Fasting is Exclusive to Islam? Not True. Followers of Prior Prophets Must Abide by This Too!
Fasting (Shaum) is a great act of worship or ibadah in Islam for the Muslim and one of the “Pillars of Islam”, which we perform by neglecting our desires to please Allah Subhanahu wata’ala and hopes for Allah reward.
In Islam, fasting is obligatory in the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, Month of Ramadhan. In this month, there is complete abstinence from food, drink, smoke, marital relationship, and any evil thought, during daylight hours.
Rasulullah Shalallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam received command of fasting at second Hijriah in 623 AD.
The Prophet ( Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) would not begin fasting Ramadan until there was a verified sighting of the crescent indicating the month or with the testimony of two trustworthy Muslim witnesses or just one witness.
Long time ago before Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam had commended fast, the previous prophets had obtained an order to fast, accordance with Allah says:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون
Allah Subhanahu wata’ala says: “O ye who believe, has obliged upon you fasting as required to the people-the people who were before you, you may become the pious. (surah Al-Baqarah :183
It means from this verse, fasting which required to Muslims, was also been done by the previous prophet followers. In fact, the prophets before Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam (Prophet Muhammad ) has also been implementing fast.
Muslim historian, Ibn Kathir, believed that the teaching of fasting had been around since the days of Adam and Eve. According to him, Prophet Adam ‘alayhissalam fasted for three days each month throughout the year. There is also a saying that Adam‘alayhissalam fasted on Muharram 10 as the gratitude due to meet with his wife, Eve, in Arafat. While others argued, Adam ‘alayhissalam fasted day and night when he descended from heaven by Allah.
Although in the Qur’an or hadith does not explain how a form of fasting by Adam and later generations, but there are indications that the religions brought by the apostles earlier were monotheistic religions that taught belief in to the Oneness of God (Allah).
As well as Prophet Noah (Nuuh ‘alayhissalam), fasted for three days each month throughout the year, such as fasting of Prophet Adam ‘alayhissalam, he ordered his people to worship Allah and fasted for months when their lives were floating around in a boat floating in the middle of the ocean due to severe flooding, and continued to repent to Allah.
Prophet Ibrahim ‘alayhissalam is also known for his love of fast, especially when he wanted to receive revelation from Allah, which was then used as the suhuf Ibrahim. Fasting in Abrahamic faiths held by Ismail alayhissalam , son of Ibrahim’s famous devout worship, and fasting followed by Ishaq Ibrahim alayhissalam (Abraham son of Sarah).
Prophet Ya’qub ‘alayhissalam known as parents and apostles who liked fast, especially for the safety of her sons.
The most popular commands of fasting today is fasting as the Prophet Daud ‘alayhisalam (David). His fasting is quite special because Prophet Daud ‘alayhissalam was not only a soldier, but also a king and a war leading expert. The fasting is one day of fasting, not fasting on the next day. In fact, fasting of Prophet Daud ‘alayhissalam is apparently lasted until Prophet Solomon (Sulaiman‘alayhissalam), his son, and prophets afterward. Implementation of fasting was since the time of Prophet Ibrahim AS. And until now, the followers of Prophet Muhammad SAW remained fasting like Prophet Daud ‘alayhissalam.
The Prophet said to me, “You fast daily all the year and pray every night all the night?” I replied in the affirmative. The Prophet said, “If you keep on doing this, your eyes will become weak and your body will get tired. He who fasts all the year is as he who did not fast at all. The fasting of three days (a month) will be equal to the tasting of the whole year.” I replied, “I have the power for more than this.” The Prophet said, “Then fast like the fasting of Daud ‘alayhissalam who used to fast on alternate days (day after day) and would never flee from the battle field, on meeting the enemy. (Narrated by: ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin Al-‘As: Bukhari :: Book 3 :: Volume 31 :: Hadith 200)
Commands fasting for people of Moses (Musa ‘alayhissalam) is a series of obligations that required fasting on people of Prophet Muhammad, as in Surah Al-Baqarah: 183.
Fasting performed by the Prophet Moses ((Musa ‘alayhissalam ) along with his people is much more severe than by Prophet Muhammad people. They were required to fast for 40 days and 40 nights.
In a narration also found that the Jews fasted on every 10th of Muharram, as gratitude for the salvation of Moses from Pharaoh pursuit. So Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam also commanded his people to fast on the 9th and 10th of Muharram, known as Ashura fasting.
Fasting during Prophet ‘Isaa alayhis salaam era restricted several activities such as speaking which was restricted at the time of the birth of Prophet Isaa ‘alayhissalam. Prophet ‘Isaa ‘alayhis salaam also spent forty days in the same way and only then did the fountainhead of wisdom flowed out of his heart and tongue.
إِنِّي نَذَرْتُ لِلرَّحْمَنِ صَوْمًا فَلَنْ أُكَلِّمَ الْيَوْمَ إِنْسِيًّا
It means: “… Verily I have vowed a fast to the Merciful, then I’m not going to talk to human being on this day. (surah Maryam : 26)
Knowing past history of fasting is important to note that now days as Muslims, we fast by following Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, the last Prophet, so we fasting like Rasulullah Shallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam fasted.
O Muslima, after a few days we will be entering the Month of Sha’ban, let us prepare to welcome Ramadan. the month in which Muslims are obliged fasting.
May Allah always guide us the straight road, through all His commands and avoid prohibitions to achieve divine blessing in the holy Month of Ramadan. Allahumma Aamiin.
Source: -‘The people of Fasting In Past and Present’ (by Sismono )
– Shekh Sayyid Sulaymaan Nadwi
Riyadul Jannah volume 9 No. 11