Virtues of Ramadhaan
HADITH - 9
Abu Ubaidah (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) reports: "I have heard
RasuluLlah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) saying: "Fasting
is a protective Shield for Man, as long as he does not tear up that
"Protective shield" here means just as a man protects
himself with a shield, similarly fasting protects him from his well-known
enemy - 'Shataan'. In other Ahaadith, we are told that fasting saves
one from Allah's punishment and Hellfire in the Hereafter. Once
somebody inquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam),
"What causes the fast to be rent?" He replied: 'Telling
lies and backbiting.'
This Hadith, when read in conjunction with so many others, actually
tells us to avoid such actions which cause fasting to be wasted.
In our times, we are fond of whiling away the time with unnecessary
conversations. Some "Ulema" are of the opinion that lies,
backbiting, slander, etc., actually undo the fast just like eating
and drinking, but the great majority of "Ulama" believes
that the fast is not totally undone, but loses its blessings. The
"Ulama" of Islam have mentioned six things, about which
care should be taken in fasting:- First, one should keep the eyes
away from any place where one should not look; some go so far as
to prohibit looking at one's own wife with desire, let alone another
woman. Similarly, looking at any evil action or where evil is committed
should be avoided. Rasulullah(Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)
said: 'The glance is like an arrow from 'Shataan' Whosoever, out
of fear for Allah, prevents himself from lookig at evil, Allah shall
grant him such light of faith, the taste and ecstacy of which he
will feel in the heart." The 'Sufis' interpret the above saying
to mean that those sights which should be avoided include all such
places and things that distract the mind from the remembrance of
Secondly, one should guard the tongue against lies, unnecessary
conversation, backbiting, arguments, swearing, etc. In Bukhari,
we read that fasting is a shield for the fasting person; for this
reason, those who fast should avoid all useless talk, joking, argument,
etc. Should anyone pick an argument, then say: "I am fasting."
In other words, one should not start an argument and if someone
else starts it, then too, one should avoid taking it up. When the
person who starts an argument is not an understanding person, then
at least one should remind oneself that: "I am fasting."
During the time of our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam),
two women were fasting and suffered the pangs of hunger to such
an extent that the fast became unbearable and both were on the point
of death. The "Sahaaba" brought this to the notice of
our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), who sent a bowl commanding
them to vomit into it. When they both vomitted in the bowl, pieces
of meat and fresh blood were found in it. The "Sahaaba"
were greatly surprised, upon which our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi
Wasallam) said: "They fasted with 'Halaal' food from Allah,
but partook of 'Haraam' food by backbiting other people." From
the above, it also becomes clear that, by backbiting during fasting,
the fast becomes so much more harder; for this reason, both women
were near death. Similar is the case with other sinful acts, and
experience shows that for the faithful, Godfearing persons, fasting
is no hardship, whereas the sinful find it too hard to bear. One
should therefore stay away from sins and especially from major sins,
like backbiting and slander, which are often indulged in to while
away the time. Allah says in the Qur'aan that backbiting is tantamount
to the (actual) eating of the flesh of one's dead brother. We find
this also narrated in various Ahadith. Once the Prophet, (Sallallaahu
Álayhi Wasallam), on seeing some people, asked them to pick
their teeth. They said that they had not tasted any meat that day,
on which the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said,
"So and so's flesh is sticking to your teeth." It transpired
that they had been backbiting. May Allah keep us safe from this
evil, because we are very neglectful of this warning. All are guilty
of this; not to speak of the common man, even the people of importance
indulge in it, even the religious people in their gatherings do
not avoid backbiting. Worst of all is the fact that we do not even
realize what backbiting is; even when we suspect ourselves of this,
we try to cover it up as narration of some event. One of the 'Sahaaba'
inquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) "What
is backbiting?" Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)
replied: "To mention something about your brother behind his
back, which he would resent." The 'Sahaabi' then said: "And
is it still backbiting if the thing mentioned about him is really
true?" Our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said:
'In that case (if that which was mentioned is really true) it is
precisely backbiting; but if what is mentioned is false, then you
have in fact slandered him." Once our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi
Wasallam) passed by two graves. He said: "On both the inmates
of these graves, punishment is being inflicted in the grave. One
is being punished because of backbiting, the other because of not
having taken precautions (to stay clean) when passing urine. Rasulullah
((Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) also said: "There are
more than seventy degrees of evil in (Usury) interest. The lowest
form of it is comparable to committing incest with own mother; and
taking one 'Dirham' of interest is a worse evil than having fornicated
thirty five times. The worst and most evil degree of taking interest
is the slandering of a Muslim." In various Ahaadith we are
strongly warned against backbiting and slandering a Muslim. I very
much wanted to write down here a number of such Ahaadith, because
all our gatherings and conversations are generally filled with these
evils (backbiting and slander). However I finally decided not to
do so, because the topic under discussion here is something else
- not actually backbiting. So I once again pray that Allah may keep
us safe from this evil. And I beg of my friends and brothers to
pray for me too; we are full of inner faults.
