The Superiority of Fasting

PROF G R MALIK

One of the most comprehensive ahadith about fasting reads:
“Hazrat Abu Hurairah reports the Prophet (SAW) saying that Allah says: ‘Every act of worship of the son of man is his except fasting. Fasting is solely for Me and I shall Myself reward it.’ And fasting is a shield (of resistance) and when someone is fasting on a day, he should not utter abuse or raise his voice. If someone abuses him or fights with him, he should say I am a fasting person. And by Him who holds the soul of Muhammad in His hand, the unpleasant smell of a fasting person’s mouth is pleasanter to Allah than the smell of musk. For him who fasts there are two joys. When he breaks the fast, he experiences the joy of breaking the fast; when he will meet Allah, he will experience the joy of fasting.” (Bukhari and Muslim)
The hadith refers to three main grounds of the superiority of fasting. Firstly, among the acts of worship, it is intrinsically of such a nature that one can perform it for none except Allah. One may perform other deeds of virtue to earn name and fame. In that case, according to another hadith reported by Musnad Ahmad, it becomes Shirk because it is aimed at achieving the good will of others than Allah when all that a believer does has only one motive – the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Now acts of worship like salah, zakah and Hajj are inevitably seen by others or become known to them. In case of fasting one can pass for a fasting person even when he is not actually observing the fast. That is why Allah says that ‘fasting is solely for Me and I shall Myself reward it’, which means that its reward may be immensely beyond one’s calculation.
Secondly fasting is very effective in creating and cultivating the spirit of resistance against all that is evil and unlawful. One voluntary gives up lawful things during fasting because Allah commands so. Under His command one should give up all that He has forbidden. This is what the Quran means when it says that fasting has been prescribed to inculcate taqwa (2:183). The hadith under consideration uses the metaphor junnah (shield of resistance) for fasting. Equipped with this weapon, one can always resist provocations of using vituperative language or quarrelling with others. Thirdly the hadith mentions two-fold pleasure as the reward of fasting. Of this one pleasure is known to the fasting person because he experiences it every evening when he breaks the fast, but the other, unknown and certainly immeasurable in intensity, is the one that he will experience when he meets his Lord. The one is the pleasure of breaking the fast and the other that of fasting.           

Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Jul 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 18 Jul 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 19 Jul 2013 00:00:00 IST




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