Fasting for the pleasure of Allah brings so much joy
The great and noble month of Ramadan has arrived and brings with it the anticipation of increased worship, blessings and all things good.
The first ten days are days of profound mercy for all who seek it. Allah is most generous of His mercy during these first ten days.
What is mercy and why do we need mercy?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines mercy as being “ready to forgive people and be kind to them”.
Without mercy we all would be in an awful state. Most times, the negative conditions and situations that we find ourselves in have been created by our own hands – through disobedience, greed, jealously, etc – and we don’t deserve the mercy that God is willing and able to give to us.
But despite this, we are given mercy; we are spared the harm and punishment of what our own hands have wrought. Through mercy we are given a reprieve, a chance to be grateful and to do better. We all need mercy, that is a fact.
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) was sent to be a mercy to mankind. Allah says in the Holy Koran: “And We have not sent you, O Muhammad, except as a mercy to the worlds.” 21:107.
Mercy is so important and significant that every surah (chapter) of the 114 surahs of the Koran except for one, At-Tawba, starts with Bismillahi ir-Rahman ir-Rahim, which means, “In the name of Allah, the most gracious, the most merciful”.
Ar-Rahim (Mercy) is one of Allah's most powerful names. All of Allah’s names denote His attributes and this is certainly the case during the Holy month of Ramadan, especially the first third of the month being a time of mercy.
The first ten days should be a reminder that The Most Merciful is with us always and it should cause us to show mercy towards our fellow men as we all can do with a bit of mercy.
Fasting has always been a ritual within the Abrahamic faiths, to draw nearer to God as well as to purify the soul. Fasting has been practised for centuries. These days we hear a lot about fasting as it seems to be a trend, especially intermittent fasting which has been recommended by health and beauty professionals.
Fasting in Islam is done purely on a spiritual level and fulfills one of the five pillars of Islam.
Allah says in His Holy Koran: “O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop God-consciousness." (Koran 2:183).
Fasting is beneficial on so many levels. I know for myself that my demeanour is calmer and my spirit more light and happy when I fast. I don’t have the desire, nor the inclination to be miserable or argumentative.
When I fast, it’s like a full body and mind meditation. The atmosphere is so tranquil and peaceful. Knowing that I am fasting for the pleasure of Allah brings me so much joy and I welcome every opportunity to please my Most Merciful Lord.
Allah has made fasting during Ramadan an obligation for all Muslims. Fasting in Islam is very beloved to Allah. Allah says, “Fasting is for me, I shall reward it.”
Muslims fast from predawn to sunset, a fast of between 11 and 16 hours depending on the time of year, for a period of 29 to 30 days. During Ramadan, there is no eating of food and drink and, if married, people abstain from intimacy from dawn to dusk.
We break the fast with something light, mostly dates, fruit, water and tea, and most importantly we break it with family and friends. So togetherness and unity reigns paramount during Ramadan. Muslims attend the Masjid for special prayers that bring immense blessings from Allah, the Merciful.
Prayer and the reading of Koran is highly recommended for the fasting person.
“O people, there comes upon you a great month, a most blessed month, in which lies a night greater in worth than one thousand months. Allah has made compulsory fasting in this month and has decreed wakefulness at night (ie tarawih) sunnah.
“Whosoever tries drawing nearer to Allah by performing any nafl (optional) deed in this month, for him shall be such reward as if he had performed a fard (compulsory) in any other time of the year.
“And whoever performs a fard, for him shall be the reward of 70 fard in any other time of the year. This is indeed the month of patience, and the reward for true patience is Jannah (Heaven); it is the month of sympathy with one’s fellow men; it is the month wherein a true Believer's rizq (provision) is increased.” (Ibn Khuzaymah)
May we extend our kindness, charity and love to our fellow men whilst we seek abundant mercy and forgiveness, as we implement more sunnah in our lives, increase our worship and gain closeness to Allah as we reap the rewards of Ramadan.
• Linda Walia Ming is a member of the Bermuda Hijab Dawah Team, a group of Muslim women who reside in Bermuda and have a goal of educating the community about the religion of Islam
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