The Three Categories of Fasting (Roza)

Imam Ghazzali Rehmatullahi alaih has divided fasting into three categories :

1.)  In the first group is the fast of those who merely abstain from food, drink and sensual activities from before true dawn (Fajar al-Sadiq) until after sunset, as is the case with the common people.

2.)  In the second group is the fast of special people who protect their ears, eyes, tongue, hands, feet and other limbs from sin. This can be achieved by the following six things :  

2.1 The person should protect his eyes from seeing all that is contemptible and undesirable as well as from anything that would distract him from the rememberance of Allah. The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam said :

    " An evil gaze is a poisonous arrow from the poisonous arrow's of the devil. Thus he who abstains from an evil gaze due to the fear of Allah Almighty, will be granted Faith (Iman) by Allah Almighty, whose sweetness will be felt in every part of the heart. " 

2.2 The tongue should be protected from uttering worthless abusive talk, lies, back-biting, etc. During the time of the Beloved Prophet  Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam two women were observing fast. At the latter part of the day they were much troubled by hunger and thirst which threatened their lives. A message was sent to the Messenger of Allah Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam to seek permission for them to break their fast. The Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam sent a cup and asked them to spew out whatever they had eaten into it. When the first woman spewed, it contained half blood and half flesh. The second woman too spewed the same. On seeing the astonishment of the people, the Beloved Prophet Salla Allahu ta'ala 'alayhi wa Sallam said that although these two women fasted, they merely abstained from things which are made lawful by Allah Almighty but perpetrated that which was forbidden by Allah. They sat together and were back-biting about people. Back-biting about a person is like eating his flesh.

2.3  Ears should be protected from hearing every sound which is forbidden to hear. If back-biting takes place in any gathering one should walk out of it. It is reported in a Hadith that the one who back-bites and the one who listens to it are both sinners. One should save oneself from hearing this type of evil and listen to that which is good according to Shariah.

2.4  At the time of Iftaar do not over eat which would make a person indolent.

2.5  After Iftaar let your heart remain between fear and hope. We are not certain whether our fast has been accepted although we should not despair of the Mercy of Allah Almighty.

2.6  Refrain from walking to any place or gathering in which anything un-Islamic is said or done; e.g. cinema, dance hall, gambling places, etc.

3.)   In the third category is the fast of those very special and selected persons who, in addition to, abstaining from the above keep their hearts aloof from all wordly thought's. They spend every moment of it in total meditation of Allah Almighty and do not think of anything besides Him. They spend every moment of the day and the night in the remembrance and contemplation of Allah Almighty. This type of fast is observed by the Prophet's of Allah, the Faithful servants of Allah and those who have obtained nearness to Him.

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