Fasting – [The Great Difference Between One Who Embarks Upon Fasting In Ramadan Out of Faith and Seeking Reward and One Who Does So As a Custom or Healthy Interlude]


In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy
Indeed, we have been put to trial nowadays by way of the pens and keyboards of the journalists! Some of them  speak in the affairs of the religion and most of time they neither provide proof nor explanation from the upright scholars of the Ummah – the scholars of Tawheed and Sunnah. It is very important that one either gives detail from the explanations of the upright scholars or refrain from entering into subject matters of the pure religion. Shaikhul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “There’s no good thing except that he [i.e. the Messenger (peace and blessing of Allaah be upon him)] has urged the person towards it and there is no evil except that he warned the Ummah against it”. Imaam Muhammad Ibn Saaleh Al-Uthaymeen [may Allaah have mercy upon him] commented on the above statement and stated “This is correct because indeed good is something one seeks to do, therefore he clarified it specifically and urged a person towards it. And regarding evil, we say, ‘There is no evil except that he warned against it’ and he (Shaikhul Islaam) did not say, ‘There’s no evil except he has clarified it (i.e. in detail)’, because there are evil things which he clarified (in detail) and warned against, and there are evil things which he did not clarify (in detail); rather he warned against it in general. For example, fornication, killing a person (i.e. without a justified reason based on the sharee’ah) and what is similar to these deeds are manifest evils, and religious innovation (Bidah) is a manifest evil, but did he mention every Bidah specifically by its description in a text or rather mentioned in general? Answer: They are mentioned in general and warned against. The distinction between (evil) and good is that good is something one seeks to do, therefore it is in need of being clarified specifically – clarify every affair so that we do it, unlike evil because it is something to be abandoned, therefore sometimes it is mentioned in detail and sometimes in general”.(1)

Imaam Ibnul Qayyim [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said,”It is obligated on you to give detail and make a distinction, because unrestricted and general (statements) without clarification has indeed corrupted this existence (i.e. the world), and misguided the intellects and views (of the people) in every era”. Al-Allaamah Saaleh Al-Fawzaan [may Allaah preserve him] commented on this statement and stated, “There has to be detail explanation. The one who is not proficient in giving detail should keep quiet because benefit is not acquired from his speech. And every time error occurs, its cause is due to an absence of detail explanation regarding truth and falsehood. There has to be detail explanation and distinction and not to mix up [affairs]. Indeed, it may be that there is something of truth and falsehood in an opponent’s statement, so all of it is neither deemed to be false nor truth; rather there has to be a distinction between its truth and falsehood. All of it is neither rejected nor accepted; rather a distinction is made regarding the truth and what is correct and the falsehood and error in it. And if you are not proficient in giving detail, then you should not enter into this field”. (2)

The clarification intended in this short article is regarding the statement of a Turkish journalist who stated regarding fasting in Ramadaan, “Its religious significance aside, fasting has become one of the most encouraged methods of replenishing health, with recent clinical studies citing countless physical and mental benefits, ranging from weight loss and mental clarity to reversing disease. While this historical month of fasting is certainly not new and in fact spans back thousands of years, there are many among us who have just recently boarded the fasting train and thus we may choose to embark on this annual tradition ourselves this year, whether it be as a spiritual practice or a healthy interlude”.

Pay close attention to the statement, “There are many among us who have just recently boarded the fasting train and thus we may choose to embark on this annual tradition ourselves this year, whether it be as a spiritual practice or a healthy interlude”. Indeed, this statement needs clarification so that the virtue of fasting as an act of worship is clearly distinguished from fasting as a means of improving health. Abu Huraira [may Allaah be pleased with him] reported that Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him], “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan due to faith and seeking reward, his previous sins will be forgiven. Whoever stands in prayer during the Night of Decree due to faith and seeking reward, his previous sins will be forgiven”. [Al-Bukhaaree 1901 and Muslim 760]

