Ramadhaan Fasting (2)



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:

"Be ye foremost (in seeking) forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden (of Bliss) the width whereof is as the width of heaven and earth prepared for those who believe in Allah and His apostles: that is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He pleases: and Allah is the Lord of Grace abounding." Q57:21.

"O ye who believe! Turn to Allah with sincere repentance: in the hope that your Lord will remove from you your ills and admit you to Gardens beneath which Rivers flow the Day that Allah will not permit to be humiliated the Prophet and those who believe with him. Their Light will run forward before them and by their right hands while they say 'Our Lord! Perfect our Light for us and grant us Forgiveness; for Thou has power over all things". Q66:8

Abu Huraira narrated that Allah's Apostle (PBUH) said,

"Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven". (Bukhari Hadith 1.37)

Some good deeds that are recommended and those actions to be avoided during Ramadan include the following:

1. Supplications while breaking the fast

Ibn Majah related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'Aas that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "A fasting person, upon breaking his fast, has a supplication that will not be rejected. When 'Abdullah broke his fast he would say: "O Allah, I ask of You, by Your mercy that encompasses everything, to forgive me".

It is confirmed that the Prophet would say, before breaking his fast: "O Allah, for You I have fasted and with Your provisions do I break my fast."

At-Tirmidhi (hadith 2248) recorded, that the Prophet said: "Three people will not have their supplications rejected: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just ruler, and an oppressed person".

2. Being generous and studying the Qur'an

Being generous and studying the Qur'an is recommended during any time, but it is especially stressed during the month of Ramadan. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn 'Abbas said:

"The Prophet was the most generous of people, but he would be most generous during Ramadan when he would meet with [the angel] Gabriel. He would meet with him every night and recite the Qur'an. When Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind."

The Qur'an was revealed in the month of Ramadan. It is recommended that Muslims should read the whole Qur'an, at least one time, during Ramadan. It is not enough to read only the Arabic text, we should try to read the translation of the Qur'an in the language we understand very well. The essence of reading Qur'an is to get familiar with its teachings, ponder on over Allah's words and follow them the injunctions in it.

Zaid bin Khalid Juhaini narrated that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "Whoever provides food to a person fasting, to break the fast, his reward will be equivalent to the reward of the person who is fasting without any decrease in the reward for goodness of the person who is fasting." (Al-Tirmidhi).

Those that cannot fast due to old age or permanent sickness are expected to feed the fasting Muslims as a ransom if they can afford it.

"As for those who can fast with difficulty, they have (a choice either to fast or) feed a poor person. But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know." Q2:184.

3. Performance of Taraawih and Tahajjud.

Tarawih and Tahajjud are supererogatory salat observed after Ishai prayers and in during the late night respectively.

Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from 'Aishah that during the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night and then remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A version in Muslim states: "He would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time".

4. Avoidance of immoral acts and lies

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever does not give up false statements (i.e. telling lies), and evil deeds, and speaking bad words to others, Allah is not in need of his (fasting) leaving his food and drink". (Bukhari 8.83)

Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah's Apostle (PBUH) said, "Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fasting should avoid sexual relation with his wife and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, 'I am fasting' ..." (Bukhari 3.118).

5. Performance of Umra

Ata narrated that he heard Ibn 'Abbas saying, "Allah's Apostle asked an Ansari woman 'What prevented you from performing Hajj with us?' She replied, 'We have a camel and the father of so-and-so and his son (i.e. her husband and her son) rode it and left one camel for us to use for irrigation.' He said (to her), 'Perform 'Umra when Ramadan comes, for 'Umra in Ramadan is equal to Hajj (in reward),'  or said something similar". (Bukhari 3.10)

6. I'tikaf and seeking the night of Qadr.

I'tikaf means to confine oneself in a mosque for prayers and praise of Allah, leaving worldly things and be devoted in religious duties during the last ten days of Ramadan to seek the night of majesty about which Allah, the Exalted, says:

"We have indeed revealed this (Qur'an) in the night of Power (Qadr): And what will explain to thee what the Night of Power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand Months. Therein come down the angels and the Spirit (angel Gabriel) by Allah's permission on every Decree: Peace!... This until the rise of Morn!" Suratul Qadr, 97:1-5

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Whoever established prayers on the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven; and whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven". (Bukhari 3.125).

