It is not Just About Self-restraining
According to shari’a definition, fasting is “An act of worship dedicated to Allah the Exalted by restraining from anything that could invalidate it since the breaking of dawn until the sun set.” As for invalidators of fasting, in Islam, are: Eating, drinking, deliberate vomiting, and having sexual intercourse.
If there’s any kind of self-restraining beside it, then it is not considered as fasting in Islam.
For example: If there’s a person who aim to get closer to Allah the Exalted by restraining himself from consuming meat; or by consuming only white rice; or by restraining himself from talking to anyone; or from sleeping; or from sitting; or from sheltering; and so on; those are not valued as fasting in Islam.
In a hadith, it is mentioned that one day, when the Messenger of Allah was preaching, one of his companions chose to stand under the very hot sun. The Messenger asked, what is he doing. The other companions answered that he is Abu Israil, and he had vowed not to sit, take shelter, talk, and he is fasting. Upon hearing that, the Messenger said, “Tell him to sit, shelter, talk, and continue his fast.” (Narrated by Bukhari no. 6704)
Upon explaining about this hadith, Ibn Hajar al Asqalani said, “In this hadith, It is stated that self-restraining from permitted acts is not considered as obeying Allah the Exalted.” (See: Fath al Bari: 11/590)
The aim of fasting is to obtain Allah’s please. Whereas the ways to obtain Allah’s please is by following His messenger’s guidance, and not by performing random act of worship, since worship has its own rules.
As for fasting in particular, its rules has been described completely by Allah’s messenger. All we have to do is following it, without making novel form of worship in it. Just do as what other muslims generally do. There’s no need to be different; if the religion is similar, why do differently? The teaching of Allah’s messenger is aimed for all mankind. He didn’t conceal anything of worship rituals from certain group of people.
It is different from restraining from several kinds of food by health reason, or diet; it is alright since it is not meant to be a kind of worship. As for worshipping act, it must be based on evident indication from Allah’s messenger, not on man-made reason, or on each people’s desire.
In fact, It is not enough for us to worship with sincere intention, or to get close to Allah the Exalted alone; rather, it has to be in accordance with stipulations and limitations set by shari’a. Whether it is in its timing, form, or ritual.
Only by learning shari’a knowledge, we could differentiate the right from wrong; with religious knowledge, we could understand worship act that fits the sunnah; through knowledge, we could defy the influence of emotion or desire in valuing thing.
Let’s be satisfied with the status quo in worship, the ones that come under valid indication from the Messenger of Allah, and perform it sincerely in Allah’s Cause.
Author: Ustadz Muhammad Yassir, Lc (Lecturer at STDI Imam Syafi’i Jember)