The virtues of Ramadan and fasting
A means to attain Taqwa
Allah says [meaning]: "O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain Taqwa" [al-Baqarah, 2:183]
Indeed the person who has attained Taqwa has attained excellence in the worship of her Lord. In many Ayat of the Qur'an Allah says that the reward of the people of Taqwa is Paradise. This topic of Taqwa shall be the subject of one of the coming issues of Al-Mu'minah.
The people of Taqwa are the successful people in this life and in the hereafter where they will be the dwellers of Paradise. Allah says [in meaning]: "This is the Book; in it is guidance sure without doubt to the Muttaqeen [people of Taqwa]. Who believe in the Unseen are steadfast in prayer and spend out of what We have provided for them. And who believe in the Revelation sent to thee and sent before thy time and (in their hearts) have the assurance of the Hereafter. They are on (true) guidance from their Lord and it is these who are the successful. (al-Baqarah 1:1-5)
A merciful recommendation from Allah
"and fast, it is better for you, if only you knew" [al-Baqarah, 2:184]
Indeed if Allah says that something is better of us, it is rally better for us and we should strive to perfect it.
The practice of the Prophets
Ibn Abbas reported: "The Prophet came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting the day of Ashura. He asked them: "Why are you fasting this day?" They said: "This is a great day. Allah saved Mousa (Moses) and the tribes of Israel from their enemies on this day and therefore Mousa fasted on it. "The Prophet said: "We have more of a right to Mousa than you." So he fasted on that day also and ordered the people to fast on that day." [al-Bukhari and Muslim].
`Abdullah Ibn `Amr said : The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam said : The fast most loved by Allah is the fast of Dawood and the most loved prayer is the prayer of Dawood. He used to sleep half the night, pray for a third of the night, and then sleep during the last sixth of the night. He would also fast one day and then eat on the next. [Ahmad]
A great reward for those who fast
Abu Huraira, radhiya Allahu `anh reported many Ahadith in this regard. We will mention few of them as they carry the same meaning.
The Prophet said that your Lord said, "Every (sinful) deed can be expiated; and the fast is for Me, so I will give the reward for it; and the smell which comes out of the mouth of a fasting person, is better in Allah's Sight than the smell of musk." [Bukhari]
The Prophet said, "Allah said: The Fast is for Me and I will give the reward for it, as he (the one who observes the fast) leaves his sexual desire, food and drink for My Sake. Fasting is a screen (from Hell) and there are two pleasures (moments of happiness or joys) for a fasting person, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord. And the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better in Allah's Sight than the smell of musk." [Bukhari]
The greatest reward is, of course, Paradise. this will be covered under the section "Ramadan; a way to Paradise".
A means to cut sexual desires
The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wassallam, ordered the one who has strong desires and the need for marriage, but is unable to marry, to fast. Fasting is thus a means of cutting desires, since it reduces the vigor of the limbs of the body, it calms them and bridles them.
'Alqama said: While I was walking with 'Abdullah he said, "We were in the company of the Prophet and he said, 'He who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and save his private parts from looking at other women, and save his private parts from committing illegal sexual relation; and he who cannot afford to marry is advised to fast, as fasting will diminish his sexual power." [Bukhari]
The prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wassallam, also said: "The Khisaa' (*) of my Ummah is Fasting [Sahih al-Jami`] (*) "Medication" [or preventive practice] against sexual desires
The supplication of the fasting person is granted
Jabir, radhiya Allahu `anhu relates that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wassallam said :" In every day and every night, during the month of Ramadan, there are people to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted". [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad and Ibn Majah; Sahih]
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wassallam, said: "There are three people whose supplications are not rejected: the fasting person when he breaks the fast, the just ruler and the supplication of the oppressed". [Tirmithi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban]
`A Means of intercession on the Day of Judgment
`Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wassallam, said: "The fast and the Qur'an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: 'O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.' The Qur'an will say: 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.' And their intercession will be accepted." [Ahmad]
In Ramadan there is Laylatul Qadr (the night of Decree)
"Indeed We have revealed it (Qur'an) in the night of Decree. And what will explain to you what the night of Decree is? The night of Decree is better than than a thousand months. Therein descends the Angels and the Spirit (Jibreel) by Allah's permission, on every errand: (they say) "peace" (continuously) till the rise of Morning!" (97:1-5)
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (S) said " The blessed month has come to you…There is a night [during this month] which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived [of something great]. [Ahmad, an-Nisa'i and al-Bayhaqi].
