بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم
I know it might be considered somewhat late to talk about the obligatory nature of fasting, given that we are now in the last week of Ramadhan, but I simply could not keep myself from writing something when I heard a certain person saying something along the lines that her job was too pressure-filled, the stress in her position too much, and that it would be unthinkable for her to keep fasts while maintaining the performance required in her position.
Now, I cannot give and particular judgment on this person, and the truth is that whenever someone is facing genuine difficulties in fasting, it may be possible for the rules to be relaxed, after consultation with Muslim scholars and physicians as required.
But as a general advice to me and to others, we have to consider the different priorities in our lives, our goals, and our obligations to the different existents. Yes, there are many cases where we have to perform in our workplace or in our universities to a certain demanded level, and these normally encompass certain obligations towards ourselves and our relatives. This much cannot be denied. But we also have to consider that our main obligation is to Allah the Exalted, and that we will be held accountable for all the matters placed over our shoulders, not only the ones we choose to burden ourselves with.
So if Allah has ordered us to keep fasts for these few days of Ramadhan, this is something that we must place at the very top of our list of priorities, and then other obligations need to be seen in the light of this “primordial obligation”. Note that Allah the Exalted does provide a relaxation for those who sincerely wish to fast but may not be able to do so, due to a truly genuine excuse. This is how much Allah the Exalted has honored mankind, to the point that this body he has, the vehicle used in the journey towards Allah, is not to be put in danger. This reaches to the point where Allah’s own “right” is relaxed and alternative ways to fulfill the obligation of fasting within the stipulated days may be implemented.
But the person himself should understand that a general, unspecified excuse about feeling stress in work does not show sincerity and commitment to Allah’s rules and obligations, but rather seems to show that the person considers himself or herself as the center of all existence, and that the established rules and regulations given by Allah may be done away with on the fly and as he or she deems fit. It may even occur to some of them that Allah should satisfy their every whim and desire with custom-made rules and their accompanying relaxations, so that they do not feel the burden of any religious activity in their lives.
Of course, this is a problem affecting many Muslims on different levels: For example, they may be able to keep their fasts, but given their current commitments in society, they may have a problem in offering their prayers on time. This could be because they think the former is more important than the latter, which is definitely a wrong way to think about the obligations of Islam, since obligations are not meant to be categorized in this way.
The saddest part in this is that we are not talking only about those who sin and know they are sinning, or those who fall short of performing the obligations of Islam while they know they should improve themselves, but also about those who do not even feel any guilt or sorrow within their hearts concerning their shortcomings in regards to Islamic stipulations.
It is mostly to these that I sincerely advise that they should reevaluate their lives, and consider the totality of their goals for this world and the next with the proper prioritization, and remember that Allah has already reduced their burdens enormously. The only requirement from the humans’ side is that we should be sincere towards Allah, and seek out the rules and regulations of Islam concerning all its commandments and prohibitions with a clean heart and true love towards Allah and His Messenger. May Allah help us all to achieve this goal successfully. Ameen.