ʿUmar b. Al-Khaṭṭāb

Sinning while fasting [does it break the fast?]

It is reported that ‘Umar – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

Fasting does not mean keeping away from only food and drink, it also means keeping away from lying, falsehood, inanity and swearing [by Allāh without need].

It is reported that Ibrāhīm Al-Nakha’ī – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

They used to say: lying breaks the fast.

It is reported that Mujāhid – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

There are two practices, if a person can keep himself from them, his fast will be secured for him: backbiting and lying.

It is related that Abul-‘Āliyah – Allāh have mercy on him – said:

The fasting person is in a state of worship as long as he does not backbite. [1]

It is reported that Ḥafṣah bint Sīrīn – Allāh have mercy on her – said:

Fasting is a shield as long as one does not tear it, and tearing it is when you backbite. [2]

It is reported that Anas b. Mālik – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

If the fasting person backbites, his fast is broken. [3]

Notes

Explaining the meaning of sins breaking the fast, Shaykh Al-Islām Ibn Taymīyah – Allāh have mercy on him – states: [4]

It is related from some of the Salaf that backbiting, tale carrying and the likes break the fast, and it is mentioned as one opinion in the madhab of Imām Aḥmad. The final word on this issue is that Allāh the Exalted commanded people to fast in order to achieve piety (taqwā), and Allāh’s Messenger – praise and peace of Allāh be upon him – stated:

Whoever does not leave off false speech and acting by it; then Allāh is not in need of him abandoning his food and drink.

So if the fasting person does not achieve piety, he has not achieved what is intended through fasting, and so the reward of [his] fast will decrease in accordance [with how much he has gone against the intended goal, i.e. commensurate with his sins].

Righteous deeds have two intended goals: gaining reward and avoiding punishment. If a person fasts while also doing forbidden things, like backbiting, carrying tales between people or consuming what is forbidden and so on, he loses the reward.

Thus, when the imams say [backbiting etc.] does not break the fast, it means that the person who sins is not punished in the way a person who openly breaks his fast would be punished.

And those who said it does break the fast in the sense that the person has not achieved the intended goal behind fasting, or in the sense that he has lost the reward for fasting, then this statement is in agreement with the position of the imams.

One who says it breaks the fast in the sense that the person is to be punished for leaving [the fast], then he is in contradiction to the imams.

Conclusion

A person who disobeys Allāh while fasting hasn’t truly grasped the intent behind fasting. The real goal is to achieve piety and obedience of Allāh through the abandonment of food, drink and sin. Although a person who backbites, lies or does other sins is not considered to have physically broken his fast, he loses the reward of fasting and in this sense he has broken his fast.

Allāh knows best.

[1] Ibn Abī Al-Shaybah, Al-Muṣannaf articles 8975, 8980, 8981 and 8982.

[2] ‘Abd Al-Razzāq Al-Ṣan’ānī, Al-Muṣannaf articles 8975.

[3] Hunād b. Al-Saree, Al-Zuhd article 1204.

[4] Badr Al-Dīn Al-Ba’lī. Mukhtaṣar Al-Fatāwā Al-Maṣrīyah pp288, 289. 1st edn. 1418H. Dār Al-Kutub Al-‘Ilmīyah. Beirut, Lebanon.

The hard life now for the good life later

It is reported that Ḥafṣah – Allāh be pleased with her – once said to her father (‘Umar, during his Caliphate):

Allāh has increased the provisions; if only you would eat better food than the food you eat now and wear softer clothes then those you wear now?! He said, “I will argue [against] you with your own self: Was not the condition of Allāh’s Messenger – praise and peace be upon him – such-and-such [when you were his wife]!?” He kept reminding her until she cried. He continued, “I have told you, by Allāh, I will share in their hard living (in this world, referring to The Prophet and Abū Bakr) so that I may partake in their good life (in Paradise).”

Hunād b. Al-Sarī, Al-Zuhd article 687; Imām Aḥmad, Al-Zuhd article 201, et al. (1)

(1) Shaykh Abd Al-Raḥmān Al-Farīwā`ī explains in his edition of Hunād’s Al-Zuhd that this narration is ṣaḥīḥ if it is confirmed that Muṣ’ab b. Sa’d heard it from Ḥafṣah; otherwise its chain of transmission is mursal ṣaḥīḥ (i.e. it is authentic except there is a missing link between Mus’ab and Ḥafṣah)

Umar on obeying the Muslim Ruler

Suwayd b. Ghaflah reports that ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – once took him by the hand and said:

O Abū Umayah, by Allāh, I know not if we will meet again after today. Fear and obey Allāh your Lord until the Day of Resurrection, as if you see Him, and obey the ruler (imām) even if he is a cut-nosed Abyssinian slave: if he beats you, be patient; if he robs you, be patient and if he belittles you, be patient. And if he tells you [to do something] to the detriment of your religion (to sin), say: “I hear and obey, [but] my blood goes before my religion.” Never leave the Main Muslim Body (Al-Jamā’ah).

Ibn Zanjawayh, Kitāb Al-Amwāl article 30; Ibn Abī Zamanīn, Uṣūl Al-Sunnah article 205 with a slight variation in wording. Also recorded in other collections.

Umar on interacting with others [trust, consultation and friendship]

It is reported that ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – said:

Whoever exposes himself to suspicion, let him blame only himself for whoever suspects him.
He who covers his secret is in a position to choose [to correct himself].
Assume the best about your brother until what comes to you from him overcomes you [and you have to change your opinion].
You can never pay back someone who disobeys Allāh in his dealings with you with anything better than obeying Allāh in your dealings with him.
Take righteous brothers [as friends]; acquire them in plenty, for they are a beautification in prosperity and an aid during calamity.
Do not ask about what has not yet happened until it actually happens, for what has happened is enough of an occupation to worry about what has not happened.
Let not your speech be given freely except to those who want to hear it and will value it.
Do not seek help in fulfilling a need you have except from someone who wants success for you in that endeavor.
Do not consult except people who fear Allāh, and do not accompany the sinner, [lest]  you learn his sinfulness.
And be humble at the graves.

Abū Dāwūd, Kitāb Al-Zuhd article 89.

The best thing after Iman and the worst thing after Kufr [women]

It is reported that ‘Umar b. Al-Khattāb – Allāh be pleased with him – once addressed the people and said:

No man can have anything better after faith (īmān) than a woman of righteous character, loving and child-bearing. And no man can have anything worse after unbelief (kufr) than a sharp-tongued woman of bad character.

Al-Ḥāfidh Abul-Qāsim Al-Aṣbahānī, Al-Targhīb wa Al-Tarhīb article 1528. Also recorded in other sources with a slight variation in wording.