share the same “word” of “he” just like “face” “hand” but the reality is different. I hope the answer is clear inshallah.

  2. God as He
    Salam wr,

    I am sure someone much more knowledgeable in Arabic would answer this better.

    Most of the languages have a masculine and feminine form for a word. In English this is not the case and that is why we have the pronoun ‘it’. However, in languages where there is no neutral pronoun, it is always He or She.

    In Arabic, there are certain rules that make a word feminine. For example if it has a particular ending, or it is feminine in nature (e.g. mother). If the word does not fulfil any of these criteria, then it is masculine.

    The word ‘Allah’ in Arabic does not fit any of these and so it is by default masculine; further requiring the pronoun to be ‘He’

  3. arabic language
    I think its more to do with the arabic language and how its a default to refer to something as He when it has no gender.
    As all words are split into genders.

    Allaahu a’lam

    This is what i’ve come across. Maybe someone can elaborate…. InshaAllaah.

  4. Reply to philosophy teacher’s question
    Maybe it’s not the best answer for your philosophy teacher (is there anything we can say to make them turn away from their scepticism)but using word She would definetaly indicate a sex i.e. female.
    Just as an example to illustrate, some words do not always carry its literary meaning in every context e.g. when we talk about babies in literature often we refer as He but this does not imply we mean male babies only, however due to political feminists’ ideas now they use interchangeably words He and She.
    The point is it is reffered as He but clearly in Islam we are told Allah (swt) is nothing like his creation and He is unique and that is what we muslims accept and have no doubt about.

  5. Where is Allah
    This is a question I was asked by my Philosophy teacher;
    “Why use the pronoun “He” when discussing about God if God is unique and bears no relation whatsoever to human being? Doesn’t it show that God is a male?
    How would you respond to such question?
    Thanks,

  6. Good information
    a very good article..thank you.

  7. to brother ablaye bayo
    salaam-mualaykum bro.
    the sahabas used to fast in the month of ramadhaan.what was being refered to was the optional fast,like mondays and thursdays,the middle of the month and so on. fasting in this month is obligatory. i hope that answers bro.Allah accept all oour efforts. Ameen.

  8. characteristics of the most specific of fasts;
    please i don’t understand the characteristics of the most specific os fast i want to know is it that the sahabahs don’t use to fast during the month of ramadan?? please make it clear for me because am confuse ……….

  9. md.arafat shaikh

    fasting in the month of ramadan
    fasting in the month of ramadan is obligatory for all adult muslims/muslimas while fasting in the other months and other recommended days are optional.

  10. md.arafat shaikh

    fasting in the month of ramadan
    fasting in the month of ramadan by an adult muslim/muslimah is OBLIGATORY while fasting on the other recommended months and days are optional.

  11. GOOD MESSAGE
    I Like this artcle is very nice may the ALLAH 9(swt) be with every one of us and guide us to the straight path.AMEN MAA SALAM

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