Thursday, September 21, 2006

Spiritual Wisdom of Fasting

God Most High said: ‘Fasting is for My sake and I bestow rewards for it’.

The Messenger of God (may God bless and preserve him) said: ‘The supplication of one who fasts is answered’. This [tradition] is evidence of the excellence of hunger, so accustom your carnal souls to it, for it is the root of piety as well as its foundation, method, and guiding light. By hunger he who arrives arrives, he who obtains obtains, and he who attains attains.

St. Athanasios the Great said, "Let us love fasting exceedingly, for fasting cures diseases, casts out demons, drives away evil thoughts, renders the mind brighter, the heart pure, the body sanctified, and presents man to the throne of God."

Shaykh Abu Madyan (may God be please with him) said: ‘Oh People of Will, practice hunger, the fast of intimate union, solitude, and remembrance, for by [the practice of hunger] you will attain what you desire, you will see how the gushing springs of wisdom will issue forth from your hearts and your tongues, and by means of it you will arrive at your Lord.’

He who is hungry arrives and he who is satiated is cut off. He who remembers [God] is moved to meditate, while he who forgets is himself forgotten. This is because hunger comprises ten qualities: the purification of the lower soul from lusts and doubts; remembrance; meditation; the shedding of blameworthy attributes and the acquisition of those that are praiseworthy; the emulation of spiritual masters who have gone before, as well as the Companions of the Prophet and those who succeeded them among the first generation of the pious; preoccupation with suppressing the lower soul; and preventing the lower soul from following its lusts.

Have you not observed [the case of] Adam (may peace be upon him)? Iblis could not prevail over him except by means of his lust.

Thus, hunger is the vehicle of the worshippers, the way of the pious, the method of the gnostics, the key of those who are guided, and the goal of those who have arrived at the highest [level] of ‘Illiyyin. Said Shaykh Abu Madyan (may God have mercy upon him): ‘I have examined the writings of the Prophets, the pious, the Companions [of the Prophet and their] Successors, and the scholars of past generations; yet I have not found anything that causes attainment to God Most High without [the addition of] hunger. [This is because] one who is hungry becomes humble, one who is humble begs, and the one who begs attains. So hold fast to hunger, my brother, and practice it constantly, for by means of it you will attain what you desire and will arrive at that for which you hope.’

Ibrahim ibn Adham (may God be pleased with him) was asked about union with God Most High, and said: ‘Hunger and asceticism are one. He who is hungry abstains and he who abstains arrives; he who arrives attains (and he who attains remains).’

Someone said to Rabi’a al-’Adawiyya (may God be pleased with her): ‘By what is the Intimate united to God Most High?’ ‘By hunger,’ she replied. So she was asked, ‘Then what is hunger?’ She replied: ‘Hunger is the act of keeping the lower soul away from [sensual] delights. He who keeps his lower soul away from worldly delights attains his goal in the Hereafter.’

Someone said to al-Fudhayl ibn ‘Iyad (may God be please with him): ‘By what means did you arrive at this noble station?’ ‘By hunger,’ he said, ‘and asceticism, humility, abandonment of the vain hopes of the lower soul, the [maintenance of] constant union with God, the obligation of spiritual retreat, and by fearing God Most High.’

Said Shaykh Abu Madyan: ‘True spiritual inclination is only made correct for the aspirant by lowering the gaze [out of modesty]; preserving one’s chastity; avoiding that which is forbidden; abandoning vanity, concern with one’s reputation, and lusts; constantly maintaining prayer in the mosque; leaving aside that which does not concern you; obliging retreat from mankind; and practicing asceticism in regard to the material world.’

Someone said to ‘Utba al-Ghulam: ‘What is the nature of the hunger that unites [man] to God Most High?’ ‘Fasting,’ he replied, ‘and its constant practice.’

Credit: Spiritual Tendencies
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