Virtues of Ramadan: Hadith 06 - Part 2

Today's post is a continuation of yesterday's post - Virtues of Ramadan: Hadith 06 - Part 1. I do hope it has been of help and has educated its thus far. -------

(4) Fourthly, the rest of the body should be kept away from sin and unlawful things. Neither should the hands touch it, nor the feet walk towards it. With the stomach, special care should be taken, especially at the time of Iftaar, that no such thing enters it about which there is any doubt of it being Halaal. When a person fasts and, at Iftaar time, breaks his fast with Haraam food, he is like a sick person who takes medicine as a cure, but also adds a little poison, which destroys him.

(5) After having fasted, it is not advisable to fill the stomach completely even with Halaal food at Iftaar, because then the purpose of fasting is defeated. Fasting seeks to diminish one's carnal desires and increase one's faith and spiritual powers. For eleven months, we eat and drink freely enough, in Ramadan this should be cut down to a minimum. We have a bad habit of filling our bellies at Iftaar to make up for what was lost, and again at Suhoor preparation for the day, thus actually increasing our average consumption. Ramadan for such people gives an edge to their appetite. Many such items of food are eaten that we normally do not eat at other times. This type of eating habit is completely against the spirit of Ramadan and the true spirit of fasting.

Imam Ghazali RA has asked the same question: "When the object of fasting is to conquer our carnal passions in opposition to Iblis (Shaytaan), how can this possibly be done by eating excessively at Iftaar?"

Actually in that case we have only altered the times of eating, and not really fasted. In fact by having various types of delicacies, we consume even more than in normal times. The result is that, instead of lessening the carnal desires, these are considerably increased. The real benefit of fasting comes as a result of actual hunger in the true sense.

Our Nabi (SAW) said: Shaytaan flows through the body of man like blood; so, close up his path by remaining hungry." ( i.e. when the body is hungry, the spirit receives strength.)

Apart from hunger, fasting gives us an opportunity to appreciate the condition of the poor and destitute, and thus engenders sympathetic feelings towards them. This too can be attained by remaining hungry and not by filling the stomach with delicious foods at Suhoor, so that one does not feel hungry until Iftaar.

Once a person went to Bishr Haafi RA, whom he found shivering in the cold, in spite of having warm clothes lying at his side. That person inquired: "Is this a time for taking off the clothes?"

Bishr RA replied: "There are numerous poor and needy ones; I am unable to sympathise with them; the least I could do is to be in their condition."

At this juncture it is important to understand we need to have the same attitude in fasting. Thus the technicalities of fasting has its spiritual significance and vice versa.

In the kitab entitled Maraqi-ul-Falaah, it is written: "Do not eat excessively at Suhoor, as this is a way to lose the object of fasting."

Sheikh Thanwi RA writes: "When hunger is really felt, the reward for fasting becomes definitely more. Similarly, a feeling is developed for the poor and hungry ones."

The Prophet (SAW) himself said: "Allah does not dislike the filling of anything to the brim more than He dislikes the filling of the stomach."

On another occasion, the Prophet (SAW) is reported to have said: "A few morsels should suffice which can keep back straight." "The best way for man is that one third should be filled with food, one third with drink while the other third remains empty."

Rasulullah (SAW) himself used to fast for days on end, without eating in between.

(6) The sixth point is that - after fasting, one should always have some anxiety as to whether one's fast had been accepted by Allah or not. This should be the case with all forms of our Ibaadah (worship). The fact is, one never knows whether some important part may have been left out, of which no notice was taken. One should always fear that Allah may reject one's deeds.

Rasulullah (SAW) said: "Many reciters of the Qur'an are being cursed by the Qur'an."

Rasulullah (SAW) also said: "On the Day of Judgement one of those with whom Allah shall reckon first shall be a Shahid (a martyr in the path of Allah).

Allah shall call him and remind him of all His favours to him, which he shall admit. He shall then be asked: "What have you done by way of expressing gratitude for these favors?"

The Shahid shall reply: "I fought in Your cause till I became a Shahid."

Allah shall reply: "It is not so; you fought so that you can be called a brave man; and so it has been said."

Thereafter, it shall be commanded that he be dragged face on the ground and cast into Jahannam.

Thereafter, an 'Aalim (scholar) shall be called. He too shall be reminded of Allah's favours and asked the same question.

He shall reply: "O Lord! I sought to acquire knowledge, taught others and for Your sake recited the Qur'an."

Allah shall say: "This is not true. You did all that, merely so that, it may be said that you are learned; and so, it has been said."

Then it shall be commanded that he too be dragged, face on the ground, and cast into Jahannam.

Thereafter a rich man shall be called. After being reminded of Allah's favours, and admitting them, in reply to Allah's question as to what he did to express His gratitude, he shall reply: "There was no worthy cause wherein I did not spend in charity for Your sake."

Allah's reply shall be: "Not true. You did all that, so that it may be said that you are very generous. And so it has been said."

Then it shall be commanded that he too be dragged, face on the ground, and cast into Jahannam."

Many such incidents are related in hadiths. Thus, a fasting person should not only be sincere but also hope that Allah will accept it. To conclude, the above-mentioned six things are compulsory for all truly righteous persons.

As for the exceptionally pious ones, a seventh point is added just for our benefit.

(7) That is, during fasting, the heart should not be turned towards anyone except Allah, so much so that during the course of the fast there should be no worry as to whether there shall be something to eat for Iftaar. Infact some Ulama even consider it a fault to think about food for Iftaar, or that one should endeavour to acquire something, because this shows lack of faith in Allah's promise of being responsible for the granting of Rizq (sustenance). In the commentary of Ihya-Ulumuddin I read, the author goes so far as to relate that, should something for Iftaar arrive from somewhere before the time of Iftaar, the Mashaikh (spiritual guide) would give it to somebody else, for fear that for the rest of that day the heart may be distracted from Allah by keeping it. This can of course, only be carried out by the exceptionally pious ones. We cannot even imagine having such strong faith. Should we try to follow without it, we may destroy ourselves.

The Qur'an commands: "Fasting has been prescribed for you."

The commentators of the Qur'an say that from the above verse, it is deduced that fasting is made compulsory for every part of the body. Thus - Fasting of the tongue means to avoid falsehood, etc. Fasting of the ears means not listening to evil. Fasting of the eyes means not to look at any form of evil. Fasting of the self means to be free from all carnal desires. Fasting of the heart means casting out from it the love of worldly things. Fasting of the mind means avoiding thoughts about anything other than Allah.

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