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'Roza': Three Levels, Divine Rewards

The greatness of Fasting in Islam

O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. (Al-Baqara 2: 184).

You must know that in Sawm (Roza / Islamic fasting) there is a special quality that is not present in the other fasts of other religions. Allah (swt) gave the Ummah of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) a special fast, which is not found in the fasts of the other prophets (as).

Even though Allah (swt) says in this verse: ʻdecreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you’, but conditions and regulations regarding observance of fasting were taught / prescribed in the Ummah of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). It is written (It has been taught) that a fasting person will have a great amount of blessings and rewards for every good deed he shall do during this blessed month of Ramadan, where every good deed will be multiplied by 70, more than in normal times; for example: the observance of Farz, Sunnah and Nafl Salat (the obligatory, Sunnah and voluntary prayers). These rewards will be larger compared to those good deeds accomplished in normal days and every good deed you will make will also reap other great rewards. Even in the morning when you eat the Sehri (pre-dawn meal) and also at the time of Iftaar (breaking of the fast), everything you eat to enter the state of fasting and to break the fast will have great rewards.

A fasting person (a true and sincere faster) strictly follows the fasting regulations during Ramadan and puts them into practice, and through this he demonstrates complete obedience to his Creator, and then he even receives the Creator of the Universe as reward. Alhamdulillah. The greatest reward of fasting that a person receives then is proximity to Allah. Is there any such reward in the observance of fasting in other Ummat (communities) of other prophets (as)? Allah (swt) says:

“Fasting is for Me and I shall reward for it” (A Hadith-e-Qudsi reported by Imam Bukhari & Muslim).

This connection is sufficient to demonstrate the greatness of fasting (Sawm) in the Ummah of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). In the same way, the Holy Ka’aba receives all its honour thanks to its connection with Allah. Allah says: And Sanctify My House. (Al-Haj 22: 27).

Indeed, fasting (Sawm) is virtuous because of two important concepts:

(1) It is a secret action and a hidden one; because of this, no one from among the creation can find it. And then, ʻriya’ (ostentation) just cannot touch it!

(2) It is a means to subjugate (dominate) the enemies of Allah. It is because the path that the enemies of Allah embark on to deceive the sons of Adam (as) is desire. Food and drink give them the strength to fulfil their desire. That is why they find fasting difficult to observe and seek all kinds of pretexts (so as) not to fast.

Know that there are 3 levels of fasting observance: (1) General Fasting, (2) Precise Fasting, and (3) Most Accurate Fasting.

(1) The General Fast is to prevent the stomach and the private parts from fulfilling their desires. And you will notice that it is during the month of Ramadan itself, during the very fast that Satan tries to influence you through these desires.

(2) Precise fasting is to prevent (a) the eyes from looking at forbidden things (where this can induce you to commit serious sins), (b) the tongue from saying bad things (such as unnecessary/ vain words, palavers, fights, arguments because it is with that very tongue that you swear etc.), (c) the hand/s from doing bad things (for example, raising your hand over others (beating them), stealing, cheating, etc.), and (d) the ears from committing forbidden things (like listening to things that will not bring you any divine reward, and lending an ear (to listen) to conversations that do not concern you, etc.), and (e) the other members of the body from committing wrongful acts.

(3) The Most Accurate Fasting is the abstention - by the heart - from running behind this ephemeral world, and directing our thoughts towards the distance between us and Allah. An important characteristic of fasting is to lower the gaze and control the tongue. Think a lot before talking; be careful that during your conversation you do not let out a word that may harm others. In short, a control over the members of your whole body is important. This is what the verse I recited before you refers to, where Allah (swt) says, “that you may become righteous.” (Al-Baqara 2: 184).

To receive Allah as reward is not easy. There is a lot of struggle to be done against yourselves. It’s not just that you stay without food and drink that you say you are fasting. No! It does not work that way. Fasting must be accompanied with all these good deeds. It is only after the fulfilment of all these good actions that your fasting - without food and drink - will gain all its value, all its merit before Allah (swt). The one who does not give up his bad deeds, such as: gossiping, quarrelling, spying, doubts, jealousy, lying, etc., then, Allah does not need that person, does not need you to deprive yourself of food and drink as it is reported in the Hadiths.

Another characteristic of fasting is that the person does not fill his stomach with food during the night. Instead, he eats the right measure, because indeed the son of Adam (as) does not fill a container worst than his stomach. If he has enough to eat at the beginning of the night, he will not be able to use it (that is, his body) for the rest of the night. Similarly, if he eats a lot at Sehri (the meal before dawn that signals the beginning of the fast), he will not behave well till the afternoon. This is because eating excessively brings about weakness and lethargy (that is, laziness), and the purpose of fasting disappears because of an excess of food, because the goal of fasting is to make the person (the fasting person) relish the taste of hunger and encourage him to give up his desires.