A `Umra in Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj.
`Ata' said : I heard Ibn 'Abbas saying, "Allah's Apostle asked an Ansari woman (Ibn 'Abbas named her but 'Ata' forgot her name), 'What prevented you from performing Hajj with us?' She replied, 'We have a camel and the father of so-and-so and his son (i.e. her husband and her son) rode it and left one camel for us to use for irrigation.' He said (to her), 'Perform 'Umra when Ramadan comes, for 'Umra in Ramadan is equal to Hajj (in reward),' or said something similar." [Bukhari].
He (S) also said: "A `Umra in Ramadan is equal [in reward] of Hajj with me" [Sahih al-Jami`]
Fasting in Ramadan; a way to Paradise
We have seen that Ramadan saves from Hell Fire and saves from sins by leading to forgiveness. Besides all this (and it would have been enough if it were only that) Ramadan leads the fasting believer to al-Jannah (Paradise). Paradise, that house that contains what no eye has ever seen, what no ear has ever heard, what never crossed the mind of a human being, and that contains all what a soul desires.
How does Ramadan lead to al-Jannah?
From al-Qur'an :"O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for people before you so that you will (learn how to) attain Taqwa" [al-Baqarah, 2:183]
If a person achieves Taqwa, he/she is among al-Muttaqeen, and Allah, in many places in the Qur'an, says that the house of al-Muttaqeen is al-Jannah (Paradise) as was described in the section "Ramadan, a means to attain Taqwa".
"and fast, it is better for you, if only you knew" [al-Baqarah, 2:184]
"Verily, the Muslim men and women, the believing men and women, the men and women who are obedient (to Allah), the men and women who are truthful (in their speech and deeds), the men and women who are patient, the men and women who are humble (before their Lord), the men and women who give charity, the men and women who fast, the men and women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and women who remember Allah much. Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise)." [al-Ahzaab, 33:35]
Ibn Hibban narrated that the Prophet said, what translated means, "If a woman prayed the five prayers, fasted in Ramadan, protected her honor and obeyed her husband; then she will be told (on the Day of Judgment): enter Paradise from any of its (eight) doors.
In the famous hadith of Mu`ath ... I said O Messenger of Allah, “Tell me of an act which will take me into Paradise and keep me away from Hell-Fire”. He said: “You have asked me about a major matter, yet it easy for him for whom Allah Almighty makes it easy. You should ..., You should fast in Ramadan ....” Then he (S) said : “Shall I not show you the gates of goodness ? Fasting is a shield ...” [at-Tirmithi]
Abu Umamah reported: "I came to the Messenger of Allah and said: 'Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.' He said: 'Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.' Then I came to him again and he said: 'Stick to fasting."' [Ibn Hibban, an-Nasa'i, and al-Hakim: Sahih].
Sahl ibn Sa'd reported that the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wassallam said: "There is a gate to Paradise that is called ar-Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: 'Where are those who fasted?' When the last [one] has passed through the gate, it will be locked." [al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Abu Huraira said : I heard the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wassallam, saying, "Anybody who spends a pair of something in Allah's Cause will be called from all the gates of Paradise, "O Allah's slave! This is good.' He who is amongst those who pray will be called from the gate of the prayer (in Paradise) and he who is from the people of Jihad will be called from the gate of Jihad, and he who is from those' who give in charity (i.e. Zakat) will be called from the gate of charity, and he who is amongst those who observe fast will be called from the gate of fasting, the gate of Raiyan." Abu Bakr said, "He who is called from all those gates will need nothing," He added, "Will anyone be called from all those gates, O Allah's Apostle?" He said, "Yes, and I hope you will be among those, O Abu Bakr." [Bukhari]
`Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhanee, radhiya Allahu `anhu said : A man came to the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wassallama, and said :"O Messenger of Allah, what if I testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah, and I observe the five daily prayer, and I pay the Zakaah, and I fast and stand in prayer [at night ie Qiyam] in Ramadan, the amongst who shall I be ?" He said : "amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs" [Ibn Hibban in az-Zawa'id : Its Isnad is Sahih]
We pray to Allah Ta`ala to make this Ramadan a means for us to access to Jannah and to see our Lord therein.