All praise is due and belongs to Allâh. We praise Him, seek His help and forgiveness and repent to Him. We seek refuge with Allâh from the evils of ourselves and from the wickedness of our own deeds. Whomever that Allâh guides, none can mislead him, and whomever He sends astray, none can guide. I bear witness that there is no deity worthy of worship but Allâh alone with no partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اتَّقُواْ اللّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلاَ تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنتُم مُّسْلِمُونَ )
(O you who believe, fear Allâh as he should be feared and die not unless you are Muslims) [Al-Imran: 102]
( يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُواْ رَبَّكُمُ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُم مِّن نَّفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالاً كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاء وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ وَالأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا )
(O people fear your Lord, who created you from a single soul. From it, He created its spouse, and from both of them scattered many men and women. Fear Allâh, by whom you ask one another, and (fear) the wombs (lest you sever its relationship). Allâh is ever watching over you). [An-Nisa: 1].
( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا * يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَن يُطِعْ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا )
(O you, who believe, fear Allâh and say sound statements. He will mend your deeds for you and forgive your sins. Whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger shall win a great victory) [Al-Ahzab: 70-71].
Exalted be Allâh! Purified be Allâh! Glorified be He! Glorified be He!
( لَا يُسۡـَٔلُ عَمَّا يَفۡعَلُ وَهُمۡ يُسۡـَٔلُونَ )
He cannot be questioned as to what He does, while they will be questioned [Al-Anbiya: 23].
We do not ask Allâh «Why have you done this »! May Allâh safeguard against that! However, we may ask about the wisdom underlying certain acts if that is possible for us to be aware of; for Allâh, the Most Glorified and Exalted, deprived us of food, drink and lawful lust for a full month. So, what is the wisdom behind that? Is it to minimize consumption?! Never by Allâh! This is because « The Right (Hand) of Allâh is full and (Its fullness) is not affected by the continuous spending night and day. Do you see what He has spent since He created the Heavens and the Earth? Yet all that has not decreased what is in His Right Hand» (Agreed upon).
Is it just to torture the human beings?! May Allâh safeguard against that!
(مَّا يَفۡعَلُ ٱللَّهُ بِعَذَابِڪُمۡ)
What would Allâh gain by punishing you? [An-Nisa: 147]!
Therefore, why was deprivation from the human lawful pleasures legislated?! We say, Allâh is purified from all what humans think. He is the All-Wise, the All-Aware. He does nothing but for great wisdom. He is the Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate. His mercy is perceived in every decision He makes, Purified be He! Indeed, fasting albeit is a rewarded deprivation from lawful lusts permissible, it was not prescribed just for that deprivation, but for the benefits and blessings such deprivation may create, otherwise they would have not been!
Here is the Qur’an explicitly demonstrating the ultimate intended meaning from fasting as it says:
( يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡڪُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِڪُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ )
O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious [Al-Baqarah: 183].
Yes, the basic meaning of fasting is a achievement of piety, but in order to achieve this intended meaning there are barriers, contraindications, steps and degrees … Scaling through all of them is the way that will lead to piety.
Here is the Messenger of Islam, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him), confirming the same truth as he says: « There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray at night and get nothing from their night prayer but a sleepless night » (Ibn Majah).
Jabir bin Abdullah says, «When you fast, let your sight, your eyes, and your tongue abstain from lying, forbidden acts, and abstain from harming the servant. But you should observe decorum and tranquility during your fast, and do not make your fasting day and the day you are not fasting the same» (Al-Bayhaqi related it in Shu’ab Al-Eiman).
Hence, the intended meaning of fasting is not just to leave the food and drink but sublimation above the entire world.
Slaves of Allâh! After we have realized that the easiest form of fasting is abstinence from food and drink, let us enumerate the most important and the most serious types of fasting, which refraining from lawful lusts is only a means to them. These types include as follows:
First type: Fasting of the tongue. He that abstains from eating and drinking but his tongue does not abstain from lies, slander, and backbiting, gossip, making false testimony, vain talk and cursing …is not fasting! It was narrated that Abu Hurairah, may Allâh be pleased with him said: The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him), said, « Whoever does not give up false speech and acting upon it, Allâh has no need of his giving up his food and drink (i.e. Allâh will not accept his Fasting) » (Al-Bukhari).
