In this lesson, Shaykh Faraz continues his review of Imam Ghazali’s Ihya with an overview of the chapter on fasting. Imam Al-Ghazali covers both the religious guidance related to fasting as well as the spiritual meanings of fasting. This is so that we can act with intent and understanding of why we engage in the worship that we do. Shaykh Faraz previews Imam Ibn ‘Ajiba’s tafsir of the Fatiha. In the verse “It is You alone we worship and it is You alone we depend upon” (إِيَّاكَ نَعْبُدُ وإِيَّاكَ نَسْتَعِينُ). This verse outlines that we should only focus our intent on Allah alone when we engage in fasting. Furthermore, we should only rely on Allah to complete our fasts as well.
Shaykh Faraz details in his talk the benefits of fasting:  One of the benefits of fasting weakens our mere humanness and the material world. Excessive eating and drinking makes heavy our attachment to the material world and the more the material world is real to us the more the subtle reality of spiritual meanings are veiled to us.  A second benefit is that it upholds the Divine characteristic of Al-Samadiyyah (Allah is free of all need). When we recognize our complete neediness to Allah through fasting we can also recognize the One who is free of all need.  It purifies and softens the heart. Fasting gets you to recognize your weakness which purifies and softens our hearts to turn to Allah.  Fasting facilitates feeling lowly and humbled and ridding oneself of arrogance. The lower self is not humbled by anything like hunger.  It breaks one’s desire for sin and diminishes the control of one’s lower self over them. Fasting restrains one from certain desires and facilitates refraining from certain sins.  Fasting facilitates one having more time for one to focus their time on the spiritual instead of the material.  Fasting directs one towards contemplation.  It is a shield from the Shaytan.
Shaykh Faraz continues to explain that there are three levels of restraint that one can strive for while fasting:  Food and Drink  All the things that are displeasing to Allah  All the things that distract us from Allah Lastly, the lesson concludes with a reminder that the believer should seek to be with Allah even when they are with people, such that their heart is always busied with Allah no matter what else they are doing of worldly things. In this brief overview of Imam Ghazali’s opus magnum, Ihya Ulum al-Din (Renewing the Religious Sciences), this series will serve as a blueprint for how the believer can bring to life their religion. It will aim to help the believer to not just practice the form of the religion properly, but to also practice it with excellence.
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