“There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.” How should we understand this hadith?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The hadith above was reported by Ibn Majah (Siyam, 21). Its meaning is as follows: If a person cannot avoid committing sins, which is the real purpose of fasting, when he fasts, it means he does not benefit from fasting as it is necessary. It does not mean such fasting is of no use.

Another narration regarding the issue is as follows:

“Whoever does not give up evil and ignorant speech, and acting in accordance with that, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink.” (ibid)

What is meant by ignorance is not to know about Allah’s orders and prohibitions and high ethics as it is necessary and hence to do bad deeds that Islam does not accept.

If a person who fasts protects his stomach from halal (legitimate) things but does not protect his tongue, eyes, ears, hands, feet, heart and mind, even his imagination, from haram (illegitimate) things, it means he has not fulfilled fasting properly.   

This hadith shows how important the consciousness of worshipping and belief is. From this point of view, a Muslim should try to worship with his body and spirit.

The hadith above and similar ones do not want people to abandon worship but to fulfil deeds of worship more carefully and more consciously.

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