Fasting in the month of Ramadhan is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Fasting in the month of Ramadhan is FARDH upon every Muslim, male and female who is sane and mature.
Almighty Allah ﷻhas promised great reward for those that fast, whilst severe punishment for those that do NOT fast in the month of Ramadhan.
Fasting has many physical, moral and social benefits. However, Allah ﷻ has made fasting compulsory so that we become pious, Allah ﷻ fearing and Allah ﷻ conscious.
Fasting in ISLAM means to stay away from EATING, DRINKING and COHABITATION (sex) from Subhus Sadiq (true dawn) to sunset with a Niyyah (intention) of Sawm (fasting).
THE NIYYAH (INTENTION)
The Niyyah of fasting is NECESSARY. If a person stays away from all those things that invalidate one’s fast without a Niyyah, the fast will NOT be valid.
It is not necessary to express the Niyyah verbally as Niyyah means to intend. Thus, the intention at heart will suffice. However, it is better to express the Niyyah verbally also.
The time for Niyyah lasts upto midday for Fardh Mu’ayyan, Wajib Mu’ayyan, Sunnah or Mustahab fasts. The hours of a day are from Subh Sadiq to sunset.
The Niyyah for Fardh Ghair Mu’ayyan and Wajib Ghair Mu’ayyan should be made before Subh Sadiq.
Ibn Umar (Radhi Allaho anho) relates: Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said: ‘Verily Allah and His Malaa’ikah send Mercy upon those who eat ‘Sehri’ (sower-Suhoor).”
It is Masnun (Sunnah) to partake of Suhur during the last portion of the night. It is a means of attaining great blessings and Thawab. The Sunnah will be attained if one partakes of Suhur at any time after midnight. But it is better and desirable to partake of Suhur in the last portion of the night. If the Mu’adhdhin has called out the Adhan before its time, it will not be prohibited to partake of Suhur till just before Subh Sadiq appears. It will suffice if one makes an intention to fast in ones mind after the Suhur. Delaying Suhur to such an extent that there is fear of the appearance of Subh Sadiq, should be avoided. To partake of Suhur at its correct time and then spend time chewing or smoking till the last minute should be avoided.
It is stated: “In three things, are the great blessings: in “Jama’ah” (company), in eating “Thareed” and in “Sehri”. In this Hadith, the use of the word “Jama’ah” is general, wherefrom we deduce that it includes “Salaat” with “Jamaa’ah” and all those righteous deeds done in company, as thus Allah’s help comes to them. “Thareed” is a tasty preparation, in which baked bread is cooked with meat. The third thing mentioned in this Hadith is “Sehri”. When Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) used to invite any of the companions to eat “Sehri” with him, he used to say: “Come and partake of blessed food with me.” One Hadith says: “Eat ‘Sehri’ and strengthen yourself for the fast. And sleep in the afternoon (Siesta), so as to gain assistance in waking up in the latter portion of the night (for “Ibaadah”).” Abdullah bin Haarith (Radhiallahu Anhu) reports that one of the Sahaaba said: “I once visited Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihi wasallam) at a time when he was busy in partaking of ‘Sehri’. Rasulullah then said: “This is a thing full of blessings, which Allah has granted you. Do not give it up.” Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) in urging us repeatedly for ‘Sehri’ has said: “Even though there be no food, then one date should be eaten or a drink of water taken.” Thus, when there are definitely great advantages and reward in ‘Sehri’, Muslims should endeavour to observe this practice as much as possible. However, in all things moderation is important, and going beyond the bounds of moderation is harmful: neither should so little be eaten that one feels weak throughout the period of fasting, nor should so much be eaten that it causes discomfort. Repeatedly, we have been prohibited from filling the stomach excessively.
Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) announced to those proceeding for ‘Jihaad’: ‘There is no virtue in fasting while travelling.’ That was in the month of Ramadhaan, when some Sahaaba were fasting. Allamah Sha’raani mentions in Sharh Iqna: ‘A covenant was made with us that we shall not fill our stomachs (completely) when eating, especially in the nights of Ramadhaan.’ It is better that one should eat less in the nights of Ramadhaan than on other nights. After all, what is the utility of fasting after having filled oneself at ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’? the religious divines have said, ‘Whoever remains hungry in Ramadhaan shall remain safe from the evil of ‘Shaytaan’ throughout the year, until the next Ramadhaan.’
