The Five Rewards for Fasting

Date: 26th June 2015

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The month of running and each of us need to realize that this glorious time is limited so we need to make the most of it. One Hadith states:

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month, which Allah, the Mighty and Sublime, has enjoined you to fast. In it the gates of heavens are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and every devil is chained up. In it Allah has a night which is better than a thousand months; whoever is deprived of its goodness is indeed deprived.”‘

Reference: Sunan An-Nasa’i, Hadith 2106

We are expected to dispose our sins this month and remove all our past sins by shrouding it with good deeds. Allah says in the Quran:

Verily, the good deeds remove the evil deeds (i.e. small sins). That is a reminder (an advice) for the mindful (those who accept advice).

Surah Hud, Ayah 114 (11:114) Translation: Muhsin Khan

Allah has bestowed five unique rewards on the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) which no other Ummahs of the previous Prophets ever received. One beautiful Hadith states these five rewards:

Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) relates that Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: ‘ My Ummah were given five things during Ramadan that were not given to anyone except them. For them, the smell from the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter in the sight of Allah than the fragrant smell of musk. On their behalf the fishes in the sea seek forgiveness until they break their fast. Allah prepares and decorates a special garden in Jannah everyday and then says (to it): ‘The time is near when my faithful servants shall cast aside the great trivial (of the world) and come to you.’ In this month (for them) evil-minded Shaitan is chained up so as not to reach unto those evils to which they normally reach during other months besides Ramadan. On the last night of Ramadan they are forgiven.’

 The companions thereupon inquired: ‘O Messenger of Allah, is that last night Laylatul Qadr (night of power)?’ Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) replied: ‘No, but it is only right that a servant be given his reward on having completed his service.’

References: Baihaqi & Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Rahmatullah Allaih)

This Hadith is one of many, which informs us the great blessing Ramadaan holds. Looking at this Hadith carefully it reveals many important points. The Hadith talks about five things, which are special to this Ummah. So let’s discuss the blessings one by one.

  1. Smell from the Mouth of a Fasting Person

Allah considers the smell from the mouth of a fasting person sweeter than musk. Allah deliberately talks about the smell that a fasting person is hesitant with or feels ashamed lest someone senses the odor. Allah is trying to comfort the fasting person by making him realize the value of the smell. Allah wants us to be patient and bear the hardship that comes with fasting.

But what does it mean to say “this bad breath is dearer to Allah than musk. Scholars have explained this in several ways. It could mean one of the following:

  1. In the Hereafter, Allah will grant a fasting person a perfume which will be better than musk.
  2. On the Day of Judgment people will rise from the dead and ones who were steadfast in their fasting will smell of perfume
  • It could mean that the smell of their breath is better than that of musk simply because Allah loves His obedient slaves

Reference: The Five Pillars of Islam: Laying the Foundations of Divine Love and Service to Humanity by Musharraf Hussain. pp. 144-145

  1. Supplication of the Angels, Fishes & Other Creations of Allah

A tradition has been narrated which explains how Allah Ta’ala once he loves a person makes an announcement to the angles to also love him, similar announcements are made to the Creations of Allah who also start to show their love for the person. This may translate into the fishes making prayers for the fasting person. The tradition goes like this:

Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “When Allah loves a slave, calls out Jibril and says: ‘I love so-and-so; so love him’. Then Jibril loves him. After that he (Jibril) announces to the inhabitants of heavens that Allah loves so- and-so; so love him; and the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him and then make people on earth love him”.

References Sahih Muslim & Sahih Bukhari

Speaking of supplications, the fasting person must do dua more and more because Allah never rejects a dua coming from a sincere fasting Muslim. Hadith says:

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) it is related that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “There are three people whose ‘Du’a’ is not rejected; the fasting person until he breaks the fast, the just ruler, and the oppressed person, whose Dua Allah lifts above the clouds and opens unto it the doors of Jannah, and Allah says: “I swear by My Honor, verily I shall assist you, even though it may be after some time.”

References: Musnad of Imam Ahmad (Rahmatullah Allaih) & Jami At-Tirmidhi

Some of us actually complain when our duas remain unanswered but we should realize that there are a lot of clauses for duas getting granted. We need to possess the full in faith in Allah when supplicating to him- sincerity needs to be there, also our income needs to be Halal. So before doubting over Allah’s powers one must make sure his Nafs is being sincere to His Lord.

