Fasting is one of the Islam’s most highly elevated acts of worship and the month of Ramadan is the master of all months. It is an open training ground as well as a test yard for the believers. It nourishes the heart as well as the tongue and the limbs even boosts the body with regards to overall health and energy.
The impact and effect of Fasting and Ramadan on the social and spiritual development of the believer is so high that Allah Almighty Himself declared that the rewards for the fasting person will be personally rewarded by Allah. It is an open ended and unquantified reward unlike other acts of worship that atleast have some indication of the rewards.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Allah said: ‘Every deed of the son of Adam is for him except fasting; it is for Me and I shall reward for it…’” [Bukhari and Muslim]
Our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ himself used to congratulate his companion upon the arrival of this blissful and productive month.
The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said when the month of Ramadan arrived, “The month of Ramadan has come, a blessed month in which Allah Almighty has obligated you to fast. In it the gates of the heavens are opened, and in it the gates of Hellfire are closed, and in it the devils are chained, and in it is a night that is better than a thousand months. Thus, whoever is deprived of its good is truly deprived.” [Musnad Aḥmad]
We know and believe that all deeds are for the sake of Allah and He Alone is the One who can reward His servants according to His Will. Then why did Allah single out the rewards of fasting as is seen in the above hadith and say that He would reward the fasting person Himself?
al-Hafiz Ibn Hajar رحمه الله quoted the views of 10 scholars who sought to explain the meaning of this hadith and why fasting was singled out in this manner. The most important of these views are as follows in brief:
1. There is no showing off in fasting as may happen in other acts of worship.
Imam al-Qurtubi said: "Because showing off may enter into all good deeds, but no one can see when a person is fasting except Allah, so Allah connected it to Himself. Hence, He said in the hadith, 'He gives up his desire for My sake.'"
Imam Ibn al-Jawzi said: "All acts of worship can be seen when done, and they may be contaminated with some element of showing off, unlike fasting."
2. What is meant by the words, “I shall reward for it” is: I am the only One Who knows the extent of his reward and how much his good deeds will be multiplied.
Imam al-Qurtubi said: "What this means is that the amount of reward for good deeds may become known to people, and they will be rewarded between ten and seven hundred-fold, and as much as Allah wants, except fasting, for Allah will reward it without measure."
3. What is meant by “fasting is for Me” is that it is the dearest of acts of worship to Allah.
Imam Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr said: "The words 'Fasting is for Me' are sufficient to indicate the superiority of fasting over all other acts of worship.
4. Fasting is mentioned in conjunction with Allah as a sign of honouring the action. Just as it is said, 'the House of Allah' although all houses belong to Allah.
Imam al-Zayn Ibn al-Muneer said: "Giving a specific meaning to something general in a context such as this can only be understood as being by way of honoring it."
By this, it is crystal clear why Allah the Creator singled out fasting for Himself. It is a secret between Lord and servant that is not known and the secret not unravelled by any save Allah Alone. It is a demonstration of total sincerity and obedience towards the Creator so much so that Allah appreciated His servants actions by singling it out among other acts of worship. Fasting is an excellent demonstration of bearing with patience the Decree of Allah, feeling the pangs of hunger, the call for thirst, the physical and mental weakness etc. Fasting combines the difference types of patience that a servant can face. Allah says:
“Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” [Surah al-Zumar, 10]
Virtues and Benefits
There are many other virtues and benefits of fasting expressed in the Qur'an and in the authentic teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. If only one of these virtues was unveiled for us, it would have been enough motivation to perfect our fasting and seek the reward and pleasure of Allah. It is again from the Mercy of Allah that He told us about many virtues of fasting so that we may focus even more and strive to observe it with excellence.
Let's mention some of the virtues of fasting:
1. Fasting is a means to attain Taqwa - Ramadan is the Month of Taqwa Training
"O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will attain Taqwa" [Surah al-Baqarah, 183]
2. Fasting was the practice of the Prophets.
3. Fasting is a source of special direct rewards from Allah with no measure.
4. The supplication of the person who is fasting is not refused.
5. Fasting is a means to cut off and reduce your evil desires.
6. Fasting is a means of expiation from a multitude of sins.
7. Fasting in Ramadan is a way to Paradise.
8. A fasting person will enter Jannah from a special Door name, 'Al Rayyan' that is prepared exclusively for them.
9. Fasting enables a person to have firmness on the truth, increases them in faith, strengthens them in certainty and abstain from evils.
10. Fasting has the miraculous benefits of nurturing the physical and mental health as proven by many modern days practitioners.
So many more can be listed but these should suffice to give us a small glimpse of the potential that the fasting of Ramadan has in store for us. Lastly, fasting will appear on the Day of Resurrection as a saviour, as Imam Sufyaan Ibn ‘Uyaynah said: When the Day of Resurrection comes, Allah will bring His slave to account and will settle any scores outstanding from the rest of his deeds, until when there is nothing left but fasting, Allah will settle the matter and will admit him to Paradise by virtue of his fasting.
Obtaining The Best of Ramadan
To make sure that this years Ramadan is like never before, let us strive to do our level best in following areas:
- Best relationship with Allah
- Best in following of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ
- Best Focus on Salah (Prayers)
- Best Observation of Fasting
- Best Distribution of Zakat
- Best Companionship with The Quran
- Best in giving Charity
- Best Dhikr (Remembrance) of Allah
- Best Learning of Islamic Knowledge
- Best Treatment and Behaviour with Parents
- Best Guidance for Children
- Best Treatment with Neighbours
- Best in Making Dua (Supplication)
- Best in Performing Voluntary Acts of Worship
Let us make this Ramadan as the Best Ramadan of our lives. Who knows if we will get to see next years Ramadan. May Allah help us to achieve the best from this best month of Ramadan