Ghazali's Inner Dimention of Islamic Worship
Three grades of fasting
It should be known that there are three grades of fasting:
ordinary, special and extra-special.
Ordinary fasting means abstaining from food, drink and sexual
Special fasting means keeping one's ears, eyes,tongue, hands and
feet-and all other organs-free from sin.
Extra-special fasting means fasting of the heart from unworthy
concerns and worldly thoughts, in total disregard of everything but
See not what displeases Allah
A chaste regard, restrained from viewing anything that is
blameworthy or reprehensible, or which distracts the heart and diverts
it from the remembrance of God. The Prophet, said: the furtive glance
is one of the poisoned arrows of Satan, on him be God's curse. Whoever
forsakes it for fear of God, will receive from Him, great and gracious
is He, a faith the sweetness of which he will find within his heart.'
Jabir relates from Anas that God's Messenger, on him be peace,said:
'Five things break a man's fast: lying,backbiting, scandalmongering,
perjury and a lustful gaze.'
Speak no evil
Guarding one's tongue from twaddle, lying, backbiting,
scandalmongering, obscenity, rudeness, wrangling and controversy;
making it observe silence and occupying it with remembrance of Allah
and with recitation of the Quran.
This is the fasting of the tongue. Sufyan said: "backbiting
vitiates the fast." Layth quotes Mujahid as saying : "Two habits
vitiate fasting: backbiting and telling lies.'
The Prophet said: ' Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is
fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him
or insults him, let him say:"I am fasting, I am fasting!"
Hear no evil
Closing one's ears to everything reprehensible; for everything
to utter is likewise unlawful to listen to. That is why Allah
equated the eavesdropper with the profiteer " (They like to) listen to
falsehood, to devour anything forbidden" (part of Quran 5: 42).
Do no evil
Keeping all other limbs and organs away from sin: the hands and
feet from reprehensible deeds, and the stomach from questionable food
at the time for breaking fast.
It is meaningless to fast, to abstain from lawful food, only to
break one's Fast on what is unlawful.
The object of Fasting is to induce moderation. The Prophet said
'How many of those who Fast, get nothing from it but hunger and
Of what use is the fast as a means of conquering God's enemy and
abating appetite, if at the time of breaking it not only makes up for
all one has missed during the daytime, but perhaps also indulges in a
variety of extra foods?
It has even become the custom to stock up for Ramadan with all
kinds of foodstuffs, so that more is consumed during that time than
in the course of several other months put together.
It is well known that the object of fasting is to experience hunger
and to check desire, in order to reinforce the soul in piety.
If the stomach is starved from early morning till evening, so that
it's appetite is aroused and it's craving intensified, and it is then
offered delicacies and allowed to eat its fill, its taste for pleasure
is increased and its force exaggerated; passions are activated which
would have lain dormant under normal conditions.
It is therefore essential to cut down one's intake of what one
would consume on a normal night, when not Fasting. No benefit is
derived from the fast if one consumes as much as he or she would
usually take during the day and night combined.
Look to Allah with fear and hope
After the fast has been broken, the heart should swing like a
pendulum between fear and hope. For one does not know if one's fast
will be accepted, so that one will find favor with God, or whether it
will be rejected, leaving one among those He abhors. This is how one
should be at the end of any act of worship one performs.