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This is an alleviation from your Lord

178. " O' you who have Faith! Retaliation (Qisas) is prescribed for you in the matter of the (unlawfully) murdered: the freeman for the freeman,the slave for the slave,the female for the female. But for him who is forgiven somewhat by his (aggrieved religious) brother, then prosecution (for blood-wit) should be made according to a fair manner (ma'ruf) and let the payment be made to him with kindliness. This is an alleviation from your Lord, and a mercy; so whoever transgresses the limits after this, he shall have a painful punishment."

179. " And in (the law of) retaliation there is (saving of) life for you, O' people of understanding, so that you may guard yourselves (against evil) ."

Occasion of Revelation:

The custom in the Age of Ignorance among some Arabs was so that when an individual was murdered from their tribe, they would decide to kill as many members from the murderer's tribe as they could. That thought was so harsh that they were ready to destroy even the entire people of the murderer's tribe for only a single murder. Then, the above verse was sent down and announced the just law of retaliation, (Qisas) .

This Islamic decree was, indeed, a medial status between the two different injunctions which were current at that time. Before the

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revelation of this ordinance of Islam, some people considered retaliation necessary, with no changes, so that nothing else was permissible to substitute it, while some other groups believed that only the rule of blood-wit should be followed. So, Islam decreed the law of retaliation in the case of the discontent of the heirs of the murdered, and blood-wit when both parties agree upon it.

Commentary:

Saving of Life in Retaliation:

From this verse on, in the current Sura, a series of decrees and ordinances of Islam are stated and completed. At first, it begins with the protection of the value of blood which is an extraordinary important problem in social connections. Through this verse, Islam makes all the concerning old customs invalid. The Qur'an, addressing the believers, says:

" O' you who have Faith! Retaliation (Qisas) is prescribed for you in the matter of the (unlawfully) murdered: ..."

The Holy Qur'an, in the case of some indispensible commands, sometimes makes use of the phrase: " It is prescribed for you " to state the matter. The above verse, for example, is an instance of this application where the coming verses, which speak about ' making bequest ' and ' fasting ', are other ones. In any case, this particular phrase makes the importance and emphasis of the theme clear, because those matters are always written that, from any point of view, have reached to the state of positiveness, and are earnest.

As it was pointed out in the occasion of revelation, these verses, with the application of the term retaliation and in order to moderate the intemperances which the Age of Ignorance fulfilled about murder, show that the heirs of the murdered are rightful to accomplish, against the murderer, exactly the same that that person has committed upon the murdered.

But the Qur'an does not suffice only to this amount. In this very verse, it exposes the problem of equality to discussion with a particular explicitness where it continues saying:

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"...the freeman for the freeman, the slave for the slave, the female for the female. ..."

Allah willing, we will explain that this idea is not an evidence, as some have considered, for the superiority of the male-blood to the female-blood, and that a male murderer, under certain conditions, can be punished by the law of retaliated for the murder of a woman.

Then, to make it clear that the subject of retaliation is merely a right for the heirs of the murdered and it is not a convincing ordinance for them when they can simply forgive the murderer, if they wish, and take a blood-wit, or even, they can take no blood-wit at all, it immediately adds:

"... But for him who is forgiven somewhat by his (aggrieved religious) brother, then prosecution (for blood-wit) should be made according to a fair manner (ma'ruf) and let the payment be made to him with kindliness. ..."

Thus, on one hand, the avengers of blood are advised not to be immoderate in taking a blood-price if they dispense with retaliation, and take the blood-wit with a fair price and according to what Islam has appointed and also by installments so that the party be able to pay it.

And, on the other hand, through the sentence: "...let the payment be made to him with kindness ", it recommends the murderer to pay the blood-price in a right style and without any negligence so that his debt be entirely paid on time. Therefore, the Qur'an has defined the duty of each party and how they should treat to each other.

At the end of the verse, for emphasis and to attract the attentions to the fact that transgressing the limits of Allah, from the side of whoever it may be, deserves a severe punishment, it says:

"... This is an alleviation from your Lord, and a mercy; so whoever transgresses the limits after this, he shall have a painful punishment."

This equitable command for ' retaliation ' and ' forgiveness ', which makes up a quite, logical manly assemblage, condemns, on one hand, the wrong method of the Ignorance Age which considered no equality in retaliation and, similar to the tyrants of this very age of space, sometimes killed hundreds of people in excuse of the murder of

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one person.

And, on the other hand, it does not shut the door of pardon to people. In the meantime, it does not lower the respect of blood, and does not allow murderers to become bold and presumptuous. And also, thirdly, it announces that neither of the two parties are permitted to transgress the limits after accepting the principle of pardon and blood-wit. This command was issued in spite of the old custom of the Ignorant tribes where the heirs of the murdered might kill the murderer even after forgiving him and taking the blood-wit.

* * * *

The next verse, in a short but very expressive sentence, answers a great deal of questions in regards to the problem of retaliation. It says

" And in (the law of) retaliation there is (saving of) life for you, O' people of understanding, so that you may guard yourselves (against evil) ."

This verse, which in the Qur'anic text consists of ten particles, is expressed in utmost eloquence and clarity. It is so interesting that its first phrase has become as an Islamic motto used by common Muslim people. It clearly shows that Islamic law of retaliation is not for revenging at all, but it is a door-way to life for men to let them continue living.

