Factors and questions involving fasting

Allah willing, in this chapter, we will discussed the rules of the prescribed fast, its consequences, supplementary areas, categories, obligatory and recommended fasts, as we did with zakat and prayer in respect to the elite and common and their ranks in that. In our opinion, it has ranks. The first of them is the common well-known fast by which we worship Allah. It is the outward visible fast when all its conditions are met. After we have finished discussing the rules of the problem we present on that, we will turn to the language of the elite and the core of the elite to discuss the fast of the self by which it commands the limbs. After we have finished discussing the rules of the problem we present on that, we will use the language of the elite and their elite to discuss the fast of the self by what it commands the limbs, which its abstention from what those limbs are forbidden, question by question. There is also the fast the heart which is described as being vast enough for the divine descent since Allah says, "The heart of My slave contains Me." We will speak about its fast. This vastness prevents it from being filled by anything except its Creator. If anyone other than its Creator fills it, then it has broken its fast in the time in which it is obligatory for it to fast by preferring its Lord. This will be done question by question. We will speak about all the things which break the fast in every sort of fast briefly since this is a very vast subject. In this chapter, I will mention such prophetic hadith as apply to it if Allah Almighty wills.


Section: The Classification of the Fast

Types of the Obligatory Fast

Know that the prescribed fast can be obligatory or recommended. There are three obligatory categories. There is what is obligatory since Allah has made it obligatory: that is the fast of the month of Ramadan in which the Qur'an was sent down, i.e. to fast it or a number of other days (2:185) for the traveller when he breaks his fast (or if he does not break it in our opinion while the view of others is that he breaks it) and for the sick person. There is the fast which obligatory because of a cause which makes it obligatory: like the fasting of kaffara. There is the fast which is obligatory by Allah on account of what someone had imposed on himself which is not disliked: that is the fast of the vow. It is extracted from the miserly. There is no other obligatory fast outside of what we have mentioned.

Types of recommended fasting

As for recommended fasting, there is fasting restricted by times in which it is desirable: like fasting the white days [13th, 14th and 15th], Mondays, Thursdays, and the like of that among days and months. There is also fasting which is restricted by state, like fasting every other day, which is the most balanced fast, and fasting in the way of Allah. There is also fasting not limited by time: when a man fasts voluntarily whenever he likes.


Section: the obligatory fast, which is the month of Ramadan

First we will discuss Ramadan. Then we will speak about the rulings concerning its fast. Muslim transmitted a hadith from Abu Hurayra in which the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "When Ramadan comes, the gates of the Garden are opened and the gates of the Fire are locked and the shaytans are chained up" An-Nasa'i added, "And a caller calls out every night, 'O seeker of good, hurry up! Seeker of evil, desist!'" An-Nasa'i transmitted it from 'Arfaja from a Companion of the Prophet from the Prophet.

The arrival of Ramadan and opening of the gates of the Garden

The arrival of Ramadan is the reason for beginning the fast, and so Allah opens the gates of the Garden. The Garden (janna) is the veil. The fast is part of veiled action which only Allah knows because it is non-action. It is not existential action so that it might appear to the eye or be done by the limbs. It is veiled from all except Allah. Only Allah knows it in the faster. The faster is the person so named by the Shari'a, not the hungry person.

The arrival of Ramadan and locking of the gates of the Fire

"Allah locks the gates of the Fire." When the gates of the Fire are locked, it turns back on itself and its heat is multiplied on it and it consumes itself. The faster is like that with his nature. When he fasts, the gates of the fire of his nature are shut. He experiences more heat by the fast since moist things are not being utilised. He feels the pain of that in his belly. His appetite for food is increased because he imagines that he will experience relief through it. Therefore the fire of his appetite is strengthened by locking the door to the reception of food and drink.