Nevertheless, he that responds to the aggression by others with his tongue has not fasted; for the Prophet, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said: « Fasting is a shield or protection from the fire and from committing sins. If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarreling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, ‘I am fasting » (Agreed upon).
Aisha, followed by Ibn Hazm and Awzaa’I, have issued a fatwa (legal verdict) that backbiting breaks the fast and necessitates making up for that day. Moreover, Ibn Rushd related from the people Al-Madh-hab Ad-Dhahiri, (Ad-Dhahiri school of thought) that obscenity in speech breaks the fast, and the majority of learned scholars opine that such act is haram as it wipes away the reward of fasting, but it does not void it.
Second type: Fasting of the heart. It is the most important types of fasting as a whole, and why not; while the heart is the master and prince of the limbs. The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said, « Beware! There is a piece of flesh in the body if it becomes good (reformed) the whole body becomes good but if it gets spoilt the whole body gets spoilt and that is the heart » (Agreed upon).
In addition, it is part of obscene injustice to see the belly hungry while the heart dwells in sins! To see a body fasting but the heart swims in disease that break the fast! To see the mouth and private parts refrain altogether from the pleasures of this world, but the heart rends out of longing and yearning for them! Allâh looks to the hearts and not the bodies. The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said, « Verily Allâh does not look to your forms and your wealth but He looks to your hearts and to your deeds » (Muslim).
O Muslims! Have you seen a heart that gets sick, or a heart that has been sealed, or heart that dies? All of this happens, so it is mandatory for each and every one of us to take care of his heart; treat its illnesses and diseases, and remove some of its filths, and take advantage of the month of fasting by refining the heart. So the question is how does the heart fast and what are the qualities of a fasting heart?
First quality: A heart free from the love of the world. The fasting heart, dear honourable ones, is the heart that transcends above the mundane clay and from attachment to its pleasures and desires, the heart that is preoccupied by the enduring bliss, seeking permanent peace, and therefore to them the worldly fatigue is trivial; because they hope for the comfort of the Paradise and so the world becomes little before them and do not allow its desires to capture them.
As for anyone else among those whose stomachs fast but their hearts did not fast; because they are preoccupied by the love of this world preferring it to the Hereafter. This life is their passion and object of quest. There is great difference between the two hearts. Anas bin Malik, reported: The Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said: « Whoever makes the Hereafter his goal, Allâh makes his heart rich, and organizes his affairs, and the world comes to him whether it wants to or not. And whoever makes the world his goal, Allâh puts his poverty right before his eyes, and disorganizes his affairs, and the world does not come to him, except what has been decreed for him » (At-Tirmidhi).
The second quality: A heart that is attached to Allâh alone. It does not fear other than Allâh and it does not put trust in others besides him. It does not request but from Him, and it does not work but for His sake. It intends nothing but Allâh alone, the Almighty. It directs and devotes all its acts of worship to Him alone…. The fasting heart is the heart that cheers saying:
( قُلۡ إِنَّ صَلَاتِى وَنُسُكِى وَمَحۡيَاىَ وَمَمَاتِى لِلَّهِ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ * لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ )
Say, “My prayer, my offering, my life and my death are for Allâh, the Lord of all the worlds. (162) For Him there is no partner [Al-An’am: 162-163].
This is how fasting teaches the heart perfect tawhid Oneness of the Lord Almighty; when it feels about its desperate need and desire for food and drink and then remembers the words of Allâh, the Most Glorified and Exalted:
( وَهُوَ يُطۡعِمُ وَلَا يُطۡعَمُ)
And it is He Who feeds but is not fed [Al-An’am: 14].
Third quality: A heart that is loyal and devoted in worship. The heart of the fasting person senses throughout his period of fast that it is worshiping Allâh by abstaining from food, drink and lust. It expects its reward for this deprivation from his Lord, and takes delights in leaving its desires for the sake of its Lord alone. Allâh spoke the truth when He says in the hadith Qudsi: « He abstains from his food, drink and lust for my sake! The fasting is for Me and I shall reward for it» (Al-Bukhari).
If the fasting heart does any deed or act of worship sincerely for the sake of Allâh alone, the Almighty, without showing off to any creature nor expecting praise from anyone; for it knows others besides Allâh do not have the keys to the Paradise which is its hope, object of quest and main concern.
Fourth quality: A heart that is free from hatred and rancor, which are mainly caused by competing and scrambling for unenduring worldly gains, as evidenced by the words of the Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) : « By Allâh, it is not poverty that I fear for you, but I fear that this world will be opened up with its wealth for you as it was opened to those before you; and you vie with one another over it as they did and eventually it will ruin you as it ruined them» (Agreed upon).
