On the Virtues of Fasting
Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him), said: “Allah said, ‘All the deeds of the son of Adam are for him: the good deeds will be multiplied ten times to seven hundred time, except fasting, which is for Me and I will reward for it accordingly. He abandons his (sexual) desire, food and drink for Me.’ Verily, there are two joyous and pleasurable moments for the fasting person: one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other is when he will meet his Lord (in the Hereafter). Verily, the unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth of the fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk.” [Bukhari & Muslim]
1. Multiplying the rewards for fasting is different than the rest of the acts of worship and good deeds. As for fasting, there is no limit for such multiplication, while in the case of other deeds, each good credit is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times only.
2. Sincerity while fasting counts more than sincerity while performing other deeds, for Allah said in the Hadith, “He abandons his (sexual) desire, food and drink for Me.”
3. Allah has chosen fasting to be the acts of worship that He Himself will reward for it, for He said, “Fasting is for Me, and I will reward for it accordingly.” As for “fasting is for Me,” the scholars have differed on its meaning. Some said it means that fasting is an act that is performed purely for Allah that no one else can witness, since it is not an action by the limbs, but rather an abstinence from some acts (eating, drinking and sexual intercourse). This is evident from Allah’s statement, “He abandons his (sexual) desire, food and drink for Me.” As for the other acts of worship, they are all actions that can be witnessed by others, and are thus performed either out of sincerity or out of showing off.
Other scholars said that this means that on the Day of Judgment, opponents will not take from the rewards the person acquires through fasting. It is stated in the Sunnah that if a person commits an act of injustice against another, then the victim can be granted some of the credits of the aggressor. Therefore, the scholars state that in such cases, the victim will only be given from the credits of the aggressor that were not acquired through fasting. As for the credits earned through fasting, Allah will preserve them for the person and no one will take them away from him.
Also, other scholars have stated that this means that fasting is an act of worship that is only performed to draw closer to Allah, and no one but Him. This is because the disbelievers of old used to draw closer to their idols through prayer, supplication, etc., but not fasting; fasting was not a form of worship that they knew or performed.
4. Fasting brings about two great occasions of joy and happiness for the fasting person: one in this life, and that is when he breaks his fast with what Allah has allowed for him of foods and drinks. As for the other, it is in the Hereafter, and that is when he receives the rewards for his fast. This is permissible happiness and joy, just as Allah said, what translated means: “Say: ‘In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Qur’an); therein let them rejoice.’” [10:58].
5. The odor emanating from the mouth of the fasting person, which is sometimes foul, is more beloved to Allah than the scent of musk. This is because such bad odor is the result of a deed that Allah loves, and He, therefore, loves the resulting odor as well. This is clear from the portion of the Hadith that reads, “The unpleasant odor emanating from the mouth of a fasting person is better in the sight of Allah than the scent of musk.”
6. Among the virtues of fasting is that Allah has designated one of the gates of Paradise solely for those who frequently fast. The Prophet, on whom be peace, said:
“There is a gate in Paradise called Ar-Rayyan, and those who frequently fast will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection, and none except them shall enter through it. It will be said, ‘Where are those who used to fast?’ They will stand up, and none except them will enter through it. Upon entry, that gate will be closed and no one else will enter through it.” (Al-Bukhari)
7. Fasting is a shield and protection from harmful desires and from the heat of Hell, as an authentic Hadith affirms.
8. The supplication of the fasting person is accepted. The Messenger of Allah, on whom be peace, said: “The fasting person has at the time of breaking his fast a Du’a that is not rejected.” [Ibn Majah & Al-’Hakim]
Also, Allah Almighty said while referring to fasting: “And when My slaves ask you (O Mohammad) concerning Me, then answer them, I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge). I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor).” [2:186]
9. Another benefit of fasting is that it renders many worldly acts of the fasting person as acts of worship. On that, the Prophet, on whom be peace, said: “The silence of the fasting person is Tasbi’h (remembering Allah in Dhikr), his sleep is worship, his supplication is accepted, and his rewards are multiplied.” (Al-Bayhaqi & At-Tayalisi)
10. Fasting is one half of patience, and this, in itself, is a great attribute. The Prophet, on whom be peace, said: “Fasting is one half of patience.” (At-Tirmidi & Ibn Majah)
11. Finally, fasting has numerous health benefits, just as the Prophet, on whom be peace, stated: “Fast and you shall attain good health.” (Ibn As-Sunni & Abu Na’eem)
This is because fasting protects the internal and external body parts and aids the person in avoiding harmful foods. Fasting has numerous other virtues and benefits, but we only mention a few to drive home the point to the reader.