Day 10: O You who Believe! Observing As-Saum (the Fasting) is Prescribed for You

Day 10 – Bite Size Ramadan – 1437 A.H. – Miraath Publications

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يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ

Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you By The Imam Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Ansaari al-Qurtubi[1]

Translated by Abbas Abu Yahya

Regard the saying of Allaah Ta’ala:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

<< O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn pious>> [Baqarah: 183]

This Ayaah contains six points:

First: regarding the saying of Allaah Ta’ala:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ

<< O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you>>

Allaah mentioned what had been prescribed for those upon whom the Sharia’ is obligatory, as is mentioned in stories by way of advice, then Allaah also mentioned that He prescribed Fasting for them, made it binding upon them and made that an obligation upon them, – and there is no difference of opinion in this. The Messenger sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam said:

“بني الإسلام على خمس شهادة أن لا إله إلا اللّه وأن محمدا رسول اللّه وإقام الصلاة وإيتاء الزكاة والحج وصوم رمضان “

‘Islaam was built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, performing the prayers, paying the Zakat, performing pilgrimage to the House and fasting in Ramadan.’[2] Narrated by Ibn Umar.

The meaning of Saum (Fasting) linguistically is abstaining and restraining etc, abstaining from and changing from one condition to another.

It is said to a person that abstaining is like Saum, because it is abstaining from speaking, Allaah Ta’ala said speaking about Maryam:

{إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْماً}

<<Verily! I have vowed a fast unto The Most Beneficent (Allaah)>> [Maryam: 26] meaning, ‘remaining silent’.

Fasting – Saum – as defined in the religion is: abstaining from those matters which break a Fast along with having the intention to Fast from the start of the Fajr (Dawn) until sunset, perfecting it and completing it by keeping away from, and not falling into, prohibited matters.

This is due to the saying of the Messenger sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam:

” من لم يدع قول الزور والعمل به فليس لله حاجة في أن يدع طعامه وشرابه”

‘Whoever does not leave off false statements or acting upon them, then Allaah has no need that a person leaves off his food and his drink.’

Second: the Excellence of Fasting is great, and its reward is magnificent, as has been mentioned by the Imams in many Saheeh and Hasan reports in their collections, some of them will be mentioned later. However, it suffices for now to mention that there is an excellence for fasting that Allaah has specifically ascribed for Himself. It is established in the Hadeeth from the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam that he said, relating from his Lord:

“يقول اللّه تبارك وتعالى كل عمل ابن آدم له إلا الصوم فإنه لي وأنا أجزي به”

‘Allaah Tabaraka wa Ta’ala says ‘Every action of the son of Adam is for himself, except Fasting, which is only for Me and I will reward him for it, specifically.’

Indeed, Allaah specified that Fasting is solely for Him, even though all worship is for Him Alone, due to two matters which distinguish Fasting from all other forms of worship.

Firstly: that Fasting prevents a person from the pleasures and desires of the soul, which cannot be prevented by any other types of worship.

Second: that Fasting is a secret between a slave of Allaah and his Lord, it is not apparent to anyone except Allaah. This is why it becomes specifically for Allaah. As for other types of worship which are apparent, then perhaps a person does an act of worship out of pretense or to show off, which is why fasting has been specified over other types of worship. Other points regarding this have also been mentioned.

Thirdly: Regarding the saying of Allaah Ta’ala: << as it was written >> [This is a Linguistic Issue of Arabic Grammar].

Fourthly: ash-Shaibi, Qatada and others said: ‘the comparison of fasting to that of those for whom it was prescribed before, refers to the period and the quantity of Fasting.

Indeed Allaah Ta’ala prescribed fasting in Ramadan for the people of Musa and Isa, however, they changed the order. Their bishops and Rabbis increased Fasting for the people by ten days, then when some of the bishops and rabbis became ill, they vowed that if Allaah cured them they would increase their fasting by another ten days and so they did that. Hence, the fast of the Christians became fifty days, but it became difficult for them to fast during hot weather so they moved it to Spring. This opinion was chosen by Nuhaas and he said; ‘and this is very similar to what is in the Ayaah.’

The hadeeth, which indicates that this is correct, is the hadeeth which has another narration from Dagfal bin Hanthala from the Prophet sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam who said:

‘It was prescribed for the Christians to fast a month. Then a man from them became ill and they said, ‘If Allaah cures him, then we will definitely increase it by ten days. Then there was another man who ate some meat and it caused pain to his mouth, so they said, ‘If Allaah cures him; we will definitely increase it by seven days.’ Then there was another king and they said, ‘We hope for these seven days and we will make our fast in the season of spring. He said ‘Then it became fifty.’[3]

Mujahid said:

‘Allaah -Azza wa Jal- prescribed the fast of the month of Ramadan for every nation.’

It has been said: ‘They took a trust and fasted a day before the thirty days and a day after, century after century, until they reached almost fifty days of fasting. Then it became difficult for them in hot weather, so they changed it according to the solar calendar.

I say: this is why – and Allaah knows best – it is disliked now to fast doubtful days, [meaning: a day before Ramadan starts etc.] and also to link up those fasts with the day of Eid, or the six days of Shawwal.

It has also been said: the resemblance of the fast to that of the previous nations refers to the original matter of it being obligatory, as has proceeded, and not to the duration or description of the fast.

It has been said: the similarity refers to the manner of the fast they used to observe such that they were prevented from eating, drinking and intimacy. So if someone was asleep when the time of breaking the fast came in then they would not be allowed to do any of these things. This was the manner of the fast, firstly, amongst the Christians and also at the beginning of Islaam. Then Allaah abrogated it with His saying:

{أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَى نِسَائِكُمْ}

<< It is made lawful for you to have relations with your wives on the night of As-Saum (the fasts). >> [Baqarah: 187].

Mu’adh bin Jabal and Atta said: ‘The similarity with the Fast is not in its description nor in its amount, as both fasts are different due to the amount and the deficiency of the other form of fasting.’

The meaning of {كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ} << Observing As-Saum (fasting) is prescribed for you>> meaning that, at the beginning of Islaam fasting three days every month and the Day of Ashoora, were prescribed : << as it was prescribed for those before you >> i.e. the Jews who – according to Ibn Abbas – fasted three days every month and the Day of Ashoora. Then this form of fasting was abrogated for this Ummah by the order to fast the month of Ramadan.

Mu’adh bin Jabal said: ‘What was abrogated was regarding <<[Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days >> those days were abrogated by the order to fast Ramadan.’

Fifth: Regarding Allaah’s saying {لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ}<< that you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious >>.

<< Al-Muttaqûn (the pious >> Its meaning here is ‘to become weak’, since every time food is reduced, desire becomes weaker, and every time desire becomes weaker, sinning is reduced and this is a good conceptual way of viewing it.

It has been said: the meaning is general, because fasting as the Messenger -alayhi as-Salaam- said: ‘Fasting is a shield and a protection.’ And it is a means for Taqwa (piety), because fasting kills off desires.’

[Summarised Jamia al-Ahkaam al-Qur’aan vol.2 p.272-275]

[1] Name:Abu Abdullaah Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Ansaari al-Qurtubi (D.671 A.H.).

[2] Collected by Bukhari and Muslim

[3]T.N. – Narrated in Mu’ajam al-Kabeer by Tabaraani 4/226/4203 – The authenticity of this narration is unknown, Abu Isa Tirmidhi said: ‘Regarding Dagfal, we do not know of him hearing from the Prophet -sallAllaahu alayhi wa Sallam.’ [Mukhtasir Shamail 1/193] And Allaah knows best.

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