3d-landscape_f7364d61What is the point of fasting beyond Ramadhan? Of course we have to make up the days missed and perhaps we hear the Friday Khutbah that reminds us to fast the days of Ashura or Arafat so we participate in that, but why go further than this?

Voluntary fasting has so many benefits that many are unaware of. Fasting had benefits in all aspects of our lives, physical, spiritual and emotional. Lets now take a look at the virtues of fasting voluntarily.

Importance of Fasting in Islam

"O you who believe! Observing As-Sawm is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious)." [Noble Quran 2:183]

"For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise - for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward." [Noble Quran 33:35]

Great Rewards for Fasting

Fasting has a unique attribute that no other form of worship has, it is done entirely for Allah.

Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "Every (good) deed of the son of Adam would be multiplied, a good deed receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, has said: With the exception of fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it, for one abandons his passion and food for My sake. There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts, joy when he breaks it, and joy when he meets his Lord, and the breath (of an observer of fast) is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk." [Muslim]

Benefits of regularity in fasting

There is also greater benefit in making voluntary fast a regular habit as narrated by A'ishah: 'The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) did not observe fast in any month of the year more than in the month of Sha'ban, and used to say: "Do as many deeds as you are capable of doing, for Allah will not become weary (of giving you reward), but you would be tired (of doing good deeds)"; and he (peace be upon him) also said: "The deed liked most by Allah is one to which the doer adheres constantly even if it is small." [Muslim and Bukhari]

Fasting as a protection from the Hellfire

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Allah says, "Fasting is a shield with which one may protect oneself from the Fire."' [Sahih al-Jami, 4/114]

He (peace be upon him) also said: "Every servant of Allah who observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allah would remove, because of this day, his face farther from the Fire (of Hell) to the extent of seventy years' distance." [Muslim]

Fasting As An Intercessor

The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: "The fast and the Quran are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: 'O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.' The Quran will say: 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.' And their intercession will be accepted." [Ahmad]

A Special Gate in Paradise For the One Who Fasts

Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "In Paradise there is a gate which is called Rayyan through which only the observers of fast would enter on the Day on Resurrection. None else would enter along with them. It would be proclaimed: "Where are the observers of fast that they should be admitted into it?" and when the last of them would enter, it would be closed and no one would enter it." [Muslim]

Fasting as a Means of Entering Paradise

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also emphasized the importance that fasting has on entering Paradise. Abu Umamah reported: "I came to the Messenger of Allah and said: 'Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.' He said: 'Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.' Then I came to him again and he said: 'Stick to fasting."' [Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, and al-Hakim]

Special Dwellings in Paradise

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "In Paradise there are dwellings whose inside can be seen from the outside, and the outside can be seen from inside. Allah has prepared them for those who feed the hungry, and speak softly and gently, fast continuously and pray at night whilst the people are asleep." [Sahih al-Jami']

Expiation of Sins

Messenger of Allah said: "Fasting on the day of 'Arafah is expiation for two years, the year preceding it and the year following it. Fasting the day of Ashura is expiation for the year preceding it." [Related by "the group," except for al-Bukhari and at-Tirmidhi]

Fasting As a Means of Controlling Desires

Narrated 'Alqamah: While I was walking with 'Abdullah he said: "We were in the company of the Prophet and he said: "He who can afford to marry should marry, because it will help him refrain from looking at other women, and save his private parts from looking at other women, and save his private parts from committing illegal sexual relation; and he who cannot afford to marry is advised to fast, as fasting will diminish his sexual power." [Bukhari]

Fasting As a Means to Control Our Actions & Speech

The true believer who fasts according to what Allah has commanded will be compelled to avoid evil speech and actions, encouraging the believer to be consciously aware of what they are doing and saying at all times during the fast.

It is reported by Abu Hurairah: the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)" [Bukhari]

And in another Hadith also reported by Abu Hurairah: Allah's Apostle said:

"Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, 'I am fasting." The Prophet added, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, the smell coming out from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the smell of musk. (Allah says about the fasting person), 'He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it and the reward of good deeds is multiplied ten times." [Bukhari]

Du'a of a Fasting Person Are Not Rejected

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "There are three prayers that are not rejected: the prayer of a father for his child, the prayer of the fasting person and the prayer of the traveler." [Muslim and Bukhari]

The Way in Which the Prophet (peace be upon him) Prescribed Voluntary Fasts

1. Three days every month: Abu Zharr al-Ghifari reported:

"The Messenger of Allah ordered us to fast for three days of every month--that is, on the days of the full moon (the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the lunar month). And he said: 'It is like fasting the whole year.'" [an-Nasa'i and Ibn Hibban]

2. Mondays and Thursdays: Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said:

"The actions are presented on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim or every believer, except for those who are boycotting each other. He says [about them]: 'Leave them.'" [Ahmad]

3. The Maximum Fast of Every Second Day:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin 'Amr bin Al-'As: The Prophet said to me:

"You fast daily all the year and pray every night all the night?" I replied in the affirmative. The Prophet said, "If you keep on doing this, your eyes will become weak and your body will get tired. He who fasts all the year is as he who did not fast at all. The fasting of three days (a month) will be equal to the tasting of the whole year." I replied, "I have the power for more than this." The Prophet said, "Then fast like the fasting of David who used to fast on alternate days and would never flee from the battle field, on meeting the enemy." [Bukhari]

Special Times for Fasting

1. The month of al-Muharram: Abu Hurairah reported that he (the Messenger of Allah) was asked as to which prayer was most excellent after the prescribed prayer, and which fast was most excellent after the month of Ramadan. He said:

"Prayer offered in the middle of the night and the most excellent fast after (fasting) in the month of Ramadan is the fast in Allah's month al-Muharram." [Muslim]

2. The day of Ashura: Ibn 'Abbas reported:

"The Prophet came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of 'Ashura. He said to them: 'What is this fast?' They said: 'A great day. Allah saved Moses and the tribes of Israel from their enemies on this day and therefore, Moses fasted on this day.' The Prophet said: 'We have more of a right to Moses than you,' so he fasted on that day also and ordered the people to fast on that day." [Bukhari and Muslim]

3. Six days of Shawwal: Abu Ayyub al-An sari reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

"Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan and then follows it with six days of Shawwal will be [rewarded] as if he had fasted the entire year." [Related by "the group," except for al-Bukhari and an Nasa'i]

4. Other specific days: There is also evidence as Hafsah reported:

"There are five things that the Prophet never abandoned: fasting the day of Ashura, fasting the [first] ten [days of Dhul-Hijjah], fasting three days of every month and praying two Rak'ah before the dawn prayer." [Ahmad and an-Nasa'i]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) would fast the first ten days of the month of Dhul-Hijjah. (The day of Arafat is the 9th day of Dhul-Hijjah)

Oh Allah, grant us all the strength of faith and righteousness to perform as many voluntary deeds as we can for Your sake, Aameen.