  1. Allah Prepares Jannah for the Fasting Mumin

One Hadith states:

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) once said to Mu`adh ibn Jabal (Radi Allahu Anhu): “Should I not guide you to the means to all that is good? Fasting is a shield. Charity extinguishes sinful deeds like water extinguishes fire. Then there is prayer in the depths of the night.” Then he recited from the Qur’an Sūrah al-Sajdah 16-17: “They forsake their beds to supplicate their Lord in fear and hopefulness, and they spend from what We have provided them. And no soul knows what delights of the eye are kept hidden [in reserve] for them as a reward for what they used to do.”

References: Jami at-Tirmidhī, Hadith 2616 & Sunan Ibn Mājah, Hadith 3973

The last sentence of this Hadith mentions about Jannah as there is a Hadith as well as a Quran ayah similar to wording of the above Hadith.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu)  that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Allah says: ‘I have prepared for My righteous slaves that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard and it has never crossed the mind of man. All of that is reserved, besides which all that you have known is as nothing.’ Then he recited: ‘No person knows what is kept hidden for them of joy as a reward for what they used to do’ (Surah al-Sajdah 32:17 – interpretation of the meaning).”

References: Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith Number 3072 & Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2824 — the report narrated by Muslim adds: “apart from that of which Allah has informed you.”

  1. Shaitan Is Chained During Ramadan

Hadith states:

Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anhu) quoted the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) as saying: “When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of the Hellfire are closed, and the devils are chained.”

References: Sahih al-Bukhari

Allah loves us and for that reason He wants us to accumulate as many blessing as possible. For any son of Adam, the greatest enemy is Shaitan and Allah chains him during this period so that we can fast and do good deeds at ease as He knows fasting is a difficult task so He wants to ease our burden, Alhammdulillah.

  1. Reward for Completing the Service of Fasting

It had been the practice of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) that he would not sleep in the night preceding the day of Eid-ul-fitr. This night has been named in a Hadith as the Night of Reward (Lailat-ul-Jaiza). Almighty bestows his rewards on those who have spent the month of Ramadan abiding by the dictates of Shari’ah, and all their prayers in this night are accepted. Therefore, it is desirable to perform nafl prayers in this night.

The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) is reported to have said: “Whoever stands up (in worship) in the nights preceding the two Eids expecting rewards from his Lord, his heart will not die when the other hearts will die.”

Reference: Sunan Ibn Majah

To benefit from this opportunity, one should perform as much worship in this night as he can, and should pray for all his needs and desires.

We may have Shaitan chained up during Ramadan but we still need to control our Nafs so that we can restrain ourselves from sinning. We can’t leave our fasting during the time of Ramadan for inane reasons. Allah has relieved few people from fasting but it does not mean we get to take advantage of this by making lame excuses upon ourselves. That is solely going to harm us. Allah says in the Quran:

[Fasting for] a limited number of days. So whoever among you is ill or on a journey [during them] – then an equal number of days [are to be made up]. And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]. And whoever volunteers excess – it is better for him. But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 184 (2:184) Translation: Sahih International

“But to fast is best for you, if you only knew”- this ayah itself indicates the importance of fasting for all people who have reached puberty. If someone is incapable of fasting because of extreme sickness or health breakdown due to old age and the circumstance is that the person won’t ever be able to make up for these missed fasts then he/she must donate an amount to the poor each day for his/her missed fasts. This is known as Fidya or Fitra. However there are differences in opinions.

The majority of Maliki, Shafi and Hanbali fuqaha’ are of the view that paying cash does not count as the fidyah for not fasting, and what must be given is actual food, because Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):

And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] – a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day].

Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 184 (2:184) Translation: Sahih International

Ibn ‘Abbaas (Radi Allahu Anhu) said (explaining this ayah): This refers to old men and old women who cannot fast, so they should feed one poor person for each day.

Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith Number 4505

It says in Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (10/198): If the doctors have stated that this sickness means that you cannot fast, and there is no hope of recovery, then you must feed one poor person for each day, giving half a saa’ of the local staple food, whether it is dates or something else, for past and future months. If you give a poor person dinner or breakfast for the number of days that you did not fast, that will be sufficient. As for giving cash, that does not count.

A child is considered mature when it reaches the age of 12-13 in case of males and 9-10 in case of females and when they come to age, they are strictly advised to fast during this month. A lot of parents worry over the notion that their child will not be able tolerate the fasting. Many children in fact are exuberant to fast but parents tend to back them down for their “sincere affection”. On the Day of Judgment this affection can in fact be turned against the parents if they obstruct the Ibadah of their children. One Hadith makes it clear that even the Sahabahs used to make their children fast.

