3. Fasting



3.1. DEFINITION OF FASTING



Fasting means abstaining from foods drinks, and sexual intercourse during a whole day (before the break of dawn till sunset) with the intention of worship.


3.2. THE HISTORY OF FASTING



Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. As it is understood from the following verse in the QuranO you who believe! Prescribed for you is the Fast, as it was prescribed for those before you. (al-Baqara, 183), it had been prescribed for previous nations. The Prophet says the following in a hadith:

Hazrat Nooh (Noah) fasted the whole year except the first day of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. (Ibn Majah, Siyam, 32, I, 547)

It is stated in that hadith that fasting dates back to the time of Hazrat Nooh. It is also understood from narrations that fasting was present in the Shariahs of Hazrat Dawud (David) and Hazrat Musa (Moses).


3.3. THE REASONS AND BENEFITS OF FASTING IN
RAMADAN



Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. Fasting is observed because Allah prescribed it. There cannot be any other reasons for fasting. If fasting is observed for another reason other than Allahs prescription, then it is not regarded as worship. Like all other worships fasting has a lot of wisdoms too.
We will mention only a few of the numerous benefits and wisdoms of fasting here:


3.3.1. Fasting in Ramadan reminds the Lordship of Allah



Allah created the earth in the form of a table equipped with various foods and bounties. He placed all kinds of bounties on that table in an unexpected way. So He showed his perfect Lordship, Beneficence and Mercy.

Human beings are unable to discern clearly the reality of this situation under the veil of heedlessness, and they sometimes forget it. However, during the month of Ramadan, believers suddenly become like a well drawn-up army. As sunset approaches, they display a worshipful attitude as though, having been invited to the Pre-Eternal Monarchs banquet, they are awaiting the command of Help yourselves! They are responding to that compassionate, illustrious, and universal mercy with comprehensive, exalted, and orderly worship.


3.3.2. Fasting in Ramadan opens the way for thanking Allah



Allah placed his numerous bounties on the earth in the form of a table for human beings and wants them to thank Him in return for their price. We can thank him by knowing that those bounties are directly from Him and by appreciating them and by feeling that we need them.

Fasting in Ramadan, then, is the key to a true, sincere, extensive, and universal thankfulness. At other times of the year, most of those who are not in difficult circumstances do not realize the value of many bounties since they do not experience real hunger. Those whose stomachs are full and especially if they are rich, do not understand the degree of bounty there is in a piece of dry bread. But when it is time to break the fast, the sense of taste testifies that the dry bread is a most valuable Divine bounty in the eyes of a believer. During Ramadan, everyone from the richest to the poorest person manifests a sort of gratitude through understanding the value of those bounties.

Furthermore, since eating is prohibited during the day, he will gain the following consciousness by saying: Those bounties do not belong to me. I am not free to eat them, for they are anothers property and gift. I await his command. He will recognize the bounty to be bounty with that consciousness and so will be giving thanks.

Thus, fasting in this way is in many respects like a key to gratitude; gratitude being mans fundamental duty.


3.3.3. People perceives the situation of the poor thanks to fasting



Men were created in various types in terms of income level. Allah calls the rich to help the poor due to that difference. As a matter of fact, the rich can only realize their miserable situation and hunger fully by the hunger in fasting. So they carry out the grants and assistance they are bound to do.


3.3.4. Fasting diminishes the feeling of pride in the soul and reminds it its slavery



The soul wants to be free and independent, and considers itself to be so. According to the dictates of its nature, it even desires an imaginary lordship and to act as it pleases. It does not want to admit that it is being sustained and trained through innumerable bounties. Especially if it possesses wealth and power in this world, and if heedlessness also encourages it, it will devour divine bounties like a usurping, thieving animal.

Thus, in the month of Ramadan, the soul of everyone, from the richest to the poorest, understands that it does not own itself, but is totally owned; that it is not free, but a slave. It understands that if it receives no command, it is unable to do the simplest and easiest thing, it cannot even stretch out its hand towards water, and its pride is shattered; it performs its worship and begins to offer thanks, its true duty.


3.3.5. Fasting disciplines soul by purifying it from immorality



The human soul forgets itself through heedlessness. It does not think of just how weak it is, and how subject to transience and to disasters, nor of the fact that it consists merely of flesh and bones, which quickly decline and are dispersed. It imagines itself to be undying and eternal as if he has a body made of steel. Moreover, it forgets its Creator who sustains it with perfect compassion. It does not think of the results of its life and its life in the hereafter; it wallows in misconduct.

