Why Do We Fast?

 

Abu Hurairah relates that the Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Allah, the Lord of Honor and glory says: All other deeds of man are for himself, but his fasting is purely for Me and I shall reward him for it. The fast is a shield. When any of you is fasting he should abstain from loose talk and noisy exchanges. . . [T]he breath of one who is fasting is purer in the sight of Allah than the fragrance of musk. One who fasts experiences two joys: he is joyful when he breaks his fast, and he is joyful by virtue of his fast when he meets his Lord” (Bukhari and Muslim).”

Allah declares that fasting is purely for Him, Subhana wa Ta’ala (Glorified and Exalted). All other deeds that man does, he does for himself. There is a mystery about fasting that sets it apart from other forms of ibadah. Hajj is always public. Salat earns more merit if it is done in public (for men). Zakat can be done relatively privately, yet it involves multiple people including the donor, the recipient, and often intermediaries to ensure it is properly distributed. Yet fasting is inherently private. The only ones who can be certain that you are fasting are you and Allah (SWT).

The fast is a shield. Fasting should prevent us from committing sins. Unfortunately, the way many of us fast, fasting does not perform this function. We think that if we have gone without food and drink, we have succeeded. We need to push beyond this and realize that fasting should raise us higher. I think the problem is that we are satisfied with too little progress. We are so proud of ourselves when we complete a day of fasting or a night of Taraweeh. Why is it in Shawwal, we struggle to do more than 4 rakahs of Isha? Why are the six fasts of Shawwal so much harder to do than the 30 fasts of Ramadan? I think it is because we have lost the appreciation of excellence in religion. We just want to be good enough Muslims. The idea of becoming the best Muslims in the world does not even occur to us.

Still, I do not want to leave on a sour note. We should reflect on how the fasting that Muslims do inspires awe from people of other religions, even religions that themselves teach fasting. The lesson in this is that if we dedicate ourselves to Islam, there is no limit to our spiritual progress.

http://www.islamicfinder.org/articles/article.php?id=400&lang=

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Foundations of Islamic Ethics of Food

1. Allah (SWT)* created the universe for us to use. Whatever is in the world is ready for our use except those things Allah has forbidden. Humanity has found remarkably ingenious ways to use the creation of Allah for our collective benefit. Biologists have engineered microscopic bacteria that make insulin for diabetics. Physicists have used the gravity of planets to move observers to collect data to advance human knowledge.

2. The purpose of eating is to nourish our bodies which require inputs of matter and energy. It is not wrong to take pleasure in food, so long as we do not go to extremes. We need to eat to live. We do not live merely to experience the pleasure of food.

3. We ought to purchase food from money that we have earned honorably. According to the Noble Messenger, Muhammad (S)**, “No one eats better food than what he eats out of the work of his own hand.” (Sahih Bukhari). Allah, in His infinite grace, has provided us an unlimited variety of ways to earn money in a permissible manner. We can practice medicine, work as engineers, advocate for clients in court, teach classes, serve food, or do one of the many jobs that observant Muslims perform all around the world. We must not steal, gamble, distribute intoxicants, or prostitute ourselves. The sins that accrue from these negative choices can undo the rewards we reap from our good deeds. A Muslim who steals incurs the sin of theft but additionally incurs the sin of eating prohibited food because the food he purchased was bought with dirty money.The lists of permissible and prohibited careers is not comprehensive. For example, I did not mention business management, but in general, that career would be considered permissible. On the other side, I did not mention exotic dancing, but that would be considered prohibited.

At your next meal, take a moment to thank Allah for providing you with the means of survival. Also, reflect for a moment on how you paid for the food you are eating. We should strive to be as grateful as possible and as obedient as possible to Our Merciful Lord, Allah.

(SWT)* = “Subhana wa Ta’ala” (Glorified in the Highest)

(S)** = “Salla allahu alaihi wa sallam (May the peace of Allah be upon him)

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New, Faster Way to Get to This Blog

You can now access this blog at http://www.asad123.com. This domain is mine. If you don’t like change, I understand. You can still access it at http://www.asad123.wordpress.com. Please add me to your feed.

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Responsibility

Hakuin was a Zen Buddhist monk. He attained a reputation of being pure and upright. One day, a girl in a village near his monastery became pregnant. Her parents were furious and demanded to know the identity of the father. She said, “Hakuin is the father.” Her parents ran to the monastery and pounded on the door. They told Hakuin that he had better take care of this child about to be born, otherwise he would be in trouble. Hakuin simply replied, “Is that so?” The child was born. Hakuin took custody of the child and arranged for a wet nurse. His reputation was shattered. He dutifully cared for the child for his or her first year of life. Now the girl finally confessed. Hakuin was not the father of her child. The father was a boy who lived in the village. The girl’s parents returned to the monastery. They apologized profusely saying they were very sorry they had accused Hakuin of something he had not done. They took the baby back with them. Hakuin watched as they returned to their home with the child he had cared for since birth and replied “Is that so?”

