THE REALITY OF FASTING BY 'ABDUL-'AZEEZ QAARI
InnalhamdaLillaahinahmaduhuwanasta’eenahu wa nastaghfiruhu, wa na’oodhubillaahi min shuroorianfusinaa wa min sayi’aatia’maalinaa. Man yahdihIllaahufalaamudillalahuwa man yudlilfalaahaadiyalahu. Waashhadu an laailaaha ill-Allah wahdahu la sharikalahu wa ashhaduannaMuhammadan ‘abduhu wa rasooluhusallalahualayhi wa alaalihiwasallam.
إِنَّ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ نَحْمَدُهُ وَنَسْتَعِينُهُ وَنَسْتَغْفِرُهُ وَنَعُوذُ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ شُرُورِ أَنْفُسِنَا وَمِنْ سَيِّئَاتِ أَعْمَالِنَا مَنْ يَهْدِهِ اللَّهُ فَلَا مُضِلَّ لَهُ وَمَنْ يُضْلِلْ فَلَا هَادِيَ لَهُ وَأَشْهَدُ أَنْ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا اللَّهُ وَحْدَهُ لَا شَرِيكَ لَهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ
(Praise be to Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One, having no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger).
]يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ حَقَّ تُقَاتِهِ وَلَا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلَّا وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُون[
O you who believe! Fear Allaah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islaam. Soorat-ul-Aal-i-'Imran ayah 102
]يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمِ الَّذِي خَلَقَكُمْ مِنْ نَفْسٍ وَاحِدَةٍ وَخَلَقَ مِنْهَا زَوْجَهَا وَبَثَّ مِنْهُمَا رِجَالًا كَثِيرًا وَنِسَاءً وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءَلُونَ بِهِ وَالْأَرْحَامَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَيْكُمْ رَقِيبًا[
O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah , through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer. Sooratun- Nisaa' ayah 1
]يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا]
O you who have believed, fear Allah and speak words of appropriate justice.He will [then] amend for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.Soorat-ul-Ahzaabayaat 70-71 
The crescent of a noble month has been sighted, marking the start of a blessed season. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam used to give glad tidings to his companions upon the arrival of this month.
O Believers! Therefore, glad tidings to you for the month of Ramadhaan, the month in which Allaah ordained fasting and revealed the Qur'aan. He made this month a season of worship and hard work, a season of goodness and blessings. He made it a time of action and striving for four things: fasting, Qur'an, worship, and other righteous deeds – these are the most obvious gifts and features of this month. I shall talk about these four things during the coming Fridays of this month, Allaah willing.
Abu Hurayrah, mayAllaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam said: "When Ramadhaan arrives, the gates of Heaven… (and in another narration) …the gates of Paradise… open, thegates of the Hellfire are sealed, and the Shayaateen (devils) are chained.” Sahih al-Bukhari 1899and Sahih Muslim 1079He (sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam) also said: "On the first night of Ramadan comes, the Shayaateen and the mischievous Jinns are chained.... The gates of Paradise are opened and none of its gates are closed. And a caller cried out: ‘O seeker of good, proceed, O seeker of evil, stop.’ And Allah has necks (people) whom He frees (from the Fire), and that happens every day.”SunanIbn Majah 1642
This means that their ability to tempt people is diminished during this month. Evil and disobedience decrease, because, although the causes of disobedience are many, the greatest factor of all is the whispers of Satan. However, not all Shayaateen are chained during this month for other narrations prove that only the leaders of the Shayaateen are chained. That is why, even though evil and disobedience diminishes during this month, it does not come to a complete halt.
There are many other sources for evil that still remain, one of them is the human soul, which is naturally inclined towards evil and accompanies one at all times. Human devils are another reason for immorality in addition to man's own lusts and desires. Yet another reason is that the remaining soldiers of the devils that do not get chained continue to misguide people. Nevertheless, all of these reasons and causes have a lesser effect over fasting people because fasting bestows upon them a certain blessing.
O Muslims! This is the value of Ramadhaan, the month of fasting. Allaah ordained fasting during this month whereby people refrain from food, drink and conjugal relations from dawn until sunset. When the sun sets, a fasting person can eat and drink and have marital relations. The nations that came before us were not allowed to touch their spouses, even at night, and if a person from them fell asleep before he had the chance to eat or drink anything, then it was forbidden for him to eat or drink after that; he had to continue fasting until the end of the next day.
However, Allaah has made it easy for this Nation. It is from Allaah's mercy that He made all of this permissible, thus releasing the believers from the heavy burdens that were upon the previous nations. As soon as the sun sets, it becomes lawful for the fasting person of this Nation to eat, drink and to have relations with his/her spouse. Allaah says that which means: “… Allaah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to magnify Allaah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.” (Al-Baqarah: 185).