Retaliation, on one hand, guards the safety of the life of the society, because if the ordinance of retaliation were not in any form at all, the hard-hearted persons would feel security and, consequently, the lives of people would be in danger. The evidence for this is the countries wherein the law of retaliation has been nullified and the number of murders and crime has incredibly increased.

On the other hand, the law of retaliation causes the life of a homicidal person be saved since it prevents him considerably from the thought of murder and brings him under control.

For the sake of the necessity of equality and order, the law of retaliation is a hinder against the frequent slaughters and puts an end to the customs of some Ignorant tribes in which a single murder has been the pretext of several murders and the latter, in turn, has been the cause

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of further slaughters, too. By this way, the law of retaliation has also stopped some of those homicides and caused a few societies continue to live peacefully.

Regarding the fact that it is only in the absence of pardon that the ordinance of retaliation can be executed, the existence of the Islamic law of retaliation, in general, is also another phase opened to life and living.

The concluding phrase which says: "... so that you may guard yourselves (against evil) " completes this wise ordinance of Islam. This meaning is also considered as a warning which halts or retards any oppression and transgression.

Retaliation & Pardon, a Complete Assemblage

Islam, in all respects, follows the problems inclusively and with their proper practical aspects. It has stated the right perfect idea about the proposition of unlawfully murdered, far from any injustice or excessive progressiveness. This Islamic law is similar neither to the perverted Jewish law, which emphasizes only on mere retaliation, nor to the present Christianity, which advises its followers to pave only the way of either pardon or compensation; because the latter causes to embolden the homicides and the former can become a factor of harsh vengeance and brutality.

Suppose that the murdered and the murderer be two brothers, or they have some background of friendship or social connections. In this case, bonding to retaliation, may produce a new additional grievance for the family of the murdered, especially when the concerning people are full of human love and affection, then, forcing them to execute the act of retaliation, itself, can be considered another grief and torture upon them. On the other hand, limiting the law to pardon and compensation alone, also makes the corruptive people bolder.

This is why Islam has decreed the law of retaliation as the main ordinance and, to moderate it, has added the ordinance of pardon beside it and along with it.

In other words, the heirs of the murdered are rightful to choose one of the following varieties:

1- The execution of retaliation70

2- To pardon without taking any blood-wit.

3- To pardon with taking the blood-wit. (In this case, of course, the consent of the murderer is also necessarily considered.)

Explanations:

It is possible that some groups object that the command in the verses of retaliation is that a ' man ' should not be killed for the murder of a ' woman ', then, what is the difference between the life of a man and that of a woman? Why should a male not be killed under the punishment of the law of retaliation for the slaughter of an innocent female, ِ a gender (i.e. the feminine gender) that forms half of the population over the earth ?

The answer to this question is that: the verse does not mean a ' male ' should not be retaliated against by capital punishment for a ' female '. But according to what is detailed in the books of Islamic jurisprudence, the heirs of the murdered woman can punish the male-murderer by the law of retaliation (i.e. capital punishment) on condition that they pay half of the blood-price.

In other words, the purpose of the lack of retaliation (Qisas) of a ' man ' for the slaughter of a ' woman ' is a retaliation without any condition; but his killing is permissible, of course, when half of the blood-price is paid.

No explanation is necessary here that the payment of the aforementioned sum for the execution of the punishment under the law of retaliation does not mean that a woman, from the point of philanthropy, is lower than a man, or a female is less dear than a male. This is, indeed, absolutely a wrong and illogical imagination. The apparent form of the term ' blood-price ' may have been the origin of the appearance of this imagination. The act of the payment of the half sum of blood-price is only for the compensation of the loss that the man's family members suffer from his capital punishment by the law of retaliation.

The expansion of the explanation is that: males are usually the effective financial factor of their families. It is often men, in families, who earn a living and pay money for the expenditures, in general, and

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run the economical affairs therein. Therefore, the difference between a man and a woman, from the point of economy and finance in their own family, is quite clear to everybody. If this difference be not observed, the remaining family members and the innocent children of the murdered man have surely to suffer an amount of unreasonable financial damage. Hence, Islam, with the rule of the payment of half of the blood-wit for the punishment of a ' man ' by the law of retaliation, has considered the rights of all members, and prevented the unforgivable injury and stroke that a family may be given. Islam never lets the rights of some individuals, such as the children of the person who has been punished by the law of retaliation, be trod under the pretext of the term ' equality '.

It is possible, of course, that some women earn a living in their own family better than men there. But we know that a law or an ordinance does not turn around the pivot of an individual, and we must compare the totality of men with the totality of women.

Another point that attracts the attention, and is understood from the phrase " by his brother ", is that Islam strengthens the relation of brotherhood between its followers so firm that even after the illegitimate shedding of blood it is still valid. So, to encourage the heirs of the murderer to forgiveness and moderation, and also to put their affection in motion, Islam introduces them as the brothers of the murderer. And, this meaning is both surprising and interesting. The mentioned situation, of course, is about those murderers who have taken action in this great heinous sin under the force of emotion, wrath, and the like of them, and the murderers have also become regretful and repented of their wrong action. But, the murderers who are proud of their crime and, with no regret or repentance, boast about it, are neither worthy of the appellation of ' bretheren ' nor are they eligible for pardon.

180. " It is prescribed for you, when death approaches (any) one of you, and if he leaves behind wealth for parents and near relatives that he makes a bequest in a fair manner (this is) a duty (incumbent) on the pious ones."

