Benefits and Secrets of Fasting – I

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It is the nature of the human soul to slacken and become bored and tired of striving, especially in the face of the temptations of life, the many pleasures of this world, and the deception of Satan. As a result, the soul becomes weak in performing obligatory duties and acts of worship; it gradually becomes  less  affected  by  them and  benefits  less  from  them. It  is  the wisdom and mercy of Allaah The Almighty that He has ordained for the soul all that strengthens its weakness, sharpens its determination, and increases its faith through the virtue He conferred on certain times and places. The seasons of virtue, for instance, include the first ten days of  Thul-Hijjah, the 10th of Muharram, and Ramadhaan.

Fasting is a great act of worship that Allaah The Almighty made one of the pillars of Islam and prescribed upon the Muslims – not for one day or a week, but for an entire month every year.

Allaah The Almighty has made fasting an obligation in His upright religion since  the  times  of  the  previous  nations,  and,  therefore,  Allaah  The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.} [Quran 2:183]

Fasting is not an exclusive obligation on the Muslim Ummah (nation); it is an age-old religious duty, because of its importance and great impact on the souls of humankind. Among the benefits of fasting are:

(1) Taqwa (Piety):

Taqwa is the ultimate goal of the obligation of fasting, as Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become pious.} [Quran 2:183]

The desired outcome of fasting represents the ultimate goal of all acts of worship. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O mankind, worship your Lord, who created you and those before you, that you may become pious.} [Quran 2:21] 
The Arabic term Taqwa and the verbs derived from it mean ‘fearing Allaah The Almighty’ Who Says (what means): 
· {O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul.}[Quran 4:1]
· {When their brother Nooh (Noah) said to them, “Will you not fear Allaah?} [Quran 26:106]
Nevertheless, the term Taqwa (piety) carries various meanings in the Quran. For example, it has come in the sense of faith and its testimony. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
{And He imposed upon them the word of Taqwa, and they were more deserving of it and worthy of it. And ever Is Allaah, of all things, Knowing.} [Quran 48:26]

It also means repentance, as Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
{And if only the people of the cities had believed and feared Allaah (i.e. repented to Allaah),We would have opened upon them blessings from the heaven and the earth; but they denied [the messengers], so We seized them for what they were earning.”} [Quran 7:96]
In another verse it is interpreted as sincerity, as Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):
 {That [is so]. And whoever honours the symbols of Allaah – indeed, it is from the piety (i.e. sincerity) of hearts.} [Quran 22:32] [Ar-Raazi in Tafseer Fat-h Al-Ghayb]
The essence of piety is that the slave knows Allaah The Almighty by His names and attributes and knows His greatness, dominance, grandeur, and power, so that he fears Him and is cautious not to fall into sin. He should know His mercy, forgiveness and countless favours, as well as what He prepared for His believing slaves. This would urge him to pursue His pleasure. A slave cannot achieve piety except by constantly obeying Allaah The Almighty, carrying out obligations, and doing many voluntary acts of worship. Piety therefore involves being cautious regarding the actions that bring about punishment, and for the observant believers, it involves caution regarding the factors that distance one from Allaah The Almighty. It is like a person walking on a road full of thorns and trying his best to avoid treading on them. ‘Umar رضى اللّهُ عنه  asked Ubayy ibn Ka‘b رضى اللّهُ عنه  “What is piety?” Ubayy رضى اللّهُ عنه said: “O Commander of the Believers, have you ever walked on a thorny road?” He said, “Yes.” Ubayy asked, “What did you do?” He said, “I rolled up my clothes and tried my best to avoid the thorns.” He said, “That is piety.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]
The pious person evades the thorns of the road, which are sins, misdeeds or even permissible acts that distance him from his Lord. He is always cautious. When he takes a step, he asks himself why he is taking it. When he sees a woman, he fears Allaah The Almighty and lowers his gaze. He always feels that Allaah The Almighty is watching Him; he fears Him and obeys Him in all injunctions and prohibitions wherever he is, even with regard to his food and drink. Abu Bakr رضى اللّهُ عنه had a slave who brought him his earnings. One day he brought him something to eat and when Abu Bakr رضى اللّهُ عنه had eaten some of it, the slave asked him, “Do you know where I got that (food) from?” Abu Bakr رضى اللّهُ عنه asked what it was, and the slave replied, “I did some soothsaying for a man in the pre-Islamic period, and not being good at it, I deceived him; today he met me and he rewarded me for that soothsaying with what you have eaten.” Abu Bakr رضى اللّهُ عنه put his hand in his mouth and vomited all that he had eaten. It was said to him, “May Allaah have mercy upon you! You do all this for this bite of food?” He said, “If this bite would not come out except with my soul, I would have gotten it out. I heard the Messenger of Allaah صلى الله عليه و سلم ‘ Hell is more fitting for the body that is nourished with ill-gotten gains.’ I feared that some part of my body would grow from this bite.” Look at this splendid example of piety from this Companion despite his position in Islam, Jihaad (striving in the cause of Allaah The Almighty), Da‘wah (calling to Islam), and collection of good deeds. Nevertheless, he was not deceived by all this and he had great fear and caution.
   Piety is the provision of the soul with which a person travels to his Lord and arrives unharmed and full of hope. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):  {And take provisions, but indeed, the best provision is fear of Allaah.} [Quran 2:197] 
Ibn Al-Qayyim, may Allaah have mercy upon him, says, “Allaah commanded the pilgrims to take provisions for their travel, and not to travel without them. Then, He alerted them to the provisions required for travelling to the Hereafter, which is piety or fearing Allaah.” [Badaa’i‘ At-Tafseer, p.388]
Ibn Al-Qayyim said, “The body does not become sound except with food which replenishes its energy and with excreting wastes, toxins and bad mixtures that, if accumulated in large quantities, would spoil it. It also requires a healthy diet, which protects the body from harmful things. Similarly, the heart cannot survive except with the sustenance of faith and good deeds, which saves its energy, and with sincere repentance that removes the corrupt elements and bad manners from it, and with a healthy diet which maintains its health. Piety involves these three things, and any decrease in any of them corresponds to decrease in piety.”
The person who walks in this life without piety or fear of Allaah The Almighty often slips and Satan becomes very close to him. One may ask: What is the relationship between fasting and piety? The secret for ending the verse of fasting with piety is that the preparation of the hearts of fasting people to fear Allaah The Almighty entails many aspects. The greatest aspect is that fasting is entrusted to the soul and conscience of the fasting person. No one is watching him except Allaah The Almighty. Therefore, it is a secret between the slave and his Lord – no one knows about it but Allaah The Almighty. That is because a person can break his fast secretly without the knowledge of the people closest to him. However, the Muslim is honest in keeping his fast regardless of the experiences he has or the desires and temptations he faces. Fasting through a full month trains the Muslim on this great trait. Fasting, which involves responding to the commands of Allaah The Almighty, and relinquishing what the souls love and need without being watched by anyone other than Allaah The Almighty, instills piety in the hearts. Fasting prepares the soul of the Muslim to fear Allaah The Almighty and be conscious of Him throughout the year. What makes you conscious of Him in this month should make you conscious of Him all the year, since the Lord of all months is One, Who is watching and observing you. How great is this benefit! It is fostering piety and permanent consciousness in the souls everywhere and at any time. Is there any law that nurtures this sensitivity? This is the reason why a noble man says,  “Constitutions, laws and regulations, no matter how precise and accurate, cannot shape man from within, nor can they make his conscience, his heart, his sentiment, or emotions. They only control the appearance. Fasting as an act of worship is a divine approach that awakens the conscience, revives feelings, and alerts the senses, and thus purifies life from oppression, injustice and corruption.”

