The fasting one and her Lord
A look at the beauty and wisdom behind one of the central pillars of the month of Ramadhan – fasting from sunrise to sunset.
Allah SWT says: “O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, in order that you gain Taqwa.” (Surah 2: verse required)
Fasting is an act of worship, a lesson, a test and a gift.
Fasting is a way for the worshipper to grow close to her Lord, Allah , because she denies herself things that she loves for His sake alone. The everyday desires of the flesh – the hunger for food, drink and sexual intercourse – are tamed, controlled, restrained, all for Allah’s sake alone. It is a sacrifice that she yearns to make and she offers it willingly, knowing that what she hopes for is sweeter, richer and more lasting: the pleasure and blessings of Allah SWT.
The worshipper obeys Allah’s SWT commands, with the fullness of her being and pure intention, determined to do as her Lord has commanded and stay away from the things He has forbidden, out of His wisdom and mercy. For her, fasting is part of a bigger picture, a loftier goal. She is not merely cleansing her body of food, she is cleansing her character of ugly traits and her actions of ugly deeds. She guards her tongue and guards her thoughts. Her fasting keeps her focused and makes her strong in her resolve.
The Prophet (SAW) said: “Whoever does not abandon false speech, acting upon that (false speech) and (acts of ) ignorance (i.e. sins), then Allah has no need of him abandoning his food and drink.” [Reported by Al- Bukhari]
The worshipper turns her attention to contemplating and remembering Allah SWT- His Names, His Attributes, His many favours and countless blessings. She does this while denying herself and, in denying her desires, she is strengthened in her faith. Sulaymaan Ad-Daraanee said: “Indeed, when the soul hungers and thirsts, the heart softens and becomes pure. And when it is fed, the heart becomes blinded.”
The worshipper is reminded of the great blessings she enjoys. She marvels at her bounties: food when she is hungry, drink when she is thirsty, marital intimacy when she is lonely. So she praises Allah SWT and praises Him again, knowing that others have no food, have no drink, have no loving comfort.
And she is generous to those less fortunate for, this day, she feels their hunger pangs. This day, she feels their parched throats. She is humbled by this knowledge and, grateful, gives freely of what she has.
Through fasting, the worshipper learns to control her nafs, her soul. She takes it in hand and leads it to what will benefit it. She is strong against its calls to evil and to sin and she directs it towards its higher purpose and the greatest of goals.
Fasting gives her the spiritual strength she will need for this life’s journey. It humbles the desires and dignifies the soul. It starves the body and enriches the heart. Oh, that one could gain so much by denying oneself so little: this is the beauty and wisdom behind fasting for the sake of The One, Allah SWT.
This article was inspired by ‘The Wisdom behind fasting’ by Imam Muhammad Salih al-‘Uthaimeen (RA), from which the points and proofs were extracted.
First published in SISTERS Magazine