Inner Dimensions of Fasting

Reported on the authority of Sahl bin Sa’ad that the Prophet said, “Jannah has an entrance by the name of Ar-Rayyaan which is exclusively reserved for the fasting individuals. On the Day of Judgment, they will be called to pass through this entrance, after which it will be closed behind them and no one else will be allowed to use it.” 

It should be known that there are three grades of fasting:

Ordinary fasting. Abstaining from food, drink and sexual satisfaction.

Special fasting. Keeping one’s ears, eyes, tongue, hands and feet-and all other organs-free from sin.

Extra-special fasting. Fasting of the heart from unworthy concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but Allah.

See not what displeases Allah:

A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is blameworthy or reprehensible, or which distracts the heart and diverts it from the remembrance of God. The Prophet, said: “The furtive (secret) glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God’s curse. Whoever forsakes it for fear of God, will receive from Him, Great and Gracious is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.” 

Jabir relates from Anas that God’s Messenger, on him be peace, said: “Five things break a man’s fast: lying, backbiting, scandal mongering, perjury and a lustful gaze.” 

Speak no evil:

Guarding one’s tongue from twaddle, lying, backbiting, scandal mongering, obscenity, rudeness, wrangling and controversy; making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance of Allah and with recitation of the Quran. This is the fasting of the tongue. Sufyan said: “backbiting vitiates the fast.” Layth quotes Mujahid as saying: “Two habits vitiate fasting: backbiting and telling lies.” 

The Prophet said: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: ‘I am fasting, I am fasting!’ ” 

Hear no evil:

Closing one’s ears to everything reprehensible; for everything unlawful to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why Allah equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer ” (They like to) listen to falsehood, to devour anything forbidden” (Quran 5: 42).

Do not:

Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food at the time for breaking Fast. It is meaningless to Fast — to abstain from lawful food – only to break one’s Fast on what is unlawful. A man who Fast like this may be compared to one who builds a castle but demolishes a city. Lawful food injurious in quantity not in quality, so Fasting is to reduce the former. A person might well give up excessive use of medicine, from fear of ill effects, but he would be a fool to switch to taking poison. The unlawful is a poison deadly to religion, while the lawful is a medicine, beneficial in small doses but harmful in excess. The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. Said the Prophet, on him be peace: ‘How many of those who Fast get nothing from it but hunger and thirst!’ This has been taken to mean those who break their Fast on unlawful food. Some say it refers to those who abstain from lawful food, but break their Fast on human flesh through backbiting, which is unlawful. Others consider it an allusion to those who do not guard their organs from sin.

Avoid overeating:

Not to over-indulge in lawful food at the time of breaking Fast, to the point of stuffing one’s belly. There is no receptacle more odious to God, Great and Glorious is He, than a belly stuffed full with lawful food. Of what use is the Fast as a means of conquering God’s enemy and abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it one not only makes up for all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a variety of extra foods? It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than in the course of several other months put together. It is well known that the object of Fasting is to experience hunger and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety. If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that its appetite is aroused and its craving intensified, and it is then offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which would have lain dormant under normal conditions.

The spirit and secret nature of Fasting is to weaken the forces which are Satan’s means of leading us back to evil. It is therefore essential to cut down one’s intake to what one would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is derived from the Fast if one consumes as much as one would usually take during the day and night combined. Moreover, one of the properties consists in taking little sleep during the daytime, so that one feels the hunger and thirst and becomes conscious of the weakening of one’s powers, with the consequent purification of the heart.

One should let a certain degree of weakness carry over into the night, making it easier to perform the night Prayers (tahajjud) and to recite the praises (awrad). It may then be that Satan will not hover around one’s heart, and that one will behold the Kingdom of Heaven. The Night of Destiny represents the night on which something of this Kingdom is revealed. This is what is meant by the words of God, Exalted is He:

‘We surely revealed it on the Night of Power.’ [Quran 97:1]
Anyone who puts a bag of food between his heart and his breast becomes blind to this revelation. Nor is keeping the stomach empty sufficient to remove the veil, unless one also empties the mind of everything but God, Great and Glorious is He. That is the entire matter, and the starting point of it all is cutting down on food.

(Excerpt from “Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship”, a compilation of Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali’s works)



By: abu hamid al-ghazali | Source: IslamiCity | Category: Articles, Faith, Featured | Topic: eating, fasting, food, ramadan | Views: 27,968 | Comments: 15

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15 Comments

  1. The way of Muhammad (peace be upon him) calling to Paradise.

    Please Brothers and sisters in Islam , though if we are born Muslims we are nothig more than this that we say Alhamdulillah we are Muslims.

  2. Hi,

    My name is Runa and i am a muslim like you. I have a couple of problems. The people here who hates muslims gives me a strange looking. But i did something very bad. Like swearing at them but i don’t do that on fasting times never. But not on fasting times i do and thats my promblem. I who may get mad all the times. I sometimes talk to allah alot but i just need some kind of signs that that is bad to do or that is a good thing to do. You know what i mean? I just want to meet all the muslims. But there is something and a reason why i am telling you my promblem because I am a deaf muslim and i know how it feels like to be lonely all the times. I am already there and that. Maybe that the reason but what if i just hate all americans people and want to stick to all muslims and I might or maybe will become a good muslim like you or not. Because i might have problems and so do you. Maybe you have some problems on your own like me but very differnt because maybe the person i am typing to is not a deaf muslims like me. Well I hope you write to me. Thanks for your listening and reading this. I hope you know what to say is the right thing specially a deaf muslim like me.