Therefore, you find people in Ramadhaan with a high level of this sensitivity, which is coupled with piety and caution, and thus they ask about the ruling on swallowing one’s saliva, chewing food, and using a toothbrush. If only this sensitivity would continue after Ramadhan! For many people, when the day dawns in Ramadhaan, it brings with it God-consciousness; however, when the night comes, it disappears. Why does this happen, when our Lord for whom we fasted during the day sees us during the night as well? Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {It is the same [to Him] concerning you whether one conceals [his] speech or one publicizes it and whether one is hidden by night or conspicuous [among others] by day.} [Quran 13:10]
We are badly in need of piety that develops God-consciousness – such that the slave fears his Lord and becomes conscious of Him all the time, especially in seclusion where no one sees him. Fasting develops piety and God-consciousness in the soul. It trains us to lower our gaze when we see forbidden or tempting scenes. How can we refrain from what is prohibited if we are not raised on the principle of God-consciousness and the fear of Allaah The Almighty in secret and in public? This is what the month of Ramadhaan teaches us. A woman stands in her kitchen in front of different types of food and drink but does not eat a single bite or take a single sip! Who is watching her and prevents her? It is Allaah The Almighty.
In ablution, a Muslim rinses his mouth with water while he is fasting and no one would know if he swallows it. Who prevents him from swallowing a single drop? It is the principle of God-consciousness and the fear of Allaah The All-Knowing, The Acquainted. A Muslim is mindful of Allaah The Almighty regarding his fasting, prayers, and his children. He should be mindful of Allaah The Almighty regarding his work, and the Muslim woman should be mindful of Allaah The Almighty regarding the clothes that she wears in front of non-Mahrams (marriageable men).
Extracted from article: Benefits and Secrets of Fasting
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About Umm Omar

I've been a Muslimah for 4 years now الحمد لله and I can say for sure that Islam changed many things in my life including my overall character and behaviour. I'm not a scholar by far, just a simple seeker of knowledge enjoying reading beneficial books and articles about my religion, the best book among all being the Qur'an, you simply can find all the answer you need if you just read it carefully and find all the explanations you need from the Sunnah of Rasoul ALLAH صلى الله عليه و سلم, i.e. ahadith without which we wouldn't be able to understand many things. I hope you'll all enjoy my blog and learn something beneficial for you. I'm quite new to blogging, so I hope you'll be patient till i learn how to make my blog look better and add more posts with time in sha' ALLAH. In conclusion, for all those who at times lose hope and feel down, one of my most favourite ayahs from the Qur'an from Surah Al Zumar: 39:53. Say: "O 'Ibâdî (My slaves) who have transgressed against themselves (by committing evil deeds and sins)! Despair not of the Mercy of Allâh, verily Allâh forgives all sins. Truly, He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. Do not forget the remembrance of Allâh, Verily, in the remembrance of Allâh do hearts find rest!!!

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