Ramadan & Fasting


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Ramadan & Fasting

  1. 1. RAMADAN AND FASTING By Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad SikanderRamadan (lit. Scorching heat), the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, is considered to bethe most sacred and glorious month in Islam. Muslims the world over hold this Holy month inreverence and fast throughout it from dawn to dusk. Ramadan is considered a very virtuousmonth in Islam wherein the rewards for good deeds get multiplied manifold and bad deeds areforgiven. As a result the onset of Ramadan encourages people to get actively involved inperforming good deeds and getting close to Allah by offering sincere repentance. Ramadan islike a month of thorough training for Muslims in which they are “programmed” towardsrighteousness and get “charged” and gain the necessary momentum of faith supposed to bemaintained the whole year round.Ramadan is the month of Mercy. Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “When the month of Ramadanstarts the gates of heaven are opened, the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.”(Bukhari)Ramadan is also known as the month of the Qur’an as the Noble Qur’an was revealed during thisHoly month. The Glorious Qur’an mentions: “Ramadan is the (month) in which we sent downthe Qur’an as a guide to mankind also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between rightand wrong) ” (2:185)The Laylat ul Qadr or the Night of Blessing (laylat ul Mubarak) also falls in this month. A gooddeed performed in this night is better than the rewards of good deeds of 1000 months (about83.3 years). The Qur’an present in the Lawhe mahfuz or Sacred Tablet was separated from itsstations in the Highest heavens (85:21-22) and revealed upon the lowest heavens, House ofHonour or Bait al Izzah as a whole.Regarding this night the Glorious Qur’an mentions:“We have revealed this (message) in the Night of power; And what will explain to you what thenight of power is? The night of power is better than a thousand months. Therein come downthe angels and the spirit by the permission of their Lord, on every errand ‘Peace!’ So untill therise of morn.”(97:1-5)The above references clearly describe the position and status of the Holy month of Ramadan inIslam. Now regarding fasting during this month, the Glorious Qur’an mentions “So everyone ofyou who is present (at home) during this month (Ramadan) should spend it in fasting”(2:185)
  2. 2. Further mentions the Glorious Qur’an that “O You who Believe! Fasting is prescribed to you asit was prescribed before you so that you may (learn) self- restrain.”(2:183)This verse clearly states that fasting was ordained for earlier people also specially referring to thepeople of the Book as can be confirmed from these statements of the Bible. The Bible mentions:“And when he (Jesus) fasted 40 days and 40 nights he was there after unhungered” (Mathew4:2) Also it is mentioned: “And he (Moses) was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights; hedid neither eat bread nor drink water and wrote upon the tablest the words of the covenant,the ten commandments.” (Exodus 34:28)Virtues of Fasting1. Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan withfaith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays duringthe nights of Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sinsforgiven. And whoever passes Laylat ul Qadr with faith and seeking his reward from Allah willhave his past sins forgiven. (Bukhari, Muslim)2. Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: If one omits his fast for even a singleday in Ramadan without a concession or without being ill, then if he fasted even for his entirelife he could not makeup for it. (Bukhari)3. Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said:Every deed of man will receive 10 to 700 times reward except Siyam (fasting) for it is for meand I shall reward it (as I please). There are two occasions of joy for the one who fasts: onewhen he breaks his fast and other when he meets his Lord. (Muslim)When to start fastingIbn Umar R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: Do not start fasting until you see the newmoon and do not stop fasting until you see it. If the weather is cloudy then calculate when itshould appear. (Bukhari, Muslim)The Suhoor meal which is eaten before dawn:Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #143, Narrated Sahl bin SadI used to take my Suhur meals with my family and then hurry up for presenting myself for the (Fajr) prayerwith Allahs Apostle.Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #146, Narrated Anas bin MalikThe Prophet said, "Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it."Fiqh-us-Sunnah 3.130a
  3. 3. The sunnah would be fulfilled by eating a small or large quantity of food, or even just by drinking a sip ofwater. Abu Said al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "The pre-dawn meal is blessed, sodo not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray for those who havepre-dawn meals." (Ahmad)Breaking your fast (Iftaar):Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #1989, Narrated AbuHurayrah [Tirmidhi transmitted it.]Allahs Messenger said, that Allah Most High said, "Those of my servants who arequickest in breaking their fast are dearest to me."Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 31, Number 178, Narrated Sahl bin SadAllahs Apostle said, "The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten thebreaking of the fast."Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 31, Number 182, Narrated AnasThe Prophet said, "Do not practice Al-Wisal (fasting continuously without breaking onesfast in the evening or eating before the following dawn)." The people said to the Prophet, "But youpractice Al-Wisal?" The Prophet replied, "I am not like any of you, for I am given foodand drink (by Allah) during the night."Behaviour while fasting:Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: If a person does not avoid false talk andloose conduct during Siyam, Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink. (Bukhari,Muslim)The very meaning of Siyam means “rest”. In the light of this Hadeeth we are to put to rest notonly our hunger and thirst but also our desires and bad habits that prevent us from getting closeto Allah.Forgetfully eating or drinking while fasting:Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: If anyone forgets that he is fasting andforgetfully eats or drinks he should complete his fast for it is Allah who has fed him and givenhim drink. (Bukhari, Muslim)Who must fast: The fast of Ramadan is obligatory upon every male and female who meets thefollowing criteria:1. To be sane and sound ie to be mentally and physically fit.2. To be of proper age ie puberty. Children below age of puberty should be encouraged to fatsbut it is not obligatory on them.3. To be present at your home, settlement etc.4. To be sure that fasting is unlikely to cause you any physical or mental harm other than hunger
  4. 4. and thirst.Exemption from fasting: The following are exempted from fasting1. Children under the age of puberty2. People who are not mentally sound and insane3. Such people whose health is likely to deteriorate by observance of the fast. But later theyhave to makeup for the fasts, a day for a day.4. Expectant mothers and nursing women are also exempted from fasting if it is likely toendanger their health. But later they too have to makeup for the fasts, a day for a day.5. Women in the periods of menstruation (max. 10 days) and Nifas (confinement of 40 days) .They are not allowed to fast ever if they can and have to later makeup for the fasts, a day for aday.6. Travelers and old people are also exempted from fasting provided the traveler later makes upfor the fasts, a day for a day and the old person feeds at least one needy Muslim.So, the month of Ramadan brings peace, happiness and joy with it and the virtue of fasting addsto its glitter. The month of Ramadan inculcates in Muslims many sublime qualities. And fasting isthe only deed in which there can be no ‘show-off’ and in this way it saves us from hypocrisy also.Ramadan is the month of Devotion and during its course we must derive maximum blessings outof it. The Glorious Qur’an mentions: “And for those who fear Allah, He prepares a way out Andprovides for him from (Sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah,sufficient is Allah for Him, for Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily for all things Allahhas appointed a due proportion.” (65:2-3)(Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is a student at International Islamic University Malaysia. Hecan be reached at http://www.yaqeenulhaq.info or can be mailed at yaqeen@ymail.com )