Date :Sunday, December 2nd, 2018 | Time : 14:48 |ID: 79725 | Print

Piety through Fasting: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:183-184) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:183-184)

By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Piety through Fasting

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ﴿١٨٣﴾ أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ ۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ ۚ وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿١٨٤


2:183 O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.

2:184 [Fasting] for a fixed number of days; but whoever among you is ill or on a journey, then (he shall fast) an (equal) number of other days; and those who cannot fast (due to old age, poor health, etc.), on them there is a redemption by feeding a poor person (per day of fasting which they have missed). And whoever volunteers to do good (by feeding more than one needy person), that is better for him.  But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

Commentary: The aforementioned verses ordain fasting in the Month of Ramadan [(يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ)]. These verses were revealed in the month of Shabaan of the second year of Hijri, shortly after the change in the direction of Qiblah.

The word (الصِّيَامُ) literally means “to abstain oneself from doing something” and that “something” could mean eating, drinking, speaking, etc. Fasting in Islam (الصِّيَامُ) means to abstain from food, drink and other activities which invalidate fasting from the break of dawn until dusk.

The teachings of Islam assert that true fasting constitutes abstinence from sins and disobedience of Allah (SWT). Otherwise, fasting would be simply an act of starvation. While fasting, Muslims rein their desires and guard their physical senses and limbs (eyes, ears, tongue, hands and feet) from sin. Abstinence from sins is the essence of piety and righteousness.

There are immense benefits in fasting. For instance, fasting strengthens one’s willpower; possessing strong willpower enables mankind to resist from the temptation of committing various sins.

Fasting also nurtures the moral values in human beings. For instance, well-off people feel the pain of hunger and thirst while fasting. This in turn develops empathy and benevolence in their hearts towards the poor and indigents. Furthermore, fasting makes man highly conscious of his behavior and gives the opportunity to refrain from sinful habits such as lying, gossiping, backbiting, etc.

The month of Ramadan is the month of divine blessings and forgiveness according to the sermon of the Prophet (SAWA), see Appendix_3. It contains the Night of Decrees; any good deeds in that night brings rewards of doing that act for 1000 months [(لَيْلَةُ الْقَدْرِ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ), 97:3].  Hence, it is the golden opportunity to worship and devote oneself to Allah (SWT) and seek His mercy and forgiveness.

The verse 2:183 addresses believers [(يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا)], that fasting has been ordained to them [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ)] as it was ordained to preceding nations before them [(كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ)] so that they may attain piety and righteousness [(لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)].

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ ﴿١٨٣

2:183 O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become righteous.

Obligatory fasting will be during a fixed number of days [(أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ)]. The next verse, 2:185, asserts that these fixed number of days are all the days in the month of Ramadan:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي ….. ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ …. ﴿١٨٥

2:185 The month of Ramadhan … So, whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it…

Some people are temporarily exempt from fasting. This includes people in poor health for whom fasting is harmful and those who are traveling [(فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ)]. Instead, they should fast the same number of days that they missed by the next month of Ramadan [(فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ)].

Those who fast only with strenuous difficulties are exempt from fasting also [(وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ)], such as the elderly and individuals with chronic medical conditions. These individuals are required to substitute fasting with the feeding at least one poor person per day of the Month of Ramadan [(فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ)]. However, whoever volunteers to do good (for instance, by feeding more than one needy person) brings upon better rewards for him [(فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ)].

The verse 2:183 begins with the ordinance of fasting in the month of Ramadan [( يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ)] and the verse 2:184 ends with the emphasis on the obligation of fasting:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ …. ﴿١٨٣﴾ …. وَأَن تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ ۖ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿١٨٤

2:183-184 O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, But to fast is best for you, if you only knew.

The phrase “to fast is best for you” does not imply that healthy people have a choice between fasting and feeding poor people. Rather, it stress the ordinance of fasting. Similar sentence styles have been used after prescribing other religious obligations. For instance, after prescribing the obligation of Friday prayers in the chapter of Al-Jumua 62:9, the verse ends with the sentence: “That is better for you, if you only knew”.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا نُودِيَ لِلصَّلَاةِ مِن يَوْمِ الْجُمُعَةِ فَاسْعَوْا إِلَىٰ ذِكْرِ اللَّـهِ وَذَرُوا الْبَيْعَ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿٩

62:9 You who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.

