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Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting. Hadiths 1-2

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وعن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه، قال: قال رسول الله ﷺ: “قال الله عز وجل: كل عمل ابن آدم له إلا الصيام، فإنهُ لي وأنا أجزي به والصيام جُنَّةٌ()؛ فإذا كان يومُ صوم أحدكم فلا يرفث() ولا يصخب، فإن سابَّهُ أحدٌ أو قاتله، فليقل: إني صائمٌ. والذي نفس محمد بيده لخلوف() فم الصائم أطيبُ عند الله من ريح المسك. للصائم فرحتان يفرحهما: إذا أفطر فرح بفطره، وإذا لقيَ ربهُ فرح بصومه” متفقٌ عليه().

Abū-Hurayra (May Allāh be pleased with him) reported the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,

“Allāh the Exalted and Majestic said: ‘Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting which is (exclusively) for Me, and I reward for it.’ Fasting is a shield. If any one of you happens to fast, then he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, then let him say: ‘I am fasting.’ By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muḥammad is, the breath of one fasting is finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts experiences two joys: he feels pleasure when breaking his fast and when he meets his Lord, his Lord will be please with him because of his fast.” [Al-Bukhārī and Muslim]

This hadith covers 3 themes: the special position of fasting in acts of worship, what demeanor one should adopt in their dealings with others while fasting, and the special virtues of fasting. The commentator will dissect the hadith to develop on the meanings contained in the hadith.

“Abū-Hurayra (May Allāh be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said, Allāh the Exalted and Majestic said: ‘Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting which is (exclusively) for Me”

This ḥadīth is part of the aḥādīth qudsiyya i.e where the Nabī ﷺ relates from Allāh.  Al-Khaṭṭābī explains:

It means that for every action of the son of Adam, he has a share in it and interferes with it. That is because others become aware of it, and that becomes an incentive to seek a premature reward from people through their eulogy and recognition-among other things.

As for fasting, no one is made aware of it with certainty except Allāh and the ego has no share in it. In fact, the ego is broken by it. The body is likewise subject to loss as it is compelled to patiently bear a burning thirst and the agony of hunger.

Al-Khaṭṭābī also explains: this means that fasting is a pure act of worship which cannot be taken over by show and display, because it is an act of virtue which no one but Allāh is cognizant of. This is in line with what has been narrated in ḥadīth, ‘The intention of the believer is more valuable than his action’. Because intention resides in the heart and as such no one other than Allāh is cognizant of it, i.e an intention devoid of action is more valuable than an action devoid of an intention. This is similar to the meaning in the verse

﴾ لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ ﴿

“The Night of Qadr is much better than one thousand months” i.e it is better than a thousand months which are devoid of laylatul-qadr.

Another meaning put forward is: refraining from food and drink is among the attributes of Allāh Taʿālā, He feeds but is not fed. It is as though He is saying: the person fasting is seeking my proximity through an action linked to one of my attributes-needlessness. There is no equivalent to Allāh’s attributes, rather it is a mere comparison.

It is also said that this is meant to convey honor for a thing, just as one would say: the Prophet of Allāh, the house of Allāh or the Camel of Allāh. Fasting is for Allāh. A thing is honored because we know it belongs to Allāh, the lord of All majesty and Honor.

Other explanations are also given, which will be presented further.

“and I reward for it”

This means that the reward for it will be multiplied to an unspecified and countless number. That is because when the generous one (Al-Karīm) undertakes to distribute something, it undoubtedly entails abundance.

“Fasting is a shield”

It is an armor. It acts as a protection from the fire of hell or from disobedience, just as an armor protects from arrows. That is because it breaks base desires and weakens one’s strength towards sin.

Translator’s note: One may say that it also weakens one’s strength towards good. Though that would be inaccurate due to the fact that every second that passes by while a muslim is fasting, they are rewarded for their obedience and were they to die while fasting, they would die in a state of obedience and were they to die in a state of obedience, then it is a sign of Allāhs pleasure and mercy, for which there is only Janna and great reward.

