Islamic fasting prophesied in the Bible

 

 

 

By brother Abdul Haleem

ESTABLISHMENT OF MUSLIM FASTING PREDICTED BY ISAIAH 

Chapter 58 of Old Testament Book of Isaiah contains a very striking prophecy concerning establishment of Muslim fasting practices.

 

Before discussing the specific prophecy, it is useful to review the differences between Jewish and Muslim practices with respect to mandatory fasts.

 

In the Book of Leviticus the Jewish rule of fasting on a single day (“Yom Kippur,” “The Day of Atonement”) was established:

 

“29 And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30 For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31 It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever.”

 

Leviticus 16:29-31 (King James Version), emphasis added.

 
The Muslim practice with respect to fasting is outlined in the Quran at 2:183-2:185:

 

2.183
“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,”

 

2.184
“(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.”

 

2.185
“Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qurán, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.” 

 

Quran 2:183-185, emphasis added.

 
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is to be carried out each day from when “the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread . . .till the night appears.” Quran 2:187.

 

In the Book of Isaiah, we find God expressly criticizing the Jewish fasting practices as inadequate!

 

“1 Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins. 2 Yet they seek me daily, and delight to know my ways, as a nation that did righteousness, and forsook not the ordinance of their God: they ask of me the ordinances of justice; they take delight in approaching to God. 

 

“3 Wherefore have we fasted, say they, and thou seest not? wherefore have we afflicted our soul, and thou takest no knowledge? Behold, in the day of your fast ye find pleasure, and exact all your labours. 4 Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness: ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. 5 Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the LORD? 6 Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke? 7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh? 

 

“8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” 

 

Isaiah 58:1-12 (King James Version), emphasis added.

 
In the-above quoted verses, God begins by addressing “the house of Jacob,” i.e. the 12 tribes of Israel and condemning them for their “transgression” and “sins” (Isaiah 58:1).

 

The Israelites observance of “The Day of Atonement” is specifically criticized: In Gods eyes, the 12 tribes had made “The Day of Atonement into a celebration or festival “in the day of your fast ye find pleasure.” (Isaiah 58:3, emphasis added). Also, and also Jewish fasting is condemned as being carried out for motives other than to show submission to Allah, such as the vanity and self-glorification of the worshipers: “ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness” (Isaiah 58:3, emphasis added).

 

Similar criticism of hypocrisy of then-prevailing Jewish attitudes towards fasting was voiced by the prophet Issa (Greek “Jesus”):

 

“And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They go around with a hungry look so that everyone will se they are fasting.  Remember this! They have already been paid in full. When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know you are fasting – only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.” 

 

Matthew 6:16-18 (Todays English Version), emphasis added.

 
Isaiah then gives examples of proper attitudes towards fasting: Each day of fasting should be “a day for a man to afflict his soul,” “to bow down his head as a bulrush,” “to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free,” “to deal thy bread to the hungry,” to “bring the poor that are cast out to thy house” and “when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him”

 

(Isaiah 58:5-7, emphasis added).

 
After condemning prevailing Jewish attitudes and customs with respect to fasting, Isaiah prophesies that when proper fasting rituals are established:

 

“8 Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy reward. 9 Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou take away from the midst of thee the yoke, the putting forth of the finger, and speaking vanity; 10 And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness be as the noonday: 11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12 And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

 

Isaiah 58:8-12, emphasis added.

 
The spiritual rejuvenation of which Isaiah talks never came to Israel, but did come to the world with the Prophet Muhammad Pbuh) , who delivered Allahs message concerning righteous fasting in the Quran.

 

That Isaiah was referring to Muhammad (pbuh) is made clear by verse12:

 

“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.” 

 

Isaiah 57:12.

 
The “foundations of many generations” are a clear reference to the Kaaba:

 

“And remember Abraham and Isma’il raised the foundations of the House (With this prayer): Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For Thou art the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.”

 

Quran 2:127, emphasis added.

 
“Behold! We gave the site, to Abraham, of the (Sacred) House, (saying): “Associate not anything (in worship) with Me; and sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or stand up, or bow, or prostrate themselves (therein in prayer).”

 

Quran 22:26, emphasis added.

 
Muhammad (pbuh) was “The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in,”  because he restored the Kaaba as a place of worship for Allah after entering Makka and destroying the 360 idols that had been erected in the Kaaba:

 

“The Prophet, after confirming all the reports of the attack and subsequent events, marched to Makkah with an army consisting of three thousand Muslims of Medinah and Muslims from other Arab communities that joined him on the way totaling ten thousand Muslims. Before entering the city he sent word to citizens of Makkah that anyone who remained in his home, or in Abu Sufyans home, or in the Kabah would be safe. The army entered Makkah without fighting and the Prophet went directly to the Kabah. He magnified Allah for the triumphant entry in the Holy city. The Prophet pointed at each idol with a stick he had in his hand and said, “Truth has come and Falsehood will neither start nor will it reappear” [Qur’an 17:81]. And one by one the idols fell down. The Kabah was then cleansed by the removal of all three hundred sixty idols, and it was restored to its pristine status for the worship of One True God (as built by Prophets Ibrahim and Ismail).” 

 

“Biography of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh),” Dr. A. Zahoor and Dr. Z. Haq, http://users.erols.com/zenithco/muhammad.html, emphasis partially added.

 

Thus, in Chapter 57 Isaiah accurately predicted both the establishment of righteous fasting by the Muslims and well as Muhammads restoration of the Kaaba as a house of worship for Allah.

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