The Mysteries of Fasting the Month of Ramadan

The Mysteries of Fasting the Month of Ramadan

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

“O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves. (2:183)

The Mysteries of Fasting the Month of Ramadan

THE OUTWARD DUTIES OF FASTING

Imam Ghazzali

Requirements and Conditions of the Duties Pertaining to Fasting Ramadan:

Ascertaining the Beginning of the Month of Fasting

The watch for the sighting of the crescent moon which defines the lunar month, whose cycles are the basis for determining the months in a perfectly natural yet synchronized fashion. Once the new moon has been sighted (i.e. the month’s beginning has been determined), its “arrival” should be proclaimed so that all may prepare to fast. Thus its proclamation as the beginning of the month of Fasting. If determination of the new moon is impossible, for whatever reason, the length of the preceding lunar month of Shaban is to be considered thirty days, the thirty-first day being the beginning of the month of fasting and wholehearted devotion to God: Ramadan. The determination of the lunar month should be by sighting the moon–it being witnessed by a Muslim known to be truthful and trustworthy–or as some scholars have acceded, by the establishment of its “newness” by accurate and trustworthy calculation, as is not possible through modern astronomy. Similarly, the sighting of the new moon or determination by caculation of Shawwal is to be witnessed by two truthful and trustworthy people as a precaution. Once a trustworthy witness announces that he has seen the new moon, or the new moon has accurately been determined by other means, the fast becomes obligatory upon those whose ears it reaches, even though an Islamic judge may not have announced the arrival of the new month. Whenever the new moon has been verified, be it in another city or country that share the same beginning of the day, the fast becomes incumbent upon the two.

Intention

It is imperative during Ramadan to make the intention to fast every night before the dawn of the following day, otherwise the fast is void. However, it is not the case with voluntary fasts. When it is unclear whether or not the following day is the first day of Ramadan one should make the intention to fast in case it is. The possibility of a trustworthy witness being mistaken should not affect the intention of the person who plans to fast the following day. If a woman anticipates the end of her menstruation during which fasting is prohibited before dawn, she should also make the intention to fast, the following day.

Conditions of the Daily Fast

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