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THE FAST OF RAMADAN

Ahmad Hamid

RAMADAN MUBARAK. Let us make dua to Allah for all His boons and blessings and sparing

our lives to enjoy the blessings of another Ramadan. It is expected, Insha Allah, according to the Makkah

Calendar, that the first day of Ramadan is Tuesday July 9, 2013/1434 for the Americas. Ramadan serves

as the spring season for the Muslims to inculcate the discipline of mind and body and to face the

challenge0.s of life. Ramadan aims at character building and spiritual development.

During Ramadan, the Muslims observe four of the five pillars of Islam, Iman, Salaah, Saum, and

Zakaah. It is the month in which God revealed the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (S) in Cave Hira. This is

the month of Lilatul Qadr, which enables Muslims to reap the blessings of more than 1000 months. It is

the month of blessings, forgiveness, and emancipation from hell fire. This is the month in which the doors

of heaven are opened, doors of hell are closed, and the devils put in chains.

Ramadan is the month of fasting (Siyam), which is the third pillar of Islam. Fasting is obligatory

upon every sane, healthy adult Muslim. Fasting in Ramadan became obligatory (fard) in the second year

after the Hijrah. It is a test of faith and inner courage and strength when we consider the hours of fasting

and the hardships. That is why God says he will personally reward all the Muslims who fast. Prophet

Muhammad (S) said, "Whoever observes the fast during the month of Ramadan, (while) believing in

Allaah and seeking His rewards, will have his past sins forgiven."

God says, “O you who believe! Fasting (in Ramadan) is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to

those before you that you may attain Taqwah. (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 (with hardship), it is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent, but he who

will give more of his own free will, it is better for him. And it is better for you that you fast, if only you

knew.” (Q2:183-184)

Fasting is not new. In every religion fasting is an established fundamental institution to attain

physical, mental, and religious purity and to conquer the baser desires and weaknesses. Fasting elevates

the soul to a higher spiritual plain of God-consciousness (taqwa). In certain religious sects, the fasting

person reduces his intake of food each day. The objective here is to weaken the physical body, and by so

doing, the soul becomes stronger, enlightened, purified, and is able to conquer or control its weaknesses

and desires.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (S) as saying: Allah the Exalted and Majestic said:

“Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except fasting. It is (exclusively) meant for Me, and I (alone)

will reward it. Fasting is a shield. When any one of you is fasting on a day, he should neither indulge in

obscene language, nor raise the voice; or if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him he should say,

I am a fasting person. By Him, in Whose Hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of the observer of

fast is sweeter to Allah on the Day of Judgment than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts has two

(occasions) of joy. One, when he breaks the fast he is glad with the breaking of (the fast), and one, when

he meets his Lord, he is glad with his fast.” Sahih Muslim Book 35, Number 2566

While all Muslims must fast, certain persons either are exempted or can defer their fast.

i. The number of fasts missed while on a journey which must be 48 miles and more must be observed

later. A person can do so on consecutive days or as the person may wish.

ii. Old age brings with it certain physical conditions, illnesses, and restraints that may prevent Muslims

from observing the fast. Such persons must pay the ‘fidyah’ (if they can afford it) as a form of

recompense for not being able to fast. The fidyah has the same monetary value as the Sadqatul Fitr (about

$8.00). Fidya can also mean the feeding of an indigent person each day. In the case of persons

experiencing temporary illness, they should observe the fast upon regaining their health.

iii. An expecting or suckling mother may defer the fast if she fears either she or the baby may suffer. The

fasting days missed must be observed later. Similar rules apply to women who experience their monthly

illness or in the post natal period. They have to fast the number of days missed. If they experience their

monthly illness during the fast, the fast immediately becomes nullified. They have to observe the fast at a

later date.

iv. Insanity: A completely or partially insane person is exempted from the fast.

v. Fear of life or health: A person who engages in very hard physical labor may ask for exemption if he

fears that he will become unconscious or may suffer health problems.