It was narrated that al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh (Radi Allahu Anha) said: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) sent word on the morning of Ashura’ to the areas where the Ansar lived (on the outskirts of Madeenah), saying: Whoever did not fast this morning, let him not eat for the rest of the day, and whoever started fasting this morning, let him complete his fast. She said: We used to observe this fast after that, and we used to make our children fast and make them toys of wool; if one of them cried for food we would give him that toy until it was time to break the fast.

Narrated by Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 1859 & Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1136

Allah has mentioned in the Quran:

Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope.

Surah Al-Baqarah, Ayah 286 (2:286) Translation: Muhsin Khan

And when Allah mentioned this it goes true for every one of us- children, teenagers and adults so we need to take fasting seriously. The young people should be encouraged to fast so that they can foster their relationship with their Lord.

Fasting is considered to so serious that in circumstance when the husband associates with his wife during daytime, the couple needs to make up for their fasting. The Hadith below provides a solution:

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah (Radi Allahu Anha) said: Whilst we were sitting with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), a man came to him and said, “O Messenger of Allah, (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) I am doomed!” He said, “What happened?” He said, “I had intercourse with my wife when I was fasting [in Ramadan].” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said, “Are you able to free a slave?” He said, “No.” He said, “Are you able to fast for two consecutive months?” He said, “No.” He said, “Can you feed sixty poor persons?” He said, “No.” Then the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) remained silent for a while, and whilst we were like that, a large vessel of dates was brought to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), and he said, “Where is the one who was asking?” He said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take these and give them in charity.” The man said, “Is there anyone poorer than me, O Messenger of Allah? For there is no household between the two harrahs (lava fields – i.e., in Madeenah) that is poorer than my household.” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) smiled until his teeth could be seen, then he said, “Feed it to your family.”

References: Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadiths 1834-1835 & Sahih Muslim, Hadith 1111

However, with regard to intercourse during the night in Ramadan, this is permitted and is not forbidden, and the time when it is permitted lasts until the onset of dawn. When dawn comes, intercourse becomes forbidden.

We have day labors who give the excuse of their heavy work for the cause of them not fasting during Ramadan. One thing needs to be clear that fasting has been prescribed and every healthy person who is capable of working are strictly ordered to fast. Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) has cursed those who fail to fast and seek repentance from Allah. The Hadith narrating this goes like this:

Kaab Ibn Ujrah (Radi Allahu Anhu) relates that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Come near to the minbar”, and we came near the minbar.

When he climbed the first step of the minbar, he said “Amin”. When he ascended the second step, he said “Amin”. When he climbed the third step, he said “Amin”. When he came down, we said: “O Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), we have heard from you today something which we never heard before.”

He said: “When I climbed the first step, the angel Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām) appeared before me and said: “Destruction to him who found the blessed month of Ramadhan and let it pass by without gaining forgiveness”, upon that I said ‘Amin’.

When I climbed the second step, he said: “Destruction to him before whom your name is taken and then he does not make Du’a for Allah’s blessing on me (by saying, for example sallallahu alayhi wasalam).” I replied ‘Amin’.

When I climbed the third step, he said: “Destruction unto him in whose lifetime his parents or either one of them reaches old age, and (through failure to serve them) he is not allowed to enter Jannah”. I said ‘Amin’.”

References: Ibn Hibbaan, 3/188; also narrated by Al-Baihaqi and Al-Haakim; Classed as Sahih by Shaykh Al-Albani in Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1679

Jibril (Alayhi As-Salām)’s curse is a warning for all the Muslim Ummah who does not take the month of Ramadan seriously. When we continuously keep asking someone for anything, that person gets angry. Our Lord’s mercy is boundless and He gets angry when we don’t ask anything from Him as it means that we have become arrogant. Allah says in the Quran:

And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.

Surah Ghafir, Ayah 60 (40:60)

Ramadan is the time of the year we are expected to extinguish our sins into blessings which will assist us in the Hereafter. But sad to state, that many of us actually fail to do so. For example we have in Muslim majority countries, Muslim restaurant owners keeping their restaurant open for the ones who do not fast. Know that for helping Muslims who do not wish to fast, the restaurant owners will also share a part of their sins.

Fasting is a shield for us and we must make the most of this shield to guard ourselves to accumulate as many blessings as possible. May Allah strengthen our Taqwa so that we get to control our whimsical Nafs. Ameen.

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