The binary of the five pillars of Islam... fasting

By Alija Izetbegović April 03, 2024 2813

The familiar Qur'anic equation that combines prayer and almsgiving (zakat) is nothing but a specific form of another equation, more frequently and universally binary, which is 'Believe and Do Good.' This equation can be considered the essential foundation of religious, ethical, and social injunctions in the Qur'an. It defines the two pillars that are indispensable and upon which Islam is entirely built. It might be appropriate to regard this equation as the primal and highest form of Islam. Indeed, Islam in its entirety falls under the formula of 'Unity of Binary.'

Uttering the testimony (shahada) which declares a person's embracing of Islam performs before witnesses due to the dual meaning it carries. Firstly, it signifies joining a spiritual community, which does not necessarily require witnesses, yet the individual embracing Islam, be they male or female, joins a community with its social and political dimensions, including legal obligations, not just moral ones.

The second meaning is that an individual adheres to a religion without the necessity of witnesses. This is a relationship between the individual and their Lord, where mere intent or an internal decision suffices in this regard.

Joining a religion in the presence of others includes an element of declaration, which is unnecessary from a purely religious standpoint, but Islam is not just a mere religion.

In fasting, there is undoubtedly a similar aspect. Muslims consider fasting during the month of Ramadan as an expression of community spirit; therefore, they are sensitive to any public violation of this duty.

So fasting is not just a matter of faith... It's not just a personal issue that concerns the individual alone, but it's a social commitment. This interpretation of fasting as a religious symbol is incomprehensible in other religions.

Islamic fasting is a unity that combines asceticism and happiness, even pleasure in certain cases. It is the most educational tool - natural and powerful - that has been put into human practice to this day.

Fasting is practiced in the palaces of kings and in the huts of peasants alike, in the house of the philosopher and in the house of the worker, and its greatest advantage is that it is practiced genuinely.

The duality that Islam is characterized by is evident in many other matters. Look at this verse from the Quran: "Allah will not call you to account for your thoughtless oaths, but He will hold you accountable for deliberate oaths. The penalty for a broken oath is to feed ten poor people from what you normally feed your own family, or to clothe them, or to free a bondsperson. But if none of this is affordable, then you must fast three days. This is the penalty for breaking your oaths. So be mindful of your oaths. This is how Allah makes things clear to you, so perhaps you will be grateful." (Al-Ma'idah: 89).

Thus, you see that socially beneficial actions in the outside world take precedence over purely spiritual actions, with the latter only being applied as a substitute when the former is impossible to perform. In this verse, fasting was a form of repentance, expiation, and a plea for forgiveness.

The duality also applies to the sources of Islam, where Islam has two fundamental sources: the Quran and the Prophetic Tradition (Sunnah), together representing inspiration and experience, eternity and time, thought and practice, idea and life. Islam is more of a way of life than a way of thinking.

All Quranic interpretations point out that without Sunnah, that is, without the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, understanding the Quran correctly becomes difficult. It is only through our understanding of the life of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, that Islam presents itself as a practical philosophy or a comprehensive plan for life as a whole.



The Source:

Islam Between East and West Book.

Read the Article in Arabic

Last modified on Wednesday, 03 April 2024 09:19