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Fasting (Siyam)

Fasting is a magnificent and venerable form of worship which not only nurtures the soul but also purifies the body and keeps it healthy. Fasting is an elixir for the sustenance of the soul. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “Allah (Ta’ala) pronounces that each deed of man is for himself except fasting which is for my sake and which will be rewarded for by me. Fasting is like a shield which protects you from harms. So if one of you is fasting, he should desist from talking obscenity and making noise. Even if somebody abuses him or quarrels with him, he should simply tell him that I am fasting. By the entity in whose hand is Muhammad’s soul, the odour of the mouth of a faster is more pleasing to Allah than the scent of musk. A faster gets twin pleasures. One he gets at the time of breaking his fast. He will get the other when he meets with his Lord who will then reward him for his fast and be pleased with him” (Al-Bukhari & Muslim)).

The supplications of a fasting person are bound to be accepted by Allah. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that at the time of breaking fast the supplication of a faster are not turned down (Ibn Majah).  Fasting protects the human body from ailments. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: Keep fast and be fit (Tabrani). Fasting is a means to avoid the ordeals of Hell. The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that if one fasts for one day, he (particularly on his way to jihad) Allah (Ta’ala) distances his face away from Hell-fire by the length of seventy khareef [210 miles] (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi, Nasai, etc).

The Fast will intercede on the Day of Resurrection

The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: There are two things which will intercede on behalf of the bondmen on the Day of Judgment: Fasting and recitation of the holy Quran. The fast will say, ‘O my Lord this bondman forsook eating and drinking and indulging in his desires for my sake. Please accept my intercession on his behalf. The Quran will say, ‘O my Lord this bondman sacrificed the sleep of his nights for my sake. Please accept my intercession on his behalf.’ The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said that in this way both will intercede on his behalf. (Ahmad, Tabrani, Hakim). One of the benefits of fasting which manifests in daily life is that the faster acquires a number of noble traits and virtuous habits. For instance, he develops forbearance, abstemiousness, fear of Allah, precaution and self-control.  He gains full control over his body organs and gets freedom from subservience to bodily desires of food and sex. Allah (Ta’ala) ordains:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ (البقرة : 183)

(Translation of meaning) [“O ye who believe! Fasting has been made obligatory for you as it was made obligatory for those who preceded you so that ye become pious” (Al-Baqarah: 183)].

Fasting inculcates in men the traits of mercy, affection, fellow-feeling and equality and cultivates and promotes them. Likewise, fasting helps in maintaining order, discipline, obedience and subordination.

The literal meaning of Siyam (fasting) is to abstain. As a canonical term it means to abstain from eating, drinking and indulging in sex with a will to devote oneself to Allah. This abstinence is to be maintained from the break of dawn till sunset.