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Painting Analysis – “Starry Night” Vincent Van Gogh

 

When Van Gogh painted Starry Night, he was  in an Asylum at Saint-Remy in 1889. Some may read mental illness into their interpretations of this painting. I do not think it reflects insanity, rather it reflects religiosity.

During Van Gogh’s younger years (1876-1880) he wanted to dedicate his life to spreading Christianity to the poor. Many believe that this religious endeavor may be reflected in the eleven stars of the painting. In Genesis 37:9 the following statement is made:

“And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.” 

Count the number of stars in the painting and you will see there are exactly eleven.

Interestingly, the painting is based on Van Gogh’s view from his room in the asylum at night, yet he painted it from memory during the day.

If you would like to see the original painting, you can see it at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, where it is part of the permanent collection.

Many people mistakenly refer to the piece as “Starry Starry Night.” Don McLean uses this phrase in his song, “Vincent.” I believe McLean coined this name of the painting.

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Song Analysis “Laughing With” Regina Spektor

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving
Or freezing or so very poor

[I think if you asked aliens, assuming they exist and have intelligence, what kind of people would be strongest in their belief in God, they would probably guess that people who are happy and prosperous would be the strongest in belief in God. Yet, it seems that the opposite is true today, as the wealthiest are often atheist, while the poorest, are steadfast in faith. These meek people have firm faith in God and are quite reluctant to mock God.]

No one laughs at God when the doctor calls after some routine tests
No one’s laughing at God when it’s gotten real late
And their kid’s not back from that party yet

No one laughs at God when their airplane starts to uncontrollably shake
No one’s laughing at God when they see the one they love hand in hand with someone else
And they hope that they’re mistaken
No one laughs at God when the cops knock on their door
And they say “We’ve got some bad news, sir,”
No one’s laughing at God when there’s a famine, fire, or flood

[Could you imagine telling a joke about God to a mother who has just heard her daughter as died? It would be rude and totally inappropriate. But then why would we ever tell a joke about God? Somewhere, someone is dying. Someone has just found out he or she has cancer. Somewhere, someone is praying that his family will have enough to eat tonight. Yet, in this world, many people are mocking God.]

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or…
Or when the crazies say he hates us
And they get so red in the head
You think that they’re about to choke

God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

[See “Does Joel Osteen like being rich?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZCVTcnoyzk. Spektor mocks the idea of a wish-granting God. If our prayers are nothing more than wishes to fulfill our material wants, then our faith is very shallow. We ought to pray for virtue and for the serenity to accept God’s will.]
God can be so hilarious
Ha ha
Ha ha

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war
No one’s laughing at God when they’ve lost all they got
And they don’t know what for

No one laughs at God on the day they realize
That the last sight they’ll ever see is a pair of hateful eyes
No one’s laughing at God when they’re saying their goodbyes

But God can be funny
At a cocktail party while listening to a good God-themed joke or…
Or when the crazies say he hates us
And they get so red in the head
You think that they’re about to choke

God can be funny
When told he’ll give you money if you just pray the right way
And when presented like a genie
Who does magic like Houdini
Or grants wishes like Jiminy Cricket and Santa Claus

God can be so hilarious

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war

No one laughs at God in a hospital
No one laughs at God in a war

No one’s laughing at God in a hospital
No one’s laughing at God in a war

No one’s laughing at God when they’re starving
Or freezing or so very poor

No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
No one’s laughing at God
We’re all laughing with God

[Note how one little word makes such a big difference. Spektor says no one’s laughing at God, but in fact, all of us, are laughing WITH God. In truth, we can only laugh because God gives us minds that process humor. And no one gets our jokes better than God does, as He knows all.

I want to leave with a Hadith I’ve cited before, see, https://asad123.wordpress.com/?p=1196&preview=true, According to hadith, the Prophet (S) asked Jibreel, “What is Mika’il in charge of?” He replied, “The plants and the rain.” (At-Tabarani) In another hadith, the Prophet (S) asked Jibreel, “Why do I never see Mika’il laugh?” He replied, “Mika’il has not laughed since the Fire was created.” (Ahmad)]

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The Whistle Trend

Not to toot my own horn, but I consider myself a keen observer of pop music. A trend I have noticed in the past few months is that several newly released pop songs incorporate whistles in their music. If it were just two songs I would be more dismissive of it, but I can think of four songs that have whistling and I haven’t even been looking hard for such songs.

When I say, “whistling,” I don’t mean blowing a whistle. I mean, something that sounds like a human being using his or her mouth to whistle a series of notes in a melody. It may or may not be digitally generated.

The four songs are “I Wanna Go” (Britney Spears, released Feb. 2011), “Good Life” (OneRepublic, May 2011), “The Lazy Song” (Bruno Mars, Feb. 2011), and “Moves Like Jagger” (Maroon 5, June 2011). They are all accessible through playlist.com, a free site.

I enjoy these songs and the whistling in them, except for the Britney song which I find to be a hot mess. I wonder what the whistling means. I associate whistling with feeling relaxed and carefree. It can also be sexual, signaling arousal. I hope it doesn’t become overused and trite.

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