181. " Whoever then changes it (the bequest) after he has heard it, the sin thereof shall be on those who change it. Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing."

182. " But if any one fears injustice or sin on the part of a testator, and establishes agreement among them (the parties concerned) , then there is no sin upon him; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

Commentary:

Bequest in a Fair Manner

The speech in former verses was about problems such as life, murder, murdered, and retaliation, while in these verses a part of the ordinances of bequest in relation with the financial affairs is referred to, where it says:

" It is prescribed for you, when death approaches (any) one of you, and if he leaves behind wealth for parents and near relatives that he makes

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a bequest in a fair manner - ..."

Then, at the end of the verse, it adds:

"... (this is) a duty (incumbent) on the pious ones."

Bequest should not be considered as a bad omen. Some persons think that bequest is a sign of death or passing away soon, while bequest is a kind of providence and farsightedness. So, if the verse tells us to leave a bequest at the presence of death by saying: " When death approaches (any) one of you, ...", it is for the reason that those moments are the last occasions; else, an individual can lay down a bequest years before the time of death.

Some Islamic groups have considered the bequest an obligatory ordinance, but as it is understood from the phrase "...(this is) a duty on the pious ones " this action is voluntary, otherwise it would say: this is a duty on the believers.

According to the attitudes of the Islamic commentators and jurisprudents, leaving a bequest is, of course, incumbent when the one is in debt to people or there is a religious duty upon the one which must be fulfilled. These duties may be such as: one fifth levy (khums) , poor-tax (zakat) , performance of pilgrimage (Hajj) , etc., and in other ordinary cases, similar to them, leaving a bequest is emphatically praiseworthy.

By the way, in this verse, the Arabic term ' khayr ' has been applied for ' wealth ' to make it manifest that Islam knows wealth a good thing and a blessing from Allah when it has been earned in a lawful way and is spent alongside the path of the help and benefit of people. This idea nullifies the wrong attitudes of those who think of wealth substantially as a bad thing. Islam hates those deviated pretenders to piety who have not recognized the spirit of Islam and think of Islamic piety as a quality equivalent to poverty. The wrong thought and behaviour of such apparent believers cause the stagnation of some Islamic societies and, consequently, the development of the exploiters.

In the meanwhile, this very meaning of the verse is a slight hint to the idea that the logical abundance of wealth is lawful in Islam. The evidence is that the unlawful wealth that a person leaves behind in this

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world is not ' fair ', but it is adversity and evil.

Some Islamic traditions indicate that the word 'khayr', here, refers to the considerable wealth that needs being bequeathed. Therefore the inconsiderable properties, which the heirs can divide between themselves according to the canonical law of heritage, need not be bequeathed. In other words, a small amount of wealth is not something that one separates one third of it to leave a bequest for.(1)

The phrase: "...when death approaches (any) one of you," is for the statement of the last opportunity available for leaving down a bequest so that if it be postponded, it may be missed. At any rate, it is fairly appropriate that we, having forethought and utilizing our opportunity, prepare ourselves by writing down our bequest. This manner, as it is understood from the Islamic literature, not only is good but also quite admirable.

The Messenger of Allah said: " Whosoever dies and has left a bequest, has died as a martyr." (2) This meaning is considerably mentioned in some other traditions, too. Then, it is from improvidence of a person who imagines that leaving a bequest is a bad omen through which a person pushes his death forward. But, bequeathing is a kind of undeniable factual farsightedness which, although it might not prolong the longevity, will surely never shorten the life time.

Bequest restricted with the term / bil ma'ruf / (in a fair manner) shows that a bequest must be reasonable in all respects. It should be done in a fair manner both from the point of amount of wealth and in respect of the person to whom the bequest is addressed, so that customary law and common-sense know it rationally a good action; not a sort of unjust discrimination which usually causes conflicts and deviation from the limits of justice and truth.

* * * *

When a bequest contains all the abovementioned qualities, it is respectable and sacred in all aspects. Hence, any change or conversion in it is forbidden and is counted unlawful (haram) , as the verse itself

(1) Tafsir-i-Nur-uth-Thaqalayn, vol. 1, p. 159

(2) Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 13, p. 352

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says:

" Whoever then changes it (the bequest) after he has heard it, the sin thereof shall be on those who change it. ..."

And, if they imagine that Allah does not know their plots, they are intensively in err, as it says:

"...Surely Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing."

This verse may also point to this fact that the wrong actions committed by the executor of testament never nullifies the reward of the testator. When such an evil happens, the sin is only upon the executor of testament who has changed something from the quality or quantity of the testament or has interfered with the fundamentals of the testament itself. Yet, the testator will obtain his own concerned godly reward whether the testament that he has left be changed later, in any form, or not.

Another probability has also been cited in the commentary of the verse. It says that the purpose is: when the property of the dead, as the result of the wrong actions of the executor of testament intentionally is given to some ones who are not deserving of it, (and they are not aware of that wrong action) , there is no sin on them. So the sin is only on the executor of testament who deliberately has committed such a wrong.

It should be also noted that there is no contradiction between these two commentaries, and both can be gathered from the meaning of the verse.