THE IMPORTANCE OF SUHUR
A person partaking in Suhur during the middle of the night (i.e. before the time of Suhur) deprives himself of the complete Thawab of Suhur through this action. Rasulullah ﷺ is reported to have said: “Verily, Allah and His Malaikah send mercy upon those who eat Suhur”.
Many Ulama agree that to partake of Suhur is Mustahab and many people are deprived of this reward because of laziness (i.e. not getting up from one’s sleep to perform this Sunnah).
Another Hadith indicates that the difference between our fasting and that of the Ahlul-Kitab (Jews and Christians) lies in partaking of Suhur. The following are blessings of Suhur:
In it, the Sunnah if followed
Through it, we oppose the ways of Ahlul-Kitab, which we are at all times called upon to do.
It provides strength for Ibadah.
It promotes more sincerity in Ibadah.
It aids in the elimination of bad temper
Suhur is a time when prayers are accepted.
It gives one the opportunity to remember Allah ﷻ, make dhikr and Lift up the hands to him in du`a.
The following intention for the Fast has to be expressed during the night.
DU’A AT THE TIME OF SEHRI
Sahl Bin Sa’d (R.A.) reported that Rasulullah ﷺ said: “People will remain prosperous as long as they hasten with Iftaar” (i.e. they break their fast immediately when the time for Iftaar enters).
It is Sunnah to make Iftaar (to break one’s fast) immediately after sunset. One should not delay in Iftaar. It is indeed harmful if one partakes in the Iftaar meal for so long, that he misses his Maghrib salaah. It is better to break the fast in the Masjid, so that the Maghrib salaah is not missed. To perform Maghrib salaah at home, so that one can indulge in the provisions of Iftaar while missing the blessings of salaah with Jama’ah, is a shameful act.
DU’A AT THE TIME OF IFTAAR
TYPES OF FASTS
There are Eight types of Fasts . They are as follows:
FARDH MU-‘AYYAN: Fasting for the whole month of Ramadhan once a year.
FARDH GHAIR MU-‘AYYAN: The duty upon one to keep QADHA of a fast missed in the month of Ramadhan with or without a valid reason.
WAJIB MU-‘AYYAN: To vow to keep a fast on a specific day or date for the pleasure of Allah ﷻ, upon the fulfilment of some wish or desire
WAJIB GHAIR MU-‘AYYAN: To vow or pledge to keep a fast without fixing any day or date, upon the fulfilment of a wish. Those fasts which are kept for breaking one’s Qasm (oath) also fall under this category.
SUNNAH: Those fasts which Rasulullah ﷺ kept and encouraged others to keep, e.g., fasting on the 9th and 10th of Muharram, and the 9th of Dhil Hijjah, etc.
MUSTAHAB: All fasts besides Fardh, wajib and Sunnah are Mustahab, eg., fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.
MAKRUH: Fasting ONLY on the 9th or 10th of Muharram or Fasting ONLY on Saturdays.
HARAM: It is Haram to fast on FIVE days during the year. They are Eidul Fitr, Eidul Adhaa and three days after Eidul Adha.
THINGS MAKRUH WHILE FASTING
To chew rubber, plastic or other inedible items.
To taste any article of food or drink and spit it out. If a woman has a very ill-tempered husband, it is permissible for her to taste the food, provided it does not go down her throat.
To collect one’s saliva in the mouth and then to swallow it, trying to quench thirst.
To delay a bath that has become Fardh knowingly until after Subh Sadiq.
To use paste or tooth powder to clean one’s teeth. It is permitted to use a miswaak of any fresh branch or root.
To complain of hunger and thirst.
To take excessive water up the nostrils when cleaning the nose.
To gargle more than necessary.
To quarrel, argue, use filthy or indecent words.
To backbite, lie and swear etc. are sinful acts even when one is not fasting. Therefore they become more serious when fasting.
THINGS THAT BREAK ONE’S FAST
Things that break one’s fast are of two kinds. Some only make Qadha necessary, whilst others make both Qadha and Kaffarah compulsory.
(a) QADHA: To keep one fast in place of one that breaks, or is broken unintentionally.
(b) KAFARAH: To keep SIXTY fasts continuously . This is atonement for fasts broken intentionally.
