Ramadhaan Fasting (1)



All praise is due to Allah, the Lord and the Cherisher of the Universe. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our beloved prophet, Muhammad (PBUH), his household, companions and the followers of the right guidance till the Day of Judgment. Allah, the Exalted, says in the Qur'an:

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you that you may (learn) self-restraint". (Fasting) is 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, like old men/women) 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 you fast if you only knew. Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur'an 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 anyone is ill or on a journey the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later.  Allah intends ease for you He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance you may be grateful." Q2:183-185

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said,

"Islam is built upon [the following] five pillars: testifying that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, the establishment of the prayer (Salat), the giving of charity (zakah), the fast of Ramadan (Siyam) and the pilgrimage to Makkah."

Talhah ibn 'Ubaidullah reported that a man came to the Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, tell me what Allah requires of me as regards fasting". He answered, "The month of Ramadan". The man asked: "Is there any other [fast]?" The Prophet answered: "No, unless you do so voluntarily".

Fasting (As-siyam) is abstaining from food, drink, sexual intercourse and bad things from dawn until sunset with the explicit intention of doing so (for the sake of Allah). Intention is very important since many people fast to loss weight, keep fit, etc. A Muslim will have both the spiritual and physical benefits of fasting.

The Virtues of Fasting

Abu Hurairah reported the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, saying:

"Allah said: 'Every action of the son of Adam is for him except fasting, for that is solely for Me. I give the reward for it. The fast is a shield. If one is fasting, he should not use foul language, raise his voice, or behave foolishly. If someone reviles him or fights with him he should say, 'I am fasting,' twice. By the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, the [bad] breath of the one who is fasting is better in the sight of Allah on the Day of Resurrection than the smell of musk. The one who is fasting is happy at two times: when he breaks his fast he is happy with it, and when he meets his Lord he will be happy that he has fasted." This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, and an-Nasa'i.

A similar version was recorded by al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud, but with the following addition:

"He leaves his food, drink, and desires for My sake. His fasting is for Me... I will give the reward for it, and for every good deed, he will receive ten similar to it".

The Virtues of Ramadan and the Deeds Done During It

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

"The blessed month has come to you. Allah has made fasting during it obligatory upon you. During it, the gates to Paradise are opened and the gates to hellfire are locked, and the devils are chained. There is a night [during this month], which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of its good is really deprived [of something great]". This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, and al-Baihaqi.

Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

"Whoever fasts the month of Ramadan, obeying all of its limitations and guarding himself against what is forbidden, has in fact atoned for any sins he committed before it." Ahmad and alBaihaqi related this hadith".

Starting Ramadan Fasting

This event is confirmed by sighting the new moon, even if it is seen by only one just person, or by the passage of thirty days in the immediately preceding month of Sha'ban.

Ibn 'Umar said: "The people were looking for the new moon and when I reported to the Messenger of Allah that I had seen it, he fasted and ordered the people to fast." This is related by Abu Dawud, al-Hakim, and Ibn Hibban, who declared it to be sahih.

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet instructed:

"Fast after you have seen it [the new crescent] and end the fast [at the end of the month] when you see it. If it is hidden from you, then wait until the thirty days of Sha'ban have passed". This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.

Essential Elements of Fasting

Allah instructs in the Qur'an:

"And they are ordained nothing else than to serve Allah, keeping religion pure for Him". Q98:5.

The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

"Actions are judged according to the intention behind them, and for everyone is what he intended".

The intention must be made before fajr (morning prayer) and during every night of Ramadan. This point is based on the hadith of Hafsah which reported that the Prophet said:

"Whoever does not determine to fast before fajr will have no fast" (that is, it won't be accepted). This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, at-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah. Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibban have classified it as sahih.

The intention is valid during any part of the night. It need not be spoken, as it is in reality an act of the heart, which does not involve the tongue. It will be fulfilled by one's intention to fast out of obedience to Allah and for seeking His pleasure.

If one eats one's pre-dawn meal (sahoor) with the intention of fasting and to get closer to Allah by such abstinence, then one has performed the intention. If one determines that one will fast on the next day solely for the sake of Allah, then one has performed the intention even if a pre-dawn meal was not consumed.

According to many of the jurists, the intention for a voluntary fast may be made at any time before any food is consumed. This opinion is based on 'Aishah's hadith: "The Prophet came to us one day and said: 'Do you have any [food]?' We said, 'No.' He said: 'Therefore, I am fasting." This is related by Muslim and Abu Dawud.

Who Must Fast

All scholars agree that fasting is obligatory upon every sane, adult, healthy Muslim male who is not traveling at that time. As for a woman, she must not be menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding. People who are insane, minors, and those who are traveling, menstruating, or going through post-childbirth bleeding, and the elderly and breast-feeding or pregnant women do not need to observe the fast.

For some, the fast is not obligatory at all, for example, the insane and the minors. In the case of young people, their parents or guardians should encourage them to fast. Some are to break the fast and make up the missed days of fasting at a later date, e.g. travelers, sick persons and women menstruating, or going through post-childbirth bleeding, or pregnant women, while others are to break the fast and pay a "ransom" (in which case, they are not obliged to make up the days they missed).

Acts That are Permissible and those Not Permissible During the Fast

1. Pouring water over one's self and submersing one's self in water: Abu Bakr ibn 'Abdurrahman reported from a number of companions that they had seen Allah's Messenger pour water over his head while he was fasting due to thirst or extreme heat. This is related by Ahmad, Malik, and Abu Dawud.

In the two Sahih of al-Bukhari and Muslim, it is related from 'Aishah that the Prophet would rise in the morning on a fasting day and then would perform ghusl (a complete bath). If during the bath some water is swallowed unintentionally, the fast is still valid.

2. If one is overcome and vomits unintentionally, he does not have to make up the day later on or perform the acts of expiation. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:

"Whoever is overcome and vomits is not to make up the day". "Whoever vomits intentionally must make up the day". This is related by Ahmad, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hibban, ad-Daraqutni, and al-Hakim.

3. It is preferred for the fasting person to use a tooth stick or a brush. There is no difference if he uses it at the beginning or the ending of the day. At-Tirmidhi affirms that: "Ash-Shafhi did not see anything wrong with using a tooth stick [brush] during the beginning or the ending of the day". The Prophet would use his tooth stick [brush] while fasting.

4.Ejaculation void the fast even if it was just due to kissing, hugging, or masturbation, and the day must be made up. If the ejaculation was due to looking at or thinking about something, then it is like having a wet dream during the day and it, therefore, does not void the fast nor is there any requirement on the person. Similarly, ejaculation of seminal fluid does not harm the fast in any way.

Other things on Ramadan will be discussed in subsequent postings. May Allah count us among the people that will witness the coming Ramadan, may Allah accepts our repentance and have mercy on us.

Peace be on you.