The virtues of fasting in general and of Ramadan in particular
There are many virtues of Ramadan and fasting expressed in the Qur’an and in the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam. If only one of these virtues was told to us it would have been enough motivation to perfect our fasting seeking that reward and the pleasure of Allah, but it is again from the mercy of Allah that He taught us many virtues of fasting so that we get encouraged even more. I will focus mainly on the virtues of forgiveness, salvation from Hell fire and reward of Paradise, but before that I shall mention few other virtues that are not less important than the latter.
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. We will just mention here two ayat in regard of the success of the people of Taqwa and their reward with Paradise.
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)
He also says [meaning]: “Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord and for a garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth prepared for the Muttaqeen [people of Taqwa]. Those who spend (freely) whether in prosperity or in adversity; who restrain anger and pardon (all) men; for Allah loves those who do good. And those who having done something to be ashamed of or wronged their own souls earnestly bring Allah to mind and ask for forgiveness for their sins and who can forgive sins except Allah? And are never obstinate in persisting knowingly in (the wrong) they have done. For such the reward is forgiveness from their Lord and gardens with rivers flowing underneath an eternal dwelling; how excellent a recompense for those who work (and strive)!”. [Aali `Imraan, 3:133-136]
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]
‘Aisha reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, used to fast till one would say that he would never stop fasting, and he would abandon fasting till one would say that he would never fast. I never saw Allah’s Messenger fasting for a whole month except the month of Ramadan, and did not see him fasting in any month more than in the month of Sha’ban. [Bukhari]
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 Prophet said, “(Allah said), ‘Every good deed of Adam’s son is for him except fasting; it is for Me. and I shall reward (the fasting person) for it.’ Verily, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better to Allah than the smell of musk.” [Bukhari]
He also said: “Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving ten times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said: ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me’. For the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time of joy when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of Musk.” [Muslim]
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 wa sallam, 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.
Ibn Mas`oud reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said: O Youths! whoever amongst you is able to marry then let him do so, since it retains the eyes and protects the private parts, and he who is unable let him fast because it is a shield for him [Bukhari and Muslim]
‘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 wa sallam, 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 wa sallam 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 wa sallam, 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]
`Abdullah Ibn `Amr Ibn al-`Aas also reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “Indeed there is for the fasting person, when he breaks his fast, a supplication which is not rejected”. [Ibn Majah, al-Hakim and others; Sahih]
The best supplication is the one authentically reported from the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, that he used to say when breaking his fast : “Thahaba aDh-Dhama’u wabtallatil-`urooqu wa thabata-l-ajru inshaa’a Allah”. Which means :The thirst is gone, the veins are moisted and the reward is certain, if Allah wills. [Abu Dawood, al-Baihaqee and others; Hasan]
A Means of intercession on the Day of Judgment
`Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, 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. Allah has made fasting during it obligatory upon you. During it the gates to Paradise are opened and the gates of Hellfire are locked, and the devils are chained. 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`]
A Means of Forgiveness
It is a reality that none of us is perfect. We all have some weaknesses and shortcoming and we find ourselves committing sins out of ignorance or out of submission to our desires and whims and thus driving ourselves away from Allah darkening our heart and sealing them from guidance and overloading our books of bad deeds. However, Allah said of Himself that He is the Most Merciful the oft-Forgiving. As part of this infinite Mercy He made available for us various ways of achieving forgiveness and sin expiation. Among the most important and beneficial of these ways of forgiveness is fasting in general and in Ramadan in particular. Let us discover this glad tiding from the sweet words of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam.
Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said : “The time between the five prayers, two consecutive Friday Prayers, and two consecutive Ramadan are expiations for all that has happened during that period, provided that one has avoided the grave (major) sins.” [Muslim]
Abu Huraira narrated that Allah’s Messenger said : “Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” [Bukhari]
“Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan (and that is called Qiyam) faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven. [Bukhari]
Abu Hurairah also narrated that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, climbed upon the mimbar (pulpit) and said: “Aameen [O Allah grant it], aameen, aameen”. So it was said, “O Messenger of Allah, you climbed upon the mimbar and said : “aameen, aameen, aameen”? So he said :”Jibraa’eel, `alaihi assalam, came to me and said, ‘Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have [his sins] forgiven and so enters Fire, then may Allah distance him, say aameen”. So I said “aameen”. [Ibn Khuzaimah, Ahmad and al-Baihaqui : Sahih]
Hudhaifah Ibn al-Yamaan reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “The evils caused for a man through his family, wealth and neighbor are expiated by prayer, fasting and charity.” [Bukhari and Muslim]. In another narration in Sahih al-Jami`: “The evils caused for a man through his family, his wealth, himself, his children and his neighbor are expiated by fasting, prayer, charity, enjoining the good and forbidding the bad.
Fasting is also a means of expiations for various sins
During Hajj, shaving the head while in a state of Ihraam, during Hajj [pilgrimage], for one who does that due to some illness. Or One who is unable to carry out the obligatory sacrifice in Hajj
“And complete the Hajj or ‘umra in the service of Allah. But if you are prevented (From completing it), send an offering for sacrifice, such as you may find, and do not shave your heads until the offering reaches the place of sacrifice. And if any of you is ill, or has an ailment in his scalp, (Necessitating shaving), (He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice; and when you are in peaceful conditions (again), if any one wishes to continue the ‘umra on to the hajj, He must make an offering, such as he can afford, but if he cannot afford it, He should fast three days during the hajj and seven days on his return, Making ten days in all. This is for those whose household is not in (the precincts of) the Sacred Mosque. And fear Allah, and know that Allah Is strict in punishment.” [al-Baqara, 2:196]
Hunting while in a state of Ihraam during Hajj
“O you who believe! Kill not game while in the sacred precincts or in pilgrim garb. If any of you do so intentionally, the compensation is an offering, brought to the Ka’ba, of a domestic animal equivalent to the one he killed, as adjudged by two just men among you; or by way of atonement, the feeding of the indigent; or its equivalent in fasts: that he may taste of the penalty of his deed. Allah forgives what is past: for repetition Allah will exact from him the penalty. For Allah is Exalted, and Lord of Retribution.”[al-Ma’idah, 5:95]
Accidently killing a person from a people with whom you have a treaty
“Never should a believer kill a believer; but (If it so happens) by mistake, (Compensation is due): If one (so) kills a believer, it is ordained that he should free a believing slave, and pay compensation to the deceased’s family, unless they remit it freely. If the deceased belonged to a people at war with you, and he was a believer, the freeing of a believing slave (Is enough). If he belonged to a people with whom you have treaty of Mutual alliance, compensation should be paid to his family, and a believing slave be freed. For those who find this beyond their means, (is prescribed) a fast for two months running: by way of repentance to Allah. for Allah hath all knowledge and all wisdom”. [an-Nisaa’, 4:92]
Violating an oath
“Allah will not call you to account for what is futile in your oaths, but He will call you to account for your deliberate oaths: for expiation, feed ten indigent persons, on a scale of the average for the food of your families; or clothe them; or give a slave his freedom. If that is beyond your means, fast for three days. That is the expiation for the oaths you have sworn. But keep to your oaths. Thus doth Allah make clear to you His signs, that you may be grateful.” [al-Ma’idah, 5:89]
The saying of a husband to his wife: You are to me like the back of my mother (i.e. unlawful to me).
“But those who divorce their wives by Zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered, (It is ordained that such a one) should free a slave before they touch each other: Thus are you admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with (all) that you do. And if any has not (the wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones, this, that you may show your faith in Allah and His Messenger. Those are limits (set by) Allah. For those who reject (Him), there is a grievous Penalty”. [al-Mujadilah, 58:3-4]
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]
I strongly invite my dear Muslim Sisters to check in Tafseer Ibn Katheer the reason for the revelation of this beautiful verse. I am sure that it will please them much)
And from the Sunnah :
For the DEVOUT Muslim Women and only for them:
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 wa sallam 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 wa sallam, 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 wa sallama, 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]
Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s Messenger, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said, “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” [Bukhari]
We pray to Allah Ta`ala to make this Ramadan a means for us to access to Jannah and to see our Lord therein.