Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
While giving commands regarding fasting, the Quran makes special mention of Dua (remembering God). “When My servants ask you about Me, say that I am near. I respond to the call of one who calls, whenever he calls to Me: let them, then, respond to Me, and believe in Me, so that they may be rightly guided.” (2:186)
Fasting by its nature, is an act of patience. What is patience? Patience means patiently bearing the difficulties and hardships faced in the process of carrying out God’s commandments. One becomes God’s obedient servant at the price of patience.
Patience and forbearance are what lead man to the state of the heart which enable him to experience the feeling of nearness to God. It is only then that those words come to one’s lips as are held worthy of divine acceptance. Patience is the ground where the blessed tree of Dua is grown.
In this world only that person finds God who surrenders himself to God. And only the words of that person whose spiritual chords are linked with the chord of God, reach God. All souls are not blessed with ineffable feelings of nearness to God. This good fortune is destined only for those who possess a fine soul.
Dua is not just a verbal act. In essence, it is an act of the heart. The more the heart cultivates this capability, the more effectively will dua come to the lips. This shows the relation between fasting and dua. Fasting increases the spiritual capability of man’s heart and when this capability increases, the dua which ensues is more precious than that of a non-fasting situation.
Real fasting is that which induces real dua.
In a tradition recorded by Imam Ahmad and Imam Al-Tirmizi, Abu Umamah has narrated the words of the Prophet. ‘My Lord offered to grant me the entire valley of Makkah which would be turned into gold. I said, “No, O my Lord: I would rather have my meal one day and remain hungry the next. And when I am hungry I (Tazarru) will turn to You and remember You, and when I eat, I will praise You and thank You.”’ (Al Tirmizi, Hadith No. 2347 I Musnad Ahmad, Hadith No. 22190)
This hadith shows that the right feelings are not produced without the situations being conducive. It is inevitable that man should undergo a variety of situations, so that the desired feelings may be produced within him. In such situations, when man suffers the pangs of hunger and thirst and is overwhelmed with feelings of modesty, his heart turns to God. When he gets water to drink and food to eat, and his feelings of thirst and hunger are satisfied, he is overwhelmed with feelings of thanksgiving and praise for God.
The purpose of fasting is to produce a feeling of humility through thirst and hunger. Humility comes from a feeling of inabat (repentance), which is the spirit of prayer. When Inabat is produced within oneself, the dua which comes out of one’s lips, goes straight to the throne of the Almighty.