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 The Ramadan Series (Part 1)

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PostSubject: The Ramadan Series (Part 1)   Sat Aug 22, 2009 6:31 am




FASTING

'And [God] enjoins upon you the fast. Verily, the similitude of that is a man carrying a sack-full of musk in a crowd of people, all of them marvelling at its fragrance - for the breath of someone fasting is more fragrant to God, Most High, than the scent of musk.' (Part of the Hadith of al-Harith al-Ash'ari narrated by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Tirmidhi)

The Prophet (SAAS) uses the image of someone carrying a sack-full of musk concealed from view. Fasting is. likewise, hidden from the eyes of men and unperceived by their senses. The fasting person's limbs fast from sins; his tongue fasts from lies, base language and false witness; his stomach fasts from food and drink; and his pudenda from union. If he speaks, he says nothing to violate his fast; and if he acts, he does nothing to spoil his fast. All his speech is salutary and wholesome, as are his deeds - like the fragrance one smells while sitting next to the bearer of musk. Anyone who sits with a fasting person benefits from his presence and is safe from false witness, lies, base language and wrongdoing. This is the fast prescribed by the Sacred Law, not simply abstinence from eating and drinking.

Hence, a sound hadith states: 'When someone does not refrain from speaking falsely, God does not need him to refrain from food and drink.' (Bukhari) And in [another] hadith: 'Some who fast obtain nothing from it but hunger and thirst.' (Ibn Hanbal. Musnad, with the ending, 'And some may stand for prayer at night and receive nothing from it but sleeplessness").

True fasting is when the limbs fast from sin and the stomach fasts from food and drink. As food and drink can break the fast or spoil it, so sins can cut off its reward and spoil its fruits, as if one had not fasted at all.

Two diverging opinions have emerged as to whether the fragrance of the fasting person's breath occurs in this world or the next. The solution to this problem is this: The Prophet (SAAS) says that this fragrance will occur on the Day of Judgement, because that is the time when deeds will be recompensed, and when it will be clear which of them are good and which evil. Likewise, it will be clear to people that the breaths [of those who fasted] are more fragrant than musk - and the blood of those wounded for God's sake will also have the scent of musk.

The Prophet (SAAS) says that this fragrance occurs 'when they turn away from food' and 'when they reach the evening,' because that is the time when the effects of worship appear. Their breaths then are more fragrant than musk to God and His angels, though they be unpleasant to people. They are often disliked by people because they offend their natures. But they are beloved to God because they agree with His commandment, His contentment and his love.

As Ibn 'Abbas (RA) said, 'Virtuous deeds bring illumination to the face and light to the heart, strength to the body, sufficiency in wordly provision and love to people's hearts. Evil deeds bring shadows to the face, darkness to the heart, weakness to the body, deficiency in provision and enmity to people's hearts.'

And 'Uthman ibn 'Affan (RA) said, "No man accomplishes an action but that God, Most High, clothes him with its mantle - if good, then with good and if evil, with evil.'

This is well known. It is known to mystics and others. In fact, from a man who is pure and good you may smell a fragrance though he never touches perfume. For this is a fragrance which emanates from his soul and perfumes his body and clothes. For the corrupt person, the opposite is true. But someone with a cold, and whose heart is ill, can smell nothing. Rather, his cold will cause him even to deny that this can exist. (Source: The Invocation of God, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya).



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