However, if a person is unable to keep these 60 fasts, for some valid reason, eg., continuous sickness, then one has the option of choosing from one of the following four:
Feed sixty poor people to their fill for two meals, or
Feed one poor person two meals a day, for sixty days; or
Give 60 poor persons 3.5 lbs. (approx. 1.6 kg.) of wheat or its value in cash or food;
Give to one poor person not less than 3.5 lbs,. of wheat, rice or food grains, etc. or its value in cash for sixty days. (It cannot be given at once)
THINGS THAT INVALIDATE ONE’S FAST BUT MAKE ONLY QADHA WAJIB
Anything put by force into the mouth of, and is swallowed by a fasting person.
Water going down the throat whilst gargling, (whilst being conscious of one’s fast).
To vomit a mouthful intentionally or to return vomit down the throat.
Swallowing intentionally a pebble, piece of paper or any item that is not used as food or medicine.
Swallowing something edible, equal to or bigger than a grain of gram which was stuck between the teeth. However, if it is first taken out of the mouth and swallowed, it will break the fast whether it is smaller or bigger than the size of a grain.
Putting oil into the ear.
Inhaling snuff into the nostrils.
Swallowing the blood from the gums if the colour of the blood is more than the saliva with which it is mixed.
To eat and drink forgetting that one is fasting and thereafterthinking that the fast is broken, to eat and drink again.
To eat and drink after Subha Sadiq or to break the fast beforesunset due to a cloudy sky or a faulty watch, etc., and then realising one’s fault
NOTE:Any fast other than the fast of Ramadhan, whether broken intentionally or with a good valid reason, makes only Qadha wajib. There is no Kaffarah for breaking any fast besides that of Ramadhan.
THINGS THAT MAKE BOTH QADHA AND KAFFARAH WAJIB
Eating, drinking, cohabiting or breaking the fast in any other manner, e.g. smoking, etc., without a valid reason, will make both Qadha and Kaffarah necessary.
Applying Surma into the eye or rubbing oil on the head and then, thinking that the fast is broken, to eat and drink intentionally.
To drink any kind of medicine intentionally.
THINGS THAT DO NOT BREAK THE FAST
To eat or drink something unintentionally.
A mosquito, fly or any other object going down the throat unintentionally.
Water entering the ears.
Dust or dirt going down the throat.
Swallowing one’s OWN saliva.
Taking an injection.
Applying of Surma into the eyes.
Taking a bath to keep cool.
Rubbing oil onto the body or hair.
To vomit unintentionally.
Applying perfume. It is NOT permitted to inhale the smoke of Loban or incense sticks whilst fasting. It is also NOT permitted to smoke cigarettes or inhale its smoke.
Brushing the teeth without tooth paste or powder, e.g. using a Miswaak, etc.
A dream which makes Ghusl necessary does not break the fast.
Swallowing something edible less than a grain in size that was stick between the teeth.
PEOPLE EXEMPTED FROM FASTING
Sick people when their health is likely to be affected by fasting. They should make up the loss, a fast for a fast, when they recover after Ramadhan.
A Musafir, (one who is undertaking a journey of more than 77km (48 miles) and does NOT intend staying more than 14 days at his destination). However, it is better for him to fast in Ramadhan than keep Qadha later, provided the journey is not a tiresome one.
If it is feared that hunger or thirst will lead to death, it is permitted to break one’s fast.
It is necessary to keep Qadha of a nafl fast which was broken before completing it.
FIDYAH(COMPENSATION) FOR FAST
A very old person who does not have the strength to fast or a very sickly or diseased person who has no hope of recovering after Ramadhan, should give fidyah for each fast missed in Ramadhan.
The Fidyah for a fast is similar to that of a missed Fardh or wajib salaah, i.e.
i) To give 3.5lbs = approx. 1.6 kg of wheat Or ……… 7lbs = approx. 3.2 kg of barley ii) Or …….. the equivalent of the above in cash or kind. If, however, an old or sick person gains strength or recovers after Ramadhan, he must keep the missed number of fasts and whatever was given as Fidyah will be a reward for him from Allah ﷻ. No one is allowed to fast for another sick or fit person.
NOTE: Children should be encouraged to fast, but should not be forced to complete the fast up to sunset if they are unable to bear the hunger or thirst.