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In the Name of Allaah, All Compassionate, All Merciful
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The ruling and wisdom behind fasting
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Question: What is the ruling of and the wisdom behind fasting?

Response: With Allaah lies all success. As for its wisdom, Allaah(subhaanahu wa-ta'aala) mentioned a very incorporating meaning in that regard: {O you who believe fasting has been prescribed for upon you as it was prescribed upon those that came before you that you may attain taqwaa (piety)} [Soorah al-Baqarah, Aayah 183]. It incorporates everything the people have mentioned with regard to its wisdom.
. Taqwaa is a comprehensive word for everything that Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta'aala) loves and is pleased with from actions which are desirable and from abandoning prohibitions. So fasting is the greatest way to reach this goal which is the goal of the pleasure of the servant in his worldly life and his Hereafter;
. The fasting person seeks closeness to Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta'aala) by avoiding all desires, giving love of Allaah precedence over the love of his self. For this reason, Allaah specified it out of the other actions by attributing it to Himself, as in the authentic hadeeth;
. It is from the principles of taqwaa, as Islaam is not complete without it;
. It causes an increase in faith, and attainment of patience and in it is training one's self upon hardships that bring one close to the Lord of the Heavens;
. It is a cause of increase of one's good deeds, prayer, reciting (the Qur.aan), remembrance (dhikr) and charity that actualizes at-taqwaa;
. In it is prevention of the self from Haraam (prohibited) things, of prohibited action and speech which is the pillar of Taqwaa. In the authentic hadeeth: ((Whoever does not abandon false speech and acting upon that, Allaah is in no need of his abandoning his food and drink)). So the servant seeks closeness to Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta'aala) through avoiding prohibitions altogether, and they are:
. "False speech" - and that is every haraam (prohibited) speech;
. "Acting upon that" - and that is every haraam (prohibited) action;
. Leaving every haraam thing that obstructs the fast and that is those thing things which break the fast.

So, since in fasting there are advantages, benefits and attainment of all good and reward, that which necessitates its prescription at all times, Allaah (subhaanahu wa-ta'aala) told that it was prescribed upon us as it was prescribed upon those before us. This is His affair with all His Laws that have universal advantages.

As for its rulings: all the "al ahkaam at takleefiyyah" Islaamic rulings could apply to it in accordance with the differing reasons behind it:
. As for the obligatory (waajib & fardh):
1) It includes fasting Ramadhaan upon every Muslim that is Islamically bound by the `Eed and is able;
2) It also includes the fast that a person vows to do;
3) It includes the fasts of expiation (after having done an act obligating that.)

. As for the prohibited fast, it is:
1) Fasting the days of Sharee'ah;
2) Fasting the 11th, 12th, and 13th of Dhul-Hijjah, except for the person who is doing Hajj at-Tamattu' or Qiraan but does not have a sacrifice and did not fast before the Day of Sacrifice;
3. Also included in the haraam fast is the fast of menstruating woman and the woman in post-natal bleeding;
4. Also, the ill person that fears death (as a result of fasting);
5. Also, it is obligatory to break the fast upon the one that needs to in order to save a sinless soul from jeopardy - (meaning the baby in the mother's womb.)

. The fast which is recommended (sunnah) is the supererogatory fast, the restricted and the unrestricted;
. As for the fast that is disliked (makrooh), it is the fast of the ill person who feels hardship in doing that;
. The permissible fast (jaa.iz): the fasting of a traveler. It is permissible for him to fast or not particularly if he traveled in a day in which he began fasting before traveling.

Shaykh as-Sa'dee
Fataawa Ramadhaan - Volume 1, Pages 34-36, Fatwa No.8;
al-Irshaad ilaa Ma'rifatil Ahkaam - Pages 82-84