Five Pillars of Islam

by Khwaja Kamal-ud-Din

Fasting [Sawm]

In reality Islam has, through its rational teachings, induced its votaries not only to abandon that unlawful to them, but even to give up what otherwise rightfully belongs to them in the hope that it may tend to the welfare and happiness of others. For one who has become accustomed under the inspiration of Islam to take such a view of his relations to his mundane connections and belongings, it is never difficult to manifest a spirit of utter self-sacrifice in the cause of the Lord. For how utterly impossible it becomes for a man to acquire by foul means what he would cheerfully give up for the service of others, though his own by all laws of justice and equity. Here is the way how Islam meets and provides for the case. It is quite admissible for one to eat and drink according to his means, but when we see that this same eating and drinking is given up for some time by a man through fear of nobody except for the love of God, then certainly it would be too hard for him to even over-indulge in it under ordinary circum­stances. Likewise, one has every right to enjoy the company and society of one’s wife, but when he gives it up within prescribed time during the month of Ramadan, without any compulsion, he truly has developed his character to the extent of not even casting a lustful glance on any other woman in ordi­nary times. Prayer and fasting therefore are the first rungs on the ladder by which a genuine votary climbs higher and higher. Pass your eye down all the 90 per cent of the crimes which darken our society, and you will surely find a cure for all of them in the simple expression spoken by Holy Prophet Muhammad, who says:

“If people would become responsible as to the right use of what lies between their lips and their feet, I stand responsible for their entry into Paradise.”

Islam prescribes the cure for this in fasting; which does not aim merely at this that we should torture our body, but that we should cultivate the habit of disallowing to ourselves the pleasures that are not ours, by disallowing to ourselves for the love of God those that are rightfully ours.