Section 10 : The Most Specific Fast

The highest level of fasting is to disengage oneself from other than Alla-h (SwT). Every thought, speech, action, etc. is solely for Alla-h (SwT). The fasting one in this level ensures that not only does he observe the first two levels of fasting, but protects his heart from other than Alla-h (SwT). Perhaps this noble dictum of Ima-m al-Sa-diq (a) refers to this very station:


The heart is the sanctuary of Alla-h; therefore do not make other than Alla-h reside in the sanctuary of Alla-h.[80]

The result of such a fast is the Paradise of Divine Encounter[81] (Jannat al-Liqa-). If we ponder over the supplications of the Holy month of Ramada-n and try to understand what kind of reception and banquet we can anticipate, we would realize that it is this level of fasting that we must struggle to attain.

Ima-m Khumayni- in one of his sermons to the seminarians in Najaf al-Ashraf says:

. ʻ . ϐ .

And enlighten the eyes of our hearts with the light of Your vision, until the vision of the hearts tears through the curtains of light and reaches the Source of Greatness (madin al-azamah).[82]

The banquet of Alla-h (SwT) is that very source of greatness. God, the Blessed and Exalted, has invited His servants to enter the source of light and greatness.[83]

The reward of such a fast is God, as He has stated: The fast is for Me and I am its reward.[84] Nothing else could be the reward of such a fast. The Gardens of Blessings would not count as a worthy reward for such a fast. If a man takes fasting to mean closing his mouth to food but opening it for backbiting, and he engages in backbiting until sahar in the warm and friendly company in the nights when there is opportunity and time, such fasting will be of no benefit and have no effect[85]

Elsewhere he also says:

ݡ ϡ ǐ ϡ ...

In this noble month, in which you have been invited to the divine banquet, if you do not gain insight (marifah) about God the Almighty nor insight into yourself, it means that you have not properly participated in the feast of Alla-h and failed to observe the etiquette of the feast...[86]

Therefore our aspirations should be high, and we should struggle to attain the position which would enable us enter the Divine Feast. In the supplication of Abu- Hamzah al-Thuma-li, which Ima-m al-Sajja-d (a) taught to his noble companion, we are taught to pray in the following way:

... ...

And I aspire to be a guest near You[87]

Notice to be a guest near Alla-h is quite different from being just an ordinary guest. In the above verse we seek that kind of insight and knowledge that is obtained lada- Alla-h - in the neighborhood of Alla-h; In simpler terms, we are not just after any kind of knowledge, but that which is Divinely inspired, which is also known as al-ilm al-ladunni- and is, according to the Qura-n, a product of piety; it is not a knowledge acquired from a human tutor.

It is, using the words of the Holy Prophet (s) a light that Alla-h infuses in the heart of whosoever He wishes to guide.[88] This is the kind of knowledge, say some exegetes of the Qura-n, that the following verse speaks about:

Be God-wary and God shall teach you, and God has knowledge of all things.[89]

And the path towards achieving taqwa-, as clearly specified in the Holy Qura-n, is siya-m (fasting). The Holy Qura-n says:

O you who have faith! Prescribed for you is fasting as it was prescribed for those who were before you, so that you may attain taqwa-.[90]

Hence, fasting is a factor that can refine the spirit of the human being so much that he can qualify to be taught directly by Alla-h (SwT).

Some supplications teach us to ask Almighty Alla-h to be hosted in paradise in this month. In one of the supplications recommended during sahar time of the nights of the Holy month of Ramada-n, we ask Almighty Alla-h for Paradise:


And very you have made obligatory for every guest to be entertained; and I am Your guest; therefore make my banquet tonight to be Paradise, O the Bestower of Paradise, O Bestower of forgiveness, and there is no strength nor any power save by You[91]

