The Virtues of Fasting and Ramadan

In the Name of Allāh, all praise is due to Allāh and may the peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allāh.

To proceed:

What follows is a collection of virtues connected with fasting as reported in numerous authentic aḥādīth from disparate sources contained within the book Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb by Sh. Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn al-Albānī (may Allāh have mercy upon him)[1]. With the month of Ramaḍān rapidly approaching our doorstep, I thought it would be appropriate to bring to the attention of those who intend to fast during the blessed month the tremendous virtues of fasting. The aim, if Allāh wills, is to increase one’s love of the act of fasting, to make one aware of the delights that await the sincere faster which should in turn strengthen our resolve and encourage us to make the best of the aforementioned month. I will add more aḥādīth pertaining to the virtues and rewards of fasting to this post inshā’Allāh over the coming days – I’ve got other projects to attend to before then!

FASTING IS FOR ALLĀḤ AND HE REWARDS IT HIMSELF

The first batch of aḥādīth mentions a number of different virtues of fasting, which seek to stir the soul of the believer with high expectations of immense reward from his Lord. Not only has Allāh, as we shall see from the narrations below, singled out fasting as an act of worship that is done for Him in contrast to other conspicuous acts of worship but also the odour of the fasting person’s mouth is more pleasant to Allāh than even the smell of perfume. Additionally, Allāh does not limit the reward of fasting to the usual multiples between 10 and 700, instead He will reward it as He sees fit. Finally, the fasting person will find that his fast is a shield from the Fire and that he will experience two moments of utter joy; the moment he breaks his fast and the moment he meets his Lord.

Now let us take a look at these wonderful aḥādīth:

[978]    Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) said:

“Allāh the Mighty and Exalted said: Every action of the Son of Ādam is for him, except fasting for it is for Me and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield so when one of you is fasting let him not behave obscenely nor clamor. If someone insults or fights him, let him say: I am fasting, I am fasting. By the One in Whose Hand is the soul of Muḥammad, the smell of the mouth of the faster is more pleasant with Allāh than the smell of musk. The faster has two moments of joy; when he breaks his fast he is happy and when he meets his Lord He is happy with his fast.”

Scholia:

One might ask the question – is not every act of worship performed by a person for him? Why did Allāh specify fasting? The response is that it means the reward for every other act of worship performed by a person is restricted between 10 and 700 multiples. However, the reward for fasting is unrestricted by normal parameters as Allāh will decide the amount by which the faster should be rewarded as we shall come to see, if Allāh wills.

In a narration of Bukhārī:

“He forsakes his food, drink and desires because of Me, fasting is for Me and I will reward it and every good act is ten times its like”.

In a narration of Muslim:

“Every deed of the Son of Ādam is multiplied; good acts are 10 times its like up to 700 times. Allāh the Most High stated: Except for fasting for it is for Me and I will reward it. He leaves his desire and food because of Me. The faster has two moments of joy: a moment of joy when breaking his fast and a moment of joy when meeting his Lord and the smell of the mouth of the faster is more pleasant with Allāh than the scent of musk”.

In another one of his narrations as well as Ibn Khuzaymah:

                “And when he meets Allāh the Mighty and Exalted, He rewards him thus he becomes happy”.

Tirmidhī reports in one narration:

“Indeed your Lord says: Every good deed is ten times its like up to 700, fasting is for me and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield from the Fire and the smell of the fasting person’s mouth is more pleasant to Allāh than the smell of musk. If a person acts ignorantly towards one of you while he is fasting, let him say: I am fasting, I am fasting”.

In one of Ibn Khuzaymah’s narration:

“He said: Every act of the Son of Ādam is for him; a good deed is ten times its like up to seven hundred times. Allāh said: Except for fasting, it is for Me, I will reward it, he leaves his food because of Me, he leaves his drink because of Me, he leaves his pleasure because of Me and he leaves his wife because of Me. The smell of the faster’s mouth is better to Allāh than the scent of musk. The faster has two moments of joy: a moment of joy when breaking the fast and a moment of joy when meeting his Lord”.

THE GATE OF AL-RAYYĀN

The Gate of al-Rayyān is a gate in Paradise which, according to the narrations to be mentioned below, can only be entered by those who performed the act of fasting in this life. Once it is closed none else may enter it. Furthermore, those who enter it will drink and will never become thirsty thereafter:

[979]    Sahl b. Sa῾d (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) who said:

“Indeed in Paradise there is a gate called al-Rayyān. Those who fasted will enter it on the Day of Resurrection, none other than them will enter it, when they have entered it will be closed and none will enter it [thereafter]”.

In an addition by Bukhārī, Muslim, al-Nasā’ī and al-Tirmidhī:

                “And whoever enters it will never experience thirst”.

Ibn Khuzaymah reports:

“When the last of them have entered it will be closed, whoever enters it will drink and whoever drinks will never experience thirst”

A SHIELD

Fasting as an act of worship is an effective shield from the Fire. How? There are a number of explanations for this. Firstly, we have been informed from other authentic sources that the Fire is surrounded by desires and temptations. Fasting weakens the desire thus allowing one to protect oneself from falling into the traps of temptation which would have been kindled by one’s desire. Secondly, fasting is a shield in the sense that Allāh will remove a person far from the Fire by a great distance for every fast that a person undertakes sincerely.

[980]    Abū Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) who said:

                “Fasting is a shield, an impregnable fortress from the fire”.

[981]    Jābir (may Allāh be pleased with him) reported from the Prophet (may Allāh grant him peace and security) that he said:

                “Fasting is a shield with which the slave conceals himself from the Fire”.

[982]    ῾Uthmān b. Abī al-῾Āṣ (may Allāh be pleased with him) said he heard the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) say:

“Fasting is a shield from the Fire, just like one of your shield in battle and fasting is good three days of every month”.

FASTING INTERCEDES FOR A PERSON ON THE DAY OF JUDGEMENT

On the Day of Judgement every single soul will face an account of his deeds which will play a part in determining one’s final abode as either in eternal bliss in Paradise or eternal damnation in the Fire. One of the ways in which a person will be able to attain either salvation from the Fire on the Day or an increase in his station in Paradise is through the intercession of various agents such as the Prophets, Angels, martyrs etc. What we learn from the ḥadīth below is that fasting will also intercede to Allāh for the one who used to engage in it.

[984]    From ῾Abd Allāh b. ῾Amr (may Allāh be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allāh (may Allāh grant him peace and security) said:

“Fasting and the Qur’ān intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: “O my Lord! I prevented him from food and desires so allow me to intercede for him”. The Qur’ān will say: “I prevented him from sleeping at night so allow me to intercede for him”. Both will then be allowed to intercede””.


[1] It is based on al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb [Encouragement [to perform good deeds] and Discouragement [from perpetrating evil deeds]] of al-Ḥāfiẓ Zakī al-Dīn ῾Abd al-῾Aẓīm b. ῾Abd al-Qawī al-Munẓirī, which according to al-Albānī, is the most comprehensive and beneficial composition on the topic. See al-Albānī, Muḥammad Nāṣir al-Dīn (1421/200) Ṣaḥīḥ al-Targhīb wa al-Tarhīb. Riyāḍ: Maktabat al-Ma῾ārif, vol. 1, pp. 35-36. Forthcoming translations on the virtues of fasting are found in vol.1, p. 574ff.

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