The Attainment of Taqwa – the Purpose and Wisdom of Fasting

الحمد لله رب العالمين، وصلى الله وسلم على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وأصحابه أجمعين، أما بعد

 

Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((O you who believe; fasting is prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness])) (Al-Baqarah: 183)

 

Fasting is a means to Taqwa[1] (piety and fearfulness of Allaah), since if the soul obeys being prevented from that which is halaal (permissible) – out of aspiration for the pleasure of Allaah, The Most High, and out of fear from the pain of His punishment; then it is worthier that it (the soul) should obey in being prevented from that which is haraam (forbidden). So fasting is a reason for guarding against the prohibitions of Allaah, The Most High, and it is obligatory, and to it the indication has been alighted to in His saying, The Most High, at the end of the aayah of fasting:

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness]))[2]

 

The following statements of the scholars discuss this issue in more detail:

 

The understanding of what is meant by Taqwa

 

Shaikh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin Baaz (rahimahullaah) said:

“So He, The One free of imperfections, made clear that He prescribed fasting upon us so that we can have Taqwa of Him, The Glorified. That is a proof that fasting is a means for Taqwa, and Taqwa is: obedience to Allaah and His Messenger through carrying out that which Allaah and His Messenger commanded with, and abandoning that which Allaah and His Messenger prohibited – out of sincerity to Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic, as well as out of love and fervent desire and dread (fear).So with that the servant will be fearful of the punishment of Allaah and of His anger, hence fasting is an immense branch from the branches of Taqwa, as well as a powerful means to Taqwa in the rest of the affairs of the religion and worldly life.”[3]

 

Shaikh Muqbil bin Haadi Al-Waadi’ee (rahimahullaah) said:

“The Lord of Glorious Might says in His Noble Book:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((O you who believe; fasting is prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness]))

 

Meaning: that you may comply with the commands of Allaah and you may keep away from His prohibitions. Taqwa is a comprehensive word which incorporates compliance with the commands of Allaah and incorporates keeping away from His prohibitions. So it is a requisite that you effectuate that which Allaah wants from us, it does not suffice that we merely abstain from food and drink , Taqwa is a compliance of the commands of Allaah, and keeping away from the prohibitions of Allaah – in Ramadhaan and in other than Ramadhaan.”[4]

 

Fasting has been legislated for the attainment of Taqwa

 

Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) stated:

“And fasting was indeed legislated for the attainment of Taqwa.”[5]

 

He said likewise:

“The Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) made clear that Allaah, The Most High, did not forbid food upon the fasting person due to his need of abandoning food and drink; just as the master may forbid upon his slaves some of his wealth, rather – the intent is the love of Allaah, The Most High, and it is the attainment of Taqwa. So if one does not come with it; then he has come with that which does not have love and pleasure in it, so he will not be rewarded for it – however; he will not be punished with the punishment of the one that abandoned it.”[6]

 

An analysis of how Taqwa is attained through fasting

 

Shaikh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“So the fasting person has been forbidden from food and drink because that is what brings forth Taqwa. So the abandonment of food and drink which generates an abundance of blood through which Satan runs (proceeds) within it – then it (blood) has been generated from nutrition.

…It is generated from that which is derived from water, because water is that which blood is generated from, so prevention from it is from the perfection of fasting.”[7]

 

Ibn Al-Qayyim (rahimahullaah) said:

“And what splendor amplifies the magnificence of this worship which is such that it:

Breaks the desire.

And restrains the soul.

And gives life to the heart and gives it delight.

And furnishes abstinence in the life of this world – and of its alluring desires.

And causes it to ardently yearn for that which is to be found with Allaah.

Likewise that it causes the rich to reflect upon the circumstance of the needy and of their situation and so they take a portion of their way of life. So their hearts feel compassion for them and they come to know of that which they themselves are engaged in by way of the favours of Allaah – and so they increase in giving thanks to Him.

So in general, the facility of attaining Taqwa of Allaah by way of fasting is an affair that is well known. Hence no one is aided in having Taqwa of Allaah and in guarding His set boundaries and abstaining from things He made forbidden than through the like of fasting. For it is testament to The One that legislated it and commanded with it in that He is indeed The Most Just of judges and The Most Merciful of those who show mercy.”[8]

 

Shaikh Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) said:

“Fasting brings about Taqwa for Allaah, The Mighty and Majestic, because it prevents the soul from that which has no benefit in it – or that in it is harm upon the servant. So you will find the servant being restricted to the obedience of Allaah and upon the remembrance of Allaah and upon prayer and upon reciting the Qur’aan. You will find him aspiring to sitting in the mosque.

