Rules of Fasting

WAYS TO IDENTIFY THEFJRSTANDLASTDAYS OF RAMADHAN

Since Ramadhan is a lunar month, it is necessary to ascertain the new moon in order to facilitate fasting. The Sharia has accordingly prescribed one of the following ways to identify the first and last days of Ramadhan:

1- One sees the new moon himself. 2- A group of trustworthy people report seeing the new moon. 3- Two just men report seeing the new moon, and their descriptions do not disagree. 4- Thirty days have passed since the beginning of Sha ban. 5- The leading mujtahid* states that it is the first of Ramadhan.

The same procedure also applies to the last day of Ramadhan and Eid-uI-Fitr. Note: an astronomical report on the new moon is not a binding verification of the first day of Ramadhan.

DAY OF DOUBT

1- If one is not certain whether it is the last day of Sha'ban (the preceding month) or the first day of Ramadhan, that person is not obliged to fast that day. However, if one chooses to do an optional or defaulted fast that day, and later on discovers it was the first of Ramadhan, it will be regarded as a normal Ramadhan fast.

2- If one intends to break fast on the day of doubt, but has had none of the fast-breakers, then before noon the day was proved to be of


* A mujtahid is a person who is an expert in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh): he is also called faqih.

Ramadhan, one must intend to fast that day as a fast of Ramadhan. In this way the day's fasting will be deemed correct.

3- But if one has had a fast-breaker, and before noon the day was proved to be of Ramadhan, it is obligatory to al~tain the rest of the day, and make default for it later. Similarly if it was known in the afternoon, that the day was proved to be of Ramadhan, one must abstain the rest of the day, and make default later, even if one has had none of the fast-breakers. necessary for fasting. Those who are sick are exempted, and nor should one fast when sure of adverse effects on health, or fears possibility of adverse effects.

CLARIFICATION:

a. If one fears -the fear of any prudent person- that fasting will make him/her sick, worsen malady or bring harm then he/she should not fast, but make up for the defaulted fasts later, on regaining health.

b. Mere feeling of weakness~.or for that matter psychological fear is not an excuse to forego fasting or to break fast. But if the physical weakness is very severe and unbearable and is taxing the power of resistance, then it is allowed to break the- fast.

c. If fasting has no adverse effects for a sick person, then it is obligatory for him/her to fast.

d. If one fasts, believing there will be no adverse effects, but it turi~ out later that fasting did harm his/her condigion, such a fast is not regarded as correct.

e. If one fasts knowing that it will be harmful, or possibly harmful, his/her fasting is null.

INTENTION

Earlier we had briefly mentioned the significance of inten necessary for fasting. Those who are sick are exempted, and nor should one fast when sure of adverse effects on health, or fears possibility of adverse effects.

CLARIFICATION:

a. If one fears -the fear of any prudent person- that fasting will make him/her sick, worsen malady or bring harm then he/she should not fast, but make up for the defaulted fasts later, on regaining health.

b. Mere feeling of weakness,or for that matter psychological fear is not an excuse to forego fasting or to break fast. But if the physical weakness is very severe and unbearable and is taxing the power of resistance, then it is allowed to break the- fast.

c. If fasting has no adverse effects for a sick person, then it is obligatory for him/her to fast.

d. If one fasts, believing there will be no adverse effects, but it turns out later that fasting did harm his/her condigion, such a fast is not regarded as correct.

e. If one fasts knowing that it will be harmful, or possibly harmful, his/her fasting is null.

INTENTION

Earlier we had briefly mentioned the significance of inten tion (Niyya). Here, we wish to deal in detail with this important subject. A tradition from Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) says:

"Deeds depend on intentions."

Hence, Intention is compulsory for every devotional act. A devotional act, without a true, purely God-oriented intention, is void. Fasting is thus one such act which requires the intention of gaining proximity to Allah. Yet, such an intention need not necessarily be present in the mind of the fasting person at each and every single moment of fasting, but the person concerned should be aware of the state. The intention to fast will remain effective, and even if one forgets or sleeps, the fast will be valid.