Thus fasting in the month of Ramadan awakens even the most heedless and obstinate to their weakness, impotence, and want. By means of hunger, they think of their stomachs; they understand the need therein. They realize how unsound are their weak bodies, and perceive how needy they are for kindness and compassion.


3.3.6. Ramadan is the month of the Quran



It is as if the world of Islam becomes a mosque during the month of Ramadan. In every corner of that mighty mosque millions of those who know the whole Quran by heart cause the dwellers on the earth to hear the heavenly address. Some of the members of the vast congregation listen to the reciters with reverence, while others read it themselves. Each Ramadan displays the decree of the verse The month of Ramadan (is the month) in which the Quran was sent down as guidance for people, and as clear truths of the guidance and the Criterion (between truth and falsehood). (al-Baqara, 185) in a luminous way and proves that Ramadan is the month of the Quran.

Thanks to fasting, believers feel the honor of belonging to such a nice congregation in the mosque of the universe. They think that it will be a great disrespect to the congregation in the mosque to follow the appetites of the soul in that sacred mosque by quitting that luminous condition through eating and drinking.


3.3.7. Ramadan is a month of trade for the hereafter



The month of Ramadan is like an extremely profitable display and market for the trade of the hereafter. It is an extremely fertile piece of land for the crops of the hereafter. The merit of good deeds in the month of Ramadan is one thousand merits for one deed. In the Night of Power (Qadr) it is thirty thousand.

Indeed, the month of Ramadan comprises and gains a permanent and eternal life in this fleeting world and brief transient life. Certainly, a single Ramadan can produce fruits equal to that of a lifetime of eighty years. The fact that, according to the Quran, the Night of Power is more auspicious than a thousand months is a decisive proof of this.


3.3.8. Fasting is a diet for the health of man



Fasting is a healing physical and spiritual diet of the most important kind. When mans soul eats and drinks just as it pleases, it is both harmful for mans physical life from the medical point of view, and when it hurls itself on everything it encounters without considering whether it is licit or illicit, it quite simply poisons his spiritual life.

By means of fasting in Ramadan, the soul becomes accustomed to a sort of diet and learns to listen to commands. Furthermore, it will not be attracting illness to that miserable, weak stomach by cramming it with food before the previous consignment has been digested. And by abandoning even licit actions as it is commanded, it will acquire the ability to listen to the commands of the Sharia and the reason, and so to avoid illicit actions.


3.3.9. Fasting reminds man that he is a slave



The soul does not want to recognize its Lord; it wants its own lordship, like Pharaoh. However much torment it suffers, that character remains in it. It is however destroyed through hunger. And so, fasting in Ramadan strikes direct blows at the souls pharaoh-like front, shattering it. It demonstrates its impotence, weakness, and want.


3.4. FOR WHOM IS FASTING IN
RAMADAN OBLIGATORY (FARDH)?



For the obligation of fasting a person is supposed to have the following traits:

1. Being a Muslim.
2. Pubescence.
3. Being sane.
4. Having the capability to fast.
5. Being clean: A woman who is in menstrual or post-natal bleeding period cannot fast. She has to observe fasting later.
6. Being muqim (not traveling).


3.5. THE OBLIGATORY ACTS (FARDHS) OF FASTING:



1. Intention.

2. Avoid the following which invalidate fasting:

Feeding oneself through mouth, nose, etc and taking medicine knowing that one is fasting.
Having sexual intercourse knowing that one is fasting.
Vomiting mouthful.
Being unconscious or drunk whole day.
Begin to have menstrual or post-natal bleeding during any time of the day.
Having abandoned Islam due to a blasphemous act or word.


3.6. PERMISSIBLE EXCUSES FOR BREAKING FASTING:




3.6.1. Travel



A person who is regarded as a traveler (musafir) does not have to fast as long as he fasts later.


3.6.2. Illness



An ill person does not have to fast if a reliable Muslim doctor says that he does not have to.


3.6.3. Being pregnant or breast-feeding:



If a pregnant or breast-feeding woman fears that her or her childs health will deteriorate, she does not have to fast; she can fast later.


3.6.4. Being very old:



A person who is too old to fast does not fast. He pays fidyah (a certain amount of money to the poor) for each day he does not fast.

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