During Ramadan, the believers get busy seeking Allah’s mercy, forgiveness and protection from Hellfire. Rewards of Fasting
• Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: “He who fasts solely for the sake of Allah, has all his previous sins forgiven.
• The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.
• The Prophet (Pbuh) said, the sleep of a fasting person is Ibadat and his silence is Tasbeeh (recitation of Subhan Allah).
• Fasting is a shield as long as the fasting person does not rupture it with lies and back-biting.
• Saum and the Quran will intercede on behalf of the servant of Allah. Saum will say ‘My Rabb! I forbade him from sleep at night and desires during the day, therefore, accept my intercession on his behalf.’ The Quran will say: ‘I forbade him from sleep at night, therefore accept my intercession on his behalf.’ Thus, their intercession will be accepted.
Who should Fast?
Fasting during Ramadan is compulsory for every Muslim, male or female, who meets the following requirements:
• Is mentally and physically fit i.e., sane and able.
• Has attained the age of puberty and discretion, which is normally about 14 years.
• Is present at their permanent settlement, hometown, farm or business premises etc.
• Is fairly certain that the fasting is unlikely to cause any harm, physical or mental other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst etc.
What is Sahri or Suhoor?
• Sahri is the act of arising from sleep during the course of the night to partake of some food or drink in anticipation of the next day’s fasting.
• Sahri is Sunnat regardless of whether one feels like eating anything or not. One should rise and eat even a date or two or merely take a gulp of water.
• It is of greater merit to delay Sahri. But it should not be delayed so much that Subah Sadiq has almost set in, causing doubt in the validity of the fast.
• It is not permissible to forgo a fast because of failure to wake up during the night for Sahri.
• If Sahri was missed if one has overslept, one should not forgo fasting. It is not permissible to refrain from Saum because of having missed Sahri.
What is Iftar?
• It is important to hasten with Iftar (breaking the fast) as soon as the sun has set.
• Iftar should be made before the Maghrib Salat.
• The Muezzin should have his Iftar before proclaiming the Azaan.
• At the time of Iftar, it is Sunnat to recite the following dua:
“O Allah! I have fasted for you. I believe in you.
I have trust in you and I make Iftar with the rizaq (food) provided by you.”
• Iftar should preferably be made with dates. In the absence of dates, water is best.
• It is Makrooh to have Iftar when in doubt regarding sunset.
• If it is overcast, Iftar should be delayed until there is absolute certainty that the sun has set.
• If Iftar is made even a minute before sunset, Qadha of the fast is incumbent. It is Makrooh to unnecessarily delay Iftar.
• The time of Iftar is very auspicious. Dua is readily accepted at the time when the fast is about to end.
What Makes the Fast Valid?
• Niyyat : It is preferable to make the Niyyat (Intention) of Saum during the night, i.e. prior to the entry of Subah Sadiq. When the fast starts, if the Niyyat was not made during the night, the Saum will be valid if the Niyyat is made approximately one hour before zawaal. One hour before zawaal is an approximate time taken as a precautionary measure. The exact time limit for the validity of the Niyyat for Saum is before the time of Nisfun-Nahar, i.e. mid-day in terms of the Shariah.
Nisfun-Nahar is determined by dividing by two the time duration from Subah Sadiq to sunset, and adding the result to Subah Sadiq time.
Example: Subah Sadiq : 5.30 a.m Sunset : 5.35 p.m
Time duration from Subah Sadiq to Sunset.
12 hrs. 5 mins divided by 2 = 6 hrs. 2 mins.
Add this result to Subah Sadiq : 5.30+6.02 = 11.32 a.m.= Nisfun-Nahar.
If Niyyat is made for the saum before 11.32 a.m. (in this example), the wajib Saum will be valid.
• It is not essential that any particular Niyyat formula be recited. Niyyat merely means to intend that one will be fasting, or is fasting. The Niyyat could also be made verbally in any language, e.g. One may say: O Allah! Tomorrow I shall be fasting for You. Or one may recite it in Arabic e.g. “I make Niyyat of Tomorrow’s fast”.
During the month of Ramadan, only Niyyat of the existing Ramadan’s Saum will be valid. Even if a Niyyat for any other Saum is made during Ramadan, then too only the Saum of the existing Ramadan will be discharged and not the Saum for which the Niyyat was made.
Things Which Do Not Break the Fast
• The using of Miswak
• To take bath during the day or to pour water, over the head due to the summer heat.
• To smell perfume.
• To apply Surma (Kohl) in the eyes, or oil to the hair.
• To eat or drink in forgetfulness.
• To inhale a fly or smoke or dust without one’s will or intention.
• To pour water into the ear unintentionally.
• To swallow saliva or phlegm.
• To gargle or take water in the nose, while performing ablution (Wudu), but care should be taken that no part of water enters the throat.
• Blood tests during illness.