However, the intention to fast requires certain basic rules:

  1. Intention depends on two options. One can intend on the first eve of Ramadhan to fast for the whole month, or can make the intention daily for that particular day, but before dawn breaks.

  2. The intention should be to fast from fair (a little before dawn breaks) till Maghrib (a little after sunset). Thus, fasting will cover the entire period of the day, beginning at dawn till the redness of the dusk disappears in the east. During this time one should abstain from eating, drinking and all other acts which break fasting.

  3. The end of the day comes a little after sunset. Sunset is not determined by the mere disappearance of the sun's orb, but the disappearance of the redness of the dusk in the east.

Actions Which Make The Fast Invalid

  1. Eating or drinking anything in any quantity.
  2. Sexual intercourse.
  3. Any sexual activity that leads to ejaculation.
  4. Attributing a lie to Allah, the Holy Prophet or the Imams (peace be upon them).
  5. Allowing heavy dust or thick smoke (including tobacco) reach one's throat.
  6. Submerging one's entire head in water.
  7. Remaining in need of obligatory bathing for janabah,* haydh (menstruation) or nifas* up to the time of the morning adhan.
  8. Taking a liquid enema.
  9. Intentional vomiting.

* The state resulting from sexual intercourse with or without ejaculation. or seminal discharge while awake or asleep. * Bleeding that occurs after childbirth or abortion.

CLARIFICATIONS:

1) If a person commits intentionally and willingly an act which breaks the fast, that day's fast will be considered invalid, but the fast is valid if the action committed was unintentional or involuntary. 2) If one breaKs fast after merely being threatened, that fast is considered invalid and must be compensated later. 3) A fasting person can swallow the saliva gathered in the mouth, but nasal discharge and frothy sputum must be spitted out. 4) To rinse mouth during ablutions is allowed and while doing if the water slips unintentionally down into the throat it will not break the fast. 5) Taking of injection in the muscles or veins is permitted as also using of medicinal drops in ears or eyes is allowed. 6) Brushing of teeth is permitted, provided the froth or saliva does not enter the throat.

EXEMPTIONS FROM FASTING

Islam is called a natural religion. In other words, its laws unlike other creeds have logic and reason behind them and divine providence has fashioned them according to the nature of man and woman. It has no hard and fast rules for all age groups ignoring the state, or circumstances of the individual concerned. In such a case, its very claim to be natural and universal would have been open to doubt. How merciful and benign is the Creator, Who as a sign of His unbounded bounty exempted from fasting,persons passing through particular circumstances, and in a certain state of health or age group.

Following are those whom Islam has quite logically exempted from fasting and furthermore has released them from expiation for defaults:

  1. Minors- for pre-puberty years.
  2. Insane- for the period insanity lasts.
  3. Unconscious- for the period of unconsciousness.

  4. Non-Muslims -for the years before conversion to Islam.

DEFAULTED FASTS

There are different status of defaulted fasts:

  1. An aged person who cannot fast is exempted from fasting and also from expiation. If, after Ramadhan, it becomes possible for that aged person to fast, he/she should make up the defaulted Rarnadhan fasts.

  2. An aged person for whom fasting is hard is exempted but must pay 3/4 kilogram (1 Mud) of food to the poor for every day of defaulted fast. 3. One who has a condition which causes insatiable thirst and who cannot tolerate going without water,or for whom fasting is hard is exempted. a- In the latter case, one must pay 3/4kilogram of food to the poor for every day of defaulted fast.

b- If after Ramadhan , it becomes possible for both cases to fast, one should make up defaulted fasts.

  1. A woman who is pregnant and whose delivery time is near, or a woman who is breast-feeding her child, if fasting will harm herself or her baby, she should not fast.

a- She must give 3/4 kilogram of food as expiation to the poor and, make up for the defaulted fasts.

b- In case the harm was for herself only and not for the child, then she should make up for the defaulted fasts without giving expiation.

