The Importance of Hunger

In his book Asrar al-Siyam (The Secrets of Fasting), the Azhari imam, Shaykh Salih al-Ja’fari, writes:

They have mentioned that the Abdal have four characteristics:

1) Silence
2) Hunger
3) Seclusion
4) Wakefulness.

Now Silence is brought about by Hunger, and so is Wakefulness. And what remains is Seclusion, which is its fruit, because it is brought about by the lights of dhikr, for they cause one to find intimacy and comfort in the company of Allah (al-uns billah) and a lack of it in the company of all other than Him (al-wahsha ‘an siwah).

So Hunger is the basis for the (other) three, and it happens while Fasting.

It has also been said that the medicine for a heart when it hardens is five things:
1) Emptying the stomach
2) Reciting the Qur’an
3) Being up before dawn, supplicating and crying
4) Tahajjud prayers at night
5) Keeping the company of the people of good and righteousness

The four after emptying the stomach cannot all be done (completely) except through emptying the stomach, so it is also a basis for them, and emptying of the stomach happens while Fasting.

Therefore, the station of the Abdal, and the removal of the heart’s hardness are achieved through the emptiness of the stomach, which, as is known, happens during Fasting. How great are the benefits of this Fast, and how many are its blessings upon mankind, so in it {let the competitors compete!} (83:26)

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