It is possible that the reason why this supplication was followed by the two sublime names of Alla-h - Ya- Wahha-b al-Jannah and Ya- Wahha-b al-maghfirah was to ask Alla-h (SwT) for Paradise, and thus, necessarily also ask Him for relief from the Hell Fire, which enables one to enter Paradise. In other words, we are trying to seek the same qira- (meal served to the guest) that we seek in holy precincts of Kabah during the seventh round of our circumambulation around the Kabah. We are taught to say:


O Alla-h, the house is Your house; and this servant is You servant; and this is where one who seeks Your Refuge from Hellfire stands; O Alla-h, surely I have stopped at Your courtyard; therefore make my banquet to be Your forgiveness.[92]

In fact there is clear mention of seeking salvation from the Hell Fire in many supplications that we are taught to read in the Holy month of Ramada-n. In the famous dua- that most of us recite after every prayer, we say:

... ...

O Exalted One, O All-Great, O All Forgiving, O All-Merciful.bless me with freedom from the Hell Fire.[93]

And during the a-ma-l of laylat al-qadr we are taught to open the Holy Qura-n and say:

... ...

and in it is Your Great Name and Your Most Beautiful Names and that which should be feared and hoped for, that you make me from those whom you have freed from Hell Fire[94]

Another very important point to bear in mind is that since these supplications were from infallible masters, the Paradise sought is not that which the laity like the author aspire, but levels beyond.

The mystics have classified Paradise into different levels, the highest of which is Jannat al-liqa- (Paradise of meeting the Lord). And this is what a true believers delight is in. The following prophetic tradition alludes to this verity:


For the one fasting there are two joys: joy when breaking his fast, and joy when he meets His Lord.[95]


[80] Biha- r al-Anwa-r, vol. 70, pg. 25.
[81] Some scholastic theologians being ignorant of the truth of meeting Alla-h have resorted to different fruitless interpretations. Ayatulla-h Maliki Tabri-zi- in his treatise on Meeting Alla-h (Risa-leye Liqa-ulla-h) criticizes them, saying: One who tries to understand with a mind free from foreign ambiguities that penetrate the heart, and looks at these different expressions would be convinced that the meaning of meeting God is not encountering His reward, examples of which are entering Paradise, eating apples, sharing the company of heavenly damsels, etc. How is this meaning related to such expressions? If one can attribute the word liqa- to a meaning of remote relevance, what should he do with regard to the other words [used to indicate the encounter of God]? For example, how should he translate the phrase looking at Gods countenance? How should we interpret the statement wa alhiqni- binu-rikal abhaj (and attach me to your most delightful light)? Can we say that the statement And enlighten the eyes of our hearts with the light of their looking at You means to eat pears?
[82] This is a reference to a part of the well-known whispered supplication of Shaba-n called Muna-ja-t Shaba-niyyah. See Mafa-ti-h al-Jina-n, pg. 158.
[83] Jiha-d-e-Akbar, pg. 45.
[84] It should be noted that this dictum is translated in two different ways. From the context of Ima-ms speech, it is apparent that he reads the dictum as wa ana ujza- bihi (I am its reward) unlike when it is read as wa ana- ajzi- bihi (and I grant its reward). Other divine scholars such as Mulla- Ha-di- Sabzawa-ri- in his Asra-r al-Hikam and Usta-d Shuja-i- in his Maqa-la-t [vol. 3, pg. 127] have translated this dictum is a similar manner. Nevertheless, both the meanings are correct.
[85] Jiha-d-e-Akbar, pg. 44.
[86] Jiha-d-e-Akbar, pg. 39.
[87] Mafa-ti-h al-Jina-n, pg. 194.
[88] al-Mahajjat al-Bayda-, vol. 5, pg. 45.
[89] Holy Qura-n, 2:282.
[90] Holy Qura-n, 2:283.
[91] Mafa-ti-h al-Jina-n, pg. 201.
[92] al-Mahajjat al-Bayda-, vol. 2, pg. 171.
[93] Mafa-ti-h al-Jina-n, pg. 176.
[94] Mafa-ti-h al-Jina-n, pg. 225.
[95] al-Mahajjat al-Bayda-, vol. 2, pg. 122.