Other examples of this style may be seen in the verse 2:54 and 61:11:

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِقَوْمِهِ يَا قَوْمِ إِنَّكُمْ ظَلَمْتُمْ أَنفُسَكُم بِاتِّخَاذِكُمُ الْعِجْلَ فَتُوبُوا إِلَىٰ بَارِئِكُمْ فَاقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ عِندَ بَارِئِكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ التَّوَّابُ الرَّحِيمُ ﴿٥٤

2:54 And [recall] when Moses said to his people, “O my people, indeed you have wronged yourselves by your taking of the calf [for worship]. So, repent to your Creator and kill yourselves. That is best for [all of] you in the sight of your Creator.” Then He accepted your repentance; indeed, He is the Accepting of repentance, the Merciful.

تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَرَسُولِهِ وَتُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّـهِ بِأَمْوَالِكُمْ وَأَنفُسِكُمْ ۚ ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ ﴿١١

61:11 [It is that] you believe in Allah and His Messenger and strive in the cause of Allah with your wealth and your lives. That is best for you, if you should know.

Appendix_1: Fasting in the tradition of the Prophet (SAWA) and his Ahlul Bayt:

The Prophet (SAWA) said: “Fasting is a shield against the Fire” [(الصَّوْمُ جُنَّةٌ مِنَ النّار)].

Appendix_2: The sentence [(وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ)] means that those who can fast only with overwhelming difficulty and hardship and [(فِدْيَةٌ)] means a substitute. The word [(تَطَوَّعَ)] means to do work willingly and gladly and comes from the word of [(الطوع)] which is the opposite of [(الکره)], which means to dislike. Therefore, the meaning of [(تَطَوَّعَ)] means doing work willingly and gladly without reluctance or annoyance, whether that work is obligatory or not.

Appendix_3: Sermon Given by The Prophet (s) On The Last Friday Of Sha’ban On The welcoming Of The Month of Ramadhan

فَقالَ: أَیُّهَا النّاسُ إِنَّهُ قَدْ أَقْبَلَ إِلَیْکُمْ شَهْرُ اللّهِ بِالْبَرَکَةِ وَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَ الْمَغْفِرَةِ.
شَهْرٌ هُوَ عِنْدَ اللّهِ أَفْضَلُ الشُّهُورِ وَ أَیّامُهُ أَفْضَلُ الأَیّامِ وَ لَیالِیهِ أَفْضَلُ اللَّیالِی وَ ساعاتُهُ أَفْضَلُ السّاعَاتِ.
هُوَ شَهْرٌ دُعِیتُمْ فِیهِ إِلَى ضِیافَةِ اللّهِ وَ جُعِلْتُمْ فِیهِ مِنْ أَهْلِ کَرامَةِ اللّهِ.
أَنْفاسُکُمْ فِیهِ تَسْبِیحٌ وَ نَوْمُکُمْ فِیهِ عِبَادَةٌ وَ عَمَلُکُمْ فِیهِ مَقْبُولٌ وَ دُعاؤُکُمْ فِیهِ مُسْتَجابٌ.
فَاسْأَلُوا اللّهَ رَبَّکُمْ بِنِیّات صادِقَة وَ قُلُوب طاهِرَة أَنْ یُوَفِّقَکُمْ لِصِیامِهِ وَ تِلاوَةِ کِتابِهِ فَإِنَّ الشَّقِیَّ مَنْ حُرِمَ غُفْرانُ اللّهِ فِی هَذَا الشَّهْرِ الْعَظِیمِ.
وَ اذْکُرُوا بِجُوعِکُمْ وَ عَطَشِکُمْ فِیهِ جُوعَ یَوْمِ الْقِیامَةِ وَ عَطَشَهُ وَ تَصَدَّقُوا عَلى فُقَرائِکُمْ وَ مَساکِینِکُمْ وَ وَقِّرُوا کِبارَکُمْ وَ ارْحَمُوا صِغارَکُمْ وَ صِلُوا أَرْحامَکُمْ وَ احْفَظُوا أَلْسِنَتَکُمْ وَ غُضُّوا عَمّا لا یَحِلُّ النَّظَرُ إِلَیْهِ أَبْصارَکُمْ وَ عَمّا لا یَحِلُّ الإِسْتِماعُ إِلَیْهِ أَسْماعَکُمْ وَ تَحَنَّنُوا عَلى أَیْتامِ النّاسِ یُتَحَنَّنْ عَلى أَیْتامِکُم…

(«وسائل الشیعه»، جلد 7، حدیث 20، باب 18 من ابواب احکام شهر رمضان، (و جلد 10، صفحه 313، چاپ آل البیت) ـ «بحار الانوار»، جلد 93، صفحه 356 ـ «عیون اخبار الرضا»، جلد 1، صفحه 295، انتشارات جهان).

