We have mentioned that worship like Salah, Sawm, Zakah and Hajj are very important and renewed sources for provision in our path. We tried clarifying that concerning prayer, and now we will do the same with Fasting and may Allah help us. Allah, Most High, says, {O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn)) self-restraint}. (Al-Baqarah: 183)

So, fasting is a shield, which protects those who are fasting from temptations. Fasting is different from any other worship that is related to Allah, the Most High. It was related that Abu Hurairah, (my Allah be pleased with him) said, the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Allah, Most High, said, ‘Every deed of son of Adam is for him except Fasting, it is for Me and I give reward for it. Fasting is like a shield (from the Fire and from committing sins). If one of you is fasting, he should avoid sexual relation with his wife and quarrelling, and if somebody should fight or quarrel with him, he should say, I am fasting. By Him in Whose Hands my soul is! The smell coming from the mouth of a fasting person is considered better to Allah than the smell of musk. There are two pleasures for the fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord. Then he will be pleased because of his fasting.”

The duty of Fasting is connected with the month of Ramadan. When Ramadan is mentioned, it is as if a wide paradise is mentioned where a Muslim passes when he walks in the middle of the desert of this life and its heat and temptations.

Allah designates an abundance of good during the month of Ramadan and if we know it, we will wish the whole year to be the month of Ramadan. In that month, the Qur’an was revealed: {Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong}. (Al-Baqarah: 185)

Another quality of that month is Laylatul-Qadr (the Night of Determination) and what makes you realize what is Laylatul-Qadr, Laylatul-Qadr is better than a thousand months. In the month of Ramadan, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, devils are bound and reward is doubled. There is also I`tikaf (seclusion in the mosque for the purpose of worship) and Al-Qiyam (Night Vigil). Thus, the true Muslim is happy with Ramadan as the happiness of believers with the Mercy and Favor of Allah. For, he can take a break from the burdens of life in this month and renew his energy to continue his path. No one feels this feeling except the one who fasts Ramadan as what the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, guided us to.

This month is called the month of Qur’an because people recite and memorize the Qur’an more than any other month over the year. We also perform Qiyamul-Layl with it. Qur’an is considered to be truth, wisdom and guidance to us.

This month is also the month of Al-Qiyam. When people fast, they perform Al-Qiyam every night. This leads to patience in worship and the continual submission and solemnity to Allah.

In Ramadan, there is I`tikaf. It has its effects on people. During I`tikaf, the Muslim lives as a guest in the House of Allah. He leaves all worldly affairs and does nothing except remembering Allah by prayer, invocation, communing, reciting the Qur’an, asking for forgiveness and shedding tears due to his fear of Allah. Then, Allah is generous to His guests. He guides them and strengthens their faith. Allah, Most High, says, {When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I respond to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: let them also, with a will, listen to My call, and believe in Me: that they may walk in the right way}. (Al-Baqarah: 186)

Fasting makes Muslims gain the quality of being sincere to Allah. It is a secret between the slave and his Lord. Sincerity to Allah is the greatest provision for Muslims in the path of Da`wah. There is no reward for any deed or effort if it is not sincere to Allah, the Most High. Allah does not accept any deed except the one, which is sincere to Him.

Fasting enables a Muslim to strive against temptation of the soul. This strengthens his determination and this is very important for whoever calls for Allah and strives in His cause. Fasting keeps the Muslim away from temptation and unlawful things in every day of that month. This helps him avoid unlawful things in the rest of the time.

Fasting makes the Muslim gain the virtue of patience which is a very important quality of whoever calls for Allah. Patience helps Muslims face problems and continue their way without weakness: {But they never lost heart if they met with disaster in Allah’s way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give in. and Allah loves those who are firm and steadfast}. (Al `Imran: 146)

So, warning, threatening, harming and frightening away have no effect on the men of Da`wah.

Fasting controls the senses in this month. It does not only control the desires of the stomach and sex, but also controls all his senses not to do whatever Allah prohibits. It controls eyes, ears, tongue, hands, legs besides mouth and sexual lusts. This is something very important for the personality of a Muslim.

Fasting makes a Muslim gain the virtue of forgiveness. If any one fights him, defames or agitates him, he must be calm and forgive them saying “I am fasting, I am fasting”. People who are in the path of Da`wah must have this quality of forgiveness and not being angry. Allah, most High says, {Wert thou severe of harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee}. (Al `Imran: 159)

This saves time and effort for Da`wah and production because Muslims will not waste their time in anger and argument because if it happened the only victim will be Da`wah. Allah, the Must High, says: {Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better}. (Fussilat: 34)

Fasting makes the heart of a Muslim full of kindness towards the poor and the needy. When he feels pain as a result of hunger, he will help them. Zakatul-Fitr emphasizes that meaning. This is an important behavior, which must be general between Muslims. During fasting and when the stomach is empty, this makes the soul reach a spiritual stage and the heart becomes pure by the recitation of the Qur’an, asking for forgiveness, repentance and invocation. This is the right happiness and the feeling of being near to Allah. This refers to the meaning of what the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Satan moves in the body of the son of Adam as blood does, so combat him by hunger.”

So, fasting, especially during hot days, teaches a Muslim how to be patient in the field of strife and fighting and to be strong when facing the enemy. It also teaches him to face hard conditions of Da`wah and bodily needs will not hinder him from continuing his way.

Fasting teaches the believer to be happy of Allah’s Favor and help when he performs worship and be sincere to Allah. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, reminded us with the two joys of fasting one when a person breaks his fast and two when he meets his Lord with his fast. Allah Most High says, {Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah. And in His Mercy, in that let them rejoice.’ That is better than the (wealth) they hoard}. (Yunus: 58)

This is a correction of the misunderstanding of many people who are happy when they reach goods of life and become unhappy when they lose them.

Fasting supports the meaning of community inside the fasting Muslim. Muslims all over the world of different nationalities and colors all fast during one month. They feel the unity of Muslims and this is very important especially for people of Da`wah.

The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, knew the benefits of fasting, so, he mentioned in his Sunnah other days than the month of Ramadan during the year to fast them because he, peace and blessings be upon him, loved whatever was good for us.

It is because of Allah’s Mercy that he made prayer in traveling, illness and war easy for us by relieving it. He, the Must High, also brings His Mercy upon us and gives us permission not to fast if we are traveling or sick by fasting other days or paying Fidyah (ransom).

Fasting creates a link between a Muslim and the universe and what it has of plants and stars when he tries to see the crescent of Ramadan and Shawwal and becomes acquainted with that side of creation and its evidence of the Glory and Ability of Allah.

Fasting teaches a Muslim to be punctual and always on time. Every fasting Muslim knows by heart the time of Imsak (the time when he stops eating) and the time of breaking his fast just to keep his fast right. This happens every day during that month and it makes him use his time and not kill it without doing something useful.

With all these things, fasting also has its healthy effect on the body. Nowadays medicine proves this fact and some sanatoriums use fasting as a means to cure many diseases.

All these effects of fasting are easy to gain for those who have pure intention and fast as what Allah told us and as the teachings of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.

But, nowadays we find that the month of fasting becomes a month of indigestion and many kinds of food instead of hunger and little food. It is changed from a month of worshiping, Qiyam and Qur’an into month of chatting and amusement and becomes a chance for artists, male and female, to spend the night of Ramadan in corruption. All these things disfigure the truth of Ramadan. And Allah is not satisfied with this nor is His Messenger and it is obligatory to correct them.

Finally, I ask Allah to make us benefit from Ramadan and fast and what I have mentioned is not all the information concerning this subject but some sides of it, may Allah lead us to make use of them.

By Mustafa Mashhur