Sufi Quranic Commentary on Fasting


A section on fasting from the Sufi Qur'an commentary of Ruzbihan al-Baqli (1128-1209 A.D.):

"O you who have faith, fasting is decreed for you, just as it was decreed for those who were before you" (Quran 2:183).

This is a call to the companions of the hearts (ashab al-qulub) and an address to the seekers of the crescent (hilal) of witnessing in the regions of the heavens of the unmanifest realms. Namely, O folk of certainty, it is an obligatory duty for you to abstain (imsak) from existent being (kawn) primarily (aslan), because you are [involved] in seeking witnessing.

So it is necessary that you fast from the familiar things of physical existence in the station of servanthood, just as it was decreed for the messengers, prophets, gnostics, and lovers before you; so that you might become freed from the dirt of humanness and reach the stations of security (amn) and nearness.

"[Fasting] for a limited number of days" (Quran 2:184 cont.), and they are the days of the time of the world. By means of this address He incites His friends (awliya) to abandon [for a limited time] indulging in pleasantries, getting married, sexual intercourse, socializing, being frivolous, the delights of life in all kinds of lusts, drinking cold drinks, and wearing fine clothes.

Namely, be patient, O My friends (awliya), with the lusts of the world, since indeed they [i.e. such days] are days that will come to an end soon, so that you may break the fast by means of My pre-temporal meeting and live in My generous proximity.

"So whoever among you is ill or on a journey, [fast] the same number of other days" (Quran 2:184). Namely, whoever among those who are cut off is ill on account of My separation (furqati) or is on the journey of estrangement from My union (wuslati), he must make up the days of weakness (al-fatrah) after his reaching the station of nearness (qurbah) and witnessing (mushahadah).

"And for those who are capable there is a sacrifice [that they can perform]" (Quran 2:184). Namely, for those who are capable of abstaining from existent being (al-kawn) -- characterized by ascetic withdrawal (zuhd) from the world [throughout] the days of his life, while not performing the action of the folk of capability due to the paucity of his receiving grace (tawfiq) and guidance -- there is a sacrifice. And it is the service of God's friends (awliya' Allah) by means of [their] expending (badhl min) [their] selves and wealth (mal) for those who have abandonned the world to its folk. And that is [the allusion of] His (t) words "[...there is a sacrifice, giving] food to the wretched" (Quran 2:184 cont.). The wretched are those who accidentally encounter the station of variegating (talwin) without reaching the station of stability (tamkin).

"And whoever voluntarily does good (ta'awwa'a) [beyond what he is obligated to do], it will be better for him" (Quran 2:184 cont.). Namely, whoever, sacrifices (compensating for his inability ('ajz) to fulfill the truth of the pious action [mu'amalah]) --in excess of the obligatory duty that is necessary for him-- [sacrificing something] from that which is available (mawjud) [to him] after enduring (muqasat) what was lacking (al-mafqud), it is better for him than seeking dispensations.

"And that you fast…" (Quran 2:184 cont.) [38] namely, that you abstain from what the folk of the world are preoccupied with.

"is better for you" (Quran 2:184 cont.) in establishing (thubat) your state and the strength (quwwah) of your will (iradah).

"if you were to know" (Quran 2:184 cont.), namely, if you gain gnosis of the joy of those who fast, both a joy in the world by means of unveiling (mukashafah) and a joy in the hereafter by pure witnessing (bi-sirf al-mushahadah).

"The month of Ramadan, in which the Quran was revealed as a form of guidance for people and as clarifications deriving from the Guidance and the Criterion" (Quran 2:185) is a month in which there is the burning of the hearts (akbad) of the folk of the direct encounter (ahl al-'ayan) due to ardor (shawq) for witnessing the Infinitely Compassionate (al-Rahman). Hence, the Quran was revealed in it on account of the tenderness (riqqah) of the hearts of those addressed, [a tenderness] deriving from the fires of striving (mujahadah) and [from] the unveiling of the lights of witnessing.

It was said, "It [i.e. the Quran] was revealed [in the month of Ramadan for the following reasons:] on account of its [i.e. Ramadan's] excellence, God's choosing it out of [all] the months, fasting in it being made obligatory, and the rising during its nights with the Quran being made a sunnah.

"So whoever among you witnesses the month, let him fast during it" (Quran 2:185 cont.) Namely, whoever comes during it to the station of seeking (talab), let him wean himself of suckling from the physical world for the sake of reaching the station of rejoicing.

Also, "whoever among you witnesses the month, let him fast" from drink and food; and whoever witnesses Me, let him fast from violations (mukhalafat) and sins (atham).

It is said, "Whoever among you witnesses the month, let him fast during it" and whoever witnesses Me (shahidani) and witnesses directly (shahada) My command, let him fast during all of His moments (awqat) from violations. And whoever witnesses the month while having the vision (ru'yah) of the affirmation of [Divine] awesomeness, let him abstain in it from foolish talk (laghw) and villification. And whoever witnesses [the month] while having the vision of his acting (fi'l) and fasting, God (Allah) has no need [for him] to abandon his food and drink. And he is just as the Prophet (s) informed [us], "There are many who fast whose share of fasting is [simply] hunger and thirst."

May peace and God's infinite mercy and blessings be received by all.

Shared by Sidi 'Abd al-Haqq on Sufis Without Borders Yahoo Group


# Related:
* A Sufi Masters Advice on Fasting
* Purpose of Fasting

* Also you may read Ruzbihan al-Baqli's Commentary on "Guide us on the straight path" (Qur'an 1:6)
* Who was Ruzbihan Al-baqli?

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Technology of the Heart: Sufi Quranic Commentary on Fasting
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