The arrival of Ramadan and the chaining of the shaytans

The shaytans are chained. They are the attribute of distance. The faster is near to Allah by the samadiyya attribute (timeless self-reliance). He is involved in an act of worship which has no like, and by that, he is near to the attribute of the One about whom it is said "There is nothing like Him". When you have this attribute, the shaytans are chained for you. It is related in tradition that "Shaytan flows in the son of Adam as blood flows, so blocks his canals by hunger and thirst," i.e. these means are specified for him against shaytan's desire for to be involved in excess. Excess is what is more what is for a legtimate use.

Ramadan is one of the names of Allah

May Allah teach you knowledge directly from Him and give you wisdom and judgement in every matter! Know that Ramadan is one of the names of Allah Almighty. He is as-Samad, the Everlasting Sustainer on which everything relies. The prophetic tradition on that is related by Ahmad ibn 'Adi al-Jurjani from the hadith of Nujayh ibn Abi Ma'shar from Sa'id al-Maqburi from Abu Hurayra. He said that the Messenger of Allah said, "Do not say, 'Ramadan'. Ramadan is one of the names of Allah." Abu Ma'shar is in this isnad, and the scholars of this science say that in spite of his weakness, his hadiths are recorded and so they take note them, may Allah be pleased with them. That is why Allah Almighty says, "Any of you who are resident for the month ..." (2:185) and He did not say 'Ramadan'. The hadith of Abu Ma'shar is strengthened by this, although the scholars say that his hadith is recorded is spite of his weakness. This hadith is strengthened since the Qur'an has supported it.

Allah only prescribed the fast "which has no like" in the month which He named by one of His names. It has "no like" in the months because none of the other names of the months of the year has a name by which Allah is named except for Ramadan. He used a special name particular to it. It is not like that in the ascription of Rajab. The Prophet said that it is the sacred month of Allah. All are the months of Allah. He described it here as 'sacred' (muharram). It is one of the sacred months.

The Qur'an was sent down in Ramadan

Then Allah Almighty sent down the Qur'an in this month in the best night which is called "the Night of Power". He sent it down and it is "guidance for mankind, with Clear Signs containing guidance and discrimination" (2:185) since it is Ramadan. As for it being on Night of Power, He sent it down "as a Clear Book," i.e. "We made it clear that it is a Book." The thing is clearly a Book, a Qur'an, and a Discrimination. These are different ranks which those who know Allah know. The Messenger of Allah forbade that we say 'Ramadan' since He said, "There is nothing like Him." Had that been said, there would have been a like in this name. This is why He connected the expression 'month' to it, so being like other months is negated. "There is nothing like Him" then remains in its proper rank from every aspect.

Allah made fasting Ramadan obligatory

Allah made it obligatory to fast it and recommended that people pray in the night during it. It contains fasting and fast-breaking because it contains night and day. The name 'Ramadan' is applied to it in the state of fasting and not-fasting so that it is distinct from the Ramadan which is the name of Allah Almighty. Allah Almighty has the fast which does not accept fast-breaking. We have the fast which accepts fast-breaking and comes to an end: that is at the end of the day and the approach of night and sunset. Its application to Allah is not like its application to creatures.

The prescencing (tajalli) of Allah in Ramadan is not like His prescencing outside of it

He recommended that people rise to pray in the night for His tajalli on "the Day mankind will stand before the Lord of all the worlds." (83:6) Allah has tajalli in every night of the year. However, His tajalli in Ramadan at the time when the fasters break their fast is not like His tajalli to the one who did not fast. This is because fast-breaking occurs from a prescribed non-action which is described as having no like. The other person is not called a "fast-breaker". He is called an "eater" since fast-breaking (fitr) is breaking (shaqq). This eating of the faster splits his intestines with food and drink after they had been stopped by the fast. He said, "Its canals are stopped up by hunger and thirst." Rising at night to pray is because rising is the result of strength in the locus. The cause of the strength of the locus is nourishment. It is at night because of its relationship with the Unseen. Strength which comes from nourishment is unseen since the resulting strength from nourishment is not perceived by the senses.