Regarding the statement of the Prophet, “Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan due to faith and seeking reward”, Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Due to believing that Allaah legislated it and seeking reward, as opposed to the one who fasts out of blind following”. (3) “That is because fasting is for the purpose of Taqarrub Ilal laah [i.e. perform acts of worship legislated by Allaah, so that we receive Allaah’s love, reward and help etc] and intention is a condition of its performance”. (4)

Pay close attention to the statement “and intention is a condition of its performance”, meaning intention [Niyyah] is a condition for the performance of fasting. This Niyyah [intention] is what distinguishes one act of worship from another act of worship- a distinction between prayer and fasting, distinction between an obligatory prayer and an optional prayer etc (4.1), and it is also what distinguishes acts of worship from customary deeds, for example taking a bath may be done to clean oneself or cool one’s body (i.e. not related to worship) or it may be done as ritual purification. (4.2) Therefore, this journalist should have made a clear distinction between the importance of fasting as an act of worship and fasting for a healthy interlude.

And regarding the statement of the Messenger, “his previous sins will be forgiven”, Imaam an-Nawawi [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “It is well known – regarding what the jurists hold – that this specifically applies to the minor sins and not the major”. (5) Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “This forgiveness is attained on condition that one abandons the major sins”. (6) Imaam Abdul Azeez Bin Baaz also stated a principle related to the unrestricted narrations in which a mention is made regarding the expiation of sins, that they are restricted by the texts regarding the abandonment of major sins – either restricted by the statement of Allaah:

[إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ – If you avoid the great sins which you are forbidden to do, We shall remit from you your (small) sins. (Surah An-Nisaa. Aayah 31)]; or by the statement of the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam], “The five prayers, Friday to Friday, and Ramadan to Ramadan will expiate the sins committed between them, as long as major sins are avoided”. (7)

The Benefits of Fasting By Al-Allaamah Abdul Muhsin Al-Abbaad [may Allaah preserve him]

As for fasting, its good outcomes are tremendous because it is a protection. Imaam Bukhaari and Imaam Muslim reported the hadeeth, “Fasting is a shield”. (8) It is shield of protection against the hell fire in the afterlife and it is a protection against disobedience (to Allaah and His Messenger). Fasting weakens the desires of a person; so it restrains the whims of a person and acts as barrier against the dangerous and forbidden deeds he might commit due to engagement in enjoyment (i.e. enjoyment that may exceed the limits impose by Allaah and His Messenger). Indeed the soul may engage- due to such enjoyment- in affairs whose end results are unpraiseworthy in this worldly and the hereafter; so because of this the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Paradise is surrounded by hardships and the hell fire is surrounded by all kinds of desires and passions”. (9)

The path to paradise requires that a person exercises patience in order to abstain from disobedience and the path to the hell fire is surrounded by all (forbidden) desires. If a person distances himself from those forbidden desires, he [or she] will be safe; but if a person engages in such forbidden desires he [or she] will fall into what Allaah has forbidden. This forbidden enjoyment will be one that quickly fades away, but its end results will be grief, regret and humiliation in this life and the next. It has been reported in a hadeeth narrated by Abdullaah Ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him] that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “O young people! Whoever among you is able to marry, should marry, and whoever is not able to marry, is recommended to observe Sawm (fast) as fasting will diminish his sexual power”. (10)

Therefore, the Prophet made it clear that if a person is able to get married, he should hasten to do so in order to remain chaste and enables another person (i.e. wife) to remain chaste; but if he is not able, he should devote himself to this Prophetic remedy which the Noble Messenger directed him to, and that is fasting. And that is because it is a safeguard and a protection for a person against falling into disobedience. In summary: This is a Noble Prophetic guidance given by the Noble Messenger to the youth-that they should get marriage if they are able to do so; but if not, they should restrain their desires through fasting.

