Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interesting Q&A on Fasting from Imam Reza (as)

I have quoted here a section from Uyyun Akhbar e Reza, a book about Imam Ali Ridha (AS) written by Sheikh Sudooq. Sheikh Sudooq was born when his father, who lived during the minor occultation of Imam Mahdi (AS) asked the Imam for help in having a child. The Imam instructed his father, and from this Sheikh Sudooq was born. When he was born, he showed an unusually high aptitude for Islam, memorizing the Quran at an early age, entering the hawzah early, and becoming a mujtahid at a young age. From this special youth, he grew to be the first Marjah in the time of the major occultation. His works are considered seminal in all of our Hawzah, and our highest scholars today, learned from the writings of Sheikh Sudooq – who’s books are mandatory reading. In fact the book has been translated, and uploaded to Ayatollah Sistani’s European website, and thats where I got it from:

In this text, the Imam explains why we do particular things in fasting. The Imam is talking for the whole time, and is presenting questions people may ask about fasting, and answering them. Its a brilliant work, he answers more questions than I could ever think of, and does so with thorough, yet simple, explanations


And if he asks, ‘Why have we been ordered to fast?’ It is said, ‘It is so that you can realize the feeling of hunger, thirst, and poverty in the Hereafter. It is also because by fasting you show reverence, humbleness and submissiveness, so that you patiently and knowingly benefit from your suffering thirst and hunger. In addition, fasting serves as a means of the elimination of lust; and acts as an advisor for you for the present; a practice for you to perform your duties and a proof for the Hereafter. Also fasting is a means for you to realize the extent of hardships suffered from poverty in this world, so as give to the poor the portion of your property which God has made incumbent upon you to pay to them.’

And if he asks, ‘Why is fasting established to be done in the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and not in the other months?’

It is said, ‘It is because Ramadhan is the month in which the Sublime God sent down the Qur’an in which there exists what would distinguish between right and wrong as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong)…’ [179] The revelations were revealed to Muhammad (s) in that month. The Night of Power (‘Qadr) is better than a thousand months and ‘In the (Night) is made distinct every affair of wisdom.’ [180] It is the beginning of the year on which everything – whether good or bad, loss or gain, life or death – is destined. That is why it is called the Night of Power (‘Qadr).’

And if he asks, ‘Why we have been ordered to fast during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan – no more and no less?’

It is said, ‘It is because that is the extent of fasting which both the weak ones and the strong ones can tolerate. God has made incumbent upon man the obligatory deeds to the extent that the majority of the people can do them. Then He has given the weak ones some leeway and has encouraged the strong ones to do more. If less than this was better for them, God would have made less than this incumbent upon them and if more than this was better for them, God would have made more than this incumbent upon them.’

And if he asks, ‘Why is it the case that for someone who is ill during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and does not get better until the next Ramadhan, or is on a journey during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan and does not end his journey up until the next Ramadhan, the fasting days he missed should not be made up, and it suffices for him to pay for the compensation of it? Why is it the case that if such a person gets well or his journey ends before the next Ramadhan should make up his missed fasts and also pay for the compensation?’

It is said, ‘Fasting was incumbent upon him during the (Arabic) month of Ramadhan of that year. It was put off to a later time since he was ill or on a journey. He is excused from fasting since he did not get better during the year or his journey did not end, but he must pay for the compensation of his missed fasting days. This is because the Sublime God has sent the illness upon him and he has not found a way to get better. God has not left any means of performing his duty for him, since an ill person cannot fast. One who is on a journey should not fast either. Therefore, he is excused from fasting. The same holds true for anything else which God brings upon him such as becoming unconscious. Let’s suppose someone is unconscious for one day. He does not have to make up the prayers for that day as (Imam) As-Sadiq (s) said, ‘God has excused His servants from anything which God Himself descends upon him.’ Since at the beginning of Ramadhan, he has been excused from fasting and this excuse has remained valid until the next year, then he must pay the compensation, and he does not have to make up the fasts. He is like someone who is always unable to fast as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘And if any has not (the wherewithal), he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones…’

And as the Honorable the Exalted God says, ‘…(He should) in compensation either fast, or feed the poor, or offer sacrifice…’ Here giving charity has been established as a compensation for fasting when the Hajj pilgrim is in a distressful state.’

And if he asks, ‘What if he was not able to make it up then, but is able to do so now?

It is said, ‘Since his excuse has remained valid until the next Ramadhan, God’s decree regarding him is that he pay the compensation for the missed days of fasting. He is considered to be like someone who must pay the compensation for missing his fasts due to some act and cannot fast. Thus he does not have to fast, but he must pay the compensation. However, if he gets well before the next Ramadhan, but does not make up the days for the missed fasting days, he must make up the fasting and pay the compensation that is due to be paid by him, since he has been able to make up that fasting.’

And if he asks, ‘Why are there recommendable fasts?’

It is said, ‘They exist so as to complete the obligatory fasts.’

And if he asks, ‘Why are there three designated days (for recommendable fasts) each month and one day (for recommendable fasts) in each ten days of the month?’

It is said, ‘It is because the Blessed the Sublime God says, ‘He that doeth good shall have ten times as much to his credit…’ Therefore, whoever fasts one day out of each ten days, it is as if he has fasted the whole year long as Salman al-Farsi – may God have Mercy upon him – said, ‘Fasting three days each month is considered to be fasting all the time. Whoever finds more time should fast more.’’

And if he asks, ‘Why are recommendable fasts set for the Thursdays of the first and the last ten days of the month, as well as the Wednesdays of the second ten days of the month?’

It is said, ‘As for Thursday (Imam) As-Sadiq (s) said, ‘A servant’s (i.e. a person’s) deeds are presented to the Honorable the Exalted God each Thursday. Thus God likes His servants to be fasting when the servants’ deeds are presented to the Sublime God.”’

And if he asks: ‘Why are recommendable fasts set for the last Thursday of the month?’

It is said, ‘Since it is better during the third ten days of the month if the servant’s deeds for the last eight days are presented to God while he has fasted than if his deeds for only two days are of his deeds presented to God while he has fasted. Also Wednesday has been set in the middle ten days of each month, since (Imam) As-Sadiq (s) narrated, ‘The Honorable the Exalted God created Fire on this day. He destroyed the previous nations (who sinned) on that day. It is a day which always has (been considered to be a ) bad omen. And God likes his servant to fend off the bad omen from himself by fasting.’’

And if he asks, ‘Why is it incumbent upon those who do not have the financial means to fast as expiation. Why can’t they go on the Hajj pilgrimage, pray or do other (good) deeds as expiation?’

It is said, ‘It is because praying, going on the Hajj pilgrimage and other obligatory deeds would hinder one from attending to his worldly affairs and improving his life. The same reason cited for making up the fast of the semi-menstruant who should only make up her fast not her prayers applies here, too.’

And if he asks, ‘Why has the expiation been established to be fasting for two consecutive months? Why is it not one month or three months?’

It is said, ‘It is because God has made fasting for one month incumbent upon the people. He doubled the fasting days to be an expiation so as to emphasize the importance of fasting and be stern.’

If he asks, ‘Why did He establish the compensation for fasting to be two consecutive months?’

It is said, ‘It is so that they do not underestimate fasting. If the fasting is performed spread over a span of time, it would not seem to be that difficult.’

No comments:

Post a Comment