Hikmah and Illah
Remember Allah’s blessings upon you, and what He sent down to you of the ‘Al-Kitaab’ and ‘Al-Hikmah’ to enlighten you with it.TMQ: Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:231
There are many verses in the Qur’an where Allah (ﷻ) explains either the Hikmah (حِكْمَة / wisdom) of the rule or the Illah (reason) for the rule. When reading and studying the Qur’an it is imperative that we understand the difference between the two. Because to misunderstand a verse in whether it denotes Hikmah or Illah could lead to a misapplication of the Hukm of Allah (ﷻ).
O you who believe, the fasts have been enjoined upon you as they were enjoined upon those before you, so that you may attain taqwa.”TMQ: Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:183
This Verse commands the believers to perform the obligatory fasts and goes on to mention “so that you may attain taqwa”. This is a Hikmah given by Allah (ﷻ) and not an Illah. In other words, there is wisdom in fasting because, if the fast is performed as it should be, it enables the believer to attain closeness to Allah and a consciousness and remembrance of Allah (ﷻ).
If the words “so that you may attain taqwa” in this verse are to be misunderstood as an Illah i.e. a reason for the rule/command, then it could be deduced that the person who does not achieve taqwa when fasting would not need to perform the obligatory fasts. This is so because an Illah provides an objective to achieve as part of the command, therefore if the objective is not achieved (taqwa in this case), the command does not need to be applied. However, it would be incorrect to deduce from this Verse that not achieving taqwa exonerates one from fasting.
There are unfortunately some Muslims, who despite fasting, do not give up their haram habits in Ramadhan. The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) says about them, “Whoever does not give up evil and ignorant speech, and acting in accordance with that, Allah has no need of his giving up his food and drink” [Sunnan Ibn Majah]
The Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) also said, “There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray and get nothing from their prayer but a sleepless night.” [Sunnan Ibn Majah]
The reason (Illah) for revelation is not always explained in the Qur’an and Allah (ﷻ) has certainly commanded us to perform duties without providing a reason. In regards to fasting, some people wrongly claim that “we fast so we can understand how the poor feel”. It is incorrect to claim this because Allah (ﷻ) has not given this as an Illah in the Verse. Neither has He mentioned this as a Hikmah.
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) says, “Ramadhan has come to you. (It is) a month of blessing, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Narrated by Imam Tabarani]
Dear Muslims, in some things that have been commanded for us, including fasting and praying, Allah (ﷻ) has not given us a reason (Illah) to perform them. He (ﷻ) has commanded us to perform these worships and we must therefore perform them in the best way possible, purely for the sake of Allah (ﷻ) and to attain His pleasure. It is our duty that when we hear a command from Allah (ﷻ), we obey Him with full submission and no questioning.
The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your forgiveness, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.TMQ: Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:285