The Excellence of Fasting in Ramadan
By his eminence Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz
This is a brief exhortation on the excellence of fasting in the month of Ramadan and getting up at nights for worship during it, as well as the benefit of competing in it in good deeds; besides, there is also an elaboration of certain vital rules of this fasting that might not have come in the knowledge of some people.
It is an established fact that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to inform his Companions about the commencement of Ramadan and he (peace be upon him) also used to tell them that the month of Ramadan is a month in which the doors of Rahmah (grace) and doors of Jannah (Paradise) are opened; while doors of Jahannam (Hell) are closed; and during that period the devils are tied.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“When it is the first night of Ramadan, the doors of Jannah (Paradise) are opened and none of them is closed; and the doors of Jahannam (Hell) are closed and none of them is opened; the devils are tethered; and a caller calls saying: ‘O those who seek righteousness, get closer; O those who seek evil, be you at a loss; it is upon Allah to bar (Hell) fire,’ and that will happen every night of Ramadan.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) also said:
“Ramadan has come to you, the month of Barakah (blessings); Allah covers you during the month, descends Rahmah (grace), removes sins and answers the invocations. Allah sees (in this month) your competitions (for good deeds) and so He boasts to the angels about you. Show Allah what is better (than this) by yourselves; verily the wretched are those debarred from Allah’s Rahmah (grace)”.
And the Messenger (peace be upon him) said:
“Whoever fasts in Ramadan with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are forgiven; and whoever gets up in the nights of Ramadan to worship, with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are forgiven; and whoever gets up at nights of Qadr during Ramadan with firm belief and expecting reward on it, his previous sins are forgiven.”
The Messenger (peace be upon him) said that Allah says:
“All the deeds of Adam’s sons (people) are for them, and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times to seven hundren times, except Saum (fasting) which is for Me. And I will give the reward for it. He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake; there are two pleasures for the person observing Saum, one at the time of breaking his Saum and the other at the time when he will meet his Lord, and the smell coming out from the mouth of a person observing Saum is better with Allah than the aroma of musk.”
There are various Ahadith on the benefits of fasting in Ramadan and worshipping at nights therein.
So a believer should seize this opportunity in which Allah has bestowed grace upon the believers. So they should aspire to obey Allah, shun bad deeds and should work hard in performing what Allah has made obligatory on them, particularly offering the five prayers, for, these are the pillars of Islam and the foremost obligation after the two testimonies. It is therefore an obligation upon Muslims (male or female) to establish them and perform them in their right times with submissiveness and composure.
Among the most important obligations regarding prayers (Salat) upon men is performing them in congregation in the houses of Allah (Masjid) in which Allah has enjoined that His Name be remembered; as He says in His Noble Book:
“And offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and Irka‘ (i.e. bow down or submit yourselves with obedience to Allah) along with Ar-Raki‘in.” (2:43)
Allah also says:
“Guard strictly the (five obligatory) prayers especially the middle (i.e. the best) (Asr) prayer. And stand before Allah with obedience (and do not speak to others during prayers).” (2:238)
And He said:
“Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness.” (23:1, 2)
He also said:
“And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) prayers (at their fixed stated hours). These are indeed the inheritors who shall inherit Firdaus (Paradise). They shall dwell therein forever.” (23: 9-11)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“The difference between us (Muslims) and them (Kuffar) is prayers and whosoever leaves prayer is disobedient (infidel).”
Next to Salat (prayers) in importance is to pay Zakat, as Allah says:
“And they were commanded not, but that they should worship Allah, and worship none but Him Alone (abstaining from ascribing partners to Him), and offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat) and give Zakat and that is the right religion.” (98:5)
Allah further says:
“And offer prayers perfectly (Iqamat-as-Salat), and give Zakat and obey the Messenger (Muhammad (peace be upon him) ) that you may receive mercy (from Allah).” (24:56)
The Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Messenger (peace be upon him) have described that whoever does not pay Zakat over his wealth, shall be punished on the Day of Resurrection.
The most important issue in Islam after prayers and Zakat, is fasting during Ramadan which is one of the five pillars of Islam as mentioned in the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
“Islam is based on five (pillars): To testify that there is no God except Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; To offer Salat (prayer); To pay Zakat (obligatory charity); To observe Saum (fasts during the month of Ramadan) and; To perform Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).”
A Muslim should protect his/her fasting and waking up for worship at nights, from all that Allah has forbidden, be it in deeds or in uttering, because the purpose of fasting is to obey Allah (Subhanahu wa ta’ala) and glorify His sanctities and fight the self against its desires in obeying his Lord, and get the self accustomed to abstaining from what Allah has forbidden, as the fasting does not mean merely abstaining from eating and drinking the things that break fast. In this sense Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) has also said in an authentic Hadith:
“Fasting is shield; so when it is a day of fasting one should not indulge in obscene behavior or glamour, or shout about; if any one quarrels with him or engages him in fight, he should say: ‘I am fasting’.”
The Prophet (peace be upon him) further said in an authentic Hadith:
“Whosoever doesn’t abstain from false utterings, obscene deeds and absurd acts, Allah does not care for his abstaining from eating and drinking.”
What we learn from all the above reports and from various others, is that it is a must for a fasting person to abstain from all that Allah has forbidden and strictly guard and observe what Allah has made compulsory for him to do. Then, in this way he will get forgiveness, protection from the Fire, and acceptance of his fasting and Qiyam (i.e. night prayers).