Moreover, Abdullah bin Amr bin al-Aas, reported that the Messenger of Allâh, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him), said: « How would you be, O people, when Persia and Rome would be conquered for you? `Abd ar-Rahman b `Auf said: We would say as Allâh has commanded us and we would express our gratitude to Allâh. Thereupon Allâh’s Messenger (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) said: Nothing else besides it? You would (in fact) vie with one another, then you would feel jealous, then your relations would be estranged and then you will bear enmity against one another» (Muslim).
Nevertheless, the heart of the fasting person has learned asceticism in the world from his fasting and learnt to rise above trifling. The fasting heart is a heart free from grudges and hatred mainly caused by the by competing and scrambling for the transient worldly gains. It does not habour hatred nor evil nor envy, for any Muslim, but it forgives and pardons, and absolves. It tolerates the harm caused by people and their ignorance. Such is the heart that benefits its owner the Day of Resurrection. Allâh, the Most High, said:
( يَوۡمَ لَا يَنفَعُ مَالٌ۬ وَلَا بَنُونَ * إِلَّا مَنۡ أَتَى ٱللَّهَ بِقَلۡبٍ۬ سَلِيمٍ۬ )
The Day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, (88) Except him who brings to Allâh a clean heart [clean from Shirk (polytheism) and Nifâq (hypocrisy)] [As-Shu’araa: 88-89].
O those, whom Allâh has assisted to observe the fasting of the body, let your hearts abstain from the diseases of the souls, and the vicissitudes of hearts. Break your fast when breaking fast upon the love of Allâh, hope in Him, thinking well of Him and devotion to Him. May your hearts be filled with safety and free from rancor and envy. May your souls overflow with the attachment to Allâh and love for Him, the Most Purified and Most High so that you may combine the fasting of the bellies, the hearts and the limbs.
Fifth quality: A submissive heart that is humble to Allâh. The heart of the fasting person abstains from arrogance and condescension, avoids vanity, and self-conceit. It has come closer to its Lord and left the pleasures for His face, seeking His pleasure and Paradise. How then does it come to meddle in the robe or garment of Al-Jabbar Al-Muta’al (the Compeller and the Most High). How is that possible while it has heard the Compeller, the Almighty and Most Glorified say: « Pride is My cloak and greatness My robe, and whoever competes with Me with regard to either of them, I shall throw him into Hell » (Ibn Majah).
Moreover, how can he flaunt the slaves and worshipers of Allâh when the Paradise is his utmost aim, and having heard the Prophet, (May the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon him) say: « He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise » (Muslim).
All praise is due and belongs to Allâh alone, and may the blessings and peace of Allâh be upon the last Prophet.
Slaves of Allâh! The sixth quality among the qualities of the heart of the fasting person is that it is a heart that is precautious and wary of all that invalidates or voids the fast, with respect to many pleasantries that have overwhelmed and overflowed in our time. Perhaps the most serious are the three screens; TV screen, computer screen, and the mobile phone screen. They are mostly being used at this time for fun and games. They are even being used for transgressions and sins, or even for tyranny and sins!
It doesn’t become of us to be precautious of a drop of water that penetrates to our bellies or a piece of bread getting to the abdomen but we do not also feel wary of the weight of a mustard seed of hypocrisy or show off or association of partners with Allâh … and thus our deeds become void and reward lost, then we become like those on whose account Allâh said,
( كَٱلَّتِى نَقَضَتۡ غَزۡلَهَا مِنۢ بَعۡدِ قُوَّةٍ أَنڪَـٰثً۬ا )
Like her who undoes the thread which she has spun after it has become strong [An-Nahl: 92] .
O Allâh! Protect our fasting for us, and guide us do the deeds such as please you, and accept them from us.
Invoke prayers and blessings of Allâh upon the one Allâh, the Most Exalted and Glorified, has commanded you to do so when He said,
( إِنَّ اللَّهَ وَمَلَائِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا صَلُّوا عَلَيْهِ وَسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا )
Allâh sends His Salâh (Graces, Honours, Blessings, Mercy, etc.) on the Prophet (Muhammad) and also His angels too (ask Allâh to bless and forgive him). O you who believe! Send your Salâh on (ask Allâh to bless) him (Muhammad), and (you should) greet him with the Islamic way of greeting [Al-Ahzab: 56].