The righteous people of the past would rejoice with the approach of winter. Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali mentions its virtues in his book Lata’if Al-Ma’arif (pg. 276)
Winter is the best season for the believer because Allah strengthens his practice by making worship easy for him. The believer can easily fast during the day without suffering from hunger and thirst. The days are short and cold, and he doesn’t feel the hardship of fasting.
As for praying at night, due to winter’s long nights, one can have his share of sleep and then wake up to pray. He can recite the Qur’an that he usually does in a day while having enough time to sleep. So, it becomes possible to fulfill the interests of both – his religion and the comfort of his body.
Abdullah Bin Mas’ud said: “Welcome to winter! Blessings descend in it. Its nights are long to pray, and its days are short to fast.”
When it was winter, Ubayd Bin Umayr would say: “O people of the Qur’an! Your nights are now long for you to recite. So, recite! Your days are now short for you to fast. So, fast! Night prayer in the winter equals fasting during the day in the summer.” This is why Mu’adh wept on his deathbed. He said: “I weep because I will miss the thirst I felt when I fasted, praying at night during the winter, and sitting knee to knee with the scholars during the gatherings of knowledge.”
Today is the day of Hajj. The climax of the journey, which pilgrims have been waiting for months, or even years. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Hajj is Arafah.” (An-Nasaa’i)
Allah perfected His religion and completed His favor upon us on this day.
A Jew came to Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) and said, “O Ameer Al-Mu’mineen, there is a verse in your Book which you recite; if it had come to us Jews, we would have taken that day as an Eid (festival).” Umar said, “Which verse?” He said:
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (Qur’an, 5:3).
Umar said, “We know on which day and in which place it was revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him). It was when he was standing in Arafah on a Friday.”
Furthermore, Allah, Almighty, took an oath by the Day of Arafah in the Qur’an. Allah does not swear by anything except that it has a great virtue or importance.
“And by the witnessing day (i.e. Friday), and by the witnessed day (i.e. the Day of ‘Arafah)” (Qur’an, 85:3)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “The promised day is the Day of Resurrection, the witnessed day is the Day of Arafah, and the witnessing day is Friday.” (Tirmidhi – classed as Saheeh by Al-Albani)
Fasting on this day is an expiation of sins of two years.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) was asked about fasting on the Day of Arafah. He said, “It expiates the sins of the previous year and of the coming year.” (Saheeh Muslim)
Fasting is recommended for those who are not performing Hajj. It is not Sunnah for the pilgrims to fast on the Day of Arafah, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not fast on this Day in Arafah. It was narrated that he forbade fasting on the Day of Arafah, while being in Arafah.
Allah took the covenant from the progeny of Adam on the Day of Arafah.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah took the covenant from the loins of Adam in Na’maan, i.e., Arafah.
“And (remember) when your Lord brought forth from the Children of Adam, from their loins, their seed (or from Adam’s loin his offspring) and made them testify as to themselves (saying): ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said: ‘Yes! We testify,’ lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection: ‘Verily, we have been unaware of this.’ Or lest you should say: ‘It was only our fathers afortime who took others as partners in worship along with Allah, and we were (merely their) descendants after them; will You then destroy us because of the deeds of men who practised Al-Batil (i.e. polytheism and committing crimes and sins, invoking and worshipping others besides Allah)?'” (Qur’an, 7:172-173)”
(Ahmad – classed as Saheeh by al-Albani)
There is no greater day than this and no greater covenant than this.
Freedom from Hell
Today is the day of forgiveness, freedom from the fire of Hell.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “There is no day on which Allah frees more people from the Fire than the Day of Arafah. He comes close and expresses His pride to the angels, saying, ‘What do these people want?'” (Saheeh Muslim)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Allah expresses His pride to His angels at the time of Isha on the Day of Arafah, about the people of Arafah. He says, ‘Look at My slaves who have come unkempt and dusty.'” (Ahmad – classed as Saheeh by al-Albani
It is commendable to keep six fasts in the month of Shawwal. The Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, has said:
Whoever completes fasts of Ramadan then adds to them the fast of six days in the month of Shawwal, it will carry the thawab of fasting for the whole year. (Sahih Muslim)
This hadith had described the great thawab of six fasts of this month. Therefore, the Muslims should take this opportunity of acquiring such an enormous reward from Allah. It is more preferable to start these fasts from the 2nd of Shawwal and keep fasting up to the 7th of it. However, if, they are kept in other days, it is hoped that the requirement of the above hadith may also be fulfilled.
