Fiqh Lesson by Amirah / Umm Ahmad - 5th of February, 2013

Matters Relating to Fasting

Question 89: Can not the fasting of Ramadhan be regarded as a kind of starving, self-torment and physical infliction when Muslims deprive themselves from food and drink for many hours every day and for a duration of a month? Why do not they fast as others (Jews and Christians) do?

Answer 89: Fasting in Islam–like every other ritual–invokes admiration of this religion and of its educational method in life. Islam is not a religion based on the satisfaction of emotions or benumbing of feelings. Also, it is not a religion which follows the inclinations of people or pleads them to meet around it like foam. It is a heavenly religion which came to build up the good man who qualifies for becoming of God’s vicegerent on earth, multiply in number, and establish both truth and justice. Great tasks like these require strong will and patience on the burden of life and its oddities. Nothing like fasting could sharpen the will. When a man feels hungry, out of his/her own will, at a time when nothing could prevent him/her from food; when man chooses to abstain from food and drink until a specific time, his/her will becomes subordinate to the mind and thought. As such a Muslim becomes able to abstain from things on the occasion of abstaining and moves forward in the location of action, and does and leave what he/she thinks right after thinking and contemplation, away from emotions and quick excitement, and respond to ideas and various obsessions. Fasting is also a kind of education of the rich and the well-to-do to taste the meaning of need and the sting of hunger which the poor always suffer from. When those feel as the others do, cooperation, solidarity and mercy prevail among the individuals of all society, but when fasting is merely superficial, as the followers of some other religions do, this does not go with the comprehensiveness of Islam and its distinction. This religion is characterized by its own rules and distinction of thoughts from other creeds so that what is good is known to be different from the bad. Scum always goes in vain, and what avails the people stays in the land.

Question 90: Islam is a religion of ease. What did God in his Almighty enjoins such a difficult task as fasting on the Muslim, especially those who live in hot areas?

Answer 90: There is no hardship in Islam and God does not charge man to do more than he/she could. Any obligation in Islam that is too difficult for man and may cause him too much difficulty will not continue to be an obligation. On the one hand, anyone who cannot fast may not do so provided that he/she compensate for not fasting by feeding a needy person for each day he/she did not fast. On the other hand, Islam is a heavenly religion with a great heavenly message which intends to build a nation, establish a civilization, and take care of society by defending its rights, and achieving a great role on the international level. Such a religion should in the first place prepare its followers to endure difficulties and hardships so that they could be qualified to build nations and develop civilizations. May God bless the soul of that who said: “If the souls are great the bodies will be tired because of their will.”
Desiring comfort and living in slackness, dullness and laziness are the qualities of one who is impatient, the kind of people who are not expected to be good to themselves or to others. Has ever a nation risen in history and was important while it was sitting dull, neither struggling nor getting tired or exhausted? Could such people know the taste of real comfort, unless they were exhausted because of work? Could people feel the pleasure of recovery without knowing the meaning of disease? Could people know the taste of freedom without suffering the agony of suppression?
By contemplating these great meanings, we realize that the obligation of fasting is a heavenly educational one and the difficulty in it may be intentional and deliberate, otherwise it would not achieve the desired aim in the formation of the nation and its preparation for grand tasks.

Question 91: How could a Muslim fast while living in a country where the sun does not set most of the hours of the day, as in the Scandinavian countries for instance?

Answer 91: Fasting is a kind of worship. It is a way of getting accustomed to patience and developing a serious will; and a Muslim has to be as strong as possible in terms of religion, will and body. The Muslims of such cold countries as the Scandinavian, where the sun does not set most of the hours of the day, should fast and be patient until the sun sets even though the day is much longer than the night. If someone, due to a certain defect or illness, feels unable to endure fasting for such a long time, he/she can choose not to fast but must make up for that when he/she becomes able to do so. Otherwise, if there is no possibility that the Muslim would be able to fast, then he has to compensate in terms of feeding a needy Muslim by providing him/her with average food, which he often offers to his family, for lunch or dinner for everyday he did not fast.

