Fasting, A Gift from Your Creator

Islam seeks to guide man onto the path to eternal life and prepares him for it through worship, prayers, charity and fasting. All these are meant to enable man to exercise control over his own life and have the moral courage to take the path of truth, justice and compassion. It wants reason to take charge of the ship of life and steer it wisely and safely through the stormy and dangerous seas of this life under the guidance of Divine Revelation. That is the message of Ramadan. Let us heed the message and proclaim: “God is my Lord and your Lord; then worship Him. This is the way that is straight.” (The Qur’an 3:51)

RAMADAN: RULES AND REGULATIONS

compiled by M. I. Zahid

Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory on every Muslim adult. The Arabic word sawm is used for fasting. The word sawm (plural siyam) literally means ‘to refrain’, but as an Islamic term, it means refraining from food, drinks and sexual activity from dawn to sunset. Allah says in the Quran, in Surah Al-Baqarah (2-183):

‘O you who believe, siyam is prescribed on you as it was prescribed to those before you so that you may become self-restrained.’

The importance of Siyam in Ramadan is clearly expressed in several sayings of the Prophet(S.A.W.). It is reported by Abu Hurairah that the Prophet said:

‘He who fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeks his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven; he who prays during the night in Ramadan with faith and seeks his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven; and he who passes Lailat al- Qadr in prayer with faith and seeks his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven.’ (Bukhari and Muslim)

Fasting in Ramadan is practiced by Muslims all over the world. The most significant aspect of Siyam is the development of Allah-consciousness (Taqwa) in the heart and the soul of a fasting Muslim. One must abstain from immoral behavior and attitude as well. Refraining from food and such is essential during fast but it is not sufficient. The Prophet of Allah is reported to have said:

‘If one does not abandon falsehood in words and deeds, Allah has no need for his abandoning of his food and drink.’ (Al-Bukhari)

WHO IS EXEMPT FROM SAWM?

Fasting is mandatory on every Muslim who is sane, adult, able and resident. The following exemptions apply:

bullet 1. the insane; 2. children who are not adolescent yet; 3. the elderly and chronically ill for whom fasting is unreasonably strenuous; Such persons are required to feed at least one poor person every day in Ramadan for which he or she has missed fasting. 4. pregnant women and nursing may postpone the fasting at a later time; 5. the ill and the travellers can also defer their fasting. Allah says in the Qur’an, Surah Al-Baqara:

‘But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period should be made up by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.’

6. Women during the period of menstruation or of postchildbirth confinement. Fasting during these periods is forbidden and should be made up later, a day for a day.

DURATION OF SAWM:

Fasting starts everyday in Ramadan at the break of dawn, which is also the start of the Salatul Fajr time. Fasting ends at sunset or with the call of Salatul Maghrib.

VALIDITY OF FASTING:

The validity of fasting depends on the following:

1. Abstaining from food, liquids and sexual activity from dawn to sunset. 2. The intention to fast must be made every day before dawn. The intention (niyyah) may be made during night before going to sleep or it can also be made at the time of Suhoor before dawn. Suhoor is eating before fasting. It should be as close to Fajr time as possible. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) says:

‘Partake Suhoor, for there is blessing in Suhoor.'(Bukhari, Muslim) It is desirable to break the fast as soon as possible after sunset. Breaking the fast with dates or water is a tradition of the Prophet. Following is one of the Du’a for breaking fast:

Allahumma laka sumtu wa ‘ala ridhqika aftartu

(O Allah! For You did I fast and with Your bounties did I break the fast.)

Things Which Invalidate the Fast

The things which invalidate fast are of two kinds. The first one requires Qada (only making up missed days), the other one not only requires Qada but also Kaffarah (expiation).

The following are the things that require make up (Qada) only:

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