Things Which Break the Fast
• Sexual intercourse even if there is no emergence of semen.
• Inhaling smoke by one’s own action, e.g. inhaling the smoke of incense, etc.
• Swallowing any substance or object which is not normally consumed as food or medicine, e.g. pebbles, paper, a coin, etc.
• Saliva mingled with blood will break the fast if the taste of blood is discernible when swallowing it.
• Eating deliberately. (Eating by mistake does not break the fast).
• Deliberately inducing oneself to vomit will break the fast if the vomit is mouthful. If the emergence of the vomit cannot be restrained, the vomit will be said to be a mouthful.
• A food particle, the size of a chana (about the size of half a pea) stuck in the teeth slips down the throat.
• Masturbation. In addition to it nullifying the Saum, it is an immoral and a sinful act.
• Ejaculation as a result of caressing and fondling the wife even if there was no sexual intercourse.
Kaffarah, Qadha Saum and Fidyah
• A fast of Ramadan broken deliberately without valid reason, after having made the Niyyat for fasting during the night, brings about the penalty of Kaffarah.
• A traveller is permitted to refrain from Saum, although it is meritorious for him/her to fast, if the journey is not a difficult one. The traveller shall make Qadha of all Saum omitted during the journey.
• If a woman starts menstruating during the course of the fasting day, the fast is not valid. It is not incumbent to abstain from eating during the remaining part of the day. Preferably, it is better to avoid eating in the presence of those who are fasting. She can compensate for her missed fasts later after Ramadan.
• When a pregnant woman has a genuine fear for either her own life or the life of the child she is bearing, it will be permissible for her to refrain from Saum. She will have to make Qadha of the Saum she misses as a result.
• A very old person who is truly unable to fast, is permitted to refrain from Saum. He has to offer compensation by means of paying the Fidyah.
Qadha means to fulfill or to compensate for fasts which are not executed when they were due.
• It is necessary to make Qadha of Saum as soon as possible since one does not know when death will overtake one. While it is not Wajib to make the Qadha immediately after Ramadan or on any other specific day, Qadha should not be unnecessarily delayed.
• For the validity of Qadha Saum, it is essential to make Niyyat during the night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq.
• Saum omitted on account of menses has to be made Qadha.
• It is not obligatory to keep the Qadha Saum all at once (consecutively). The Qadha Saum may be spread over a period or they may be kept consecutively.
• If by the time death approaches, the Qadha has not yet been discharged, it will then be obligatory to make a bequest for payment of Fidyah.
• Similarly, if due to old age or sickness one is unable to fast and the Qadha has not yet been executed, wasiyyat to pay Fidyah will be wajib(obligatory).
Kaffarah of Ramadan
• Kaffarah (compensation) is the penalty which is imposed by Shariah for the deliberate and flagrant nullification of the Saum of Ramadan.
• Kaffarah applies to only the Saum of Ramadan.
• Kaffarah comes into force only if the Niyyat for fasting was made at night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. Thus, if Niyyat was made during the night to fast the following day, and then the fast is broken without valid reason, the Kaffarah penalty comes into effect.
• Kaffarah for flagrantly breaking a fast of Ramadan is to fast 60 consecutive days- sixty days, one after the other, without missing any day in between.
• The Kaffarah will be rendered invalid if for any reason- be it a valid reason, even a single day is omitted during the 60 day-Kaffarah course. Thus if a person fasted for 59 days and failed to fast on the 60th day due to illness, he will have to start the Kaffarah all over again. The only interruption which will not invalidate the Kaffarah is the monthly menses of women.
• A person who is unable to discharge the Kaffarah because of ill-health or very old age, will have to feed 60 poor persons. Each miskeen (poor) should be given two full meals for the day or the amount in cash which is given as Sadaqah Fitr. This amount is the price of approximately 2 kilograms bread flour. Instead of the cash, the flour may also be given.
• A single Ramadan, makes Wajib only one Kaffarah irrespective of the number of fasts flagrantly broken during that Ramadan
• If fasts were flagrantly nullified in more than one Ramadan, the number of Kaffarah will be equal to the number of Ramadans. So if fasts were flagrantly broken in three different Ramadans, three different Kaffarah will be obligatory.
Essence of Taraweeh
The Prophet (Pbuh) used to recite the Qur’an in slow, measured, rhythmic tones as Allah had instructed him, not rushing or hurrying, rather, his was “a recitation clearly distinguishing each letter.”
In Ramadan, the Qiyaam al-Layl, also known as Taraweeh is a Sunnah for both men and women. It is performed after the Isha prayer.
There is no specific limit to what a Muslim may offer of prayer as part of his voluntary night worship. In the early period of Islam, people in Makkah used to offer 20 rakahs of Taraweeh prayers. People in Madinah offered a larger number reaching as many as 36 rakahs a night. They felt that the people in Makkah could do the Tawaf in addition to their voluntary prayer. Since Tawaf is similar to prayers, they added 16 rakahs to offset the particular privilege the Makkan people enjoined.
