Fasting is the most exalted duty of Islam and it is a glorious part and parcel which Our Saint explained with great respect and honour. Before sighting of the moon for fasting the mosque in Dewa Sheriff was white washed Hafiz Qaiyoom Khan Sahib, especially came from Karnal to recite the Holy Quran during the special night prayers. Arrangement was made for breaking the fast and nearly thirty bound and costly Qurans distributed for recitation. Charity in the form of food, money and clothing were distributed to the poor according to Our Saints order. One the last ten days of Ramadan clothes were distributed to poor people. On the morning of the festival day milk and vermicelli was server.
Our Saint’s fasting was unique and displayed the dignity of an exalted lover for he was taking food once a week. Research Scholars of mysticism have described this as a symptom of true love. Some old devotees state that he was fasting all the days of his life till the age of twenty four. He discharged his duties with patience and endurance and it reached the extremity of physical exhaustion. He observed the fasts scrupulously but it is evident that in spite of avoiding food and water from morning till evening he could not find solace for his heart’s yearnings. He was chary in taking food for a period a hundred and sixty eight hours. This habit continued till he reached the age of eighteen years.
If we his devoted dispels in emotional tone were to declare that our high thinking courageous leader, just as he was gifted with Divine blessings, similarly while surmounting impending obstacles displayed Panjatan-e-Pak’s dignity and completely fulfilled all the commandments. It may not be an exaggeration but it is self-evident that Our Saint displayed great liking and an intense in fasting. Hence his instructed to his devotees and disciples to observe fasting scrupulously.
Our Saint also emphasized the benefits and qualities of fasting. Fasting is such a priceless prayer that those who fast are included in the Divine list of friends. They are also blessed by angelic qualities and are gifted by Divine food. Fasting erases out sins and subdues urgings of ego. It is also a kind of spiritual food. To display desire for fasting is the tradition of Our Holy Prophet and increases Divine love.
For seekers of God, lifelong fasting is beneficial and Our Saint ordered such fasting his devotees. He would regard with affection those who were fasting and also break his fast with water and take food once a week. Those of Our Saint’s devotees who observed lifelong fasts are Rumi Shah Sahib, a Turk who was once military officer, Vilayat Shah Sahib, an Afghan who was supplying water to the poor at Ajmer Sheriff and sweeping the Shrine, Miskeen Shah Sahib Warisi, a resident of Allahabad Surburbs, Misamat (Mrs.) Nasiban was fasting always and breaking fast with food once in three days. She earned her income by spinning cotton thread and half its income spent in charity. Makhdoom Shah Saheb of Darya-bad a lover of fasting died while in a state of fasting. Haji Makki Shah Saheb Warisi was breaking fast once in three days and fasted till his heath. Misamat Sakina Warisia fasted for twenty one years during the day and performed a hundred supererogatory prayers in the night. In this condition she passed away to the next world. Haji Faizul Shah Saheb a vegetarian fasted for twenty for years. Haji Abul Hassan Saheb Warisi of Etawah, Babu Kanyalal Sahi Vakil of Aligarh always fasted and discharged his legal duty.
There were many devotees of Our Saint in other countries beyond India who always fasted for the sake of Divine love, casting aside their mundane yearning and fasted throughout their lives spending their nights in prayers.
Haji Makki Shah Saheb states that he heard in Beirut, Syed Abu Saleha of Syria, a Scholar of tradition and a highly respected recluse fasted for life. Every year he used to walk for performing Hajj and due to old age travelling on camel. Makki Shah desire to meet him. The next day when he met him he found a genuine quality in him that he responded to his greeting standing and embraced him. After mutual conversation he enquired from when he is fasting and breathing out a sigh he declared that ever since he met Our Saint, through his good offices he was gifted with his advice and resolved to follow his instruction till he breathed his last.
Maulvi Muzaffar Hussain Sahib Warisi of Bhopai narrates that he was present at the time of the prayers of a funeral bier and learnt it was the funeral ceremony of Hassan Badwi who was an eternal faster and was called Sheikh Sumi. He was the disciple of Our Saint Al-Haj Hafiz Waris Ali Shah Saheb. Leading the life of a recluse he used to distribute food brought to him without his asking. In his old age he joined the pilgrims for circumambulation by reaching the Holy Shrine on foot. Therefore there were many of Our Saint’s deVoteesand disciples in Arabia who fasted for life.
Sheikh Sumi further learnt at Mahad (Khorasan) that Agha Abdul Ali, Asa-Ashri (a sect believing in twelve Imams) leading a retired life was a devotee and disciple of Our Saint. Hearing this he desired to meet him at the Holy Shrine. He received him and on learning that he was a disciple of Our Saint embraced him. He related Our Saint’s travels in Iran. When the servant brought tea he offered him a cup but he himself never tasted tea begging to be excused as he was instructed by Our Saint to fast, after observing his gluttony. Starvation refines the heart, destroys avarice and increases knowledge. When Our Saint, came to Iran again and enquired whether any trouble was caused to him by fasting he related its benefits and hence Our Saint advised him to fast for life.
From this it is clear that there were disciples of Our Saint in Hijaz and Iraq who were fasting for life. Fasting improves health and is concerned more with spirituality rather than worldly love.
More than the conditions prohibiting food for those who fast, the instructions regarding spiritual affairs makes one cultured, the achievement of which depends on the skill and capacity of the persons who fast. In the later stages of fasting people improved their efforts and gradually the spiritual attitude acquires the same condition. In a state of fervour to see the divine lustre the urge for food and drink vanish away. The Divine Illumination is the real food of one and his desire and cravings are curbed.
A few mystics declare seekers of virtuous path take great caution regarding food and drink. A few say for mind is also necessary, if not they run the risk of vanity, doubt about unity for which they have to at one and pay the penalty. Abu Bakar Shibly says that the fasting lovers is free from personal motive and Maqdoom Shahab-ud-Din bin Muhammad Sahrwardy says that one’s fasts should have no regard or inclination towards worldly things.
In this connection Our Saint has perfectly explained the virtues of fasting. Once while Our Saint was the guest of Sheik Mohammad Ismail Warisi, resident of Bilchi in the suburbs of Bihar, a reference was made about the qualities of real fasting. Maulvi Abdul Kareem Warisi supported the sayings of people who were not serious about fasting said that in the way of life of love, the
real attributes of fasting along with the giving up of food, the urging of desire for food and its taste should also be eliminated.
In preaching about fasting Our Saint’s instructions were dignified, keeping in view his disciple’s spiritual and bodily capacity. For beginners Our Saint explained fundamental religious tenets of Islam. To those who were less spiritual minded he instructed to comply with this fundamental tent for which they were fit. These orders were issued to those pious people and worshippers of God whose hearts were affected by the effects of love and who were inclined to submit to the will of God. The residents of India had not the energy and health for this compared with the Persian disciples who were fit for lifelong fasting. It is due to the favour of Our Saint that the resident of India bore the rigour of fasting. So also the weaker sex. Both the communities were favoured with intrinsic hidden qualities. Like the Iranian and Afghan, the India mystics were of the same rank.