[Imām] Aḥmad adds in his narration: ‘And an efficient protection from the fire’. Al-Nasāʾī also adds: ‘As one of you would protect himself in fighting’. Aḥmad adds in yet another narration: ‘As long as one does not break it’.

[Qāḍī Abū-Bakr] Ibn Al-ʿArabī explains: it is a shield from the fire because it is a restraint from base desires, which the fire of hell is surrounded by.

“If any of you happens to fast, then he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice; and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, then let him say: ‘I am fasting.’ ”

One should neither speak indecently nor should they speak overly loud.

As for when one someone disputes or argues with him, ‘let him say’ means that one should think in their heart ‘I am fasting’ so they may abstain from engaging in such a dispute. It is also said that one should in fact speak the words ‘I am fasting’ so the person in question may retract. This last mention is however only when the person speaking those words feels safe from pretension [riyāʾ] or the like thereof. It is also said that one should in fact do both, so his speech may cause the other person to refrain from argument and so his heart may cause himself to do the same. It is important to note that this guidance is not specific to a fasting person, but it is nevertheless reinforced for them.

“By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muḥammad is, the breath of one fasting is purer/finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk”

The hand of Allāh here means His power. The Nabī ﷺ swore to emphasize his statement, and the ʿulamāʾ consider this evidence for the desirability of swearing to draw the attention of the listener to a matter of importance.

The breath means the undesirable odor caused by fasting. This is understood from the ḥadīth ‘My Umma has been given five things in Ramaḍān….and the second thing is that their breath in the afternoon is finer than the smell of musk’. This same ḥadīth is also used as evidence that it is the breath in this world which is meant, as explained by Ibn-Ṣalāḥ and the majority of the ʿulamāʾ.

The mention of musk is the subject of different interpretations from the ʿulamāʾ:

  • Al-Māzirī explains: it is a metaphor to signify how close fasting brings one to Allāh-Taʿālā, as it is common for us to have pleasant smells close to us. Fasting is therefore likened to musk for the same reason, due to how it brings one to Allāh’s proximity. In other words it is purer in the eyes of Allāh than musk is to your eyes, it brings one closer to Allāh than you would bring musk close to you. Ibn ʿAbdul-Barr has preferred this interpretation.
  • It is also said: it means that what you think of the smell and what it is like of musk to Allāh is in opposition with your view as human beings. This interpretation is very similar to the previous one.
    It is also said: the meaning is that Allāh will reward the one fasting in the hereafter and the smell of their breath will be finer than that of musk, as will be mentioned further ‘And the smell of his wound will diffuse musk’.
  • It is also said: the meaning is that the person will attain a reward which is superior to the smell of musk, especially in comparison to the smell of one’s breath. Both of these last two interpretations were related by Al-Qāḍī ʿIyāḍ.
  • Al-Dāwūdī and a group of ʿulamāʾ have said the following: it means that the smell of the breadth has more reward than musk which is considered praiseworthy in jumuʿa and in gatherings of the remembrance of Allāh. Imām Al-Nawawī favored this interpretation.

The gist of the matter is that the meaning of perfume is to be taken as a metaphor signifying acceptance and contentment from Allāh, since the feeling of scent is inconceivable in association with the being of Allāh.

Al-Qāḍī Ḥusayn has narrated that acts of obedience will diffuse a smell on the Day of Judgment, and the smell of fasting among those acts will be that of musk.

“The one who fasts experiences two joys: he feels pleasure by breaking his fast and when he meets his Lord he is joyful on account of his fast”

The first pleasure is on account of completing his fast without blemishing it. It may also refer to the pleasure experienced on account of partaking food at ifṭār.

The second pleasure is on account of meeting his Lord or on account of seeing his reward for fasting. In both cases, his pleasure is on account of the acceptance of his fasting.

This ḥadīth was narrated by both Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, in the chapter of fasting. It was also narrated by Al-Nasāʾī in his Sunan, with the same chapter heading.

وهذا لفظ رواية البخاري. وفي رواية له: “يتركُ طعامهُ، وشرابهُ، وشهوتهُ، من أجلي، الصيامُ لي وأنا أجزي به، والحسنةُ بعشر أمثالها.