  3. Can anyone share? In my country it is explained that in Ramadhan there are three ten days that have different Allah Blesing. Can anyone share what is the first, second and third ten day Allah Blessing is like ? It is aid that it refers to a verses in the hadith, which hadith is it and what does it say?

  4. Whar can I do to make not to make my mind to wondering off during fasting? I try my best not to think and do things intentionally.somethimes I wonder if god is so mearcyful, I do my best during fasting , how could he not have meacy on me

    and dont accept my fasting.

  5. RE: Runa

    Narrated Abu Huraira

    Allah’s Apostle said, “The strong is not the one who overcomes the people by his strength, but the strong is the one who controls himself while in anger.”

    Narrated AbuDharr:

    The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said to us: When one of you becomes angry while standing, he should sit down. If the anger leaves him, well and good; otherwise he should lie down.

    Narrated Atiyyah as-Sa’di:

    AbuWa’il al-Qass said: We entered upon Urwah ibn Muhammad ibn as-Sa’di. A man spoke to him and made him angry. So he stood and performed ablution; he then returned and performed ablution, and said: My father told me on the authority of my grandfather Atiyyah who reported the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) as saying: Anger comes from the devil, the devil was created of fire, and fire is extinguished only with water; so when one of you becomes angry, he should perform ablution.

    Narrated Aisha, Ummul Mu’minin:

    Al-Miqdam ibn Shurayh, quoting his father, said: I asked Aisha about living in the desert. She said: The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) used to go to the desert to these rivulets. Once he intended to go to the desert and he sent to me a she-camel from the camel of sadaqah which had not been used for riding so far. He said to me: Aisha! show gentleness, for if gentleness is found in anything, it beautifies it and when it is taken out from anything it damages it.

  6. RE: Runa

    (http://www.masmn.org/Hadith/Riyad_Us_Saliheen/00_0003.htm)

    Allah, the Exalted, says:

    “O you who believe! Endure and be more patient..”. (3:200)

    “And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirun (the patient)”. (2:155)

    “Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.” (39:10)

    “And verily, whosoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.” (42:43)

    “Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly, Allah is with As-Sabirun (the patient).” (2:153)

    “And surely, We shall try you till We test those who strive hard (for the Cause of Allah) and As-Sabirun (the patient)” (47:31)

    Abu Sa`id and Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Never a believer is stricken with a discomfort, an illness, an anxiety, a grief or mental worry or even the pricking of a thorn but Allah will expiate his sins on account of his patience”.

    [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

    “I heard Allah’s Apostle (Sal-allahu-aleihi-wasallam) saying, “Allah said, ‘If I deprive my slave of his two beloved things (e.g., his eyes) and he remains patient, I will let him enter Paradise in compensation for them.”

    Narrated by Anas bin Malik (Razi Allah Ta’lah Anhu); Sahih Bukhari transmitted it. Vol 7:#557 of Sahih Bukhari.

    Allah’s Messenger (Sal-allahu-aleihi-wasallam) said:”None is more patient than Allah against the harmful and annoying words He hears (from the people): They ascribe children to Him, yet He bestows upon them health and provision.”

    Narrated by Abu Musa Al-Ashari (Razi Allah Ta’lah Anhu); Sahih Bukhari transmitted it. Vol 9:#475 of Sahih Bukhari.

  7. Glory to Allah for giving us Ramadan as an opportunity to experience in the first 10 days His Mercy, next 10 days His Forgiveness and last 10 Freedom from hellfire.

    Ramadan Greetings to all.

  8. a/a,

    may allah bless u for carrying out this job.

    it is really pleasure that u have mentioned the benefits of fasting and proved that it is the mere hunger, but has the everlasting consequences.

    wasalam, javaid

  9. hmmm… there is a growing culture in malaysia that i find most disturbing – breaking of fast at hotels, for purpose of entertaining business colleagues and/or clients. i find it disturbing because the ramadhan buffets become a time when muslims gorge on food at breaking of fast, and encourage people not to make it to taraweeh prayers (maghrib period is short in malaysia). hotels, of course, do not conduct taraweeh. some govt departments and private companies have every working night (and sometimes weekend nights) booked solid for these buffets – supposedly to ‘bolster working relations’.

    on another note, for myself probably the most difficult thing to control during ramadhan, is probably my temper. stressful job and all that….

  10. Alhamdolillah,i happened to read this article,now my questions have been answered regarding the essence of fasting.Its not yet too late to correct some common mistakes mostly we do during ramadhan.I could share this article to my neighbours and relatives.Thanks a lot.

  11. jazakumulLAH bi khair,this article has really explained the essentials of Ramadhan fasting and i have learnt a lot from it may Allah in His infinite mercy guide all of us and save us from hell fire ameen. and to you the moderators of the site, may Allah give you the strength and faith to continue enlightning muslim umma worlwide. Ameen. Wassalam

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