* * * *

So far, concerning this Islamic decree, it has become quite clear that any change, of any kind and of any amount, in testaments is a sin. But, since there may be exceptions in a law or ordinance, then, in the last verse of this group of verses, it says:

" But if any one fears injustice or sin on the part of a testator, and establishes agreement among them (the parties concerned) , then there is no sin upon him; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful."

Thus, the exception is only due to the instances where the testament has not been arranged properly. It is only in this status that a

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change made by the executor of testament is permissible. Then, if the testator is still alive, the executor must notify him/her of that intention to change the testament, but if the testator has passed away, the executor takes action on changing it himself. This situation, from the point of the Islamic jurisprudence, is restricted to the following cases:

1. When the testator has bequeathed more than one third of his total wealth. According to the Islamic literature based on the traditions narrated from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) and the Immaculate Imams (Ahlul-Bayt) (a.s.) , a person can make a bequest on his wealth only up to one third of it, since more than that is not religiously permissible in Islam.(3)

Therefore, making bequest over the entire property benevolently for good intentions, which is common among some unaware people, is, regarding the Islamic laws, perfectly wrong. So, the duty is upon the executor of the bequest to decrease it up to one third of the remaining wealth.

2. If the testator has bequeathed something of sin, transgression, and evil to be performed, it is upto the executor to change it. For example, when the testator makes bequest that a part of his wealth be spent on the spread and development of some mischievous centers, or, also, when the bequest causes a necessary duty to be abandoned unreasonably, the executor is allowed to change it.

3. When something of the bequest brings about means of conflict, corruption, or blood shedding, in this case, the circumstance should be adjusted under the direction of the Islamic judge.

By the way, the Arabic term /janaf/, which means a deviation from the path of Justice and a unilateral inclination, hints to the deviations that seize the testator unconsciously; while the term /'ithm/ (sin) refers to the intended deviations.

The final phrase of the verse which says: "... Surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful " may point to the fact that if the executor of testament effectively removes or improves the wrong that the testator has done and returns him to the right way, Allah forgives him, too.

(1) Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 13, p. 361

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Explanation:

 

The Philosophy of Testament:

Regarding the law of heritage, only a particular group of relatives, and with a definite portion, inherit the wealth. This situation may be in the case that some other near and far relatives, or some of the close friends and local people, are in dire need of some financial aid.

In addition to that, sometimes it happens that the religiously ordained portion, ordained concerning the amount of heritage, is not sufficient to supply the needs of some heirs.

The inclusiveness of the Islamic laws does not let these gaps be left unfilled. So, it has issued the law of testament alongside the law of heritage. It lets Muslims decide on one third of their wealth to be spent after their death in a manner they like.

Besides that, sometimes a person wishes to do some good actions, but during his life-time he is not able to perform them, because of some financial necessities that he has. The logic of intellect demands that he decides on a part of the wealth, that he has suffered to earn during his life, to be spent on these good affairs after his death, at least, and not to be deprived of them.

All these circumstances have caused that the law of testament be decreed in Islam, and it has been emphasized with the phrase: " (this is a duty on the pious ones."

Testament is not restricted only to the above mentioned aspects, of course, but a person should explain all his debts to people, the deposits that others have given him to charge of, and the like of them in the testament so clearly that there may remain no ambiguous subject concerning the rights of men or the rights of Allah which have been upon him.

In Islamic literature, testament is frequently emphasized on. For example, a tradition narrated from the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) says: " It is not appropriate for a Muslim believer to sleep at night except that his

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testament is under his head."(1)

The phrase ' under his head ', mentioned in the above tradition, is, of course, for emphasis and the purpose is that he must always be prepared in this respect.

Justice in Testament

Taking the abovementioned explanation about the lack of transgression in testament in mind, there are many traces in Islamic traditions emphasizing upon the lack of ' transgression ' and ' damage ' in testament which, on the whole, indicate that as much as making a testament is a good and worthy deed, the same quality transgression in it is blameworthy and counted among grievous sins.

Imam Muhammad Baqir (a.s.) , in a tradition, says: " He who regards justice in his testament is like the person who has given the same amount as charity (in the way of Allah) during his own life; but the one who treats unfair in his testament will meet Allah on the Day of Judgement while He will have turned away His Grace from him."(2)

Transgression, treating unfair, and damage in testament is that a person bequeathes more than one third of his wealth and deprives the heirs from their religiously lawful rights. Or, he may make some undue distinctions for the sake of his unreasonable loves and hatreds. In the cases that the heirs are in dire need, even, the recommendation is that bequeathing one third of the wealth be decreased to a quarter or one fifth of the wealth. (3)

When we study the Islamic narrations and the statements of the leaders of Islam in relation to the subject, we understand the emphasis and importance that they have considered for the existence of Justice in testament. The following tradition is one of the concerning instances:

Once at the time of revelation, one of the men from the Ansar tribe passed away. He had some little children, but he had spent his wealth on the path of Allah in a manner that there remained no more

(1) Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 13, p. 352

(2) Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 13, p. 359

(3) Ibid, p. 360

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property from him. When the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) became aware of it, he asked: " What did you do with that man? " Then, the people thereby answered that they had buried him. The holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) said: "If I had been informed of it before, I would not have permitted you to bury him in the graveyard of Muslims, because he has left his little children reduced to beggary."

