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Friday, June 21, 2013

Fasting and its Status in Islam

All praises are due to Allah, for bestowing on us seasons of abundant blessings, full of forgiveness of sins and provision of gifts. He guides, among them, whom He wills to obedience and reverence. He subject whom He wills to wander in loss and sins. I celebrate His praises for He had perfected the religion, completed His favour on us, and making Islam a way of life. He ordained good deeds, He provides guidance towards achieving it and reserves rewards for implementing it. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone without a partner, I equally bear witness that prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is His servant and Messenger. May the peace and blessings of Allah be showered upon him, his families, companions and those who follow them in righteousness until the day of recompense. Thereafter, Dear believers, I enjoin you to fear Allah the Sovereign, the All-knowing. Live your life by it, you will surely earn the pleasure of Allah, a blissful end and a lofty abode in paradise. Almighty Allah says: { تِلْكَ الْجَنَّةُ الَّتِي نُورِثُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا مَن كَانَ تَقِيّاً } ( مريم: 63). { Such is the Garden which We give as an inheritance to those of Our servants who guard against Evil.} (Mary: 63). Dear believers, it is not unknown to you that soon you shall receive a honourable guest- a great season, the holy month of Ramadan, may Allah make us witness it, and grant us the ability to perform deeds that are beloved and pleasing to Him which could earn us His closeness, and gather us in the group of the forerunners, leaders of the pious, He is Honourable, Compassionate and Merciful. Therefore we want to talk about the concept of fasting and its place in Islam ahead of the holy month of Ramadan. Definition of fasting: Fasting is a great act of worship which must be held with utmost attention and concern. Whoever desires it should learn its laws, principles, obligations and permissibility, and apply it rightly. He should as well learn the vitiations, prohibitions and disliked matters regarding fasting, which will translate into compliance with the divine injunctions necessitating inestimable rewards promised by Allah. Fasting linguistically means to abstain, or forsake. The Faster- the person fasting is called the Soim in Arabic, because he abstains from food, drink and intercourse. Someone who keeps quiet is also called a Soim due to abstinence from talking. In the story of Maryam Allah says: { إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْماً فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنسِيّاً}(مريم 26) 'I have vowed a fast to (Allah) Most Gracious, and this day will I enter into not talk with any human being' (Mary 26). (fasting in this verse means abstinence from talking) Fasting technically means the intention to abstain from some specific things including eating, drinking, intercourse and others, from dawn to sunset, by a person with the following specific characteristics: Muslim, puberty, capability, resident, free from menstruation or post childbirth bleeding. It is not necessary to fast in the occurrence of any of the excuses, rather he will have to observe it at the termination of the excuse or pay a ransom. Types of Fast Servants of God, fasting is of two categories: 1- Mandatory 2- Supererogatory. 1- Mandatory Fast: This is the fasting of Ramadan which is the fourth of the five pillars of Islam. It is mandatory on both men and women once in a year as ordained by God. Attached to this class of fast is the fasting of Expiation such as the expiation on zihaar (calling one’s wife the mother), expiation for having intercourse during the day in Ramadan, expiation of eating deliberately according to some scholars such as Maliki and Hanafis, if he is incapable to free a slave, then he will have to fast if he is capable to do so, and lastly the expiation for committing murder if he is also incapable to free a slave. Also mandatory is fulfilling the vow one made to fast; if a person vows for Allah to fast on Monday or Thursday or on any other day, such is binding. 2- Supererogatory Fast: Such includes fasting on Monday or Thursday, fasting three days of each lunar month, fasting six days in Shawwaal, and fasting every alternating days etc. This type is as well called the voluntary fasting. Fasting among the earlier nations before Islam: When God ordained fasting on Muslims in His word thus: {يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ أَمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ} (البقرة183) {O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,} (2: 183), He informed us that fasting was prescribed for the previous nations. The nations referred to are those nations that believed in monotheism including the nations of Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, ‘Eesa- Jesus, peace be upon them. The reference here is not intended for the pagan Nations who worshipped idols, claiming them to be god other than the true God. It is clear also that the fasting of the earlier Nations was not like the fasting of Muslims today, even though they all partake in this great act of worship. This reality indicates that the religion of God is one despite plurality of messengers and messages. The religion of God is one in its fundamentals and purposes as pointed out in the Holy Qur’an. {إنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللهِ اْلإسْلاَمُ} (آل عمران 19) The Religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His Will) (3: 19). As for the details of the fast of those before us and the period, we have nothing which clearly explains these details. All we have is only the established sunnah regarding the fasting of prophet Dawood (peace be upon him), and the ‘Ashura fast of prophet Musa. Status of fasting in Islam: Dear beloved in faith, fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and one of the best worship because Allah personally ascribed it to himself as described in the hadeeth Qudsi (Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting, it is for Me, I will reward (them) for it.) (Narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim). It is a silent act of worship which does not have exterior manifestation, it is a secret between a person and his Lord, showing the symbol of sincere consciousness in the heart of the believer because showing off cannot affect