The Degrees of Fasting

The Degrees of Fasting extracted from Habib Muhammad bin Abdullah Al-Aydarus’s Ramadhan compendium, Ramadhan Lessons for the Muhammadan Nation (Ad-Durus ar-Ramadhaniyyah lil-Ummah al-Muhammadiyyah)

Muhammad Al-Aydarus

Imam Al-Ghazali (may Allah be pleased with him) says, “Know that fasting is of three degrees:

  • The Fast of the Masses (Sawm al-Umum)
  • The Fast of the Elite (Sawm al-Khusus)
  • The Fast of the Elect of the Elite (Sawm Khusus al-Khusus)

The Fast of the Masses (Sawm al-Umum) is leave of the stomach and the genitals from fulfilling desires whilst the Fast of the Elite (Sawm al-Khusus) is leave of the hearing, the sight, the tongue, the hands, the feet, and all the different body parts from sin. As for the Fast of the Elect of the Elite (Sawm Khusus al-Khusus), it is the fasting of the heart from worldly concerns and worldly thoughts – leave from everything except Allah, Mighty and Majestic, in completeness.”

It is narrated that al-Hasan al-Basri had passed by a group of people who were laughing merrily and said:

إن الله جعل في شهر رمضان مضمارًا لخلقه يستبقون فيه لطاعته، فسبق قوم ففازوا، وتخلف أقوام فخابوا، فالعجب كل العجب للضاحك اللاعب في اليوم الذي فاز فيه المسابقون وخاب فيه المبطلون

Editor’s note:

The people of Tarim are known to extol Ramadhan by exerting their bodies and hearts in worship of Allah throughout its days and nights – completing the Qur’an recital several times in a single Ramadhan, and constantly occupying themselves in zikr (remembrance), supererogatory solah (the recommended, non-obligatory ritual prayer), and doa (supplications).

Traditionally, the mosques of Tarim hold Tarawih at different times of the night between Isha’ and Subuh. This tradition allows the people of Tarim to perform Tarawih at different mosques within their blessed city each night in Ramadhan. Hence, it is not uncommon to find Tarimis performing 100 rakaats of Tarawih or more every night. May Allah help us emulate the people of Tarim in giving Ramadhan its due, wherever we may be. Amin.


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