  1. Apostate (murtad) -A Muslim who turns away from Islam, should compensate for fasts defaulted during the period of apostacy.

  2. Women in their monthly period or during childbirth should compensate for defaulted fasts.

7.A travellerwho missed certain days fast because of journey has to make up for missed fasts.

  1. A sick person after recovery must fast the number of days missed during Ramadhan.

a- A sick person provided the sickness continues for one full year until next Ramadhan is exempted. However, in such case one must pay 3/4 kilogram of wheat or any other staple food to the needy as expiation for the days missed. b- If one has not kept the fast for reasons other than sickness (example: being on a journey), and the same reason continues until next Ramadh an, that person must make up for the defaulted fasts, and it is also advisable to give 3/4 kilogram of food to the poor for every day of defaulted fast.

CLARIFICATIONS:

Defaulted fasts should be made up before the next Ramadhan. In case defaulted fasts are delayed after next Ramadhan, then one has time to fast afterwards whenever one can but that person should in addition distribute 3/4 kilogram of wheat or any staple food to the needy for each day of defaulted fasts as expiation.

ATONEMENT

If a person for whom Ramadhan fasting is compulsory, breaks the fast intentionally and willingly, must do an act of atonement in addition to making up the defaulted fast.

Sharia prescribes three methods of atonement, and any one method will atone for one day of defaulted fasting:

1- Freeing a slave. 2- Fasting for 60 days. The first 31 days of this fast must be consecutive. If, in the first 31 days, a reason arises for brcaking fast, such as the menstrual period, or a journey which can on no account be delayed, one need not start the 31 days of fasting over and again. Rather, that person can complete the remaining days when the cause is removed. 3- Feeding 60 poor Muslims (for one full meal). If one cannot afford to feed 60 poor Muslims, should then feed as many as possiblç. In case of not being able to feed anyone, then that person should sincerely plead Allah for forgiveness (say astaghflrullah) for the deed done. It is a

necessary precaution to perform any of the three methods of atonement whenever one is able to do. If one invalidates the fast with a forbidden act (haram) such as drinking wine, adultery etc., must observe all the three above-mentioned atonements and if unable to afford all, must observe the least taxing, and if that is also not possible must sincerely seek forgiveness from Allah.

TRAVELLER'S FAST

1- A traveller who has to shorten prayers* for a journey must not fast. But this does not apply to a person whose duty is to travel and who observes normal prayers, such as a proPessional travller (e.g. sailor, pilot driver,roving salesman, etc.), who must fast.

2-A fasting person who begins a journey in, the afternoon, must continue the fast. If the journey was before noon, and on reaching a point where neither on&s hometown houses are visible nor the sotrnd of adhan is heard, the traveller must break the fast. But if the fast was broken before reaching that particular point, an atonement should be paid.

3- If a trayeller returns,to hometown. Qr reaches a place before noon, intending to siay ten days, and jias not done anything which would invalidate the fast, must fast that day. In case the traveller did something that would invalidate the fast, that day's fast is not obligatory. However, if a traveller arrives home or to a place afternoon, where a ten day stay is intended, that particular day's fast is not obligatory.

Recommanded Fasts

Besides the obligatory fasting of Ramadhan, there are recommended fasts in ordinary days of the year, for those seeking to avail of Allah's unbounded bounty. Some of these are as follows:

1) Three days of every lunar month, especially the first, the middle and the last. 2) Every Thursday and Friday.


* To andfto distance of about 45 kilometers shortens four Rakaat prayer to two, and breakes the fast.

3) Fastfrig during the months of Rajab and Sha'ban.

FORBIDDEN FASTS

But, fasting on the following days is forbidden in Islam:

1) Fasting on Eid-ul-Fitr. 2) Fasting on the Eid of Sacrifice (AI-Adhha). 3) Fasting on the 30th of Sha'ban with intention of Ramadhan. 4) Fasting during the Hajj (pilgrimage) in Mina (11, 12, 13th of Dhulhtjjah). 5) Fast of silence no problem. Note: the woman should not perform recommended fasting without her husband's permission, and if he objects to her fasting, it is forbidden for her to do so.

