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Friday, March 27, 2009

Are You Really Fasting?

Abu Hurayrah (RA) relates that Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) said,'' Many
are the one's who fast, attain nothing by such fasting except for
hunger, and many are the one's performing Salaah by night attaining
nothing by it, except for the discomfort of staying awake at
night''. (Reported by Ibn Majah and Nasa-iy)

Abu Ubaidah (R.A.) reports,'' Fasting is a protective covering for a
man, as long as he does not tear that protection''. (Reported by
Nasa-iy,ibn Majah and ibn khuzayamah)

The Mashaaikh have mentioned six things about which care should be
taken in fasting.
1.) Firstly, one should keep the eyes away from place where one is
not supposed to look. They even go so far as to prohibit looking at
ones own wife with desire. So how much more important is it to avoid
looking at another woman with desire. Similarly one should avoid
looking at any evil place or where evil is committed. Rasulullah
(p.b.u.h.) said,'' The evil eyes are an arrow of the Shaytaan.
Whosoever out of fear for Allah, prevents himself from looking at
evil, Allah shall grant him such faith, the sweetness and ecstasy of
which he will feel in heart''. The Sufis interpret the above saying
about scenes which one should avoid looking at including such places
and things which distract the mind from the remembrance of Allah.

2.) Secondly, guarding the tongue against telling lies, unnecessary
conversation, backbiting, arguments, swearing etc. In Bukhari we
read that fasting is a deterrent for the fasting person. For this
reason those who fast should avoid all non-sensible talk, joking,
arguments etc. Should anyone pick an argument, then say, ''I am
fasting". In other words, one should not start an argument and when
someone else starts it then too one should avoid it. When the one
who begins an argument is a reasonable person, and then say to him,
I am fasting. When the one who starts an argument is a foolish
person then one should remind one's self that, I am fasting and must
not respond to such meaningless things". One must particularly
abstain from backbiting and lies.

One of the Sahaba inquired from Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) what is
backbiting. Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) replied,'' To mention something
about your brother behind his back which he resents''. The Sahaba
then said, and is it still backbiting if that thing mentioned about
him really is in him? ""Our Nabi (p.b.u.h.) said, ''In that case (if
that which was mentioned is really true) it is definitely
backbiting. And if is guilty of it then you have slandered him"".

3.) Thirdly, according to the Sufis, what should be avoided is that
the ears should be kept away from listening to anything Makrooh. It
is Haraam to say or listen to anything which should not be said.
Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) said that,'' in backbiting both the backbiter
and the listener are equal in sin"".

4.) Fourthly, the rest of the body should be kept away from sin and
evil. Neither should the hands touch it, nor the feet made to walk
towards it. Special care should be taken, especially at the time of
Iftaar. No such things should enter it, about which there is any
doubt as to its being Haraam or Halaal. When a person fasts, and at
Iftaar time breaks fast with Haraam food, he becomes just like a
sick person who takes medicine to cure him of the sickness but also
adds poison which destroys him.

5.) Fifthly, after having fasted it is not advisable to fill the
stomach completely even with Halaal food at Iftaar, because then,
the object of fasting is defeated. Whereas fasting helps to diminish
ones carnal desire, it also strengthens the angelic qualities of man
and increases the illumination of the soul. For eleven months we
have been eating and drinking. What harm is there if one eats less
for only one month. We have a bad habit of filling our bellies at
Iftaar for what was not eaten during the day and also at Sehri in
preparation for the day, thus increasing our average consumption.
Many such things are eaten which we normally do not eat at other
times. In fact, during Ramadhaan we develop this type of habit.

''Imam Ghazaali (r.a.) asks the same question, ""When the object of
fasting is to conquer the dictates of Ibless and our carnal
passions, then how can this possibly be done by eating excessively
at Iftaar and thus defeating the objects''? Actually in that case we
have only altered the time of eating and have not decreased our food
intake. Therefore after fasting full day we consume even more than
we do in normal times. The result is that instead of lessening the
carnal desire, these are considerably increased. The real benefit of
fasting comes as a result of actual hunger in the true sprit.

Another object that fasting gives us the chance of appreciating the
plight of the poor and destitute and thus engenders sympathetic
feelings towards them. This could only be attained by remaining
hungry. In Maraquil Falaah it is written, ''Do not eat excessively
at Sehri as the prosperous ones do, for this is the way to lose the
object of fasting"". ""Similarly a feeling of sympathy is developed
for the poor and hungry ones"". Our Nabi (p.b.u.h.) himself
said, ""Allah does not dislike the filling of anything to the brim
more than He dislikes the filling of the stomach"".

6.) The sixth point is that after fasting one should always have
fear and anxiety as to whether one's fast had been accepted or
rejected by Allah. This should be the case with all Ibaadah. One
never knows whether some such important things may have left out
about which no notice was taken. One should fear that Allah may
reject one's deeds. The fasting person must at all times safeguard
his Niyyah and at the same time fear for its adulteration. He should
also constantly make Dua' that Allah Ta' aala makes this a cause for
His pleasure. It should also be borne in the mind that regarding
yours act as not being worthy of acceptance is one aspect and your
hopes for the infinite grace and mercy of Allah Ta'aala is another
aspect.

(Compiled from Fazail-e-Ramazan)

May Allah help us in implementing what we write and read and to gain
maximum reward's from the month of Fasting.

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