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The Levels of Fasting

The Levels of Fasting
By Scholar Muthaheri

If you want perfection [in] conduct, you can advance fifty years in this month, or perhaps in one day, one night, or one hour!
The Lord of the Worlds has bestowed a favor, through saying: {O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that ye may (learn) self-restraint.}

I have prescribed fasting to you as I have prescribed it to earlier [people] for the purpose of building the soul and perfection in conduct.

Fasting has three levels which require precision and attention from the dear youth [when considering].

Religiously Appointed Fasting:
[Which means] that a person's stomach is fasting, and as mentioned in books of practical [Islamic laws] it is to avoid matters which invalidate fasting. Whoever abides by that does not have to [perform] qada' or [pay] kafara. It is certain that [this fasting has] a worldly benefit and a reward in the hereafter, but this fasting does not achieve the other desired benefits. It is a religiously appointed fasting for common people.

Ethical Fasting:
It means in addition to the fasting of a person's stomach, for his organs to fast; his eyes, ears, hands, and feet. It also [means] fasting from sins, from matters which are makruh, and from matters which there is doubt [as to their sinfulness].

It is mentioned in some narrations that whoever lies in the blessed month of Ramadan, backbites, accuses, or hurts another with [his words], then his fast is invalid.

A true fasting person's supplication is answered when he breaks his fast. If his organs fast like his stomach, then he will be able –through his perfection in conduct- to reach a high and lofty level in the last days of the blessed month.

This second type of fasting is called "ethical fasting" because a person strives -in addition to the fasting of his stomach- for his organs to fast as well.

In the blessed month of Ramadan, if a person's sight strays and he does not preserve his eyes, his hearing, his tongue, and the rest of his organs, he would have fulfilled the religiously appointed fasting but would not have succeeded in reaching the level of piety, or answered prayer, or perfection in conduct.

Mystical Fasting:
The third type of fasting –which is considered hard- is the fasting of the mystics. In addition to the fasting of the stomach and the organs, the heart must fast as well.

However, from what does the heart abstain?
Despite the presence of vice in the heart, he prevents it from increasing in fervor. Thus, no envy, miserliness, mistrust, or arrogance increases in fervor.
It means that the heart abstains from paying heed to anything other than Allah. When a mystic fasts, there is nothing in his heart other than Allah.

This type of fasting is not for us, but whoever succeeds in his religiously appointed fasting and his ethical fasting, then he can reach this rank at the end of the blessed month of Ramadan.

If a person- especially [a] youth- insists upon reaching the rank of the sincerity and purity of the heart, and for nothing to be in control of his heart other than Allah, he can do so.

Fasting in the month of Ramadan was made obligatory for this purpose. It was made obligatory so that a person can advance step by step. In the first day, the second, the tenth, the fifteenth, the Nights of Determination, and after the Nights of Determination. If a [person] considers carefully, he will see that in addition to controlling the will of his stomach and organs, evil thoughts have also disappeared.

And even though [his] vices have not been uprooted, they have come under his control.

Idols have been crushed one after the other. God owned his heart and shed light in it, and [this person] has achieved the rank of the purity of the heart.
And in the end of the month of Ramadan, he became as the Holy Quran described:
{No trade or sale makes [them] neglectful of the remembrance of Allah}

A fasting person in the month of Ramadan should advance forward, benefitting from the light of wilaya and from the light of fasting, in order for his stomach and organs to fast. Perhaps God will take his hand and that by the end of the month of Ramadan he will reach the position of ascension and perfection. This is possible, and many have been able to cover fifty years in one hour, even one moment!

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