وفي روايةٍ لمسلم: “كل عمل ابن آدم يُضاعفُ: الحسنة بعشر أمثالها إلى سبعمائة ضعف. قال الله تعالى: “إلا الصوم فإنه لي وأنا أجزي به: يَدَعُ شهوتهُ وطعامهُ من أجلي. للصائم فرحتان: فرحةٌ عند فطره، وفرحةٌ عند لقاء ربه. ولخلوفُ فيه أطيبُ عند الله من ريح المسك”.

Imam Nawawi included these additional narrations because of the merit contained in their different wording. Although there is some overlap with the previous narration, there is a valuable addition regarding the quantification of reward for fasting.

In another narration by Al-Bukhārī, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,

“Allāh says: ‘(The person fasting) has abstained from food and drink, and lust for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward. Every good deed has ten times its reward’ ”.

In a narration by Muslim, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,

“Every good deed of the son of Ādam is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. Allāh (SWT) says: ‘Except for fasting, as it certainly is for Me and I alone will give its reward. The person fasting abstains from his lust and from food for My sake.’ The fasting person has two joys, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of meeting his Lord. Surely, the breath of the person fasting is finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk’ ”.

“In another narration by Al-Bukhārī, the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ said,”

This narration originates from Abū-Hurayra, and it is also a ḥadīth qudsī.

“Allāh says: ‘(The person fasting) has abstained from food and drink, and lust for My sake; fasting is for Me, and I will bestow its reward.”

By lust what is meant is intercourse and anything before it that breaks the fast.

“Every good deed has ten times its reward”

This is the lowest level of multiplication of reward.

“In a narration by Muslim, the Messenger of Allāh ؐ said”

This narration is narrated by Abū-Hurayra, but unlike the previous ḥadīth its wording is marfuʿ to the Nabī ﷺ as opposed to being a ḥadīth qudsī.

“Every good deed of the son of Ādam is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. ”

The outward meaning of the ḥadīth is that the action itself is multiplied [i.e the action will be recorded as having been performed several times] and it is also said that it is the reward for the action which is multiplied.

Allāh-Taʿālā says, ﴾ مَثَلُ الَّذِينَ يُنْفِقُونَ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ كَمَثَلِ حَبَّةٍ أَنْبَتَتْ سَبْعَ سَنَابِلَ فِي كُلِّ سُنْبُلَةٍ مِائَةُ حَبَّةٍ ﴿ “The example of those who spend in the way of Allāh is just like a grain that produced seven ears, each ear having a hundred grains, and Allāh multiplies (the reward) for whom He wills. Allāh is All-Embracing, All-Knowing” (Al-Baqarah, v. 261).

“‘Allāh (SWT) says: Except for fasting, as it certainly is for Me and I alone will give its reward.”

Fasting is not described as having a reward which is multiplied by a specific number. It is similar in that regard to patience, about which Allāh-Taʿālā says ﴾ إِنَّمَا يُوَفَّى الصَّابِرُونَ أَجْرَهُمْ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ ﴿ “Certainly those who observe patience will be given their reward in full without measure” (Al-Zumar, v. 10).

“The person fasting abstains from his lust and from food for My sake.”

Lust means anything that the ego leans towards. Food here means anything nutritious, so drinking is included.

For My sake means because of Me.

”The fasting person has two joyous occasions, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of meeting his Lord. Surely, the breath of the person fasting is purer/finer to Allāh than the fragrance of musk’ ”

The first joy is due to having completed his act of worship. The second joy is on account of meeting his Lord and seeing the abundance of his reward.

Surely is used here for emphasis because of how far-fetched it is for the smell of the breath to be pleasant, given how repulsive people consider it to be. The change in breath resulting from fasting, which occurs in the afternoon, is what is meant here. This is because the change in breath which occurs in the first part of the day is lessened by what one may have eaten at suḥūr [the meal prior to dawn].

The rest of this portion of the ḥadīth has already been explained earlier.

Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting With A Short Biography of Imam Al-Nawawi

The post Ibn-ʿAllan’s Commentary Dalilul-Falihin: The Book of Fasting. Hadiths 1-2 appeared first on MuslimMatters.org.

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