Fasting & Its Levels

Rasulullah  ﷺ said, “AllahﷻStates, ‘Every good action is multiplied by 10 to 700, except fasting, which is especially for Me ﷻ, and I ﷻwill give the reward for it.” ¹

Rasulullah  ﷺ:said, “Everything has a door, and the door of worship is fasting.”²

Specialities

Fasting possesses these specialities due to two factors : 1. Fasting refers to abstinence from eating, drinking and sexual relations. This is a hidden action which no one except Allâh ﷻis Aware of. Other forms of worship like salâh, zakâh, tilawah, Hajj etc. are such that can be seen by others. Only that Muslim will fast, who does not desire to be referred to as an âbid (worshipper) and zâhid (abstinent) by people, and who does not love show and ostentation.

2. The second factor is that it overpowers the enemy of Allâhﷻi.e. shaytân. The enemy cannot become strong except by means of one’s nafsâni (egocentric) desires, which become forceful with a full stomach. Hunger crushes all these desires, which are the instruments of shaytân. For this reason Rasulullah ﷺsaid,” Verily shaytán flows in the children of Adam like blood.” ³ Some commentators have said, “Thus close its avenues by hunger.” ⁴ This is the wisdom behind the above statement of Rasulullah ﷺ With the onset of Ramadân, the doors of Jannah are opened, the doors of Hell are closed, the shayatin are chained, and a caller calls out. “O seeker of good, advance. O seeker of evil, desist.”⁵

Types

Know well that fasting is of 3 types with regards to its quality, and of 3 types with regards to its quantity, With regards to its quantity, the lowest level is that one suffices with fasting only in the month of Ramadân. The highest level is Sawm-e-Dawûd  to fast every alternate day. A hadith sharif states, “This is more virtuous than continuous fasting.”⁶ and “This is the most virtuous form of fasting. The reason is that, by continuous fasting, one becomes accustomed to it. Once fasting is a habit, one will then not feel humility, purity of heart, and weakening of desires, because the carnal desires are affected by that which is tedious, and not by that which it is accustomed to. The doctors also prohibit a person from continuously drinking medicine, when not seriously ill. They state that continuous medicinal intake will result in that medicine losing its effect, and will not work when the person really falls seriously ill. When one’s temperament becomes accustomed to something, it is not affected by it.

It is for this reason that Rasulullah said to Abdullah Ibn Amr ؓ, when asked by him about fasting, “Fast for one day, and do not fast the next.” He said, “I have the strength to do more.” Rasulullah said, “There is no rank higher than this.” ⁷ Once, Rasulullah  ﷺ  was informed of a person who kept continuous fasts. Rasulullah ﷺ said “Keeping such fasts and not keeping them is the same.” ⁸

Quality :

1. To suffice with abstaining from eating, drinking, and fulfilling sexual desires. However, one does not prevent his limbs from engaging in sin This is the fast of the general masses. This type of fasting is restricted to name only.

2. Together with abstaining from the above, one prevents one’s limbs from any action contrary to the laws of Islam. Thus, one controls his tongue from backbiting, his eyes from looking at strange women, and controls all the other limbs as well.

3. Together with the above, to protect the heart from evil thoughts and evil whisperings, and keep the heart occupied with Allâh only. This is the level of perfection. This is the fast of the elite. Since every person cannot attain such perfection, the least one can do, is break one’s fast with halál and pure food, in which there is no doubt whatsoever, and abstain from filling the stomach to the point where lustful desires are increased, which will result in the benefit of the fast being lost. This will lead to laziness, and the inability to wake up for Tahajjud. At times one might miss Fajr salâh as well. One should abstain from eating so much at the time of iftâr, that it covers up for the food missed during the day.

References:

1)Muslim (164,1151), Nasai (4/162), Muatta Imaam Malik (1/310)

2)Musnadul Firdaus (4992), Zuhd of Ibnul Mubarak (1423)

3) Bukhâri (2038), Muslim (2174)

4) Nasâi (4/129)

5) Bukhâri (1979), Muslim (1159)

6) Bukhâri ( 4765 )

8) Muslim (1162)

7) Bukhâri (1976)

(Tabligh-e-Deen by Imaam Al – Ghazaali)

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