It is essential that those who fast must
refrain from certain wrongdoings which root out the blessings of fasting.
Although these wrongdoings are numerous, all those who fast must at least be
aware of some of them.
The first of these wrongdoings is that people
tend to make the Ramadan a month of savoring their taste buds. They are of the
opinion that they will not be held accountable before the Almighty whatever they
spend in this month. If such people are affluent too, then this month becomes a
month of partying and festivity. Instead of making this month a means of
disciplining their desires, they make it a means of nurturing them and spend all
their time in preparing meals for the iftar. Throughout the time of fasting they
keep thinking of the delicious food that would fill their bellies once they
break their fast. The result of this attitude is that they do not gain anything
from fasting and if ever they do, they lose it.
One way to tackle this bad habit is to desist
from making eating and drinking one’s prime concern in life. One should eat and
drink to sustain one’s self and to gather enough energy for work and not make
these needs one’s goal. A person should eat whatever foodstuff is easily
available to him and thank God for this provision. Even if he is served with
something he does not like, he should not get angry. If he has been blessed with
wealth, he should spend it on the poor and the needy instead of spending it on
savoring his taste. Such spending will indeed add to the blessings of his fast.
The practice of the Prophet (sws) in spending in the way of God is precisely
this. Ibn ‘Abbas (rta) says that even in normal times, the Prophet (sws) was the
most generous; however, in Ramadan, he would become an embodiment of generosity.
The second wrongdoing is that since hunger and
thirst make a person short tempered, some people instead of making the fast a
means to control their temper make it an excuse to vent it on others. They lose
their temper on their wife and children and servants in very trivial matters.
They seldom control their tongue and if the situation gets worse they don’t
hesitate in hurling abuses and insults on others. So much so, at times they even
thrash their servants. After such bouts of battering they end up comforting
themselves by saying that such things do happen in the fast.
The Prophet (sws) has advised a remedial
measure for such an attitude: the fast should be used as a shield on such
occasions instead of making it an excuse for being enraged. Whenever a person
gets infuriated he should remember that he is fasting. The Prophet (sws) is
reported to have said that the fast is a shield; whoever among you fasts should
not indulge in lewd talk nor be overcome by his emotions; then if anyone abuses
him or initiates a fight he should respond by saying: “I am fasting, my brother,
I am fasting.” It is a proven
reality that if a person who is fasting reminds and checks himself in this
manner on every occasion he is annoyed, he will see that gradually he is able to
control the devil within him and he will be seldom overcome by it. The feeling
of being victorious over the devils of his desire will produce satisfaction and
a sense of superiority and this reminder initiated by the fast will become a
means of his reformation. He will then express his anger on instances which
really entail such expression. No one will be able to annoy him on all
The third wrongdoing is that people try to
find replacements for the food and drinks and other things that they have given
up – replacements which in their opinion do not harm the fast in any way
thinking that they make it easy for them to spend the time of the fast. They
will play cards, read novels and plays, listen to songs, watch movies and gossip
with their friends and if they are not able to do these, they would end up
backbiting and besmearing others. When a person’s stomach is empty, he relishes
the meat of his brother in the form of backbiting. The consequence of this
attitude is that at times people begin these activities in the morning and only
at the time of breaking the fast do they leave them.
One way of tackling this failing is that a
person should consider silence to be among the etiquette of keeping the fast and
he should try to refrain from loose talk. The Prophet (sws) is reported to have
said: “A person who does not desist from lying and practicing it, then the
Almighty does not need him to abandon eating and drinking.
Another remedial measure is that a person
should spend his spare time in studying the Qur’an and the Hadith and in
understanding Islam. He should make good use of this opportunity by learning
some supplications mentioned in the Qur’an and the Hadith. In this way, he will
be able to save himself from trivial involvements and later these learnt
supplications would help him in constantly remembering the Almighty.
The fourth wrongdoing is that sometimes a
person does not fast for God; he fasts merely to protect himself from the
criticism and condemnation of his family members and sometimes he undertakes the
hardship of fasting to feign religiosity. This too damages the real objective of
One way to rectify this tendency is that a
person should always keep reminding himself of the importance of the fast and
also reminding himself of the fact that if he has left so many cherished things
of life, he should do this for the sake of the Almighty. Moreover, he should
also try to keep some optional fasts besides the obligatory ones of Ramadan and
he should try to conceal these optional fasts as far as possible. It is hoped
that in this way the obligatory fasts too would one day be kept by him purely
for the sake of Allah.
(Translated from Ghamidi’s
Mizan by Shehzad Saleem)