Ramadan contains both fasting and breaking it, rising at night and sleep

Since Ramadan contains both fasting and breaking it, rising and lack of it, it is related in tradition, "Do not let any of you say, 'I have got up for all of Ramadan and fasted it.'" The transmitter said, "I do not know if he disliked the attestation (taziya) or said, 'There must be a sleep or a reclining.'" He put the exception in rising at night, not in fasting its day. Abu Dawud transmitted this hadith from Abu Bakra from the Messenger of Allah. Here fast-breaking is retreat and advance and sunset, whether he eats or does not eat.

The definition of the prescribed day for the fast

The fast of the month of Ramadan is obligatory for every healthy Muslim who is adult and sane, and is resident and not on a journey. It is a specific well-known time among the twelve months: the month between Sha'ban and Shawwal. At this time, it is prescribed to fast the days but not the nights. The definition of the day of the fast is from the rising of dawn until sunset. This is the definition of the prescribed day of fasting, not the definition of the ordinary day, which extends from sunrise to sunset.

Since the One who is without like is described as the First and the Last, so the day of the fast which has no like is described by a first and a last. The first is the rising of dawn, and its last is sunset. He did not make its first like its last because in the beginning, you take into account what you did not take into account in its end. What exists in its end is that the faster is described as breaking the fast. At the beginning, he is described by the fast. There is no difference between twilight in sunrise or sunset until the twilight vanishes or from dawn until the sun rises. This is why the Shari'a used expression "dawn" because the judgement of dawn by the existence of the day is the judgement of sunset by the approach and arrival of night. As it is known by the rising of dawn that day is drawing near, even if the sun has not yet risen, so by sunset we know that night is coming even if the twilight has not vanished. See how wise the Shari'a is about the world!

That which joins together the 'First' and the 'Last' in the fast by the existence of the sign of the approach of the time of the fast and the time of breaking it. That is the end of the day as the end of the night comes by dawn. Ramadan is more universal than its fast. We will discuss the continuous fast in its place and whether or not the one who does it is deemed to be a 'faster' or not.

After looking into the definition of the fasting day, whether it is in or out of Ramadan, we should look at the definition of the month. The least amount of that called "month" is 29 days. Its maximum is 30 days. This is the Arabic lunar month which we must know. The ordinary people see it by the sign, but the people who study the sign consider one month to be 29 and another 30. The Shari'a bases our worship in that on the sighting of the new moon. When it is cloudy, the month is the maximum of the two numbers – except for Sha'ban when the new moon of Ramadan obscured by clouds. There is dispute about that. I will make it clear that we extend Sha'ban to the maximum of the two amounts. That is what most people believe. As for making it the lesser of the two amounts - which is 29 - that is the school of the Hanbalis and whoever follows them. Outside of these people, the one who disputes it does not have his dispute taken into consideration by the people of the Sunna. They prescribe that for which Allah has not given His permission. I say that the people who map its course are consulted about the stages of the moon. If it is in a degree of visibility and the sky is cloudy, we act on it, If it is not in a degree of visibility, we complete the number 30.

As for the months which are not reckoned by the moon, they have specified amounts. the least of them is 28 which is called February in Latin. The maximum is 36 days, and it is called Misra in Coptic, and it is the last month of the Coptic year. We have no need of the months of the foreigners in our worship of Allah by the fast.

The wisdom of the amount of the Arab month

As for the end of the thirty in that, it is the number of (lunar) stages and the planets which do not go backwards. One of them is the sun which is like the ruh by which the life of the body appears to the senses. The other is the moon which is like the self because of the existence of increase and decrease and perfect increase and decrease. The stages are the measure of the journey which is normally transversed by what we mentioned. By the month, the simple numbers are manifested as well as the complex ones by the conjunction "and" from 21 to 29, and without the "and" from 11 to 19.

The existence of uniqueness is contained in the simple numbers. It is 3, and 30 in the tens. Then the unique is repeated by the perfection of three which is generated in three places. It is 3 in the simple numbers, 13 in the complex numbers without "and" and 23 with 'and'. All the divisions are contained.