So the fasting people find tranquility in this fasting, and they relish it because Allaah, The Majestic and Most High, has opened for them the gates of Paradise and has closed off from them the gates of the Fire, and has shackled the devils from them. So the obstacles have all been eradicated from the fasting people – and all praise is for Allaah.”[9]

 

From the benefits of fasting is that it facilitates Taqwa – and increases it

 

Shaikh Ahmad bin Yahya An-Najmee (rahimahullaah) said:

“His saying:

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness]))

 

here the statement:

لَعَلَّكُمْ 

((that you may))

 

In the aayah is: necessary in occurrence – and it is hoping in humility, and this hoping in humility is regulated upon the fasting – whenever fasting is done in a manner which is required. Then without doubt fasting has benefits, from these benefits is:

1.An increase in Eemaan.

2.An increase in Taqwa.

3.An increase in reverence for Allaah.

4.The practice of exertion.

5.Allaah has made it a reason for the well-being (health) of the servant.”[10]

 

Shaikh Ahmad An-Najmee said likewise:

“The benefit which the servant becomes accustomed to from his fast is: that the servant practices restraining his soul and to control it and to prevent it from falling into forbidden things. This is an immense benefit, and it is: the practice (drill) of restraining the souls and controlling them and preventing them from their desires, and that is what the Qur’aan has indicated to in His saying:

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness])).”[11]

 

Fasting is a shield that safeguards against bad deeds and forbidden acts

 

Shaikh Ahmad An-Najmee said:

“So fasting was described by the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) as being: ‘a shield’[12] – meaning: that it protects you from Satan and from his call to falling into forbidden things, hence the veins through which he moves along are restricted – so he is weakened.”[13]

 

Shaikh Al-Fawzaan said:

“He, The Glorified made clear the wisdom in fasting:

لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness]))

 

Thus fasting protects against dangers, it protects against the Fire and from the anger of Allaah, The Glorified and Most High. It likewise protects against bad deeds and bad statements, so it protects the Muslim – and is a shield as was described by the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in his saying:

((وَالصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ))

((and fasting is a shield)),[14]

 

and the shield: is the thing which the fighter protects/shields himself with against the weapon of his enemy, a shield is that which he shields himself with – and with which he seeks to protect himself with from behind it. So fasting is like the shield of the fighter, it protects him from dangers if he looks after it, as for if he pierces holes in it through bad deeds; then it will not protect him.”[15]

 

Finally; Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee (rahimahullaah) said concerning this:

“So the shield is that which the servant covers (himself) with – such as the shield that protects him during battle from being struck. Then likewise fasting protects its companion from sins in the life of this world, as He, The Mighty and Majestic said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

((O you who believe; fasting is prescribed upon you just as it was prescribed upon those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [piety and fearfulness]))

 

So if there is a shield for him against sins; then there will be a shield against the Fire for him in the Hereafter, and whoever does not have a shield in the life of this world against sins – then there will be no shield for him in the Hereafter against the Fire.”[16]

 

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[1] For an actual meaning of the word ‘Taqwa’; Shaikh ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahullaah) mentioned with regards to it: “The meaning of Taqwa: is to be obedient to Allaah through compliance of His commands and avoidance of His prohibitions – upon knowledge and insight. It is due to this that some of them stated with regards to its explanation: ‘that you worship Allaah upon light from Allaah – hoping for the reward of Allaah, and that you leave off that which Allaah has forbidden upon light from Allaah – fearing the punishment of Allaah.’” (See: Sharh Al-Arba’een An-Nawawiyyah p.301)

[2] Mawsoo’ah Al-Fiqhiyyah vol 28 p.9

[3] Majmu’ Fatawaa wa Maqaalaat Mutanawa’ah vol 15 p.39-40

[4] Al-Fawaakih Al-Janiyyah p.35

[5] Minhaaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah vol 5 p.196

[6] Minhaaj as-Sunnah an-Nabawiyyah vol 5 p.198

[7] Majmu’ Fatawaa vol  25 p.245

[8] Miftaah Daarus Sa’aadah vol 2 p.868

[9] Source: http://www.alfawzan.af.org.sa/node/14908

[10] Tafseer Ayaat As-Siyaam p.10

[11] Min Ahkaam As-Siyaam p.14-15

[12] Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (no.1904) and Muslim (no.1151)

[13] Min Ahkaam As-Siyaam p.15

[14] Part of a hadeeth with this wording reported by At-Tirmidhee (no.2616) and Ibn Maajah (no.3973) and Ahmad (22016) and others, and it was declared Saheeh le-ghairihi (authentic due to other than it) by Shaikh Al-Albaanee in his Saheeh At-Targheeb wat-Tarheeb (no.983). See also: Saheeh Al-Jaami’ as-Sagheer (no.3865).

[15] Source: http://www.alfawzan.af.org.sa/node/14041

[16] Jaami’ Al-‘Uloom wal-Hikam p.411 under the explanation of hadeeth no.29

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