Virtues (Blessings) of Fasting
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
(Friday Speech was delivered by Imam Mohamed Baianonie at Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC on January 10, 1997)
Today, we are on the first days of the blessed month of Ramadan. This is indeed a great month. Allah has distinguished this month from all other with the obligation of fasting. He (S.W.T) made its fasting a pillar of the fundamental pillars of Islam. A pillar without which this deen could not be established. Due to the importance of fasting in the lives of people, Allah (S.W.T.) made it obligatory upon the previous nations that existed before us. Allah (S.W.T.) addresses us in surat Al-Baqarah, (verse 183), what can be translated as, "O you who believe, Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may achieve taqwa (righteousness, God-fearing)". So, we see that Allah (S.W.T.) makes it clear that the purpose of fasting is to achieve taqwa in our hearts and to increase it and nourish it.
Taqwa, in reality, is the secret behind the good conduct of man in this life. taqwa is not a word to be merely uttered on the tongue, but it is a word derived from protection. In other words the servant seeks protection for himself from the punishment and wrath of Allah (S.W.T), and this does not occur unless the servant does what Allah and His Messenger commanded, and keeps away from what Allah and His Messenger forbade.
Ramadan is a great month because it is a month of fasting, and fasting is great because it leads to taqwa in the souls, and taqwa is great because it restricts the conduct within the commands of Allah (S.W.T.). For this reason, the prophet (S.A.W.) warns in an authentic hadith reported by All hadith collectors except Imam Muslim, "He whose fasting does not prevent him from evil and doing it, Allah does not have any need that he quits having his food and his drink."
From the blessings of fasting in Ramadan is that it is a reason for forgiveness of bad deeds. The Prophet (S.A.W.) says reported by Imams Bukhari and Muslim, "Whoever fasts throughout the month of Ramadan, believing in Allah and seeking His rewards, will have his previous sins forgiven."
The hadith implies that when the servant believes in Allah (S.W.T.), accepting the obligation of fasting, and knowing that he will be rewarded when Allah (S.W.T.) overlooks his minor sins. This is so because the prophet (S.A.W.) says in another hadith report by Imam Muslim, "The five prayers and from Friday prayer to another and from Ramadan to another wipe off the sins committed between them as long as the major sins have been avoided."
And from the blessings of Ramadan are that its rewards are not restricted to a certain extent, rather Allah (S.W.T.) gives the fasting person his reward without reckoning. In the two authentic narrations of Imams Bukhari and Muslim, the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "Allah said in a Qudsi hadith," "Every deed of son of Adam is His except fasting; it is mine, and I am the one who gives the rewards for it." The prophet (S.A.W.) continued, "Fasting is a protection, so if it happens that it is a day of fasting, then let him not utter profanity, or shout with anger. If someone cursed him or fought him, then let him say: I am fasting. By him whose hand my soul is in. The smell of the mouth of a fasting person, before Allah, is better than the smell of Misk (a very pleasant smell). There are two joys for a fasting person; he is joyful when he breaks his fasting, and when he meets his Lord." In another narration reported by Imam Muslim, "Every deed of son of Adam is his except fasting; it is mine and I am the one who gives rewards for it: he abstains from his desires and his food for me."
This hadith reveals many blessings of fasting, among which:
- Allah (S.W.T.) made fasting, distinct from all the other deeds, especially for himself, because of its appreciation by Allah and the love of Allah for it and the sincerity toward Allah in it. This is because fasting is a secret between the servant and his Lord; no one knows about it except Allah; when the fasting person is in his solitude, no one among the people knows anything about him, he does not do anything that Allah forbade during fasting because he knows that he has Elah who knows what he is doing even in his solitude. This, in reality, is the sincerity toward Allah (S.W.T.).
- Allah (S.W.T.) said in a Qudsi hadith about fasting, what can be translated as, "…And I am the one who rewards for it"; he made the rewards of fasting up to His majesty, because the rest of deeds are rewarded for by numbers; the good deed is rewarded for by ten like it, and then up to 700 times and many more. But, as to fasting, Allah (S.W.T.) distinguishes the rewards for it to Himself, without considering a number of rewards, and He (S.W.T.) is the most generous; he rewards the fasting person for his fasting a great reward without reckoning.
- "Fasting is protection"; it means it protects the fasting person in this life against profanity and cussing. For this reason, the prophet (S.A.W.) said, "If it happens that it is a day of fasting, then do not talk in profanity and do not shout with anger." Also, fasting protects the fasting person from Hell Fire in the Hereafter. The prophet (S.A.W.) said in a good hadith reported by Imam Ahmad, "Fasting is protection. The servant protects himself with it from Hell Fire."
- "There are two joys; one when he breaks fasting, and one when he meets his Lord." As to his joy when he breaks his fasting; he is joyful because Allah (S.W.T.) blessed him with the ability to fulfill the obligation of fasting, He is also joyful because Allah (S.W.T.) allowed him to eat and drink. As to his joy when he meets his Lord; he will be so joyful when he finds his great reward at a time when he is in a great need for it when it will be said, "Where are the fasting people to enter from the door of Ar-ray-yan that which no one enters Paradise except them."
And from the blessing of fasting is that it intercedes for the fasting person on the Day of Judgment and allows him to enter paradise. On this subject, the prophet (S.A.W.) said in an authentic hadith reported by Imams Ahmad, At-Tabarani, and Al-Hakim, "Fasting and Qur’an intercede for the servant on the Day of Judgment. Fasting says: O Lord, I prevented him from food and desire, so allow me to intercede for him, and Qur’an says, "O Lord I prevented him from sleeping at night, so allow me to intercede for him. He (the prophet), then, said: They intercede."
Lastly, we say: the blessings of Ramadan are so many, but they are not obtained except with fasting as it should be. This is met by abstaining from all that breaks fasting, and also by abstaining from committing any sins. And let us not be from the people whom the prophet (S.A.W.) described in an authentic hadith reported by An-Nesai’ and others, "There is a fasting person who has nothing from his fasting except hunger and thirst."
Let’s take this great opportunity in this blessed month from its beginning so that we may achieve taqwa which is the greatest fruit of fasting and be consistent in praying its night prayers; the tarawih prayers in congregation in the Masjid.