Moreover, in another verse, to demonstrate to this Nation His favours upon it, Allaah says that which means: “It has been made permissible for you the night preceding fasting to go to your women [for sexual relations]….” (Al-Baqarah: 187). This means, in other words, that this was not lawful for the people before you but now it is lawful for you, O Nation of Muhammad sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam.
Of the signs of ease of this religion and the mercy that Muhammad sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam came with is that the ill person and the traveller can break his fast and make it up at a later time after Ramadhaan. Also, the elderly who cannot bear fasting, as well as people who have no hope of a cure (i.e., the chronically ill), can feed the needy and they do not have to make up for their missed fasting. It is not righteous to fast while travelling, nor is it better for the ill to fast if it is difficult for them to do so. In these cases, they are to make use of the permission that Allaah has furnished them with, because He likes it when people take heed of the mercy that He has endowed.
O Muslims! Know that fasting is a protection from wrongdoing. This month is an opportunity for you to purify yourselves and release yourselves from the effects of sins, so take advantage of it. During Ramadhaan, a Muslim has fewer burdens as his desires are diminished and he acquires more goodness from being involved in fasting; one can rid himself of bad habits, such as overdoing matters which are lawful, such as overeating, talking too much and being over indulgent in sexual relations with one’s spouse; we must stop the awful habit of going to extremes in fulfilling these desires.
Some people fail to understand the reality of fasting. They refrain from eating and drinking in the daytime but do not abstain from sin or oppression. They continue their practices as usual or if they do stop in the daytime, they continue with their normal routine as soon as they break the fast. They spend their mornings hungry and thirsty and their evenings are full of sin and evil. They spend the whole night watching television with their wives and children. Others refrain from food during the daytime, and after sunset, they eat all night long to make up for the food they missed.
Therefore, fasting is nothing for such people except a change in the times of eating – for they eat during the night rather than the day. When night comes, all kinds of foods are put forth for them to consume - one kind of food is not sufficient for these people - and they stuff their stomachs with all these various types. It is as if these people have never heard of the saying of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam: "The believer eats in one intestine (stomach), and the disbeliever and the hypocrite eat in seven." Sahih al-Bukhari 5394 and Sahih Muslim 2060
This saying of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam means that a believer can eat less and control his desires more, since he does not eat to enjoy nor to fulfil a desire, but rather to stop hunger and become stronger so that he can worship Allaah. The disbeliever, however, who does not believe in the Day to come, eats with a strong desire and the lust of animals, as Allaah describes him in the Qur'aan saying that which means: “…But those who disbelieve enjoy themselves and eat as grazing livestock eat, and the Fire will be a residence for them.” Quran Surah Muhammad: 12
O Muslims! One type of cooked food is enough; let us not be like the Children of Israel who would not settle for only one kind of food. O people who observe fasting! When you put these different types of foods on the table in front of you, remember before you begin to eat, that the master of all the creations of Allaah, the leader of all Messengers and creation, the Seal of the Prophets sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam, would remain without lighting a fire in his house (i.e. without cooking) for one or even two months. “He and his family only ate dates and drank water.” Sahih al-Bukhari 6459(Vol. 8, Book 76, Hadith 466) and SahihMuslim 2972 One or two months! This was not because he sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam could not have obtained it and that he had no choice, because he could have had all he had wanted. It was only due to the fact that he stayed away from worldly pleasures, living an ascetic life and aimed to draw ever closer to Allaah.
O Muslims! Let this month be an opportunity that we take full advantage of. Let us get used to these customs - the customs of the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam. Let us get rid of the habit of overeating like animals. Let this month be a chance to purify ourselves and become elevated from lusts, desires, and trivialities that are of no real value. Let us elevate our souls to the heavens with faith – we can elevate them from the pleasures of this world to the pleasures of the world to come.
Abu Hurayrah, mayAllaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhiwasallam said: “Fasting is a shield (protection), so when one of you fasts, let him not touch his wife (for sexual relations), and let him not badmouth anyone; and if someone fights him or upsets him, let him say, 'I am fasting, I am fasting.'I swear by the One in Whose Hand my soul is! The smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allaah than the smell of musk.” Sahih Muslim 1151 Also, Allaah says as reported in a HadeethQudsi: “He left eating and drinking and his desires for My sake. Fasting is for Me and I give reward for it - one blessing (for fasting) is multiplied ten times.” Sahih al-Bukhari book of Oneness, Uniqueness of Allah,7538 (Vol.9:629) and Sahih Muslim 1151