You must understand that an intelligent individual (that is, one to whom Allah has given intelligence) knows the purpose of fasting. So he takes on himself a burden of such a level where he feels capable (able) to do it, and that is especially to his advantage. (A companion of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)) Ibn Masud (ra) observed very little (optional) fasting and it was reported that he was accustomed to saying, “When I fast (i.e. the optional fasting), I feel weak in my Salat and I prefer my Salat to the (optional) fast.” In other words, he prefers a compulsory act, and gives it priority over an optional, additional act.

Some of the companions were weakened during their concentration in the recitation of the Quran while fasting. Thus, they fast (in this case, the additional fasts) less until they were able to have an equilibrium in their recitation. Each individual is aware of his own condition (health, capacity etc.) and knows the best way to recite (the Quran - and to perform other acts of worship).

A companion (Sahabi) of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) relates: “I heard the Messenger of Allah say during Ramadan: “The gates of Hell are closed, the gates of Paradise are opened, and the devils are in chains. An angel calls out : ʻO you who intend to do good deeds, have glad tidings. O you who intend to do evil, refrain, until Ramadan is completed’.” (Ahmad & Nasai).

A shield against hellfire 

Fasting the month of Ramadan is a shield against hellfire. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “When Allah created Paradise and Hell, He sent Jibreel to Paradise and said, ‘Look at it and at what I have prepared for its people therein.’ So he went and looked at it and at what Allah had prepared for its people therein. Then he went back to Him and said, ‘By Your Glory, no one will hear of it but he will enter it.’ Then He commanded that it should be surrounded with difficult things. Then He said, ‘Go back and look at what I have prepared for its people therein.’ He went back and saw that it was surrounded with difficult things. He came back and said, ‘By Your Glory, I am afraid that no one will enter it.’ Allah said, ‘Go and look at Hell and see what I have prepared for its people therein.’  [He saw it] with parts of it consuming other parts. He came back and said, ‘By Your Glory, no one who hears of it will enter it.’ So Allah commanded that it should be surrounded with desires. Then he said, ‘Go back to it.’ So he went back, then he said, ‘By Your Glory, I am afraid that no one will be saved from it and that all will enter it.’” (Tirmidhi, Hakim & other Hadiths reporters).

So, dear brothers and sisters of Islamic faith, when you realize that fasting kills desires and reduces its severity, and that desires lead you to hell, then you will see how fasting shall be placed (like a protection) between you (the faster) and hell, and you shall observe fasting during the month of Ramadan and after Ramadan also (i.e., in the form of additional/ surerogatory fasts) in the best possible way.

The Quran tells us about the rewards of fasting and there are verses (ayat) about those who obey Allah to be safeguarded against hell, and about fasting being a form of obedience to Allah. Several Hadiths of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) enlighten us in this context.

Abu Said al-Khudri relates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire.” (Ahmad).

ʻUthman Ibn Abil-`Aas relates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Whoever fasts a day in the way of Allah, Allah places between him and the Fire a trench like (the distance) that (there is) between heavens and the earth”. (Tirmidhi & Tabarani).

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) has said: “When the first night of the month of Ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious Jinns are chained up and the gates of Hell are closed, and not one gate of it is opened. The gates of Paradise are opened and not one gate of it is closed. A caller cries out, ‘O seeker of good, proceed; O seeker of evil, desist.’ Allah saves some people from Hell - and that happens every night.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah & the other Hadiths reporters).

Jabir (ra) relates that the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) 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 (dua) which he can make and will be granted.” (Ibn Majah, Ahmad).

Finally, we call on Allah to make this Ramadan an armour/ shield/ protection for us against hellfire. Ameen, Summa, Ameen, Ya Rabbal Aalameen.

Salat-ul-Janaza Gha’ib

And Insha-Allah, after the Salat-ul-Jumu’ah, we will pray the Salat-ul-Janaza Gha’ib/ Salat-ul-Gha’ib (funeral prayer in absentia/ prayer of the absent) of a dear and highly respected disciple of mine from Kerala, Shareefa Beevi Sahiba (1951-2018), who was the first wife of the Amir, in South Kerala, India (Mukarram Jamaluddin Sahib). May Allah illuminate Her way to Him, so that she receives Allah as Reward. Ameen.

Insha-Allah, you can read a glimpse of her life and work on the blog of the Jamaat under the charge of and written by her dear son, Fazil Jamal Sahib.

May Allah bless all members of the Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam in the world and help you all to reach Him in a state where Allah is pleased and happy with you all, especially through your obedience to Allah and His Messenger Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) and the Khalifatullah He has sent you in this era (in your epoch). Insha-Allah, Ameen.

On this end-note, I wish you all: all my disciples and all the Muslims of the whole world, Ramadan Mubarak!

--- Friday Sermon of 18 May 2018 (02 Ramadan 1439 AH) delivered Muhyi-ud-Din Al Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Saheb (atba) of Mauritius.