The following is stated in a hadith: "If a person fasts during Ramadan by believing and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, all his past sins will be forgiven." How should we understand this hadith?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) states the following: "Man sama Ramadana imanan wa'htisaban ghufira lahu ma taqaddama min dhanbihi." He gives the glad tiding that the past sins of the believers who believe fully in the blessing that comes with Ramadan, performs fasting with sincerity, spends this blessed month worshipping and expects the reward only from Allah will be forgiven.

The word "imanan" emphasizes believing heartily in everything that is necessary to believe, the religious decrees related to fasting, believing without any hesitation that fasting is fard, that there is great reward in return for it and that it is a means of attaining divine consent.

Yes, we are slaves of Allah and Allah is our deity. The deeds of worship we perform and the righteous deeds we do for him with the thought of worshipping are His right and our duties and responsibilities. Fasting is His command and our duty. He is always aware of our worshipping and knows whatever we do. Those deeds of ours, which Allah Almighty sees and knows, will return to us by increasing when the time is due. Besides, when we raise and open our hands to pray to Him, "those hands will not come down empty" as it is stated in a sacred hadith.

When we turn toward Allah Almighty, and beg and pray to Him, it is necessary to believe first that He sees His slaves, hears their prayers and has the power to fulfil their requests. To open our hands without believing means "He will give or He will not give"; it is clear that such an attitude is disrespect and that it will not be accepted. He will give even to such people with His grace, generosity, His mercy being more than His wrath and the vastness of His mercy; we cannot say, "He will not give". However, the means of acceptance of prayers by Him is to believe in Him first. When you believe in Him and open your hands sincerely, Allah will not send you back empty-handed; He will not disappoint or embarrass you; on the contrary, He will grant you blessings that will make you turn toward Him again. The word "imanan" expresses believing like that.

The word "ihtisab" means expecting the reward from Allah; it means not to have any worldly expectations, to aim Allah’s consent and to expect the reward from His mercy. There must not be anything contrary to sincerity in charities and worship; one must not show off and must not make others know what he does. No deed must be done in order to be praised and appreciated by people; everything must be done for Allah; everything must be expected from Allah. The expectations must not be related to worldly benefits. If we lose even our shoelaces, we must want them from Allah in accordance with the understanding of the Companions. We must try hard to do our duties and use our will but we must expect everything from Allah. However, when we present our worship to Allah Almighty, we must not forget that we are slaves; we must allocate our worship only to Him since it is His right. Therefore, we must not connect our worship with our need and wishes; we must perform the deeds of worship with the consciousness that they are our duties.

In fact, we have no right to ask from Allah Almighty; He gives us that right out of His grace. He is so generous that He allows us to use those rights to ask from Him. For instance, He virtually says, "Worship me and fulfil your duties of worshipping, which is your duty, so that I will rejoice you in the hereafter." He gave us some rights by making a contract and said, "If you worship me, you will have some rights over me." Thus, the one that gives the rights and that allows us to use those rights is Allah.

How can we have any rights since we have no capital related to our body and the boons given to us as sustenance? Yes, we belong to Him with everything we have from beginning to end. Although we have some rights given by Him, we are slaves. Therefore, we have to act like a slave and wish the consent of only our Creator, Sustainer and Lord; we have to worship with this intention. The word "ihtisab" expresses the necessity of fasting only for Allah by acting upon those facts mentioned above and to expect the reward from Him.

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