Matters Relating to Pilgrimage

Question 92: How does Islam command its followers to kiss a stone in Makka with the aim of getting closer to God? Why should Muslims circumambulate a stone building, or stand on a mount of stones and rocks while, in the meantime, it ordains its followers to keep from statues and idols which are made of stone. Is not that self-contradictory?

Answer 92: The acts of pilgrimage, such as circumambulate the Holy Kabah, kissing the stone, and standing on a mount of Arafaat are not considered in any way to be a statue worship, which is strongly prohibited in Islam. The case of worshipping idols implies intention and a heart attached to these solid stones with the belief that these statues have power and can affect man’s life. Such beliefs are regarded by Islam as a matter of mental setback, for how could an inanimate object a living creature?
The whole rituals of pilgrimage represent complete obedience to God, which God Himself requested from man. Whether one can realize the secrets behind these rituals or not, a Muslim should follow the commands of God so long as He commands us to do so. God is All-Knowing and All-Wise, and He commands His slaves to do only what is beneficial and good to them.
The pilgrimage rituals imply great educational intentions, which have their effect on the life of the Islamic nation. They are the landmarks around which Muslims from all over the world meet, stand and move in the same direction. Circumambulating the Kaabah together in the same direction while all are clad in white, and repeating the same call is a real submission to God Will. All this reminds Muslims of their emotional, intellectual and dogmatic unity and the unity of their orientation towards great matters in life and the unity of their path and destiny.
It also reminds them of equality in rights and duties; people are equal, no one is unimportant or important, there is neither ruler nor ruled, neither a prince nor a commoner, and no one is distinguished from others in dress, circumambulating, standing or in any related ritual. Great must be the effect of pilgrimage on the rich and the famous when they are considered to be equal to the poor and the needy. Their pride is bound to be lessened—something which makes them feel the life of simplicity, deprivation and exhaustion; consequently they would reconsider the nature of their social relationship with the public.
Pilgrimage also has educational effects, when languages, colors and localities of the Islamic world meet and live together for a few days every year with the unity of feelings, language, behavior and intentions.
Now, could any rational person think that the pilgrimage rituals and acts are like the rituals of humbleness before an idol made of stone which cannot cause any harm or good to itself or to others?.

Question 93: What is the idea behind circumambulating the Kaabah? Do Muslim worship the this building?

Answer 93: Muslims worship God only and do not worship anything else besides Him. Circumambulating the Holy Kaabah is not a ritual of worshipping the stone building in itself. Rather, it is a symbol of total submission to God’s commands; around which the Muslims’ words and intentions unite, and on which their opinions unit. Despite all the differences in their colours, languages, countries, all Muslims meet around the Kaabah, which makes them feel their greatness, strength and unity, as mentioned before. On the other hand, there is a variety of worship thorough which the Muslims get closer to almighty God, the physical reason behind which is not known for sure; rather they are the emblem of yielding to That Great God Whom Muslims knew as enjoying strength, greatness, mercy and perfection. Muslims love God and believed in Him. One of the effects of that love is the haste a Muslim shows to carry out His command without knowing its effects. The obvious aim is their trust in God, and the desire to obtain the reward both here and hereafter

The matter of worship whose desired effect in particular is not known to Muslims is a kind of spiritual food them, so that their soul can be balanced and their nature be settled, as man is made from body, mind and spirit. The body is physical and has its material and concrete food, and the mind is the container of science and knowledge and has its food in Islam, as God opened before him the horizons of the universe and life and urged him to research and probe the depths of the universe and benefit from it. Also, God praised the mind and appreciated it so much in order to give it a confidence, testimony, and a value which helps him to achieve his tasks in life. As for the spirit, it is that transparent unknown being whose nature and essence has not been recognized yet. As to the spirit, God made its food from worships, and particular supplications, which provide for this basic element in man its growth, balance and coordination with the body and mind so that man could become complete, good and straight.

And Allah knows the best


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