“O People !

“Indeed ahead of you is the blessed month of Allah. A month of blessing, mercy and forgiveness. A month which with Allah is the best of months. Its days, the best of days, its nights, the best of nights, and its hours, the best of hours. It is the month which invites you to be the guests of Allah and invites you to be one of those near to Him. Each breath you take glorifies him; your sleep is worship, your deeds are accepted and your supplications are answered.

So, ask Allah, your Lord; to give you a sound body and an enlightened heart so you may be able to fast and recite his book, for only he is unhappy who is devoid of Allah’s forgiveness during this great month. Remember the hunger and thirst of the day of Qiyamah (Judgement) with your hunger and thirst; give alms to the needy and poor, honor your old, show kindness to the young ones, maintain relations with your blood relations; guard your tongues, close your eyes to that which is not permissible for your sight, close your ears to that which is forbidden to hear, show compassion to the orphans of people so compassion may be shown to your orphans.

Repent to Allah for your sins and raise your hands in dua during these times, for they are the best of times and Allah looks towards his creatures with kindness, replying to them during the hours and granting their needs if he is asked…

“O People! Indeed your souls are dependent on your deeds, free it with Istighfar (repentance) lighten its loads by long prostrations; and know that Allah swears by his might: That there is no punishment for the one who prays and prostrates and he shall have no fear of the fire on the day when man stands before the Lord of the worlds.

“O People! One who gives Iftaar to a fasting person during this month will be like one who has freed someone and his past sins will be forgiven.

Some of the people who were there then asked the Prophet (s): “Not all of us are able to invite those who are fasting?”

The Prophet (s) replied: “Allah gives this reward even if the Iftaar (meal) is a drink of water.”

“One who has good morals (Akhlaq) during this month will be able to pass the ‘Siraat’…on the day that feet will slip…

“One who covers the faults of others will benefit in that Allah will curb His anger on the day of Judgement…

“As for one who honors an orphan; Allah will honor him on the day of judgement,

“And for the one who spreads his kindness, Allah will spread His mercy over him on the day of Judgement.

“As for the one who cuts the ties of relation; Allah will cut His mercy from him…

“Who so ever performs a recommended prayer in this month Allah will keep the fire of Hell away from him…

“Whoever performs an obligatory prayer Allah will reward him with seventy prayers [worth] in this month.

“And who so ever prays a lot during this month will have his load lightened on the day of measure.

“He who recites one verse of the holy Quran will be given the rewards of reciting the hole Qur’an during other months.

“O People! Indeed during this month, the doors of heaven are open, therefore ask Allah not to close them for you; The doors of hell are closed, so ask Allah to keep them closed for you. During this month Shaytan (Saten) is imprisoned so ask your Lord not to let him have power over you.”


Word by Word Translation:

يَا أَيُّهَا (o you) الَّذِينَ  (who)آمَنُوا  (believe)كُتِبَ  (is prescribed)عَلَيْكُمُ  (for you)الصِّيَامُ  (the fasting)كَمَا  (as)كُتِبَ  (was prescribed) عَلَى (to) الَّذِينَ  (those) مِن  (from) قَبْلِكُمْ (before you) لَعَلَّكُمْ  (so that you may) تَتَّقُونَ  (become righteous) ﴿١٨٣

أَيَّامًا  (Fasting for days) مَّعْدُودَاتٍ (numbered)  فَمَن (so whoever)كَانَ  (is )مِنكُم  (among you)مَّرِيضًا  (sick)أَوْ  (or) عَلَىٰ  (on)سَفَرٍ  (a journey)فَعِدَّةٌ  (then a prescribed number)مِّنْ  (of)أَيَّامٍ  (days)أُخَرَ  (other) وَعَلَى  (and on)الَّذِينَ  (those who)يُطِيقُونَهُ   (can afford it-but with hardship)فِدْيَةٌ  (a ransom)طَعَامُ  (of feeding)مِسْكِينٍ  (a poor)ۖ فَمَن  (And whoever)تَطَوَّعَ  (volunteers)خَيْرًا  (good)فَهُوَ  (then it)خَيْرٌ  (is better)لَّهُ  (for him) وَأَن  (And to)تَصُومُوا  (fast)خَيْرٌ  (is better)لَّكُمْ  (for you) إِن (if)كُنتُمْ  (you)تَعْلَمُونَ    (know) ﴿١٨٤


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