THE MONTH OF RAMADHAAN IN WHICH WAS REVEALED THE QUR'AAN, A GUIDANCE FOR MANKIND AND CLEAR PROOFS FOR THE GUIDANCE AND CRITERION (BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG). SO WHOEVER OF YOU IS PRESENT DURING THIS MONTH SHOULD OBSERVE ITS FAST. AL QUR'AAN
After Imaan, Salaah and Zakaah, the most important pillar of Islaam is Sawm (Fasting) during the month of Ramadhaan (the 9th month of the Islaamic calendar).
Fasting in the month of Ramadhaan is amongst the fundamentals of Islaam; one who denies its obligation goes out of the fold of Islaam. One who does not fast during this month is a faasiq (an immoral and flagrant transgressor) of the highest degree. Such a faasiq completely destroys his spirituality and morality.
Sawm literally means 'to abstain’. But in the terminology of the Sharee'ah, it means 'to refrain from eating, drinking and cohabitation from sub'h saadiq to sunset, with the intention of fasting’.
There are numerous spiritual benefits of fasting. Fasting is extremely efficient for the acquisition of taqwaa (piety), without which a Muslim cannot gain closeness to Allah. The prime benefit in the pursuit of taqwaa is the suppression of the erratic desires and demands of nafs (based carnal desire), which is always working in collusion with Shaytaan, to spiritually and morally ruin the believer. If the nafs is allowed freedom, then it will succeed in making man a slave of lust, passion and base emotions, due to which his Imaan will suffer. Therefore, it is essential that the nafs be restrained.
Fasting greatly aids towards pursuing this objective. By fasting, a Muslim learns to suppress his lowly desires. Thus the ability of inculcating taqwaa is created.
Further, fasting purifies the soul, and creates gratification in worship, making the heart conducive for worship. The bond with Allah is also strengthened. Once our beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam supplicated, "O Lord of the universe! When does the servant become closest to you?" The Divine Reply came, "When the servant is hungry and when he is in sajdah (prostration)."
Another outstanding feature of fasting is that it lifts man above the level of beasts and animals - who eat, drink and copulate at will, whenever the urge comes - and takes him to the parallel of the angels. Since the latter do not eat or drink, they are devoid and free of evil inclinations and all things base. Man, by reducing his worldly relations and emotional desires, moves himself to the realms of the angels.
As well as the many spiritual benefits of fasting, there are physical benefits and advantages of fasting too. Notably, feeling for the poor and hungry is engendered. Man becomes more aware and conscious of his less fortunate brethren and their deprivation, which in turn teaches him to sacrifice his wealth and assist others in need. Thus feeling for humanity is generated and inculcated in man.
There are innumerable Ahaadeeth of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam which illustrate great virtue and blessing for the fasting person.
• Sahl Ibne Sa'd radhiyallahu anhu narrates from our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam that he said, "Verily! In Jannah, there is a door called ‘Ar Rayyaan’, through which will enter the fasting people on the Day of Judgement. No one will enter through this door besides them. It will be announced, 'Where are the fasting people?' They will stand (and enter). No one will enter besides them. Once they will enter, the door will be locked so no one can enter through it (after them)."
• Aboo Hurayrah radhiyallahu anhu reports from our beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam, that he said, 'Allah says, 'Every deed of Ibne Aadam (son of Aadam) is for him, except for fast. Verily, fasting is for me, and I shall (personally) apportion out the reward for it."' It is further said, "For a fasting person, there are two pleasures, which please him. When he eats upon completing the fast, he becomes happy, and when he will meet his Lord he will be pleased due to his fast."
• Aboo Hurayrah radhiyallahu anhu narrates from our beloved Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam that he said, "One who keeps the fast of Ramadhaan with Imaan (faith) and longing for reward, all his previous sins are forgiven."
For the acquisition of the numerous virtues and benefits of fasting, there is however, one essential condition: a person takes extra precaution in making sure he abstains from sin and futility. A person should spend much of his time in the recitation of the Qur'aan and also engage himself in the constant Remembrance of Allah. If one does not abstain from sin and futility then his fasting will merely be staying hungry and thirsty, without any reward or spiritual upliftment.
A few common evils, which are regarded lightly, but are very detrimental to a fasting person, should be taken into consideration and avoided totally:
1. Telling lies.
4. Eating haraam items.
5. Earning through unlawful means.
6. Any act which may harm or cause grief to a person.
In short, a person should try to refrain from all kinds of sins - protecting his ears, eyes, tongue and all other organs from indulging in unlawful activities. When a Muslim spends his Ramadhaan in this manner then he will notice great changes in his life. Spiritual strength will be gained, which will facilitate him to conduct his life according to Islaam, together with Allah's Pleasure.