“You must fast. There is nothing like it.'”
-Prophet Muhammad (s) from Hadith
What is fasting in Islam? What is the secret power that makes it one of the five pillars?
Prophet (s) said that there is nothing like fasting in Islam. Of all of the actions of worship we can take, fasting is the only one that is a non-action. It is formless, there is no visible aspect of it, and it can only be known by its effects.
These same qualities are possessed of by our Lord. Fasting in Islam by its very nature is the most powerful form of Dhikr or remembrance, because you resonate with your Creator with every aspect of your being: body, heart, soul, and mind. When you are fasting you are in harmony and flow with Allah.
This harmony with Allah is one of the chief purposes of fasting in Islam. When you fast you manifest Allah’s attributes in your own character, specifically the attribute or name As-Samaad, which is commonly defined as “the eternally Besought, Free from want,” but has also been defined as:
“the One who Prevails, staying through it all (al-Da’im),”
“the Lofty and Sublime one (al-Rafi‘),”
and “the One who does not eat.” or “the One who feeds but is not fed.”
This last definition relates to fasting in Islam by referring to Allahs attribute of uniqueness, because all of creation is in need of sustenance from Him, whereas he sustains all but is not in need of sustenance. It makes you think about the subtle nature of the oceans of knowledge in every verse of the Quran, as in Surat-al-Ikhlas where Allah is proclaiming his uniqueness. Here there is a subtle reference and connection to the uniqueness of fasting in Islam, in as-Samaad, and a signpost guiding us to a way of harmony with Him.
“The fast belongs to Allah…You are merely the place of its manifestation.”
Fasting in Islam removes everything from you, leaves you in a state of annihilliation, and then when all you have left is your fasting, Allah takes that too because it belongs to Him. So what are you left with?
Void. Stillness. Peace. Allah’s Infinite Presence. You become an empty vessel, and Allah fills you with light. This is the true purpose and effect of fasting in Islam.
The Prophet (s) said, “Paradise has a gate called the Rayyan (the Quenching), only those who fast will enter through it.”
What is quenching? It is the perfection of drinking. When you are quenched, you are complete and don’t need anything else. On the day of resurrection, those who practiced fasting in Islam will be perfected, they will be quenched.
Truly there is nothing like fasting in Islam. What a mighty blessing and a wide road to our Lord it is. I hope this article on fasting in Islam will be useful to you, and may we all be among the quenched on that day. I leave you with a beautiful quote from Maulana Jelaluddin Rumi:
“Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.
Emptier, write secrets with the reed pen.”