it. Allah’s word is true as He said: لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ} (البقرة183) { that ye may (learn) self-restraint,} (2: 183), The fasting builds God’s consciousness in a believer; to be seen by Allah as submissive to His command and refraining for His sake. This represents a noble objective and a lofty goal but unfortunately, the ambitions of many people fall short of this quality. At the end of the verse of fasting, the holy Qur’an highlights the most important characteristic and wisdom of fasting (“ that ye may (learn) self-restraint”), it also clearly points out that the characteristic is the same in all religions where it remains the most important characteristic of the Islamic Shari’ah. And this characteristic is piety, it means guarding the soul from its whims and desires; it entails all things. {يَأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ أَمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ} (البقرة183) {O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,} (2: 183), Sayyid Qutub (may Allah have mercy on him) said: ( … And thus is the great objective of fasting manifested, and that is piety. It is the aliveness of piety that guides it to observing the obligation of fasting in obedience to God and preference for His pleasure. Piety guards the hearts from corrupting the fast with sins, even as it regards those things that occur in the mind. Those addressed in this Qur’an know the status of piety before Allah and its weight in the scale. It is the goal their souls seek for. And fast is one of the tools of piety and a way leading to it, consequently, the context raises it before their eyes as the bright goal which they aim at through fasting, (that ye may (learn) self-restraint,). (in the shade of the Qur'an, 2/75) - Fasting is a means to show gratitude for the grace of God, because fast prevents one from enjoying one of the greatest blessings of Allah in eating, drinking and sexual intercourse. Therefore, abstaining from such grace for a known period of time will reveal their value and importance. When such graces are unappreciated or unrealized while we have, if it is lost, the value become imminent, this can then propel one to accord it the due recognition and rights by being grateful. Therefore, being thankful of graces is mandatory, rationally and legally as pointed out in the word of Allah (swt): {لَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ} (البقرة 185) {perchance ye shall be grateful.} (2:185). - Fasting is a means to piety. If a person is able to subject himself to abstain from lawful things in anticipation of the pleasure of Allah and fear of a painful punishment, then it will be most deserving of him to subject it to abstain from the unlawful, fasting thus stand as a reason to safeguard from the prohibitions of Allah, as pointed to in the the verse: "that you may learn restraint.”. - Fasting conquers and breaks lust, because if the soul is fed to its fill, it builds wishes but if it becomes hungry it abstains from desires. The Prophet peace be upon him said: (Whoever among is afraid of provision, should fast, fasting will be a control for him)) narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim. Fasting is mandatory, since it is instrumental in protecting one from sins. (badaa'i ' Al-sanaa'i ' 2/76). May God bless us with the Holy Qur'aan, and benefit us all from the lessons there in. Having said all you heard, I seek forgiveness from Allah for my sins and for you all, Muslims, engage in seeking forgiveness from Him, He is All-forgiving, Most- merciful. THE SECOND SERMON All praises are due to Allah, Who has perfected the religion and favour on us. We praise and thank Him and seek His forgiveness. I bear witness that there is no god except Allah and that prophet Muhammad is His servant and messenger. May the peace and blessings be showered upon him, his household, and all his companions. Thereafter, Keep your duty to Allah and fear Him. Be reminded that there is no special merit or value attached to the night or day of the middle of Sha'baan over other nights and days. Whoever is in the practice of observing tahajud in the nights regularly in the year should stand up for prayer, just like he does in other nights. Whoever usually fasts the 13th – 15th days of the lunar calendar should fast in those days in Sha’baan as usual, the same goes for whoever is used to fasting on Mondays and Thursdays weekly and that coincides with the middle of sha'baan, he should fast according to his habit joining others. Likewise is the person who fasts most of the month of Sha'ban as reported by Muslim from Aisha (RA) She said: (I have never seen him fast in any month more than his fasting in Sha’baan) and in another narration: (He used to fast (all) Sha'baan except a little). Whoever follows the Prophet (pbuh) and fast most of the month of Sha’baan including the middle of the month, there is no harm in that, because in this case he is only passes through it, but the forbidden thing is to specifically select the middle of the month over other days. Two sound hadiths of the prophet (pbuh) have been reported on the virtue of the night of the middle of Sha'baan, they are: Hadith of Abu Tha'labah, the Prophet (pbuh) said: (On the night of the middle of Sha'baan, Allah looks at all His creations, and He will forgive the believers, and give respite to the unbelievers, neglecting the people in grudge and rancor to their grudges until they shun it). And the hadeeth of Mu'aadh Ibn Jabal (RA), the prophet (pbuh) said: (God looks at all His creations on the night of the middle of Sha’baan, He then forgives all His creations except an idolater or a quarreling person). Thus there is nothing in these hadiths that points to the selection of the night of the middle of Sha’baan for any special prayer, recitation, remembrance, or any other act of closeness to God in the night. Oh Allah grant us Ramadan, assist us to fast and stand in its night for prayers, in faith and anticipation for Your rewards, and make us not among those who only gain hunger and thirst from their fasts, or earns no other reward from their tahajud except fatigue and sleeplessness, grant us good words and works, save us from the fire and all in it including the shackles and horrors.

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In a Few words, I am a Muslim, a preacher, a traveler, a data base admin (Dip.) SYSTEM MANAGER (TEC). & (UWNT).

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