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Quran and Sunnah

The Fragrance of Fasting

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As the month of Ramadan fast approaches, and as Muslims the world over await its arrival in joyous anticipation, here is a short piece by Ibn al-Qayyim to help prepare its welcome. He says, while commenting on the following hadith:

‘God enjoins upon you the fast. Indeed, the likeness of that is as a man carrying a sack-full of musk in a crowd of people, all of them revelling in its fragrance. For the breath of someone fasting is more fragrant to God, exalted is He, than the smell of musk (1).

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) uses the imagery of a person carrying a sack-full of musk hidden from view, under his clothes, after the habit of those who carry musk. Likewise, fasting is hidden from the eyes of people and unperceived by their senses. The fasting person’s limbs fast (abstain) from sins; his tongue fasts from lies, foul speech and false witness; his stomach fasts from food and drink; and his genitals fast from sexual union. If he speaks, he says nothing to violate his fast; and if he acts, he does nothing to spoil his fast.

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All his speech is salutary and wholesome, as are his deeds – just like 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, foul language and wrongdoing. This is the fast prescribed by the Sacred Law; it is not simply abstinence from eating or drinking.

Hence, one sound hadith has it: ‘Whoever does not refrain from speaking and acting falsely, or acting ignorantly, God does not need him to refrain from food  and drink (2). In another hadith: ‘Perhaps a fasting person gains nothing from his fast except hunger and thirst (3).

True fasting, then, is when the limbs abstain from sin and the stomach from food and drink. As food and drink can break the fast or spoil it, so sins can cut off its rewards and spoil its fruits; as if one had not fasted at all (4).

1. Al-Tirmidhi, no.2867; Ibn Hibban, no.1222. The hadith is sahih.

2. Al-Bukhari, no.1903.

3. Ibn Majah, no.1690; al-Bayhaqi, Shu‘ab al-Iman, no.3642.

4. Al-Wabil al-Sayyib (Beirut & Damascus: Maktabah Dar al-Bayan, 2006), 59-60.

 

This article was originally posted here.

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Aaliyah is the founder of The Jawziyyah Institute, a leading institute for Islamic moderation and contemporary thought in the United Kingdom. Sidi Abu Aaliyah has been in involved in Dawah and Islamic teachings since 1986. He has translated a number of books from the Arabic language into English such as "The Exquisite Pearls". Abu Aaliyah's written works and audio lectures can be found online.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Yasmin

    July 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Jazakallah khair for this very helpful post!

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