In the name of Allah,
What is the definition of fasting?
Fasting in Arabic signifies unconditional “restraint” (imsak) from any activity or speech.[I] It’s abstaining like Maryam alayhis salaam said:
“Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.” (Surat Maryam: 26)
Ibn Qutayba stated that in a linguistic sense, a person is deemed to be fasting if they do not eat, speak, or walk[ii].
Ramadan comes from Ramadh, meaning burning since sins are burnt throughout the fasting month. Ramadh, meaning “thirst,” maybe its origin. Mujaahid gave another explanation. Mujaahid said that Ramadan is the name of Allah, so he refused to call it that.
If you want to talk about Ramadan, you have to say “The month of Ramadan.”
Islamically, the fast of Ramadan is an act of worship to Allah, the Most High, which consists of refraining from eating, drinking, and sexual relations from dawn to sunset. Fasting is worshipping Allah through abstaining. He leaves them to worship Allah, not as a habit.
Fasting was also practiced by past religious communities. It’s also decreed for Prophet Muhammad’s followers (Peace and blessings be on him). Allah says in the Quran,
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed onto you as it was prescribed onto those before you, that perhaps ye may (learn) self-restraint.” [Surat Al-Baqara, v. 183]
Fasting became obligatory in the second year following the Prophet’s emigration to Madinah. He fasted nine Ramadans[iii].
The Divine wisdom behind the decree of fasting
Fasting purifies the soul from immorality and vice by blocking Satan, who circulates through the body like blood.
When one eats or drinks, their soul becomes subject to their cravings, their will weakens, and they become less inclined to worship.
Fasting also helps Muslims focus on the Hereafter and give up temporal pleasures.
Due to hunger and thirst, fasting lets one feel the pain of the poor and needy[iv].
Fasting during Ramadan is one of Islam’s pillars. The Qur’an and Sunnah mandate it. Scholars disagree on whether someone who abandons it out of laziness has committed disbelief. The correct judgment is that he has not disbelieved.[v]
Al-Haafiz al-Dhahabi said, “Among the believers, it is well-established that anyone who does not fast in Ramadaan without a convincing explanation is worse than an adulterer or drunkard; they doubt if he is genuinely a Muslim, and they see him as a heretic and profligate”[vi] (may Allaah have mercy on him).
However, Ramadhan is obligatory and denying it makes one a Kaafir Murtad.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) described his dream: “… till I was at the mountain, where I heard loud voices.” I said, “What are these voices?” They responded, “This is Hellfire’s shrieking.” I was carried there and saw individuals hanging by their hamstrings, their mouths ripped and flowing with blood. Who are they? They said, “The ones who broke their fast before the correct hour,” i.e., before iftar.[vii]”
The hadeeth qudsi states that Allaah has chosen fasting for Himself and would reward it and multiply the reward without measure:
“Except for fasting which is only for My sake, and I will reward him for it.”[viii]
Fasting is unique and the fasting person’s du’aa’ is accepted. The fasting individual has two moments of joy: when he breaks his fast and when he meets his Lord and rejoices over his fasting.[ix]
Fasting will pray for a person on the Day of Judgment, saying, “O Lord, I restrained him from his food and bodily wants during the day.”[x]
The breath of a fasting individual is more pleasant to Allaah than the scent of musk.[xi]
Fasting shields a person from the Fire.[xii]
Whoever fasts one day for Allah’s sake, Allah will remove his face from the Fire by seventy years.[xiii]
If on his final day, he fasts for Allah, he will enter paradise.[xiv]
“In Paradise, there is a gate called al-Rayyaan, through which only those who fast will enter, and it will be shut when they enter.” [xv]
[i] A Complete Guide to Fasting and Ramadan, SeekersGuidance, Ustada Umm Ihsan, Page 7
[ii] The Comprehensive Fiqh of Fasting (Zaad Al-Mustaqni’), Shaykh Ahmad Jibril, page 17
[iii] Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (ZAD AL M AA’D) PROVISIONS OF THE AFTERLIFE, WHICH LIE WITHIN PROPHETIC GUIDANCE, Translation Ismail Abdus Salaam, Dar Al-Kotob Al-llmiyah Publication, 2010, Page 122
[iv] A summary of Islamic Jurisprudence by Dr. Salih Al-Fawazan, Vol 1- page 376
[v] Commentary on Riyaad As-Saaliheen By The Eminent Shaykh Muhammad bin Saalih A l-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah shower blessings on him) Volume 5, Page 286
[vi] Rulings pertaining to Ramadan, A Collection of Works by Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al-Munajjid, Islamfuture, page 14
[vii] (Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/420). An-Nasaa’i narrated in al-Kubra (3273), Al-Albaani classed it as saheeh in as-Saheehah 3951
[viii] al-Bukhaari, al-Fath, no. 1904; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/407). Sahih al-Bukhari 1904
[ix] Muslim, 2/807
[x] Reported by Ahmad, 2/174. Al-Haythami classed its isnaad as hasan in al-Majma’, 3/181. See also Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/411
[xi] Muslim, 2/807, Sahih al-Bukhari 5927
[xii] Reported by Ahmad, 2/402; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/411; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 3880)
[xiii] Reported by Muslim, 2/808, Sunan an-Nasa’i 2247
[xiv] Reported by Ahmad, 5/391; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/412]
[xv] al-Bukhaari, Fath, no. 1797, Sahih Muslim 1152