On the other hand, we have a clear statement from Hazrath Aisha (RA), wife of the holy Prophet (Pbuh), that he never offered more than 11 or 13 rakahs of night worship on any night whether in Ramadan, or in the rest of the year. There is no maximum number to which you have to limit yourself. If you decide to follow the Prophet’s (Pbuh) example and stop at 11 rakahs including three for witr, you may wish to make your prayer longer by reciting longer passages from the Quran. On the other hand, if you are praying in a mosque and the congregation is offering 23 rakahs (including three for witr), you may follow them. The essence of Taraweeh is completing one Quran in the whole of the month of Ramadan. Majority of the scholars in mosques pray 20 rakahs, followed by three rakahs witr.
Praying Taraweeh in Congregation
It is allowed to pray Taraweeh in the month of Ramadan in a congregation just as it is allowed to pray them on an individual basis (as in the case of women who can pray at home if mosques do not make separate arrangements for them). The majority of scholars, however prefer to pray them in congregation.
Laylat-ul-Qadr- The Most Blessed Night
A person who misses it has indeed missed a great amount of good. If a believing person is zealous to obey his Lord and increase the good deeds in his record, he should strive to encounter this night and to pass it in worship and obedience.
The Night of Power
The Quranic statements which relate this great event radiate with Allah’s clear and shining light: “We revealed it (the Quran) on the Night of Power. Would that you knew what the Night of Power is like. Better is the Night of Power than a thousand months. On that night, the angels and the Spirit descend by their Lord’s permission, with all His decrees. That night is peace, till the break of dawn”. (Surah Al-Qadr)
This surah speaks about the promised great night which the whole universe marked with joy and prayers. It is the night of perfect communion between this world and the Highest Society. It is the night which marked the beginning of the revelation of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh), an event unparalleled in the history of mankind for its splendour and the significance it has for the life of mankind as a whole. Its greatness is far beyond human realisation. “ We revealed it on the Night of Power. Would that you knew what the Night of Power is like. Better is the Night of Power than a thousand months.”
“It is established that it is a night in the month of Ramadan as stated in surah 2 (The Cow): “ In the month of Ramadan, the Quran was revealed, a book of guidance distinguishing right from wrong.” This means that the Night of Power marked the beginning of the revelation of the Quran to the Prophet and his mankind.
Abu Tharr (RA) relates:
“We fasted with Allah’s Messenger in Ramadan. He did not lead us (in qiyaam) at all until there were seven nights of Ramadan left. Then he stood with us that night in prayer until one third of the night had passed. He did not pray with us on the sixth. On the fifth night, he prayed with us until half of the night had passed. So we said, ‘Allah’s Messenger! Wouldn’t you pray with us the whole night?’ He replied: ‘Whoever stands in prayer with the imam until he (the imaam) concludes the prayer, it is recorded for him that he prayed the whole night.’
Dua on the Night of Laylat-ul-Qadr
It is also recommended to make extensive supplication on this night. Hazrath Aishah (RA) reported that she asked Allah’s Messenger: “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylat- ul-Qadr, what should I say during it?” And he instructed her to say:
“Allahumma innaka `afuwwun tuhibbul afwa fafu annee – O Allah! You are forgiving, and you love forgiveness. So forgive me.”
Sunnah of Itikaf
Prophet (Pbuh) used to observe Itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death.
Itikaf- spending the last ten days of Ramadan in the Masjid is a beautiful tradition of the Prophet. It is reported by Hazrath Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet used to observe Itikaf during the last ten days of the month of Ramadan and he continued this practice till his death. After him, his wives carried on this practice of observing Itikaf regularly. (Reported in Sahih al Bukhari and Sahih Muslim).
It is recommended that every Muslim makes at least one Itikaf in his/ her life. There must be at least few people in every community who should do it in every mosque every year to keep this tradition alive. Men should do Itikaf in the mosque so that they can pray in the congregation and also offer the Friday prayers. Women can also do itikaf, but theirs must be at home for reasons of modesty and for their own convenience. There is a great blessing in Itikaf and people who do it, bring blessings upon themselves, upon their families and upon the Muslim Ummah at large.
The Sunnah of Itikaf is that one makes its intention and begins the Itikaf on the evening of the 20th of Ramadan from sunset time and continue until the sighting of the moon for Id-ul Fitr. During Itikaf, men should stay in the mosque, day and night and should not leave it except for the use of toilet or shower. (Facilities are provided inside the mosque premises.) They are allowed to eat also inside the mosque. During Itikaf, one should spend most of one’s time in prayer, reading the Quran, zikr and reflection. Engaging in business and other worldly conversation and activities is not allowed during Itikaf.