Category : Ramadhan
A. What is Fasting ?
The fourth pillar of Islam is known as Saum, or Fasting. During the month of Ramadan, which is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar
calendar, every Muslim who meets certain requirements is required to fast from dawn until dusk.
When the new crescent moon (Hilal) is sighted signaling the beginning of Ramadan on the next day, the Blessed Prophet Muhammad taught us to say,: “Allah is Greater, Allah is Greater. Praise be to Allah Who created me and you and Who decreed for you the phases (of the moon) and made you a sign of the
universe.” As Allah declared ,
Now imagine waking up, long before the first light of the sun has risen over the darkened sky, and taking a small meal, called a Sahoor, in silence. When the hint of light approaches, the meal
is finished and you pray the morning prayer with great clarity of mind and thought.
You make your intention to fast that day for Allah’s sake and then either return to bed for a few hours sleep or stay up and read Allah’s words in the Qur’an. Then you prepare to face the day.
During the daylight hours, a fasting person abstains from all food, liquids, inhaled substances, sexual activity and nutritionally-related medicine or any non- essential oral medicine.
In addition, all normally undesirable behavior is especially frowned upon. No fighting, cursing, arguing, lying or other sins are to be indulged in. Of course a Muslim must naturally avoid such sins anyway, but sometimes people fall into error. Fasting for a month from these is the corrective.
B. Ramadan; The Month of Training
The month of Ramadan provides us with a sort of spiritual and moral “Boot Camp”. We know that fasting in Ramadan is a duty from Allah and we learn that any sins may spoil our record of fasting with Allah so we take great pains to be on our best
behavior. This intense modification of our habits is designed to help us avoid such sins throughout the rest of the year.
Ramadan has such a wondrous impact on our morals and behavior that it has been described as the month of forgiveness. The Blessed Prophet once declared, “During the month of
Ramadan, the gates of paradise are open, the gates of Hell-Fire are closed and the Shaytans are chained.” (Bukhari, Muslim).
Ramadan is a blessed month for another reason. It marks the first month when Allah began revealing His Message to the Blessed Prophet Muhammad. Allah announced, “Ramadan is the
(month) in which the Qur’an was sent down as a guide to humanity, and (to provide) clear signs for guidance and judgment. So every one of you who is present during that month should spend it in fasting.” (2:185)
C. Who Fasts ?
Who must fast? Every Muslim over the age of puberty, who is sane and healthy enough to do it must observe Ramadan. Those who are exempt are the very young (below puberty), the permanently sick, the elderly who too are weak and the mentally challenged.
There is a third category of people who are only temporarily exempted from fasting during Ramadan. They have to make up the missed days at a later date. If a person is travelling or ill they may skip fasting days and make them up later. In addition, a woman on her monthly course or who recently gave birth does not fast and makes up the days at a later time in the year when it’s convenient.
If a person accidentally or unintentionally swallows something while fasting, their fast is not broken. Wudu must still be
performed, though carefully and the teeth should still be brushed like normal. The rule is not to let anything pass into their throat.
If a person breaks their fast intentionally, before it’s time to stop fasting, then they have committed a grave sin and must try to
make up for it right away.
The Blessed Prophet taught that either we must free a slave, fast for sixty days straight or feed sixty people two meals or feed one person two meals for sixty days. The penalty is harsh but it fits
the crime. Breaking the fast for no reason means we temporarily let our animal urges get the better of us. With such a large penalty, we won’t let it happen again!
When the sun has declined completely past the horizon at the end of the day, then the period of fasting is over. Muslims take a small snack called an Iftar before going to pray The Magrib Salah.
The best things to break the fast with, according to a saying of The Blessed Prophet, are either dates, milk or water, for they are easier on the stomach which has been empty all day.
D. The Lesson of Fasting
The lessons learned during Ramadan are many.
- We learn what it means to be hungry, so we feel more compassion for the poor.
- We understand how close we are to leaving this world at any moment and how much we depend on food and liquids.
- We learn to control our animal urges and passions and we clear our minds and thoughts for serious remembrance of Allah.
- We restrain our anger and we train our habits towards prayer, forgiveness, self-sacrifice and good behavior.
With all these benefits coming from the observance of this blessed month, is it any wonder it is the best time of the year for every Muslim?
In the later part of the evening, Muslims gather together in The Masjids for a special type of prayer held only during the month of Ramadan. It is called the Tarawih Salah and consists of a series of
two Raka’a prayers behind an Imam. At the end of every two of these two Raka’a prayers, the Muslims pause for a moment and recite the Tarawih tasbih, or chant. It is a special chant praising Allah and asking for His mercy.
The Tarawih Salah is performed after ‘Isha prayer and is strongly recommended practice of the Blessed Prophet and the righteous companions
One particular night of Ramadan has extra special significance. It is the exact night when the Qur’anic revelation started to be revealed. It is known as the Laylatul Qadr, or Night of Power (or
Measurement). According to the saying of the Blessed Prophet, it falls on one of the oddnumbered nights in the last ten days of Ramadan. Many Muslims stay up all night seeking their Lord’s
forgiveness and guidance.
During the last ten days of Ramadan, some Muslims perform what is known as I’tikaf, or retreat. This consists of living in the prayer area of the Masjid for up to ten days, only venturing out for showers and similar legitimate needs. They spend their time in prayer, reading study circles and making Du’a. The Blessed Prophet used to practice this form of Ibadah, or service to Allah. The minimum duration of I’tikaf is one day and one night.
E. The Joy at The End of Ramadan
The end of Ramadan occurs when the crescent moon has been sighted, twenty nine or thirty days after fasting began. Following the sighting, Muslims celebrate one of the two most important holidays in the Islamic year: ‘Eid ul Fitr, or the Festival of the Fast Breaking.
Muslims are expected to give a small donation to their Islamic centre called Sadaqat ul Fitr, or charity of the Fast Breaking, so the Masjid can arrange meals for the poor allowing everyone to
partake of the joys of ‘Eid. It an obligation upon every Muslim in a household and parents must count their children when figuring out the total to give. It is the equivalent of the cost of one meal per person in the house.
The holiday begins with the ‘Eid Salah and Khutba on the morning after Ramadan ends and lasts two days afterward with dinner parties, family outings, fairs, carnivals and great joyous
celebrations. Fasting is not allowed on the actual ‘Eid day as everyone should participate in the festivities.
retyped from What is Islam All About?
NEC – Ramadan 1439H