Things which nullify the fast

Should a person eat, drink, or engage in marital relationship fully conscious that he is fasting, he

has to feed sixty indigent persons or fast for sixty consecutive days. If a person completely forgets that he

is fasting and drinks liquid, eats food, or engages in marital relationship, his fast is not broken. However,

while in the process, he remembers, he should stop immediately.

A few things that do not nullify the Fast

i. Taking a bath

ii. Swallowing one’s saliva

iii. Experiencing wet dreams

iv. Involuntary vomiting

v. Brushing the teeth or cleaning the mouth

vi. Applying oil or ointment to the body

vii. Tasting food while cooking to ensure it well prepared

viii. Drawing blood for medical reasons

ix. Applying eye drops to the eyes

Beginning the Fast before dawn

On Tuesday July 9, the time of dawn is 3:58 a.m. This means a person has to stop eating a few

minutes before dawn. Check with your Masjid for Ramadan chart. There is great blessing in eating the

morning meal (suhur). The Prophet (S) said, “Eating suhur is full of blessings, so never go without it even

if it is a sip of water because Allah sends His mercy on those who take the suhur, and the angels implore

Allah’s forgiveness for them.”

It is advisable to make the intention to fast (dua for fasting: Bi saumin ghadin nawaitu min shahri

Ramadan -I make intention to observe the fast of Ramadan tomorrow) before going to sleep. Therefore, if

a person wakes up after dawn, he is in a state of fasting. Not eating the suhur is not an excuse for not

fasting. The suhur is sunnah and the fasting is fard. The dua after eating suhur before dawn is Nawaitu

bisaumin al youma min Shahri Ramadan (I have the intention to observe the fast of Ramadan today). The

dua can be made in Arabic or in English.

Breaking the Fast in the evening

The fast ends just after sunset, the time of Salatul Maghrib. The fast ends when night approaches

(from the east), that is, there is no more light in the eastern horizon. Muslims must not delay the breaking

of the fast. The Prophet (S) said, “The people will continue to be happy and prosperous as long as they

hasten in breaking the fast.” According to Tirmidhi Allah says: “The best person among my people hasten

in the breaking of the fast.” The dua for the breaking the fast is:

 

Allahumma laka sumtu wa ‘ala rizqi ka

aftartu”. (O Allah! I have observed the fast for Your sake, and have broken it with provision bestowed by

You). At the time of breaking the fast it is advisable to make dua to Allah for it is said that Allah listens to

the dua of a fasting person.

Etiquette of Ramadan

Those who fast should avoid certain acts. While these acts may not break the fast, they may

reduce the quality of the fast, the blessings, or convert fasting to mere starvation. Fast with the eyes; avert

the gaze from sights that we are not supposed to see or look at (unlawful). Fast with the tongue; avoid idle

talk, backbiting, and quarreling. Use the time in meaningful activities, e.g., reciting Quran. To this effect,

it is said, “Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who

stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness." (An-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah

and al-Hakim / Sahih al-Jami`).

Fasting is a deliberate submission to the will of Allah. To the fasting Muslims, every day brings

greater salvation and purification. The fasting Muslims must rejoice and celebrate every sunset in

Ramadan, for the sunset signifies their accomplishments, their victory over their weaknesses, and their

ever-growing strength to acquire self-restraint (Taqwah). The Prophet said, "Fasting is a shield or

protection from the fire and from committing sins" (Bukhari). "Paradise has eight gates, and one of them

is called Ar-Raiyan through which none will enter but those who observe fasting."

Ramadan Mubarak. We sincerely hope that Allah will give us the health and strength to enjoy

Ramadan with our families, relatives, and friends. Let strive with all that we have in this month. Let us

make dua asking Allah to increase our Iman, accept our Salaah, fasting, and Zakaah in exchange for a

place in His Eternal Jannah. Ramadan Mubarak

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