Abu Ubaidah (Radhiallaahu Ánhu) reports: “I have heard RasuluLlah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) saying: “Fasting is a protective Shield for Man, as long as he does not tear up that protection’
Once somebody inquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), “What causes the fast to be rent[destroyed]?” He replied: ‘Telling lies and backbiting.’
During the time of our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), two women were fasting and suffered the pangs of hunger to such an extent that the fast became unbearable and both were on the point of death. The “Sahaaba” brought this to the notice of our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), who sent a bowl commanding them to vomit into it. When they both vomitted in the bowl, pieces of meat and fresh blood were found in it. The “Sahaaba” were greatly surprised, upon which our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: “They fasted with ‘Halaal’ food from Allah, but partook of ‘Haraam’ food by backbiting other people.”
Once the Prophet, (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), on seeing some people, asked them to pick their teeth. They said that they had not tasted any meat that day, on which the Prophet (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said, “So and so’s flesh is sticking to your teeth.” It transpired that they had been backbiting. May Allah keep us safe from this evil, because we are very neglectful of this warning. All are guilty of this; not to speak of the common man, even the people of importance indulge in it, even the religious people in their gatherings do not avoid backbiting. Worst of all is the fact that we do not even realize what backbiting is; even when we suspect ourselves of this, we try to cover it up as narration of some event.
One of the ‘Sahaaba’ inquired from Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) “What is backbiting?” Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) replied: “To mention something about your brother behind his back, which he would resent.” The ‘Sahaabi’ then said: “And is it still backbiting if the thing mentioned about him is really true?” Our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) said: ‘In that case (if that which was mentioned is really true) it is precisely backbiting; but if what is mentioned is false, then you have in fact slandered him.”
Once our Nabi (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) passed by two graves. He said: “On both the inmates of these graves, punishment is being inflicted in the grave. One is being punished because of backbiting, the other because of not having taken precautions (to stay clean) when passing urine. Rasulullah ((Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) also said: “There are more than seventy degrees of evil in (Usury) interest. The lowest form of it is comparable to committing incest with own mother; and taking one ‘Dirham’ of interest is a worse evil than having fornicated thirty five times. The worst and most evil degree of taking interest is the slandering of a Muslim.”
It is equally unlawful to listen to anything that should not be said. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has said, ‘In backbiting, both the backbiter and the one who listens to it are equal partners in sin.’
‘What ailment is there O Allah that is not in me,
Heal me from every illness and grant me my needs
Verily I have a heart that is sick
Verily you are the Healer of the sick’
HOW often have we seen it? A beautiful table laid with all the exotic foods you can think of. Dates of a thousand kind, drinks that have been concocted from fruits you’ve never heard of. Well, this is all too common when people are invited to open their fast in the holy month of Ramadan.
I clearly remember attending one such occasion and was amazed by the plethora of foods visible on the table. I thought to myself “how many people have they invited?” The dates alone would have been enough to feed an army. As I sat and observed the people, I just couldn’t understand how this food would be finished. As the call to prayer was announced, we opened our fast. The concentration was intense – ‘Try this one’, ‘what about that one’, were the reoccurring words as plates were placed in front of me. As we ate I looked up at the clock and thought we should go to the mosque, but the food kept on coming. We were like overstuffed balloons on the verge of bursting when we went for prayer after opening the fast. Upon returning, it was really amazing that I was even expected to eat dinner.
It’s these kind of situations that we need to take care of because fasting is all about abstaining from food and not indulging in it. Some people eat so much food at dawn they are not at all hungry during the day. This defeats the whole objective of fasting, as we should experience the hunger felt by so many around the world and be thankful to Allah for what we have.
