Fasting is a special act of worship of the month of Ramadan which was made mandatory in Sha’ban, 2 A.H. Thereafter, the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam observed the obligatory fasts of Ramadan for the remainder of his life. Fasting was also obligatory for the previous nations, and now for the Muslim Ummah, for whom Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala chose the month of Ramadan as the month of fasting.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ
“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous,” [al-Baqarah 2: 183].
In another ayah, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says,
فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ
“So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it,” [al-Baqarah 2: 185]
The obligation to fast is proved by several sayings of the Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam as well. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Islam is built on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger, establishing prayer, paying zakah, performing pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan.” [Agreed upon: words of Muslim: 113]
Not only is fasting a compulsory act of worship, but it also has numerous benefits and is a source of earning immense rewards from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, as is evident from the following ahadeeth.
Fasting is a Means of Entry into Paradise
Abu Umamah radhiAllahu reported: I came to the Messenger of Allah salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and said: Order me to perform a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise. He said, “Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.” [Sunan an-Nasai: 2222]
There is a Special Door in Paradise for those who Fast
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Indeed, there is a gate of Paradise called Ar-Rayyan. It will be called on the Day of Judgment: Where are the ones who fast? So whoever is among the fasting ones will enter it. And the one who enters it will never be thirsty.” [Sunan Ibn Majah: 1640]
Allah will give the Reward for Fasting Himself
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala says, “Every good deed of the son of Adam is for him except for fasting; it is for Me, and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.” [Bukhari: 1904]
It is a great honor that while other good deeds receive a reward from ten to seven hundred, the actual reward for fasting has been kept hidden since fasting is itself a hidden act of worship.
The Odor from the Mouth of the Fasting Person has been appreciated
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “By He in Whose Hand is my soul, the breath of the fasting person is more pleasing to Allah than the fragrance of musk.” [Bukhari: 1894]
Fasting is a Shield
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Fasting is a shield from Hellfire like the shield of one of you in battle.” [Sunan ibn Majah: 1639]
Through fasting, people are saved from all those sins which may lead them to the Hellfire.
Fasting is a Protection from Hellfire
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “No slave fasts one day in the way of Allah without Allah putting his face a seventy years’ journey away from the Fire on account of that day.” [Muslim: 2711]
In the Arabic language, the word Siyam literally means ‘to stop and refrain from doing something completely.’ In Shariah, it is ‘to show servitude to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala by abstaining from eating, drinking, sexual relations and other acts that nullify the fast, from pre-dawn to sunset, with the intention of worship.’
Fasting is not just a means of abstaining from food and drink, but also of leaving many bad habits. This is why Ibn al-Jawzi has stated three levels of fasting:
Ordinary Fast: to abstain from eating and physical desires.
Special Fast: to protect the eyes, tongue, limbs and all other organs of the body from sin.
Unique Fast: to rid the heart of every useless and baseless thoughts, and of any idea that would distance one from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala and fill the heart with the remembrance of Allah, alone. [Minhaj al-Qasideen, p. 77]
Things to Do:
– Fasting is a mandatory act of worship; observe it with a pure intention, solely to please Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
– Do not leave a fast, without a legitimate excuse.
– Abstain from all those acts that nullify the fast.
– Be especially cautious about the tongue during fasting.
The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said, “Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.” [Bukhari: 38]
[Book: Shahrul Ramadan – the Month of Ramadan by Dr. Farhat Hashmi]