As to the supplication during the night of qadr, Aisha asked Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) to tell her what prayers to say on Laylat al-Qadr (night of power)  if she knew which night it was, and he told her to say, "O Allah, Thou art forgiving and loves forgiveness, so forgive me". (Tirmidhi 2091. Also by Ahmad and Ibn Majah)

Those of us who cannot do I'tikaf for one reason or the order can seek the night of qadr in our various homes by engaging is supererogatory prayers and supplications during the last ten nights of Ramadan. It is unfortunate that some Muslim organizations have turned the night of Power into a night of social gathering and collection of money and donation instead of a night of religious devotion.

7. Zakat al-fitr  (Ramadan charity)

Zakat ul-fitr is a type of charity which must be paid by every Muslim, young and old, male and female, free and slave, at the end of the month of fasting (Ramadan).

Ibn 'Umar narrated that: "Allah's Apostle enjoined the payment of one Sa' of dates or one Sa' of barley as Zakat-ul-Fitr on every Muslim slave or free, male or female, young or old, and he ordered that it be paid before the people went out to offer the 'Id prayer. (One Sa' = 3 Kilograms approx.)" (Bukhari 2.579).

In another hadith reported by Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, and ad-Daraqutni from Ibn 'Abbas. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, enjoined zakat ul-fitr on the one who fasts to shield one's self from any indecent act or speech and for the purpose of providing food for the needy. It is accepted as zakah for the person pays it before the 'id salat, and it is sadaqah for the one who pays it after the salat.

Every free Muslim must pay zakat ul-fitr for himself, his wife, children, and servants whether they, his dependants, participated in Ramadan fasting or not. Some scholars agree that zakat ul fitr could be done with money, the equivalent cost of 3kg of grain (rice, beans, corn, barley, etc ) that is consumed locally.  The reason they gave is that one of the reasons for this zakat is to make the poor happy on the day of festival and that providing them with money to buy what they like will equally serve the purpose. Other scholars maintained that grain should be used since this was used during the time of the prophet (PBUH) and that the poor can sell the grain if he/she needs money.

8. The Forbidden Days to Fast, the days of 'id (Islamic festivals)

All scholars agree that such a fast is prohibited. It does not matter if the fast is obligatory or voluntary. 'Umar testifies: "The Messenger of Allah has forbidden fasting on these two days. Concerning the 'id of breaking the fast, it is for you to break your fast [of Ramadan]. On the 'id of sacrifice, you should eat from what you sacrifice." This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, atTirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah.

It is not permissible to fast during the three days following the 'Id al-Adha. Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, sent 'Abdullah ibn Hudhaqah to announce at Mina: "You are not to fast these days. They are days of eating and drinking and remembering Allah". This is related by Ahmad.

It is unfortunate that some Muslims fall into an error of fasting on Ramadan festival day.  In some countries, people are divided on the day to start and end Ramadan fasting, some will decide when to start and end fasting regardless of the time the moon is seen. This set of people is following their personal desires and not Islamic teachings. Every Muslim is expected to begin Ramadan fasting whenever he/she hears that the moon has been sighted regardless of the place it was sighted within a country. The prophet (PBUH) said that fast should begin and end when the moon is seen but if the moon could not be seen due to cloud, then fast should begin and end after 30 days of the month. And that people who started Ramadan late because they did not hear about the moon MUST not fast on the 'Eid ul-fitr day (Ramadan festival). They should make up the lost days of fasting latter. We should be careful of the warning of Allah, the Exalted,

"It is not fitting for a Believer man or woman when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Apostle to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Apostle he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path". Q33:36

" ... then let those beware who oppose the Apostle's order (sunnah) lest some trial befall them or a grievous Penalty be inflicted on them". Q24:63.

One of the reasons Allah prescribed fasting is for us to learn self-restraint so that we can be pious. We should have this in mind as we prepare for Ramadan. If we could do away with some of our bad habits for 29 or 30 days, we should able to completely do away with them in our life. This is the teaching we should understand and imbibe.

May Allah accept our acts of worship, have mercy on us, count us among those that will witness the coming Ramadan and help the oppressed and poor people all over the world.

Peace be on you.