Feeding people is a virtuous act that leads to reward, but how many times have we invited the poor to come and eat with us? They too fast and we should spare a thought for the poor and needy as they are rarely invited to open their fasts with people. They shouldn’t be forgotten in this great month. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever gives iftaar to one who is fasting will have a reward like the fasting person, without detracting from the fasting person’s reward in the slightest.” – Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah – classed as saheeh by Al-Albani
If we look at the life of our noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) we see that he would break his fast with fresh dates. If none were available, he would have old dates. If no dates were available then he would just drink some mouthfuls of water. We should keep this in mind and try our level best to follow the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The changes that occur in the body in response to fasting depend on the length of the continuous fast. Technically the body enters into a fasting state eight hours or so after the last meal, when the gut finishes absorption of nutrients from the food. In the normal state, body glucose, which is stored in the liver and muscles, is the body’s main source of energy. During a fast, this store of glucose is used up first to provide energy. Later in the fast, once the stores of glucose run out, fat becomes the next store source of energy for the body.
As the Ramadan fast only extends from dawn till dusk, there is ample opportunity to replenish energy stores at pre-dawn and dusk meals. This provides a progressive gentle transition from using glucose to fat as the main source of energy, and prevents the breakdown of muscle for protein. The use of fat for energy aids weight loss, preserving the muscles, and in the long run reduces your cholesterol levels. In addition weight loss results in better control of diabetes and reduces blood pressure. A detoxification process also seems to occur, as any toxins stored in the body’s fat are dissolved and removed from the body. After a few days of the fast, higher levels of certain hormones appear in the blood (endorphins), resulting in a better level of alertness and an overall feeling of general mental well-being.
The kidney is very efficient at maintaining the body’s water and salts, such as sodium and potassium. However, these can be lost through sweating, to prevent muscle break down, meals must contain adequate levels of ‘energy food’ such as carbohydrates and some fat. Hence, a balanced diet with adequate quantities of nutrients, salts and water is vital.
Ramadan is one of the twelve Arabic months. It is a month which is venerated in the Islamic religion, and it is distinguished from the other months by a number of characteristics and virtues, including the following:
1 – Allah has made fasting this month the fourth pillar of Islam, as He says (interpretation of the meaning):
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Sawm (fasts) that month…”
It was narrated in al-Saheehayn (al-Bukhaari, 8; Muslim, 16) from the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Islam is built on five (pillars): the testimony that there is no god except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; establishing prayer; paying zakaah; fasting Ramadan; and Hajj to the House (the Ka’bah).”
2 – Allah revealed the Qur’aan in this month, as He says in the verse quoted above (interpretation of the meaning):
“The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’aan, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong)…”
And Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).”
3 – Allah has made Laylat al-Qadr in this month, which is better than a thousand months, as Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Verily, We have sent it (this Qur’aan) down in the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree).
And what will make you know what the Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is?
The Night of Al-Qadr (Decree) is better than a thousand months (i.e. worshiping Allah in that night is better than worshiping Him a thousand months, i.e. 83 years and 4 months).
Therein descend the angels and the Rooh [Jibreel (Gabriel)] by Allah’s Permission with all Decrees, (All that night), there is peace (and goodness from Allah to His believing slaves) until the appearance of dawn”
Hadith: “The Sawm (fast) is a shield (against all sins).” (Nasai and Tirmidhi)
It is mentioned in Hadith that fasting is a shield and a strong fortress in order to save oneself from hell. In other words, just as a person seeks refuge in a strong fortress or by means of a shield from an enemy, in the same way, one gets salvation from hell by fasting. By fasting, a person’s power of committing sins gets weak, and his power to do good gets stronger. When a person fasts in the proper manner and implements all the etiquette of fasting, he will free himself of sins and gain salvation from hell.
It is mentioned in a Hadith that fasting is a shield as long as it is not destroyed by lies and backbiting. In other words, fasting works as a shield as explained above. But this is on the condition that the person abstains from sinning. If a person fasts and still speaks lies, backbites, and commits other sins, then although he will be absolved of the fard of fasting, he will be committing a major sin. Furthermore, he will be deprived of the barakah of fasting.
As fasting is a shield. The person who awakens in the morning in a state of fasting should not commit any act of ignorance. If a person approaches him in an ignorant way, he should not reply him in the same ignorant manner nor should he address him disrespectfully. Instead, he should inform him that he is fasting.