The Inner Dimensions of Fasting
From Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship
By Imam Abu Hamid al-Ghazali
Translated from Ihya’ Uloom ad-Deen by Mukhtar Holland
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 satisfaction.
- 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 Allah, Great and Glorious is He. This kind of Fast is broken by thinking of worldly matters, except for those conducive to religious ends, since these constitute provision for the Hereafter and are not of this lower world. Those versed in the spiritual life of the heart have even said that a sin is recorded against one who concerns himself all day with arrangements for breaking his Fast. Such anxiety stems from lack of trust in the bounty of Allah, Great and Glorious is He, and from lack of certain faith in His promised sustenance.To this third degree belong the Prophets, the true awliya and the intimates of Allah. It does not lend itself to detailed examination in words, as its true nature is better revealed in action. It consists in utmost dedication to Allah, Great and Glorious is He, to the neglect of everything other than Allah, Exalted is He. It is bound up with the significance of His words: ‘Say: “Allah (sent it down)”: then leave them to play in their vain discussions.’ [al-An’am,6:91] Read more…