Sins and disobedience detracts from the Rewards of Fasting

Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah (May Allaah be pleased with him) said:

إذَا صُمْت فَلْيَصُمْ سَمْعُكَ , وَبَصَرُكَ , وَلِسَانُكَ عَنْ الْكَذِبِ وَالْمَأْثَمِ , وَدَعْ أَذَى الْخَادِمِ وَلْيَكُنْ عَلَيْكَ وَقَارٌ وَسَكِينَةٌ يَوْمَ صِيَامِكَ , وَلا تَجْعَلْ يَوْمَ فِطْرِكَ وَيَوْمَ صَوْمِكَ سَوَاءً .

“If you fast, then block your ears, eyes and tongue from lies and sin; do not abuse your servants; be tranquil and dignified on the day of your fast; do not let the day when you do not fast and the day when you fast be the same.”

Source: “al-Muhalla bil-Athaar”, 4/306

The fasting person is enjoined to guard all his faculties against disobeying Allaah. The purpose behind fasting is not simply to refrain from eating and drinking, rather the purpose is to refrain from disobeying Allaah and to achieve piety or fear of Allaah.

So, what if a person who is fasting, does not refrain from disobedience and sins like not doing hijaab, shaving of the beard, lying, etc? Does it invalidates the fast or not, or is it that the fasting is deficient but still valid?

The correct view is that, with regards to fasting that is accompanied by sins, the fast is not invalidated by that, rather it is valid and the fasting person has fulfilled his obligation and does not have to make up the fast. But the more sins are committed and the more serious they are, the more that detracts from the reward of fasting, and it may cancel out the reward altogether, and the fasting person is left with nothing as a result of his fast apart from hunger and thirst.

So that a person may have denied himself food, drink and all the things that break the fast, yet still deprived himself of the reward for that by disobeying Allaah. Hence the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The one who fasts may get nothing from his fast but hunger, and the one who prays qiyaam may get nothing from his qiyaam but a sleepless night.” [Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 1690; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah]

 al-Subki was asked a question:

“Can the (reward for) fasting be decreased by sins that may occur while one is fasting, or not?

He replied:

وَاَلَّذِي نَخْتَارُهُ فِي ذَلِكَ أَنَّهُ يَنْقُصُ وَمَا أَظُنُّ فِي ذَلِكَ خِلافًا .

“The view which we favour is that it can decrease, and I do not think there is any differing opinion on this matter””

Source: “Fataawa al-Subki”, 1/220.

He also said in his Fataawa, 1/226:

وَاعْلَمْ أَنَّ رُتْبَةَ الْكَمَالِ فِي الصَّوْمِ قَدْ تَكُونُ بِاقْتِرَانِ طَاعَاتٍ بِهِ مِنْ قِرَاءَةِ قُرْآنٍ وَاعْتِكَافٍ وَصَلاةٍ وَصَدَقَةٍ وَغَيْرِهَا وَقَدْ تَكُونُ بِاجْتِنَابِ مَنْهِيَّاتٍ . فَكُلُّ ذَلِكَ يَزِيدُهُ كَمَالا وَمَطْلُوبٌ فِيهِ اهـ . باختصار .

“Note that the complete reward for fasting is achieved when it is accompanied by acts of worship such as reading Qur’aan, observing i’tikaaf, praying, giving charity etc, and it may be achieved by avoiding haraam things. All of these things make the reward more complete.“

 Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

فمن صام صوماً ظاهرياً جسدياً، ولكنه لم يصم صوماً قلبياً فإن صومه ناقص جداً جداً, لا نقول: إنه باطل لكن نقول: إنه ناقص …

… كذلك الصوم ناقص جداً إذا لم يصم الإنسان عن معصية الله, لكنه مجزئ حسب الرسم الظاهري؛ لأن العبادات في الدنيا إنما تكون على الظاهر.

“If a person observes the fast outwardly, in the physical sense (i.e. he abstains from things that invalidate the fast and refrains from things that break the fast), but he does not fast in his heart (i.e. he does not refrain from disobedience towards Allaah), then his fast is severely deficient, but we do not say that it is invalid, rather we say that it is lacking….

… Similarly the fast is very deficient if a person does not refrain from disobeying Allaah, but it is valid, because acts of worship in this world are to be judged as they appear to be.“

Source: “Liqaa’ al-Baab il-Maftoohah”, (Volume 5 page 116).

 Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked:

Does engaging in haraam kinds of speech during the day in Ramadan invalidate a person’s fast?