Bequest, Obligatory or Recommended

As it was said before, making testament, in essence, is among the emphatically recommended actions, but sometimes it becomes obligatory for some people. For instance, when a person has neglected or failed to pay the godly obligatory rights, or there are some things with him belonging to people, (formerly deposited to him) , and the one thinks that their rights may be transgressed if he does not bequeath, then bequeathing is obligatory. More important than that is when the position of a person in a society is so that if he does not make a bequest it is probable that the safe system of that society or their religion be inflicted an irreparable severe blow upon. So, in all of these circumstances, it is obligatory to bequeath.

Bequest, is Changeable During the Life

The testator is not restricted by Islam to what he has bequeathed himself. A person is allowed to review the amount, the manner, and the executor of the bequest as long as he is alive, because when the time passes, circumstances may vary and his attitudes upon the aforementioned subjects change, too.

This point is also necessary to be mentioned that we must make use of bequest as a means of repairing our former shortcomings, in a manner that even if some of our relatives had shown unkindness to us, we dispaly affection to them by the way of testament.

It is cited in some Islamic narrations that the leaders of Islam bequeathed some money especially for those relatives who were not kind to them in order to attract their affection again.

183. " O' you who have Faith! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard yourselves (against evil) ."

184. " (Fast for) a certain number of days. But whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) the same number of other days, and for those who are hardly to do it, (there is) a redemption by feeding an indigent. But whoever volunteers to do good, it is better for him; and it is better for you that you fast, if you did (only) know."

185. " The month of Ramadan that wherein the Qur'an was sent down to

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be a guidance for mankind, and as clear signs of guidance and a criterion (between right and wrong) . Therefore, whoever of you is present (at his home) during the month, he shall fast therein and whoever is sick or on a journey, he shall then (fast) the same number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you; so you should complete the number (of days decreed) , and exalt Allah for His having guided you, and that haply you might be grateful (to Him) ."

Commentary:

Fasting, the Origin of Piety

Next to several important ordinances of Islam stated in the former verses, these current verses refer to another ordinance, i.e. fasting, which is one of the most serious acts of worship. The Qur'an, with the same tone of emphasis that was applied for the previous verses, says:

" O' you who have Faith! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, ..."

Then, immediately after this, it refers to the philosophy of this humanizing worship and, in a short but meaningful sentence, says:

"... so that you may guard yourselves (against evil) ."

According to what the Late Kolayny says in his famous book (Al-Kafi) , piety is rendered into one's restriction from sin. Most sins originate from wrath and lust. Fasting brings the extravagance of this instinct under control, which, consequently, decreases corruption and increases piety.(1)

Yes, fasting is a great effective factor in the process of training the spirit of piety in all dimensions of every field. This will be addressed in detail later.

Since this worship is accompanied with deprivation from some material pleasures and one must suffer some troubles especially when it

(1)Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 18

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is in summer, there are different particular meanings used in the above verse to make the mind of believers ready for the acceptance of this decree.

To attract the attentions and to make the subject an interesting one for the addressees, it begins with the phrase:

" O' you who have Faith! "

Then, it refers to the statement of the fact that fasting is not appointed only for Muslim Ummah but it had been practised by the former nations, too.

Finally, the philosophy of fasting, and that the fruitful results of this Divinely ordered duty return totally to you, is stated.

A tradition narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) says:

" The pleasure found in (the phrase: ' O' you who have Faith! ' is so that) it has removed the tiredness of this worship and effort." (1)

* * * *

In the next verse, again, in order to reduce the hardship of fasting, it states a few other commands regarding this. It initiates the subject thus:

"(Fast for) a certain number of days. ..."

It is not so that you be obliged to fast all the year through or a considerable part of it, but fasting is for only a small section of the year. Another matter is that:

"...But whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) the same number of other days, ..."

Then there comes the third group, those who are absolutely unable to fast, such as elderly men, elderly women, the constant patients with chronic diseases, where it says:

"... and for those who are hardly able to do it, (there is) a redemption by feeding an indigent. ..."

"... But whoever volunteers to do good, it is better for him, ..."

And finally, at the end of the verse, the fact is restaed, which

(1) Majma'-ul-Bayan, vol. 2, p. 27

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itself is another emphasis on the philosophy of fasting, thus:

"... And it is better for you that you fast, if you did (only) know."

This meaning also refers to the fact that the worship of fasting, as other worships, does not add anything to the Glory and Dignity of Allah but all its merits are for the worshipper. Islamic traditions confirm the same meaning, too.

The holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has said: " He who fasts during the fasting month for the sake of Allah, all his sins will be forgiven." (1)

It is also cited in a divine tradition that Allah says: " Fasting is Mine, and I do reward it." (2)

Also, in another tradition it is narrated from the holy Prophet (p.h.u.h.) who said:

" There is an alms for every thing, and the alms of bodies is fasting."(3)

Hence, it makes clear that the phrase: "...it is better for you that you fast, ..." addresses all those who fast, not only a particular group of them.

The last verse of this group of verses introduces the time of fasting and a part of its ordinances and their philosophies. At first it says that those certain days that you must fast are the month of Ramadan, and:

" The month of Ramadan is that wherein the Qur'an was sent down..."

And this Qur'an is the same that is:

"...to be a guidance for mankind, and as clear signs of guidance and a criterion (between right and wrong) . ..."

Then again, the command for the passengers and the sick is restated and, as an emphasis, it says:

"...Therefore, whoever of you is present (at his home) during the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or on a journey, he shall then (fast) the same number of other days; ..."