We see that when the ruh exists, there is life, and there is no increase or decrease. The self (nafs) does not have an existent source which rules, like the death of the foetus in the womb or in birth when the ruh  had been breathed into it. That is why the month exists from 29 days.

When you know this, you know the wisdom of the amount of the Arabic month. When we count it without the passage of the new moon, and generally intend a month in a vow of chastity or any vow, we act by the least amount in that and we do not act by the maximum. By the minimum, we obtain the definition of the month and we are through. We consider the maximum amount in the place in which it is prescribed for us to consider. That is when it is cloudy by one school, or when sighting the moon gives that by the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, "Fast by sighting it and break the fast by sighting it."


Section: When it is too cloudy to sight the new moon

Scholars disagree about (what is done) when it is too cloudy to see the new moon. Most of them say that the month is the full 30 days. If it is the moon at the beginning of the month which is clouded over, then the month before it is counted as 30, and the first day of Ramadan is the 31st. If it is the moon at the end of the month which is clouded over, i.e. the month of Ramadan, then people fast 30 days. Some say that if the moon at the beginning of the month is clouded over, the next day is fasted: it is "the Day of Doubt". Some say that one reckons by the course of the moon and the sun. It is the school of Ibn ash-Shikhkhir, and it is my position.

The hadith about sighting the new moon of Ramadan

The interpretation of this: The hadith which is the cause of the disagreement was already mentioned. Muslim transmitted from Ibn 'Umar that the Messenger of Allah mentioned Ramadan and struck his hand, saying, "The month is like that," and he closed his fingers three times. "Fast it by sighting it and break the fast by sighting it. When it is cloudy, then count thirty days." It is also related from a hadith  of Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet said, "We are an unlettered nation. We do not write or calculate. The month is like that," and he closed up his fingers, "and the month is like that, like that, and like that," i.e. making a full thirty. This second hadith  removes the doubt. In the hadith 'count' can be applied to narrowing the beginning of the fast of Ramadan from the Day of Doubt, or it can be applied to reckoning by the principle of the course of the moon. The latter is my view.

The rising of the new moon of gnosis on the horizon of the hearts of the gnostics

Know that voices are only raised when it is sighted. This is why it is called hilal (= new moon, hallala to shout with joy). When the new moon of gnosis has risen on the horizon of the hearts of the gnostics from the Divine Name Ramadan, the fast is obligatory. When the new moon of gnosis has risen on the horizon of the hearts of the gnostics from the divine name, the Splitter (Fatir) of the heavens and the earth, the arwah are obliged to break the fast from the word "heavens" and the bodies are obliged to break it from the word 'earth'. Here it rises, i.e. appears. The moon of gnosis sets following the sun.

When it is cloudy for the gnostic and he does not see because of the veil which has descended from the world of the Interspace – for cloudiness belongs to the interspace between the heaven and the earth – then the gnostic calculates by the moon of gnosis in his heart by his state. That means that he looks into the moon of his intellect by noting its path through the stages of its journey, state after state, station after station. If its station grants unveiling – for the call has come to him from behind a veil as it says, "It is not proper for Allah to address any human being except by inspiration, or from behind a veil" (42:51) although the veil of nature in that moment establishes him in a certain matter of preoccupation about property or family, even if it is in Allah – then he acts according to that and deals with the name of Allah, Ramadan, as befits it. That state demands that of him. If the state does not give it a valid reckoning, then that Divine Name is deferred to its moment.


Section on the interpretation of sighting (ru'ya)

They agree that when the moon is seen after 'Isha' the month starts from the next day. They disagree about when it is seen at other times of the day, i.e. the first time it is seen. Most scholars say that when the moon is seen for the first time during the day, it belongs to the next day as its principle when they are in agreement. Some say that when it is seen before noon, it belongs to the previous night, and when it is seen after noon, it belongs to the coming night. That is my position.

The jurisdiction of the Divine Name in present and future

Its interpretation: The Divine Name rules in any state in which it appears. Its rule in the state is by prescencing (tajalli), and it rules the future by effect until the rule of another name removes the rule of the first name.

