What about Fasting in Ramadan?
My dear brothers and sisters in Islam,
What about fasting in Islam? Fasting was made obligatory for every Ummah.
The second Ibadat made obligatory for you by Allah, is fasting. Fasting means abstinence during the day from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse. Like Salah this Ibadat has remained obligatory in the Shariahs of all the Prophets from the beginning. All the past Ummahs used to observe fasts in the same way as the Ummah of Rasulullah ﷺ. However, in regard to rules of fasting, the number of fasts and the periods required for fasting, there has been a difference among various Shariahs. Even today we see that fasting is ordained in most of the religious in some form or other although people have mutilated its shape by adding to it many things of their own. It has been stated in the Holy Quran:
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous” (2:183)
It appears from this verse that all those Shariahs which were sent by Allah have never been devoid of the Ibadat of fasting.
Why fasting was made obligatory?
Please ponder as to what importance is there in fasting for Allah made it obligatory in each and every period:
(A) Aim of life-servitude of Allah
The real aim of Islam is to make the whole life of man transformed into Ibadat of Allah. Man is born as slave, and slavery, i.e. servitude is ingrained in his very nature. Therefore, he must not be free for a single moment from Ibadat, i.e. servitude to Allah, in thought and deed. He must check up at every move in the affairs of his life as to which step he ought to take so as to earn the pleasure of Allah and which one will entail His displeasure and wrath.
The principle, therefore, is that the path leading to Allah’s pleasure must be followed and that leading His displeasure must be eschewed just as embers of fire are avoided. A man must adopt the course approved by Allah and keep away from that disapproved by Him. When his whole life is suffused with this colour then only can he be considered as having discharged his obligation of servitude to his Master and as having fulfilled the purport of
“I created the jinn and humankind only that they might worship me”. (51:56)
(B) Ibadat – training of servitude
The real purpose of the religious duties like Salah, Hajj, Roza and Zakaat having been made obligatory for us, is to train us for a big Ibadat. The fact of these acts being obligatory does not mean that you have acquitted yourself of what you owe to Allah if you have done Ruku and Sajdah five times in a day, have suffered hunger and thirst from dawn to dusk for thirty days in Ramadhan and, in case you are wealthy, have given Zakaat every year and have performed hajj once in a lifetime, and that having done all this, are now released from His servitude to be free to do what you like.
In fact, the underlying purpose of making these religious duties obligatory is to train a person in such a manner as to enable him to transform his whole life into a regular Ibadat of Allah. Now let us see, with this aim in view as to how fasting prepares a man for this full-time Ibadat.
(C) Fasting is a hidden Ibadat
All religious duties except fasting are performed by some outward movement or the other. For instance, in Salah a man stands, sits and does Ruku and Sajdah which is visible to everybody; in Hajj he goes on a long journey and travels with hundreds of thousands of people. Zakat is also given by one person and received by another person. All these religious works cannot be concealed. If you perform them, other people come to know about it; if you do not perform apparently then also it becomes known to others.
As against this, fasting is an Ibadat which is not manifest. All-Knowing Allah alone knows that His servant is observing fast. One might partake of Sehri before others and abstain from eating and drinking anything openly till the Iftar time but if he stealthily eats and drinks anything in between, then nobody except Allah can know about it. The whole world will be under the impression that he is observing fast while in reality he will not be fasting.
(D) Fasting – Sign of Strength if ‘Iman’
Keep this nature of fasting before you and ponder over the fact that how strong is the faith of the man, who keeps fast, in Allah being the knower of the unseen. He actually observes fast; he does not stealthily eat or drink anything; even in the severest summer, when the throat dries due to extreme thirst, he does not drink a drop of water; even in the worst condition of hunger, when life seems drooping, he is not inclined to eat anything! See what firm conviction he has in the fact that no action of his can be concealed from Allah, though it may be concealed from the whole world!
How his heart is full of fear of Allah that he undergoes a severe agony but simply out of fear of Him does not do anything which will result in breaking his fast! How profound is his belief in the reward and punishment of the Hereafter that for full one month he fasts for at least 360 hours and not for a moment does an iota of doubt enter his mind about life after death!
Had he the slightest doubt about the future life, where reward and punishment will be meted out, he could have never completed his fast. When doubt arises, it is not possible for a man to stick to his resolve of not eating and drinking anything in obedience of Allah’s commandment.