When a person observes the regular course of fasting in consecutive days of the Holy Month and in the holy months of the consecutive years, he is certainly applying himself to a high form of discipline and a superb sense of order. Similarly, when he relieves his stomach and relaxes his digestive system, he is indeed insuring his body, not to mention the soul, against all harm that results from stomach overcharge. In this manner of relaxation he may be sure that his body will survive free from the usual disorder and break, and that his soul will continue to shine purely and peacefully.
Sympathy with the poor and hungry.
Anyone who has experienced the pangs of hunger while fasting must sympathize with the poor and with homeless refugees to whom hunger is a common experience. During the fasting month it is common express this sympathy by giving out food when one can afford it, and this practice is encouraged at any time of the year as an important act of charity. The act of giving food to those in need is made compulsory at the end of the fasting month when Zakatul-Fitr is to give out on behalf of every member of the family of those who have the mean.
Unity, Brotherhood and Charity.
The fast of Ramadan helps the Muslims to be aware of their unity. From the moment the new moon is seen, the whole Muslim world enters into the spiritual discipline of fasting. Mutual awareness and mutual sympathy between Muslims is increased. We try doing more acts of charity towards each other.
We bear in mind that back-biting gossip, quarrelling and so on can take away the spiritual benefits and reward of our fasting, as shown in a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah in which the Prophet is reported to have said: “if a person does not keep away from falsehood and false conduct Allah has no need of his fast.” (Bukhari). According to another Hadith “If someone tries to pick a quarrel with a Muslim who is fasting he is to control himself and reply “I am fasting.” By all these means Muslims cultivate peace and brotherhood during the holy month.
Therefore, it is the duty of every Muslim to fast the month, however, he who is too sick to fast, or is on travel during the month, can omit fasting during Ramadan, but he has to fast an equal number of days after Ramadan. See Q2/183-5.
Allah the Almighty gives reward in fasting more than any other deed. Abu Hurairah relates that the messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “God the Almighty said: Every deed by a person is his except fasting, fasting is mine, and I reward for it. Fasting is a shield, so if one of you is fasting on a certain day, he should keep away bad language and from noisy exchanges.
If someone abuses him or quarrels with him, let him just say: I am on fast. By Him who has Muhammad’s soul in His Hand, the breath of a person on fast is sweeter in God’s sight than the smell of Musk. The person on fast has two occasions to be joyful about: When he breaks his fast, he will feel the pleasure of it, and when he meets his Lord, he will be pleased with his fast.
In another version in Al- Bukhari Allah says: “… he leaves his food, drink, and lust for me. Fasting is mine and I reward for it, one good deed is worth ten with Me.”
Here is an explanation of the spiritual meaning of the Islamic Fasting:
- It teaches man the principle of sincere Love, because when he observes the Fasting he does it out of deep love for God. And the man who loves God truly is a man who really knows what love is.
- It equips man with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic Outlook on life, because when he fasts he is hoping to please God and seeking His Grace.
- It imbues man with a genuine virtue of effective Devotion, honest Dedication and closeness to God, because when he fasts he does so for God and for His sake alone.
- It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience, because the fasting person keeps his fast in secret as well as in public. In Fasting, especially, there is no mundane. Authority to check man’s behavior or compel him to observe the fasting. He keeps it to please God and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public. There is no better way to cultivate a sound conscience in man.
- It indoctrinates man in patience and Unselfishness, because when he fasts he feels the pains of deprivation but endures patiently. Truly this deprivation may be only temporary, yet there is no doubt that the experience makes him realize the severe effects of such pains on others, who might be deprived of essential commodities for days or weeks or probably months together. The meaning of this experience in a social and humanitarian sense is that such a person is much quicker than anybody else in sympathizing with his fellow men and responding to their needs. And that is an eloquent expression of unselfishness and genuine sympathy.
- It is an effective lesson in applied moderation and willpower. The person who observes his Fasting properly is certainly a man who can discipline his passionate desires and place his self above physical temptation. Such is the man of personality and character, the man of willpower and determination.
- It provides man with a Transparent Soul to transcend. A clear mind to think and a Light Body to move and act. All this is the never failing result of carrying a light stomach.
- It shows man a new way of wise savings and sound budgeting, because normally when he eats less quantity or less meal he spends less money and effort. And this is a spiritual semester of home economics and budgeting.
Do perform as many acts of worship as possible during the last Ten (10) days of Ramadan
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from ‘Aishah that during the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A version in Muslim states: “He would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time.” At-Tirmizhi also recorded this from ‘Ali.
Night of Qadr, its virtue
The night of Qadr is the most virtuous night of the year. Allah says in the Qur’an: “We revealed it on the night of power [that is, qadr]. What will tell you what the night of power is? It is better than a thousand months.” Any action therein, for example, reciting the Qur’an, making remembrance of Allah, and so on, is better than acting for one thousand months which do not contain the night of qadr.
- Night of Qadr, it is preferred to seek this night
It is preferred to seek this night during the last ten nights of Ramadan, as the Prophet, (WAS), strove his best in seeking it during that time. We have already mentioned that the Prophet would stay up during the last ten nights, would wake his wives, and then would remain apart from them to worship.
- Night of Qadr, which night is it?
Scholars hold different opinions as to the night which is the night of Qadr. Some are of the opinion that it is the 21st, some say the 23rd, others say the 25th and still others say it is the 29th. Some say that it varies from year to year but it is always among the last ten nights of Ramadan. Most scholars, though, vouch for the 27th.
Ahmad recorded, with a sahih chain, from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet said: “He who likes to seek that night should do so on the 27th. Ubayy ibn K’ab said: By Allah, and there is no God but Him, it is during Ramadan--and He swore to that--and by Allah, I know what night it is. It is the night during which the Prophet ordered us to make prayers, the night of the 27th. Its sign is that the sun rises in the morning white and without any rays.” This is related by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and by at-Tirmizhi who called it sahih.
Praying and making supplications during the night of Qadr
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “Whoever prays during the night of Qadr with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven.”
As to the supplication during the night of qadr, ‘Aishah said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of qadr, what should I say during it?’ He said: ‘Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.’ “This is related by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and by At Tirmizhi, who called it Sahih.
To be continued