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Fasting- from the Book of Assistance
 
IMAM AL-HADDAD
 
 
Increase your good works, especially in Ramadan, for the reward of a
supererogatory act performed during it equals that of an obligatory act
performed at any other time. Ramadan is also a time when good works are
rendered easy and one has much more energy for them than during any
other month. This is because the soul, lazy when it comes to good works,
is then imprisoned by hunger and thirst, the devils who hinder it are
shackled, the gates of the Fire are shut, the gates of the Garden are
open, and the herald calls every night at God's command: 'O you who wish
for goodness, hasten! And O you who wish for evil, halt!'



You should work only for the hereafter in this noble month, and embark
on something worldly only when absolutely necessary. Arrange your life
before Ramadan in a manner which will render you free for worship when
it arrives. Be intent on devotions and approach God more surely,
especially during the last ten days. If you are able not to leave the mosque,
except when strictly necessary, during those last ten days then do so.
Be careful to perform the Tarawih prayers during every Ramadan night.
In some places it is nowadays the custom to make them so short that
sometimes some of the obligatory elements of the prayer are omitted, let
alone the sunnas. It is well known that our predecessors read the whole
Qur'an during this prayer, reciting a part each night so as to complete
it on one of the last nights of the month. If you are able to follow
suit then this is a great gain; if you are not, then the least that you
can do is to observe the obligatory elements of the prayer and its
proprieties.



Watch carefully for the Night of Destiny [Laylat'ul-Qadr], which is
better than a thousand months. It is the blessed night in which all
affairs are wisely decided. The one to whom it is unveiled sees the blazing
lights, the open doors of heaven, and the angels ascending and
descending, and may witness the whole of creation prostrating before God, its
Creator.



Most scholars are of the opinion that it is in the last ten nights of
Ramadan, and is more likely to fall in the odd numbered ones. A certain
gnostic witnessed it on the night of the seventeenth, and this was also
the opinion of al-Hasan al-Basri. Some scholars have said that it is
the first night of Ramadan, and a number of great scholars have said that
it is not fixed but shifts its position each Ramadan. They have said
that the secret wisdom underlying this is that the believer should devote
himself completely to God during every night of this month in the hope
of coinciding with that night which has been kept obscure from him. And
God knows best.



Hasten to break your fast as soon as you are certain that the sun has
set. Delay suhur as long as you do not fear the break of dawn. Feed
those who fast at the time when they break it, even if with some dates or a
draught of water, for the one who feeds another at the time of breaking
the fast receives as much reward as he without this diminishing the
other's reward in any way. Strive never to break your fast nor to feed
anyone else at such a time except with lawful food. Do not eat much, take
whatever lawful food is present ' and do not prefer that which is
tasty, for the purpose of fasting is to subdue one's lustful appetite, and
eating a large quantity of delicious food will on the contrary arouse
and strengthen it.



Fast on the days on which the Law encourages you to fast, such as the
day of Arafat for those who are not participating in the pilgrimage, the
ninth and tenth ['Ashura] of Muharram, and the six days of Shawwal,
starting with the second day of the Feast, for this is the more effective
discipline for the soul. Fast three days in each month, for these equal
a perpetual fast. It is better if these are the White Days, for the
Prophet, may blessings and peace be upon him, never omitted to fast them
whether he was at home or traveling. Fast often, especially in times of
special merit such as the Inviolable Months, and noble days such as
Mondays and Thursdays. Know that fasting is the pillar of discipline and
the basis of striving. It has been said that fasting constitutes half of
fortitude. The Messenger of God, may blessings and peace be upon him,
said: 'God the Exalted has said: "All good deeds of the son of Adam are
multiplied ten to seven hundredfold, except fasting, for it is Mine,
and I shall reward a man for it, for he has left his appetite, his food
and drink for My sake!"' 'The one who fasts has two joys, one when
breaking his fast, the other when meeting his Lord.' And; 'The odour of the
fasting man's mouth is more fragrant to God than that of musk.'



God says the truth and He guides to the way. [XXXIII:4]

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