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Ramadan Breath Is The Magic Musk of Fasting That God Loves

Just because your Ramadan Breath isn't as musky as you hoped, God still loves the effort.

Protection from the Devil, Shaytaan, is easily available although rarely sought. I think we frequently forget his inimitable influence over our actions, just as we frequently forget God to climb back onto the straightest path.

Returning to a hadith I studied where the Prophet explains about protection from Shaytaan, I would like to share the translation from Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, rahim’ullah, may Allah have mercy on him, who narrates the following description.
Prophet Muhammad, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, speaks of what will rescue a servant from the Foe;

“And [God] enjoins upon you the fast. Verily, the similitude of that is a man carrying a sack-full of musk in a crowd of people, all of them marvelling at its fragrance-for the breath of someone fasting is more fragrant to God, Most High, than the scent of musk.” (Tirmidhi, Amthal, 2790; Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 16542)
The Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, uses the image of someone carrying a sack-full of musk concealed from view, hidden under his garments, after the habit of those who carry musk. Fasting is, likewise, hidden from the eyes of men and unperceived by their senses.

The fasting person’s limbs fast from sins; his tongue fasts from lies, base language and false witness; his stomach fasts from food and drink; and his external organs fast from union (desire). If he speaks, he says nothing to violate his fast; and if he acts, he does nothing to spoil his fast. All his speech is salutary and wholesome, as are his deeds-like the fragrance one smells while sitting next to the bearer of musk. Anyone who sits with a fasting person benefits from his presence and is safe from false witness, lies, base language and wrong doing. This is the fast prescribed by Sacred Law, not simply abstinence from eating and drinking.

Hence a sound hadith states:
“When someone does not refrain from speaking falsely and the action that springs from it and from ignorance, God does not need him to refrain from food and drink.” (Bukhari, Adab, 5597)
And in another hadith:
“Some who fast obtain nothing from it but hunger and thirst.” (Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, 8501)
True fasting is when the limbs fast from sin and the stomach fasts from food and drink. As food and drink can break the fast or spoil it, so sins cut off its reward and spoil its fruits, as if one had not fasted at all.

Two diverging opinions have emerged as to whether the fragrance of the fasting person’s breath occurs in this world or the next, giving rise to the controversy between two honoured scholars, Abu Muhammad `Izz al-Din ibn `Abd al-Salam and Abu `Amr ibn-as-Salah, each authoring a treatise on the subject.

Some held that the fragrance occurs only in the next world. Abu `Amr held that is occurs in both this world and the next. His treatise on the same subject refuted Abu Muhammad, citing the evidence of Abu Hatim ibn Hibban, who devoted some chapters of his collection to this subject…

Section: The solution to the problem is this. The Prophet, Allah's peace and blessings be upon him, says that this fragrance will occur on the Day of Judgement, because that is the time when deeds will be recompensed, and when it will be clear which of them are good and which evil. Likewise, it is will be clear to people that the breaths [of those who fasted] are more fragrant than musk–although the blood of those wounded for God’s sake will also have the scent of musk. Secrets will be made plain and appear on people’s faces (Qur'an, 86:9) having become public. From the non-believers a foul odour will rise, and there will be darkness upon their faces.

But the Prophet says that this fragrance occurs when they ‘turn away from food’ and ‘when they reach the evening’, because that is the time when the effects of worship appear. Their breaths then are more fragrant than musk to God and His angels, though they be unpleasant to people. They are often disliked by people because they offend their natures. But they are beloved to God because they agree with His commandment, His contentment and His love. Thus they are more fragrant to Him than musk is to for us.

On the Day of Judgement, this fragrance will reach people and become public, as will the effects of all other deeds, by the good or evil. But, as both sight and spiritual vision will attest, some deeds are so powerful and abundant that their effects, whether good or evil, appear to people in this world. As Ibn `Abbas said,
"Virtuous deeds bring illuminations to the face and light to the heart, strength to the body, sufficiency in worldly provision and love to people’s hearts. Evil deeds bring shadows to the face, darkness to the heart, weakness to the body, deficiency in provision and enmity to people’s hearts.” 
And `Uthman ibn Affan said, ‘No man can accomplish an action but God, Most High, clothes him with its mantle–if good, then with good and if evil, with evil.”

This is well known. It is known to mystics and others. In fact, from a man who is pure and good you may smell a fragrance, though he never touches perfume. For this is a fragrance which emanates from his soul and gains his body and clothes. For the corrupt person, the opposite is true. But someone with a cold and whose heart is ill can smell nothing! Rather his cold will cause him even to deny that this can exist.

This is the extent of what we have to say on this matter, and God exalted knows best what is right.

Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya, translated by Michael Abdur Rahman Fitzgerald and Moulay Youssef Slitine.

More On The Holy Months:
What Are The Virtues Of Rajab?
Finding Moons, a Poem
5 Degrees of Prayer
Preparing The Mind, Body & Soul For Ramadhan

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