A Great Act of Worship-Fasting
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ’
“O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become Muttaqoon (the pious).” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:183)
Abu Hurairah (RA) narrates: “Rasulullah (SAW) said: “When the month of Ramadhaan starts, the gates of Jannah (Paradise) are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and Shaytaan’s are chained.” (Al-Bukhari)
The gates of Jannah are opened as an encouragement for those who seek rewards from Allah and perform righteous deeds. Likewise, the gates of Hell are closed, since fewer sins are committed in this sacred month and the Shaytaan is chained in order to prevent him from misleading the people and attracting them to sinful acts. Amongst the virtues of fasting is that it is an atonement of sins. Abu Hurairah (RA) that Rasulullah (SAW) said: “He who observed the fasts of the month of Ramadhaan out of sincerity and hoping for the reward from Allah, he will have his past sins forgiven.” (Al-Bukhari)
Abu Hurairah (RA) says: “Allah says: “All the deeds of Adam’s children belong to them, except fasting, which belongs to Me, and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield (against the Hell and sins). If one of you happens to be fasting then he should avoid sexual relations with his wife, and should avoid quarreling. If someone quarrels with him, let him say: ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hand is my soul, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better in the Sight of Allah than the musk.” (Al-Bukhari)
In this Hadith, Allah distinguished the sincere fast from all good deeds and He favored the fast to be greatly rewarded. Fasting is called a shield against Hell Fire because it protects the fasting person from shameful and unjust deeds, which in turn defend him from the Hell-Fire. Fasting is a praiseworthy act, which carries two occasions of joy for the believer; one while he breaks his fast and enjoys the bounties of Allah, 1st he was favored with the Mercy of Allah and granted the ability to fast and worship him, while others were deprived from this blessing. 2nd is when he will meet his Lord and enjoy the abundant rewards of fasting. Another virtue of fasting is its intercession on the Day of Judgment.
The Wisdom behind Fasting:
Fasting is a great act of worship, which a Muslim performs by avoiding all his desires, solely to please His Lord, while hoping for His Mercy and Rewards. Fasting proves the slave’s great love for Allah and devotion to Him, because man by nature is desirous and he only prevents his desires and cherished acts to acquire something better and more esteemed. Fasting is a means of attaining Taqwa (piety) and righteousness. Rasulullah (SAW) said: “He who does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah does not need his refraining from eating and drinking.” (Sahih Muslim) Thus, one who fasts refrains from all evil deeds and he is more inclined and receptive to the Words of Allah and His Commandments, which make it easy for him to become pious and devout to Allah. A rich man’s fast is more appreciated because even though all the means and food present with him, he abstain from them following the Command of Allah and suffers the hardships faced by the poor and the needy. This helps him maintain humbleness and motivates him to help those in need; thus fasting prevents pride and egoism.
Apart from these spiritual benefits, fasting also includes various health benefits; it reduces the intake of food and relaxes the digesting system. Indeed, great is the wisdom of Allah, and great are His Graces!