Levelness and the stopping-place of equality

As for the one who takes into consideration whether it appears before or after noon, know that levelness (i.e. midday) is called the Stopping-place of Equality in the Path. That is the stopping-place in which the master is not distinguished from the slave nor the slave from the master. If you said that he is the master in that state, you spoke the truth. If you said that he is the slave, you spoke the truth. This is because you have a witness of a state in each statement which testifies to you that you have spoken the truth. Say what you like about it: it is true. It is like the words of Allah to His Prophet, "You did not throw when you threw. Allah threw." (8:17) It is true that he threw and it is true that he did not throw. Allah says, "I am his hand with which he strikes." If you said that the thrower is Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, then you spoke the truth. This is the Stopping-place of Equality.

The stopping-place of Abu Bakr and the 'Uthmani stopping-place

If you are in the stopping place of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq and say, "I do not see anything but that I see Allah before it," then you are one of those who sees it before noon. If you have the 'Uthmani witnessing or that of someone with proof arising from reflection and you say, "I do not see anything but that I see Allah after it," then you is the one who sees it after noon. Its rule in the future and its moment in levelness is the moment in which the proof turns with a relationship to the proof and a relationship to the proven. Noon appears, and it is the return of the shadow from the meridian to inclination of source. It returns to evening, and seeks the night.


Section: Their disagreement about obtaining knowledge by seeing with the eye

Scholars disagree about that. All of them say that whoever sees the new moon of the fast alone must fast except for Ibn Abi Rabah. He says that he only fasts if someone else sees it with him. They disagree about whether he breaks the fasting he sees it alone. Some say that he does not break the fast. Some say that he breaks the fast, and I say that. He also fasts when he sees it alone. However, it is with knowledge in both sightings.

As for obtaining knowledge of sighting by means of information (news), some say that he only fasts and breaks it by the testimony of two just witnesses. Some say that he fasts by one and breaks it by two. Some say that if the sky is cloudy at the time of the new moon, he accepts one witness. If it is clear, he only accepts a large number or two just witnesses. It is the same in the case of the new moon of fast-breaking. Some say two witnesses and some say one.

What the people of Allah think about prescencing (tajalli) in the Divine Names

Its interpretation: This is in regard to what the people of Allah think about tajalli in the Divine Names. Does he stop when he sees it or does he hesitate until he has testimony from the Book or the Sunna? Al-Junayd said, "This knowledge of ours is limited by the Book and the Sunna." He meant that it is the result of acting on them. That is what we mean by the witness. They are the two just witnesses. Allah Almighty says, "But as for those who have clear evidence from their Lord," and he is the one who sees, "followed up by a witness from Him." (11:17) What we mentioned of action in tradition is based on either the Book or the Sunna. It is the single witness.

The two witnesses are the Book and the Sunna. We need to act on them both rather than happening upon the transmission which testifies for the one who has this station because he recognises that by means of the sign of a proof or tradition. We saw this. A group of our companions sought authority for their ecstasies by the Qur'an and what they had memorised of it, and by the Sunna. We saw this in Abu Yazid al-Bistami. When the Sufi is not given that, he is not compelled to accept or reject it, as is the case with the People of the Book when they tell us about something from their Book. We do not say that it is true and we do not say that it is a lie. This is what the Messenger of Allah told us to do. We leave it alone.

That which I know from the words of al-Junayd by my knowledge of the Path is that he meant that one distinguishes between what is given to the one who has retreat, striving, and discipline without the Shari'a – but by means of what the selves demand through the intellect, and what appears to those who act on the prescribed path through retreat and discipline. His journey on the prescribed divine path lets him witness that what is manifested to him comes directly from Allah as a karima (mark of honour, miracle) to him. This is the meaning of the words of al-Junayd, "This knowledge of ours is limited by the Book and the Sunna." One version has, "i.e. it is a result of prescribed divine action." This distinguishes between it and what appears to the masters of intellect, the people of the laws of wisdom. The kingdom is the same but the means varies. The master of tasting differentiates between the two matters.


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