The repetition of the ordinance of the sick and passenger in this verse and the previous one may be for the purpose that some people, thing that not to fast is absolutely a disgraceful action, insist on fasting when they are sick or are on a journey, so the Qur'an, by this

(1) Tafsir-i-Maraq y, vol. 2, p. 69

(2) Tafsir-i-Maraq y, vo. 2, p. 69

(3) Al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 100

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repetition, makes the Muslims understand that fasting is a divine duty for the safe and sound persons while, in the same manner, not fasting is also a divine command for the sick and passengers (with their proper conditions) so that the offense of it is a sin.

At the end of the verse, it pays attention to the philosophy of the divine lkinegislation of fasting once more, and says:

"... Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire hardship for you: ..."

It points to this fact that although fasting is apparently a kind of strictness and limitation, its conclusion is ease and tranquility of man, both spiritually and materially .

This sentence may hint to this matter that the Divine commands are not similar to the commands of tyrants. In the case that the fulfilment of an action is very laboursome, Allah enjoins an easier duty to be performed. Therefore, the ordinance of fasting, with all its importance, was exempted for the sick, passengers, and those feeble ones unable to perform it.

Then, it adds:

"...So you should complete the number (of days decreed) , ..."

This means that every one who is safe should fast one month a year because it is necessary for his health. For this reason, if a person is sick or on a journey during the month of Ramadan, the one must belate the accomplishment of fasting those days until the same number is completed. Even menstruous women, who are excused from establishing prayers, are not exempted from fasting at a later date.

So, in the final sentence of the verse, it says:

"...and exalt Allah for His having guided you, and that haply you might be grateful (to Him) ."

Yes, we must exalt Allah for the guidances He has endowed upon us, and be thankful to Him for all those blessings He has mercifully given us.

It is noteworthy that the act of thanksgiving is mentioned with the term 'haply', while the matter of exalting Allah is stated conclusively. This difference of statement may be for the reason that the fulfilment of this worship (fasting) is, at any rate, the exaltation of the Essence of Allah, but thanksgiving, which is the same as using the blessings in

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their proper sites and taking benefit from the effects and practical issues of fasting, has some conditions which will not be fulfilled unless those conditions be obtained, the most important of which are: a perfect sincerity, the recognition of the reality of fasting, and acknowledgement about the philosophy of fasting.

Explanations:

Fasting and Its Educational, Social, and Hygienical Effects

1-From the point of various effects that fasting may spiritually and materially produce in the unity of man, it has different dimensions that can be discussed. The ethical dimension and the philosophy of fasting are the most important of all.

Fasting makes the soul of man elegant, then strengthens his will, and moderates his instincts.

The one who observes the fast, although he is hungry and thirsty, must restrain himself from eating food and drinking water, and also, from the pleasure of sexual intercourse when he is fasting. One must prove that he/she can hold the rein of his/her restive passions and is able to dominate his/her desires and lusts.

Indeed, the most important philosophy of fasting is this very spiritual status of it. A person who has many kinds of food and drinks available at his reach to use of them whenever he is hungry or thirsty cannot be so tolerant at the time he is in lack of them. But the one who observes the fast is like a plant which grows in a dry desert. It resists when water is rare, stands steadfast against strong storms and intense cold. Such people can deal with deprivations when they are challenged with them, and, therefore, can be firm and perseverant.

Fasting trains the soul of a person. With temporary restrictions, fasting gives man perseverance, authority in will, ability of challenging with severe deprivations, and, since it controls restive instincts, it showers light and inner purity into the heart.

However, fasting causes man to promote from the animate nature so that he can ascend unto the rank and the world of angels.

The phrase:"...haply you might be grateful (to Him) " may point to

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the same fact.

And, also, the famous tradition from Imam Sadiq (a.s) is another hint to the same matter which says: " Fasting is a protector from Fire." (1)

Another tradition narrated from Amir-ul-Mu'mineen Ali (a.s.) says that the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) was asked what they would do that Satan be banished, and he (p.b.u.h.) answered: " Fasting blackens his face; charity breaks his back; the love in (the path of) Allah, and persistence in righteous deeds put an end to him, and seeking (Allah's) forgiveness cuts his aorta." (2)

When Ali-ibn-Abi-Talib (a.s.) , stating the philosophy of worship, speaks about fasting and he, says: " (Allah has laid down) fasting as a trial of the people in their sincerity..." (3)

In another tradition, the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) has said: " Verily, there is a door for (entering) Heaven by the name of ' Al-Rayyan ' (quenched of thirst) none enters therein but fasting ones." (4)

Explaining this tradition, the Late Saduq cites in his book ' Ma'any-ul-Akhbar ' the reason that this name has been taken for that door of Heaven is that much of the toil of a fasting person is because of his thirst. So when the fasting ones enter this door, they will be so saturated that they will never become thirsty thereafter.

 

The Social Effect of Fasting

Every intelligent person realizes that fasting works as a lesson of equality among the members of a society. By practicing the religious command, the rich realize perceptibly both the state of the hungry and the deprived of their society, and, with saving in their daily meals, can help them well.

It is possible, of course, that by explaining the status of the hungry and the deprived to the rich, it will make them understand that status,

(1) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 96, p. 256

(2) Ibid, p. 255; aotra is the main artery of the body carrying blood from the left ventricle of the heart to arteries in all organs and parts.

