Guide To Obsserving Acceptable Fast (1)

All praise be to Allah who in his infinite mercy, has made it possible for us to be alive to witness yet another Ramadan. Countless were those with whom we all observed Ramadan fasting last year but today are no more living. It is certainly not our wealth, strength, position, knowledge or even righteousness that today we are alive. We are alive because the individual period apportioned to us by Allah the master of the worlds, to spend has not elapsed. Since nobody has knowledge of his/her appointed time (which may even be a couple of seconds from now) it becomes imperative that we strive to fulfill the purpose of our being created in the first instance. The Holy Qur’an is very explicit about the purpose of our being created. In Qur'an 51:56, Allah (SWT) states: "I have only created jinns and men that they may serve me". Islam has made it clear to us that fasting as explained by the Qur’an and supported by the sunnah of Rasulullah, is one of the ways to serve Allah. For the next few weeks spanning through the holy month of Ramadan therefore, this kind of discussion on different aspect of fasting shall be presented to assist you in observing acceptable fast. It is one thing to observe fasting; it is yet another thing to observe acceptable fast. May Allah guide us and accept our ibadat. Fasting as an act of worship is as old as creation. Fasting in the past was more or less a kind of restriction on a particular food, drink or speech. When Allah created Adam and his wife Hawaa, He forbade them from eating from a particular fruit. That was an instruction to observe fast. When Angel Jibril appeared before the virtuous Maryam to inform her that she was going to give birth to a son (Isa/Jesus), he instructed her to observe fast. To fast in this instance meant not to talk. Upon her returned to her people with the baby, they inquired about what they described as amazing development, she simply pointed at the child. The people became even more astonished and inquired, how can we talk to a child in the cradle? Alhamdulililah, Allah made the child Jesus to speak in his cradle in defense of his mother’s chastity. This turned out to be the first miracle of Jesus as confirmed by the Qur’an. There also was a kind of fast ordained on Maryam. There are records confirming fasting of prophet Da’ud, Musa, Isa and others. It is therefore not a surprise that Qur’an 2:183 states “O you who believe! Observing As – sawn (the fasting) is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may learn self restraint”. Fasting is the fourth pillar of Islam. Allah (SWT) enjoined it as an obligatory act of worship in the month of Sha’aban of the second year of Hijrah. Whoever observes the fast of Ramadan out of belief and expects to be rewarded for doing so in the Hereafter would have his past sins forgive. The importance of fasting is further emphasized by the Hadith: Abu Hurairah reported the messenger of Allah (May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saying Allah said “Every action of a person is for him except fasting, for that is solely for me …..”What this means is that you perform other good deeds to enrich yourselves spiritually. Observance of fasting in addition to spiritual enrichment is also paying due to Allah (SWT). It therefore follows that whoever refuses to fast is refusing to pay to Allah (SWT) His due. As a matter of fact, he who breaks one day of Ramadan fast without valid reason as approved by Shari’ah would never be able to expiate for it even if he observes fast for the rest of his life. The Ramadan period is training period for Muslims to teach them to improve on their good deeds and generosity such as kindness, hospitality and visitations. This is even more so when cognizance is taken of the fact that rewards for righteous deed during this period are multiplied. During this period, the gates of jahannamah (hellfire) are close and the gates of Al-jannah (paradise) are opened. Devils are chained so that they do not distract you from worship. You should not engage in any form of sin at this period or other periods. This must however not be misinterpreted to mean that those who die during the month of Ramadan are automatically going to Al-jannah.  Admission to Al-jannah depends on the totality of your deeds while on earth. What this statement means is that enhances or bonus rewards are given for good deeds done during the month of Ramadan. Additionally, It is in this month that we have the Night of majesty (Laylatul Qadr). FASTING DEFINED Imam An –Nawawi and Hfiz ibn Hajar defined fasting as “abstinence from specific things in a specific period based on specific conditions” A more specific definition of fasting by scholars is “complete abstinence from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset (with the intention of worshipping Allah).” OBJECTIVES OF FASTING Allah the exalted has enjoined fasting on the Muslims for great wisdom and lofty objectives as stated bellow: (a)  The attainment of taqwa. That is the fear of Allah the exalted. (b)  Fasting nurtures a gentle forbearing character and teaches Muslims patience. This is explained by the life of a Muslim who has the food and drink at his disposal but willingly avoids them for sake of Allah (SWT), he or she has his/her spouse around but willingly avoids sexual contact all for the sake of Allah (SWT). What else can be better used to train a person on these important qualities? Fasting also provides the faithful with both spiritual growth and physical fitness. It strengthens the body and is a cure to many known diseases as confirmed by modern medicine. (c)  Fasting helps the Muslim to develop the virtue of displaying affection towards the poor and the distressed. This is so since undergoing the pangs of hunger and thirsty by virtue of the fast, makes one to imagine what those poor, needy and distressed fellow human beings experience continuously and on a daily basis. This in turn makes them to expand more in charitable activities. (d)  Fasting is a further demonstration of the equality of men before Allah as every Muslim irrespective of social class experience the same hunger and thirsty. This complements such other Islamic act as standing shoulder to shoulder on a row during salat and the use of the same Hajj garb and performance of other duties in unison during the Hajj season to show the simplicity of Islam and equality of men before Allah (SWT).

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