How Is My fasting (Sawm) Accepted in Islam?

Ramadan is the time when Muslims are required to fast. But we might wonder: Is our fasting accepted? Do we really observe the conditions that are essential for fasting? After all, what are these conditions? Can the fast (Sawm) of those who do not perform the prayer (Salat), talk behind other people’s back, drink Alcohol, etc. be accepted? Does it bring all the benefits of fasting on body and soul, in its real sense of the word?

 

 

Or even sometimes, some non-Muslims show interest in performing fasting (Sawm). They might want to know what it feels like to fast. To know why Muslims are so enthusiastic about this act, or as they say to put themselves in Muslims' shoes. Indeed they are welcomed to take part in this beautiful ritual. Yet, they should note that Islam has specified some conditions for fasting (Swam) to be accepted.

 

fasting

 

What Are the Conditions that Make Fasting Meaningful and Pleasurable?

 

  1. Converting to Islam 
  2. Having faith in the pillars of Islam
  3. Being in sound mind and Not being unconscious [i]
  4. Having the intention (Niyyah) of fasting
  5. Avoiding whatever renders fasting void
  6. Also, the one who is traveling, a menstruating woman, and the person who would receive harm by fasting are not required to fast.

 

fasting in Islam

 

Fasting Is a Whole Series of Actions

 


As stated earlier, fasting is not the mere act of not eating and drinking. Rather it is a multi-dimensional practice. Aside from being a bodily endeavor, fasting is the spiritual effort of Muslims to elevate their souls and reach Allah’s satisfaction. So, not eating and drinking will not necessarily bring about the many spiritual and psychological effects of fasting. It is a process that influences the manner and the soul of the person, with the passage of time.

 

 

It is a whole series of actions that are accepted only when one has embraced Islam previously, believes in the Oneness of Allah and performs other practical principles of Islam such as prayer (Salat) as well.

 

 

In other words, if there were no spiritual and divine side to this action, it would not be called fasting (Sawm) anymore. As Imam Ali (AS) puts: “It is possible that a person who fasts, does not receive any benefit from his/her fasting other than hunger and thirst” [2].  Why would anyone want to bear hunger and thirst just for the sake of it? There must be something to motivate one going through such a challenging practice.

 


“The Actions Depend on Intentions” [i]

 

 

Intentions are the driving forces for actions, which determine their value and their expected effects. This is true for fasting as well, same as any other obligatory practice in Islam.

 

 

Fasting is first and foremost an act of worship and not a mere physical practice. Thus the first prerequisite for this act is to be done with the intention of serving Allah. There may be someone who is only interested in the health effects and physical benefits of fasting. Yet without a divine intention, his/her practice cannot be called fasting in Islam. This does not mean that you need to perform a special ritual before fasting; you should only be aware of your own will to fast and the reason why you fast.

 

 

Muslims believe that they fast for Allah [ii]. And what they have for breaking their fast is given by Allah, as a manifestation of His infinite mercy [iii]. With this in mind, Muslims feel inner joy and bliss after a long day of fasting with all its hardships. Since they find a meaning for their efforts. Then, they ask Allah to accept their act of worship [iv], regardless of its physical benefits or any other worldly attitude. At last, they whisper their needs and wishes to Allah, knowing that He is “all-hearing and all-knowing” [3].

 

 

fasting in Islam

I Fast, Therefore I Am

 

We are born free, and Allah has endowed us with the power of choice. We choose to refrain from eating and drinking consciously. We choose to secure our tongue, eye, and ear from any vices. We choose to surrender to the will of Allah, and we choose to get closer to our divine Creator.

 

If our power of choice is undermined by any circumstances (e.g., not being mentally sound, being unconscious, not having the intention for fasting), fasting loses its meaning and necessary function. That is to emphasize human being's free will to be better, to go forward and prove his/her value.

 

fasting
Notes:

[i] i.e., one must be aware of what he/she is doing, or be in control of his/her actions.

[ii] A Hadith from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) [1].

[iii] اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْنَا: “O Allah: For You have we fasted” [3]

[iv] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْنَا :“and with Your sustenance have we broken our fasting” [3]

[v] فَتَقَبَّلْ مِنَّا : “so, (please) accept form us” [3].

 

References:

[1]  Bukhari, Sahih al-Bukhari, vol.1, p.18-17.

[2] Nahj al-Balaghah, Wisdom no. 145.

[3] Dua after breaking the fast (Iftar)