'What ailment is there O Allah that is not in me,
Heal me from every illness and grant me my needs
Verily I have a heart that is sick
Verily you are the Healer of the sick'
Thirdly, we should be careful that the ears are kept away from
listening to anything undesirable (Makrooh). It is equally unlawful
to listen to anything that should not be said. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu
Álayhi Wasallam) has said, 'In backbiting, both the bickbiter
and the one who listens to it are equal partners in sin.'
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
Fifthly, 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 Ramadhan
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 "Sahi" in preparation for the day, thus actually
increasing our average consumption. Ramadhan 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 Ramadhan and the true spirit
Imaam Ghazaali asks the same question: "When the object of
fasting is to conquer our carnal passions in opposition to 'Iblees'
(Satan), 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 (Sallallaahu
Álayhi Wasallam) said: 'Shataan" flows through the body
of man like blood; so, close up his path by remaining hunqry,"
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 'Sehri",
so that one does not feel hungry until "Iftaar". Once
a person went to Bishr Haafi, 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 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."
The 'Sufis' plead for the same attitude in fasting and so do the
In Maraqiul Falaah, it is written. "Do not eat excessively
at "Sehri", as this is a way to lose the object of fasting."
Allama Tahtaawi writes: "When hunger is really felt, the reward
for fasting becomes definitely more. Similarly, a feeling is developed
for the poor and hungry ones". Our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi
Wasallam) 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 ((Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)
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 (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) himself used to
fast for days on end, without eating in between.
I have seen my ustaaz (teacher) Maulana Khalil Ahmad eating only
slightly more than one thin (hand-made) bread (roti) at 'Iftaar'
and 'Sehri', during the whole month of Ramadhan. When any of his
near ones used to urge him to eat more, he would reply: "I
am not hungry.
I merely sat down to eat because of my friends." About Maulana
Shah Abdurraheem Rajpuri, I have heard that in Ramadhan, for days
on end, he used to fast, drinking at 'Iftaar' and 'Sehri' only a
few cups of tea without milk and nothing else. Once his most trusted
follower (and Khalifa) Maulana Shah Abdulqaadir remarked with anxiety:
"Hazrat, you will become very weak if you do not eat anything."
To this, Maulana Shah Rajpuri replied: "Praise be to Allah,
I am experiencing something of the ecstasy of Jannah.'May Allah
grant us all the ability to follow those Pious souls.Aameen'.
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 'Ibaadah' (worship).
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 (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam)
said: 'Many reciters of the Qur'an are being cursed by the Qur'an.'
He also said: 'On the day of 'Qiyaamah', (judgement) one of those
with whom Allah shall reckon first shall be a "Shaheed"
(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 favours?" The 'Shaheed' shall reply: 'I
fought in Your cause till I became a 'Shaheed". 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'aan." 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 rirh 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 fo express His gratitude, he shall reply: "There
was no worthycause 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 Ahaadith. So, a fasting person should not only be sincere but
also hope that Allah will accept it.
These above mentioned six things are compulsory for all truly righteous
persons. As for the exceptionally pious ones, a seventh point is
added. 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'.
Some Shaikhs 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". In the commentary of 'Ihya Ulumid
Deen, the author goes so far as to relate that, should something
for "Iftaar" arrive from somewhere before the time of
'Iftaar', the "Mashaikh" 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
The Qur'aan commands: "Fasting has been prescribed for you."
The commentators of the Qur'aan say that from this 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 and sirl. Similarly, 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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