The shaykh replied:

يتأكد على الصائم اجتناب المحرمات من الأقوال والأفعال ، فلا يغتاب الناس ، ولا يكذب ، ولا ينمّ بينهم ، ولا يبيع بيعا محرما ، ويجتنب جميع المحرمات . وإذا اجتنب الإنسان ذلك في شهر كامل فإن نفسه سوف تستقيم بقية العام،

ولكن المؤسف أن كثيرا من الصائمين لا يفرقون بين يوم صومهم وفطرهم ، فهم على العادة التي هم عليها من الأقوال المحرمة من كذب وغش وغيره ، ولا تشعر أن عليه وقار الصوم ، وهذه الأفعال لا تبطل الصيام ، ولكن تنقص من أجره ، وربما عند المعادلة تضيع أجر الصوم. 

“It is most important that the fasting person avoids haraam words and deeds. So he should not backbite about people, tell lies or spread malicious gossip amongst them; he should not engage in haraam transactions; and he should avoid all haraam things. If a person avoids such things for a whole month, then he will remain righteous for the rest of the year.

But unfortunately many of those who fast do not differentiate between a day when they are fasting and a day when they are not fasting. So they continue to speak and act as they usually do, engaging in haraam actions such as lying, cheating and so on. You cannot sense the dignity of fasting in them at all. These actions do not invalidate the fast but they do detract from its reward, and when they are done continually they may cancel the reward of fasting altogether.”

Source: “Majmoo’ Fataawa wa Rasaa’il” of al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, vol. 19, pages 358-359, question no. 233.

 Imaam al-Nawawi said:

( يَنْبَغِي لِلصَّائِمِ أَنْ يُنَزِّهَ صَوْمَهُ عَنْ الْغِيبَةِ وَالشَّتْمِ ) مَعْنَاهُ يَتَأَكَّدُ التَّنَزُّهُ عَنْ ذَلِكَ فِي حَقِّ الصَّائِمِ أَكْثَرُ مِنْ غَيْرِهِ لِلْحَدِيثِ , وَإِلا فَغَيْرُ الصَّائِمِ يَنْبَغِي لَهُ ذَلِكَ أَيْضًا وَيُؤْمَرُ بِهِ فِي كُلِّ حَالٍ , وَالتَّنَزُّهُ التَّبَاعُدُ , فَلَوْ اغْتَابَ فِي صَوْمِهِ عَصَى وَلَمْ يَبْطُلْ صَوْمُهُ عِنْدَنَا , وَبِهِ قَالَ مَالِكٌ وَأَبُو حَنِيفَةَ وَأَحْمَدُ وَالْعُلَمَاءُ كَافَّةً إلا الأَوْزَاعِيَّ فَقَالَ : يَبْطُلُ الصَّوْمُ بِالْغِيبَةِ وَيَجِبُ قَضَاؤُهُ اهـ .

“The fasting person should protect his fast from backbiting and slander. What this means is that it is more important for the fasting person to avoid these sins than others, although those who are not fasting should avoid these sins too, as that is enjoined in all situations. If a person backbites while fasting, he has committed a sin but that does not invalidate his fast in our view. This is the view of Maalik, Abu Haneefah, Ahmad and all the scholars except al-Awzaa’i who said that the fast is invalidated by backbiting, and must be made up.”

Source: “al-Majmoo’ Sharh al-Mahdhab”, vol. 6, page 356

Remember, this does not mean that you can continue disobeying Allaah and sinning while fasting, because this month is for increasing the rewards and decreasing in sin. So who is so insane to let go of this blessed month with a reduced reward or no reward at all.

Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (hafidhahullaah) said:

فالذي يفعل الحرام في غير وقت الصيام يأثم ويستحق العقوبة، وإذا فعله في وقت الصيام فإنه مع الإثم واستحقاق العقوبة يؤثر ذلك على صيامه بالنقص أو البطلان

“If one commits the unlawful in times other than when he is fasting, he is sinning and worthy of being punished. But if he commits it while fasting, then on top of being sinful and deserving of punishment, this affects his fast by it being either deficient or nullified.”

Source: “Ittihaaf Ahlil-Eemaan bi Duroos Shahri Ramadaan” of Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan, page 27.

We should all remember that the real meaning of fasting is not only giving up food and drink, rather Allaah, may He be exalted, has enjoined fasting in order that we may attain piety (taqwa). Hence real fasting means refraining from sin by refraining from it and giving it up; this is the fasting of the heart, not just the fasting of the body. The Sunnah points to what we have said, and it has been discussed and explained by the scholars.

So it is no wonder if we learn that some scholars regarded the fast as invalid if a person falls into sin during his fast, even though the correct view is that this does not invalidate the fast, but undoubtedly it detracts from it and goes against the real meaning of fasting.

Author: Islamic Treasure

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