By AbdulRasaq Badru
Firstly we must note that one of the names of Allah is al-Hakeem (the Most Wise). The word Hakeem is derived from the same root as hukm (ruling) and hikmah (wisdom). Allah alone is the One Who issues rulings, and His rulings are the most wise and perfect.
Allah has mentioned the reason and wisdom behind His enjoining of fasting upon us, as He says: “O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqoon (the pious).” [al-Baqarah 2:183]
Fasting is a means of attaining taqwa (piety, being conscious of Allah), and taqwa means doing that which Allah has enjoined and avoiding that which He has forbidden.
Ramadan is the month of Quran as Allah the Most High said “The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)”. Abdullah ibn ‘Amr (ra) reported that the Messenger of Allah said “Fasting and the Quran will intercede for a slave on the day of judgement, the fasts will say, ‘my Lord I prevented him (or her) from food and desires so let me intercede’, and the Quran will say, ‘I prevented him (or her) from sleeping at night so let me intercede’, then they will intercede”. It was said that the salaf would spend the days of Ramadan reading the Quran, and the importance of studying the Quran cannot be emphasised enough. A single ayah recited with contemplation (tadabbur) may be better then reciting many ayaat (verses) of the Quran without contemplation. Although as isolated deeds they both may be equal, the latter will benefit you for the rest of your life and thus the effects of understanding the Quran will elevate you further in the Hereafter.
This hadith emphasises the need to be generous in giving all kinds of charity in Ramadan, in addition to studying the Quran. It is also important to feed others, especially those with less. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “whoever gives a fasting person (food or drink to break their fast), they will have similar to the reward of the one who fasted, without any decrease for the one who fasted.”
It is upon us all to fear Allah, and direct our best efforts in and out of the month of Ramadan towards obeying Him. Allah the Most High commanded us “So keep your duty to Allah and fear Him as much as you can; listen and obey; and spend in charity that is better for yourselves. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, then they are the successful ones.” No one is burdened with more than they can take, however it is through the performance of good deeds and the attainment of taqwa that we will earn the reward prepared for the muttaqeen.
The scholars (may Allah have mercy on them) have mentioned some of the reasons why fasting is prescribed, all of which are characteristics of taqwa.
Some of the reasons behind fasting are:
Fasting is a means that makes us appreciate and give thanks for pleasures. For fasting means giving up eating, drinking and intercourse, which are among the greatest pleasures. By giving them up for a short time, we begin to appreciate their value. Because the blessings of Allah are not recognized, but when you abstain from them, you begin to recognize them, so this motivates you to be grateful for them.
Fasting is a means of giving up haraam things, because if a person can give up halaal things in order to please Allah and for fear of His painful torment, then he will be more likely to refrain from haraam things. So fasting is a means of avoiding the things that Allah has forbidden.
Fasting enables us to control our desires, because when a person is full his desires grow, but if he is hungry then his desire becomes weak. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “O young men! Whoever among you can afford to get married, let him do so, for it is more effective in lowering the gaze and protecting one’s chastity. Whoever cannot do that, let him fast, for it will be a shield for him.”
Fasting makes us feel compassion and empathy towards the poor, because when the fasting person tastes the pain of hunger for a while, he remembers those who are in this situation all the time, so he will hasten to do acts of kindness to them and show compassion towards them. So fasting is a means of feeling empathy with the poor.
Fasting humiliates and weakens the Shaytaan; it weakens the effects of his whispers (waswaas) on a person and reduces his sins. That is because the Shaytaan “flows through the son of Adam like blood” as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, but fasting narrows the passages through which the Shaytaan flows, so his influence grows less. [Shaykh al-Islam said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, 25/246]
Undoubtedly blood is created from food and drink, so when a person eats and drinks, the passages through which the devils flow – which is the blood – become wide. But if a person fasts, the passages through which the devils flow become narrow, so hearts are motivated to do good deeds, and to give up evil deeds.
The fasting person is training himself to remember that Allah is always watching, so he gives up the things that he desires even though he is able to take them, because he knows that Allah can see him.
Fasting means developing an attitude of asceticism towards this world and its desires, and seeking that which is with Allah.
It makes the Muslim get used to doing a great deal of acts of worship, because a person fasting usually does more acts of worship and gets used to that.
We ask Allah to help us to achieve them and to worship Him properly.
Note: Ramadan (fasting) starts (Insha Allah) on 7 June 2016. It’s the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and the month in which the Quran was revealed.