As for the fasting of the wealthy people, it reminds them of hunger pangs; so they reflect upon the blessings Allaah has bestowed on them because they have Muslim brothers (and sisters) who suffer from hunger pangs (even) without fasting. And that is because they cannot find something (i.e. food) to do away with extreme hunger. So this reflection becomes a drive (or motive) for them (i.e. the wealthy) to show kindness towards the poor and to spend on the destitute and needy. [An Excerpt from أثر العبادات في حياة المسلم pages: 4-31. slightly paraphrased]


[Ref 1: An Excerpt from ‘Ad-Duratu Al-Uthaymeeniyyah Bi-Sharhi Fat’hi Rabbil Bariyyati Bi-Talkhees Al-Hamawiyya. Page 34. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 2: An Excerpt from At-Ta-leeqaat Al-Mukhtasar Alaa Al-Qaseedah an-Nooniyyah: Vol: 1 page: 216]
[Ref 3: Al-Hulalul Ibreeziyyah Min Ta’leeqaat Al-Baaziyyah Alaa Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree Vol 2. Page 120. Footnote 6. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 4: Fat’hul Baaree Sharh Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree 4/148-149. Publisher: Daarus Salaam 1st Edition 1421AH (2000)]
[4.1: See Sharh Al-Arba’een by Shaikh Saaleh Aala Ash Shaikh. page 12. Publisher: Maktabah Al-Hadyi Al-Muhammadee. 1st Edition 1428AH (2007)]
[Ref 4.2: Bahjatul Quloob Al-Abraar. By Imaam As-Sadi. page 10. 1st Edition 1414AH (1994)]
[Ref 5: Sharh Saheeh Muslim Vol 6. Page 36. Publisher: Daarul Kutub Al-Ilmiyyah. 1421AH (2000)]
[Ref 6: Al-Hulalul Ibreeziyyah Min Ta’leeqaat Al-Baaziyyah Alaa Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree Vol 2. Page 120. Footnote 6. Slightly paraphrased]
[Ref 7: https://binbaz.org.sa/audios/45/1–%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%AD%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AB-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A7-%D8%A8%D9%8A%D9%86%D9%87%D9%85%D8%A7
ال النبيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: «العمرةُ إلى العمرة كفَّارةٌ لما بينهما، والحجُّ المبرور ليس له جزاء إلا الجنة»، هذا يُبين فضل الحج والعمرة، وأن العمرة كفَّارة لما بينهما، يعني: عند اجتناب الكبائر.
قاعدة: الأحاديث المطلقة في تكفير الذنوب مُقيَّدة بترك الكبائر، إما بقوله سبحانه: {إِنْ تَجْتَنِبُوا كَبَائِرَ مَا تُنْهَوْنَ عَنْهُ نُكَفِّرْ عَنْكُمْ سَيِّئَاتِكُمْ} [النساء:31]، وفي قوله صلى الله عليه وسلم: «الصَّلوات الخمس، والجمعة إلى الجمعة، ورمضان إلى رمضان كفَّارات لما بينهنَّ إذا اجتنب الكبائر»، وفي اللفظ الآخر: «ما لم تُغْشَ الكبائر»، فالعمرة إلى العمرة كفَّارة لما بينهما عند اجتناب الكبائر.
«والحج المبرور ليس له جزاء إلا الجنة» يعني: عند اجتناب الكبائر، كما قال صلى الله عليه وسلم: «مَن حجَّ فلم يرفث ولم يفسق رجع كيوم ولدته أمه»، فالحج المبرور هو الذي ليس فيه رفثٌ ولا فسوقٌ، هذا الحج المبرور، ليس فيه ما يُبطله، وليس فيه ما ينقصه من المعاصي، هذا هو الحج المبرور الذي يُوجب الجنة
[Ref 8: Bukhaari No1894 and Muslim No: 1151]
[Ref 9: Muslim No: 2822 and Bukhaari No: 6487]
[Ref 10: Bukhaari No: 5065]

 

 

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