(3) Nahjul-Balaqah, Saying No. 252

(4) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 96, p. 252

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but if this condition becomes perceptible and objective, it will react more effectively. Fasting gives this great social subject a perceptible form to those who observe it.

It is narrated from Imam Sadiq (a.s.) in a well-known tradition that:Hisham-ibn-Hakam asked him about the reason for the divine legislation of this ordinance when he (a.s.) said: " Allah has enjoined fasting in order to settle equivalence between the rich and the poor, and this is for the sake that the rich feel the taste of hunger and, consequently, be merciful toward the poor (by giving them their rights) . And, since the things are usually available for the rich, then Allah, the Exalted, is pleased when equivalence is erected between His servants. So, He, thereby, has ordained that the rich feel the taste of hunger and pain so that they feel sympathy for the weak and be merciful toward the hungry." (1)

Verily, if the populations of rich countries throughout the world customarily fast a few days a year and feel the taste of hunger, will there still remain so many hungry people in the world ?

 

Fasting and Its Hygienical & Remedial Effects

In modern medicine, as well as the old one, the miraculous effect of ' abstinence ' in curing kinds of sicknesses have been proven so evidently that it cannot be deniable. Few of physicians have not pointed out this fact in their scientific notes. As all of us know, the reason of the origin of many diseases is gluttony, because the unabsorbed extra materials of food-stuffs in the form of obtrusive tallow or additional sugar in blood remain in different parts of the body . These additional materials, inside the levies of muscles of body, are, in fact, as some putrid oozy sites where kinds of microbes of some infectious diseases can grow. The best way of defending against these sicknesses is to annihilate them by means of abstinence and fasting.

Besides this property of fasting, which causes the additional and unabsorbed materials of the body to be burnt, fasting is a considerable

(1) Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 7, fasting section, p. 3

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factor for servicing the body with giving a rest to the organs of digestion. This rest is extremely necessary for these organs. They are the most important parts of the body and are continuously busy working throughout the year.

It is clear that one who observes the fast, as Islam advises, ought not to eat too much food at the time of breaking the fast and just before the dawn during the fasting month of Ramadan in order to enjoy the result of the hygienical effect of fasting, otherwise the consequence may become contrary.

Alexy Sufurin, a Russian scientist, writes in his book that by means of fasting a specific result can be obtained in treating diseases such as: anemia, dyspepsia, chronic extended enteritis, furuncle and inner abscess, consumption, rheumatism, gout (padagra, chiragra, gonagra) , dropsy, sciatica, some opthalmic deseases, diabetes, skin diseases, renal diseases, and so on.

Treatment through fasting is not limited to the foregoing diseases alone, but also the sicknesses concerning the fundamentals of the body involving the bodily cells like cancer, syphilis, and plague can be cured by means of fasting. (1)

The holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) is narrated to have said in a famous tradition: "Fast to be healthy." (2)

Again, in another tradition he (p.b.u.h.) has said: " The stomach is the site of all ailments, while dietary (abstinence) is the head of all remedies." (3)

Fasting in Former Religions

The existing Torah and Bible indicate that the Jews and the Christians had fasting, too, (Math.6:16,17;and Luke 5: 33-35) . The followers of some other religions used to fast in times of sorrow and affliction.

In the Lexicon of the Bible it is cited that fasting, in general, has always been practised among every nation and in any religion at the

(1) Fasting, a New Method in Treating Diseases, p. 65 (first edition)

(2) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 96, p. 255

(3) Bihar-ul-Anwar, vol. 62, p. 290

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time of an unexpected sorrow or disaster.(1)

It is also caught from the Torah that Moses (a.s.) had forty days of fasting. It is cited in the Old Testament thus: " When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of covenant which the Lord made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water." (2)

Also, at the time of repentance and seeking the pleasure of the Lord, the Jews fasted. So, it is cited in the Lexicon of the Bible that when the Jews got the opportunity that they wanted to state their weakness and humility before the Lord, they fasted in order that they confess their faults and to obtain the pleasure of His Essence by means of that fasting and repentance.(3)

It is probable that ' the Great Fasting with atonement ', which was for one particular day a year, was common among the Jewish people. They had, of course, some other temporary days to fast in remembrance of the destruction of Jerusalem, etc., too.(4)

As the Bible indicates, Jesus (a.s.) had also forty days of fasting. It says thus:

" Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2) And when he had fasted forty days and nights, he was afterward an hungred." (5)

It is also understood from the Evangel that the disciples of Jesus used to fast. It says: " 33) And they said unto him, Why do the disciples of John fast often and make prayers, and likewise the disciples of the Pharisees; but thine eat and drink? 34) And he said unto them, Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? 35) But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from

(1) The Lexicon of the Bible, p. 427

(2) The Old Testament, Book called Deuteronomy, Chapter 9, No. 9, p. 222, English version printed by British and Foreign Bible Society, A.D. 1611

(3) The Lexicon of the Bible, p. 428

(4) Ibid

(5) The New Testament, the Gospel St-Matthew, Chapter 4, No. 1-2, p. 983 the English version, printed by London, the British and Foreign Bible Society, A.D. 1911

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them, and then shall they fast those days." (1)

Again, it is cited in the Lexicon of the Bible that the lives of disciples and believers, in old times, were full of negation of pleasure and tremendous toils accompanied with observing the fast. (2)

Thus, the Qur'anic sentence saying: "... as it was prescribed for those before you, ..." is also confirmed whit many historical religious evidences existing in other divine religions even after they had been perverted.

