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ARE YOU REALLY FASTING ?

Abu Hurayrah (r.a.) relates that Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) said,'' Many are the one`s who fast, attain nothing by such fasting except forhunger, and many are the one`s performing salaah by night attaining nothing by it, except for the discomfort of staying awake atnight''.(Reported by Ibn Majah and Nasa-iy)Abu Ubaidah ( r.a.) reports,'' Fasting is a protective covering for a man , as long as he does not tear that protection''.(Reported by Nasa-iy,ibn Majah and ibn khuzayamah)

The Mashaaikh have mentioned six things about which care should be taken in fasting.

1.) Firstly, one should keep the eyes away from place where one is not supposed to look. They even go so far as to prohibit looking atones own wife with desire. So how much more important is it to avoid looking at another woman with desire. Similarly one should avoidlooking at any evil place or where evil is committed.

Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) said,'' The evil eyes is an arrow of the shaytaan.Whosoever out of fear for Allah, prevents himself from looking at evil, Allah shall grant him such faith, the sweetness and ecstasy ofwhich he will feel in heart''.The Sufis interpret the above saying about scenes which one should avoid looking at including such places and things which distract the mind from the rememberance of Allah.

2.) Secondly, guarding the tounge against telling lies, unnecessary conversation, backbiting, arguments, swearing etc. In Bukhaari weread that fasting is a deterrent for the fasting person. For this reason those who fast should avoid all nonsensible talk, joking,arguments etc. Should anyone pick an argument, then say, '' I am fasting". In other words,one should not start an argument and whensomeone else starts it then too one should avoid it. When the one who begins an argument is a reasonable person, then say to him, I amfasting. When the one who starts an argument is a foolish person then one should remind one`s self that, I am fasting and must notrespond to such meaningless things". One must particularly abstain from backbiting and lies.One of the Sahaabah inquired from Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) what isbackbiting? Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) replied,'' To mention somethingabout your brother behind his back which he resents''. The Sahaabah then said, and is it still backbiting if that thing mentioned abouthim really is in him ? "Our Nabi (p.b.u.h.) said, '' In that case ( if that which was mentioned is really true ) it is definitelybackbiting. And if is guilty of it then you have slandered him".

3.) Thirdly, according to the Sufis, what should be avoided is that the ears should be kept away from listening to anything makrooh. Itis haraam to say or listen to anything which should not be said. Rasulullah (p.b.u.h.) said that,'' in backbiting both the backbiterand the listener are equal in sin".

4.) Fourthly, the rest of the body should be kept away from sin and evil. Neither should the hands touch it, nor the feet made to walktowards it. Special care should be taken, especially at the time of iftaar. No such things should enter it, about which there is anydoubt as to its being haraam or halaal. When a person fasts, and at iftaar time breaks fast with haraam food, he becomes just like asick person who takes medicine to cure himself of the sickness but also adds poison which destroys him.

5.) Fifthly, after having fasted it is not advisable to fill the stomach completely even with halaal food at iftaar, because then,the object of fasting is defeated. Whereas fasting helps to diminish ones carnal desire, it also strengthens the angelic qualities of manand increases the illumination of the soul. For eleven months we have been eating and drinking. What harm is there if one eats lessfor only one month. We have a bad habit of filling our bellies at iftaar for what was not eaten during the day and also at sahri inpreparation for the day, thus increasing our average consumption. Many such things are eaten which we normally do not eat at othertimes. In fact, during Ramadhaan we develop this type of habit. ''

Imaam Ghazaali (r.a.) asks the same question,"When the object offasting is to conquer the dictates of Ibless and our carnal passions, then how can this possibly be done by eating excessivelyat iftaar and thus defeating the objects'' ? Actually in that case we have only altered the time of eating and have not decreased ourfood intake. Therefore after fasting full day we consume even more than we do in normal times. The result is that instead of lesseningthe carnal desire,these are considerably increased. The real benifit of fasting comes as a result of actual hunger in the true sprit.Another object that fasting gives us the chance of appreciating the plight of the poor and distitute and thus engender sympatheticfeelings towards them. This could only be attained by remaining hungry. In Maraquil Falaah it is written,''Do not eat excessively atsahri as the prosperous ones do, for this is the way to lose the object of fasting". "Similarly a feeling of sympathy is developedfor the poor and hungry ones". Our Nabi (p.b.u.h.) himself said,"Allah does not dislike the filling of anything to the brim more than He dislikes the filling of thestomach".

6.)The sixth point is that after fasting one should always have fear and anxiety as to whether one's fast had been accepted orrejected by Allah. This should be the case with all ibaadah. One never knows whether some such important things may have left outabout which no notice was taken. One should fear that Allah may reject one's deeds. The fasting person must at all times safeguardhis niyyah and at the same time fear for its adulteration. He should also constantly make duaa' that Allah Ta' aala makes this a causefor His pleasure. It should also be borne in the mind that regarding yours act as not being worthy of acceptance is one aspectand your hopes for the infinite grace and mercy of Allah ta'aala is another aspect.These six things are compulsory for all the righteous ones.

7.) As for the exceptionally pious ones a seventh point is added . That is, during fasting, the heart should not be turned towardsanyone else except Allah, so much that during the course of the fast it is a defect to worry whether there shall be something to eat forif'taar.The Qur'aan commands, "Fasting has been prescribed for you". The commentators of the qur'aan say that from this verse it isdeducted that fasting is made compulsory for every portion of the body. Thus, fasting of the tongue means abstaining from tellinglies, etc. Fasting of the ears means not listening to evil. Fasting of the eyes means not to look at any form of evil and sin. Similarlyfasting of the self means to be free from greed and all carnal desires. Fasting of the heart means casting away from it the lovefor worldly things. Fasting of the 'rooh' (spirit) means to abstain (in this world) from the pleasures of the Aakhirah. Fasting of themind means avoiding thoughts about the presence of any other being besides Allah. (compiled from Fazail-e-Ramazan) May Allah help us in implementing what we write and read and to gain maximum reward`s from the month of Fasting.

wassalamur brother in Islam

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