Many of us fast and know that it’s obligatory but don’t always know what benefits we should be seeking from it.
قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ
"He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadan with Faith while seeking its reward from Allah, will have his past sins forgiven." (Bukhari and Muslim)
Why do we fast?
For many of us, Ramadan can become habitual and ritualistic, and we don’t give it deeper thought. Let’s refresh our intention every day that we’re fasting for the sake of Allah (swt), for our love and obedience to him.
And whilst there are many health benefits to fasting, including cleansing the body and removing toxins, that alone shouldn’t be our primary motivation to want to fast. We must also remind ourselves that we are fasting for Allah (swt), believing, and acknowledging that this is his deen and that it is an act of worship which he has prescribed upon us.
What rewards are we seeking from Allah (swt)?
1. Forgiveness. When we fast out of eman we’re seeking the reward of forgiveness, we want Allah (swt) to forgive our sins. All of this leads us to the end of the hadith ‘will have his past sins forgiven.’ ((Bukhari and Muslim). So we must fast with certainty that he is going to forgive our sins at the end of this month. A short dua we can implement is:
اللْهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُعَنِّي
O Allah, You are Pardoning and you love pardon, so pardon me (tirmidhi)
2. Purification of the heart. Fast with the intention it will cleanse and purify the heart.
3. Mercy. When we are fasting, we are fasting so Allah (swt) can grant us mercy, we must intend we want his mercy. A dua relating to this is:
رَّبِّ ٱغْفِرْ وَٱرْحَمْ وَأَنتَ خَيْرُ ٱلرَّٰحِمِينَ
My Lord! Forgive and have mercy, for You are the best of those who show mercy (23:118)
4. Fast intending that it prepares us to meet Allah (swt). Prophet ﷺ said ‘There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts, joy when he breaks it, and joy when he meets his Lord’ [Sahih Muslim-213]. There is spiritual enjoyment in fasting. Just like Musa AS, before he spoke to Allah (swt) on Mount Sinai, Allah (swt) commanded him to fast 40 days in preparation for the meeting.
5. Taqwa. "O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may develop God-consciousness." (Quran 2:183) We should say ‘Oh Allah (swt) I am seeking the reward of Taqwa, grant me this taqwa.’ Taqwa means to increase in our obedience to him and decrease in disobedience, sins and evil.
We must renew our intentions for fasting daily throughout this blessed month.
The Prophet ﷺ said: ‘Actions are but by intentions and every person shall have only that which he intended’ [Sahih al-Bukhari – 1]
The more intentions we have when fasting, the greater the reward is.
Prophet ﷺ said, "Allah said, 'All the deeds of Adam's sons (people) are for them, except fasting which is for Me, and I will give the reward for it.'
When we are rewarded for something, we always expect the reward to be in accordance with who the one rewarding us is. When we know our reward lies with Allah swt who is Al-Mannan (The Ever Giving); Al-Wahhab (The Supreme Bestower); and Al-Kareem (The Most Generous), we can only then imagine how great and bountiful His reward must be.
The small number of days for which we fast will inshaAllah be rewarded with an eternal abode in al-Firdaws. May Allah swt allow us to be amongst those who enter Jannah through al-Rayyan (the gate in Jannah exclusively for those who observed the fast). Allahuma Ameen.