 

Ramadan, the Transcendent Month

The month of Ramadan has been selected for fasting because it has a preference to other lunar months of the year. In the verse under discussion, this preference is stated such that the Qur'an, which is the Book of Guidance for humankind and, with its commands and legislations, has separated the right from wrong to lead man toward prosperity, was revealed in the month of Ramadan. Besides that, both some verses of the Qur'an and the Islamic literature indicate that all the great heavenly Books, such as the Torah, the Bible, the Psalms of David, the Books of Ibrahim, and the Qur'an, have all totally been sent down in this month.

In this respect, Imam Sadiq (a.s.) said: " The Torah was sent down on the sixth of Ramadan, the Bible on the twelfth, the Psalms on the eighteenth and the Qur'an by the Night of Destiny (Laylat-ul-Qadr) in Ramadan." (3)

Thus, the month of Ramadan had always been the month of the great heavenly Books to be sent down. This month had been the month of education, since training without teaching and practice is fruitless. The training aim of Fasting should also be parallel with the more and the utmost profound knowledge about the divine instructions so that it

(1) The New Testament, the Gospel St. Luke, Chapter 5, No. 33-35, p. 1053 (English version) , printed by London, the British and Foreign Bible Society, A.D. 1911

(2) Ibid, and the Lexicon of the Bible, p. 428

(3) Wasa'il-ush-Shi'ah, vol. 7, section 18, tradition 16

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wipes out the soul and self of man from sin.

Once, on the last Friday of Sha'ban,the Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h.) delivered a sermon about the significant of the month of Ramadan to prepare his companians for receiving this sacred month. In that great sermon he (p.b.u.h.) said:

" O' people! Allah's month has approached you laden with blessing, mercy and forgiveness. It is a month which Allah regards as the best of all months."

" Its days, in the sight of Allah, are the best of days; its nights are the best of nights; and its hours are the best of hours."

" It is a month in which you are invited to be the guests of Allah, and you are regarded during it as worthy of Allah's Grace."

" In this month, your breathing praises Allah, and your sleeping adores Him. Your deeds (of worship) are accepted, and your pleas are answered therein."

" Therefore, ask Allah, your Lord, in sincere intentions and pure hearts to enable you to observe the fast and to recite His Book (the Qur'an) during this month, for only a wretch is the one who is deprived of Allah's Forgiveness in this great month."

" Let your hunger and thirst during it remind you of the hunger and the thirst of the Day of Judgement. Give alms to the poor and indigent among you, respect your elderly and be kind to your youngsters, and strengthen blood-kinship of ours."

" Safeguard your tongues (from sin) , do not look at what Allah has prohibited your eyes from watching it, and do not listen to what your ears are forbidden to hear. Be kind to the orphans of other people, so that your own orphans be consequently given affections, too. ..."

The Principle of ' No Hardship '

In the above mentioned verse, this matter was pointed out that Allah's Will is not that you be troubled and uneasy, but He ordained so that you feel ease. It is certain that this ordinance here is about the proposition of fasting and its benefits together with the concerning commandment due to passengers and sick persons. But, regarding its

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universality, this ordinance has been used as a general principle upon all Islamic rules, and the verse has been taken as a reference for it which is known as the rule of ' No Hardship ' (la-haraj) among jurisprudents.

This religious rule says that the foundation of the Islamic legislation is not based upon hardship. So, if, somewhere, an ordinance creates intense hardship, it can be exempted temporarily. For instance, the jurisprudents have said that when performing one's ablution or standing erect, and the like of them, due to establishing prayers requires much pain, it changes to dry ablution and prayers in sitting position.

Concerning the lack of hardship in Islam, it is also stated in Sura Hajj No. 22,verse 78, thus: "...He has chosen you and has not laid upon you any hardship in religion."

Also, another hint to this subject is the famous tradition of the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) where he says: " I was appointed to a tolerant and facile religion." (1)

Conclusion:

In these verses, the philosophy of fasting accompanied with some concerning ordinances are stated for the benefit of Muslim believers to follow.

By the way, fasting had been in vogue in every religion in some form or other. It is one of the cardinal doctrines of the practice of the faith, in Islam, taking its rank next only to the obligatory five times daily prayers. These verses of the Qur'an show that fasting was enjoined by all the prophets of Allah who preceded the holy Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) .

It should also be noted that fasting in Islam is to train to suppress our natural appetites and shun evil. It does not mean abstaining only from food but from every kind of evil. Abstention from food is only a step towards the realization that if one has to abstain from that which is lawful, how much more he must abstain from what had been forbidden by Allah. The main object of the Islamic fast is to purify the conduct

(1) Kanz-ul'Ummal, vol. 1, p. 178; & vol. 11, p. 445

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and character and get the soul charged with divine attributes of Allah in the practical life for one complete month. It helps the Muslims to guard themselves against evil as well as conditioning with restrain by habituating themselves to suffer physical affliction and self-control and resistance and fortitude which they must always be prepared to suffer in the defence of faith and the faithful.

On the other hand, since Islam is a tolerant and easy religion, fasting is not allowed for those who are on lawful journey. Or, it is exempted for Muslims in the case of the risk of any illness being aggravated, testified by a reliable doctor. This status is for that Islam does not will intense hardship for its followers.


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