1- ZAKAT-UL-FITR

1) Zakat-ul-Fitr,paid on Eid, following the end of Ramadhan is obligatory for any person who is mature, sane, conscious and financially able, at sunset on the last day of Ramadhan to pay for himself and his dependents. The rate is three kilograms of wheat, barley, raisin, rice or similar produce per person. It is also permitted to give the cash value of such items.

2) The proper amount of the said Zakat must be paid or set aside before one offers the Eid prayer on Zakat-ul-Fitr.

3) If one does not offer the Eid prayer, the Zakat-uI-Fitr must be paid before noon of that day.

4) Zakat-ul-Fitr should beused in one of the following ways:

1- Given to a poor person whose income or cash in hand is not enough to meet his own and his family's expenses for an entire year. 2- Given to a needy person who is completely helpless and indigent.

3- Given to those whose job is the collection of Zakat and its distribution and should be paid to those who deserve receiving it.

4- Given to those whose hearts can be influenced to indine to Muslims or Islam, such as non-Muslims who would be attracted to Islam or wouldhelp Muslimsin a time of war if they are given proceeds from Zakat.

5- To free slaves.

6- To repay the debt o~t brie vho cannot doso himself.

7- To be used in the way of Allah for works of public benefit such as building mosques, schools or bridges.

8-To aid a traveller who is in need of help during journey and needs to return home.

The time for taking out Zakat-uI-Fitr is the eve of Kid, and pay the same from the night of Kid till noon on the Eid day.

SELECTED SUPPLICATIONS

It is recommended to recite the following two supplications after every prayer during Ramadhan:.

"0 High, 0 Great, 0 Forgiver, 0 Merciful, You are the Great Lord, Whom nothing can resemble, and is All-Hearing, All-Seeing. And this is the month which You have honoured, exalted, glorified and excelled over other months. And it is the month in which You prescribed fasting for me. And it is the month of Ramadhan, in which You sent down the Qur'an, as a guidance to people, and clear signs of guidance and Furqan (distinction between right and wrong). And You have made in it the Night of Qadr, and made it better than a thousand months. 0 One Who favours all and is favoured by none, favour me by saving me from Hell as You have favoured others. Admit me into Paradise through Your Mercy. 0 Most-Merciful of the Merciful."

"0 Allah, let happiness enter(the hearts of)those who dwell in the graves:

O Allah, grant affluence to all the poor;

O Allah, satisfy the hunger of all the hungry ones; O Allah, clothe all the naked ones; O Allah, help all debtors to pay their debts; O Allah, relieve the sufferings of all those in distress; O Allah, help all travellers to (safely) return home ; O Allah, release all the prisoners; O Allah, straighten out all the defects (that have developed) in the affairs of Muslims; O Allah, restore to health all those who are sick; O Allah, ease our poverty by Your (unlimited) wealth; O Allah, change our difficult state by the excellence of Your state. O Allah, help us to pay our debts and free us from poverty. Surely, You are able over everything."

It is also recommended to recite the following supplications which for the benifit of our readers have been classified according to each day of Ramadhan.

1st day :

"0 Allah, accept my fast in it (Ramadhan) as the fast of those whose fact (is acceptable to You). Forgive my sins in it, 0 the Lord of the Universe. Pardon me, 0 the Pardoner of sinners."

2nd day :

"0 Allah, in it bring me near Your good pleasure and keep me away from Your anger and displeasure. Guide me to recite Your revelation (the Qur'an) through Your Mercy, 0, the Most Merciful One."

3rd day :

"O Allah, in it grant me wisdom and awareness. Keq me away from ignorance and pretension. A ward me a share from all the blessings that You bestowed in it (Ramadhan); 0 the Most benevolent of all benevolents."

4th day :

"O Allah, give me strength to observe Your orders. Encourage me through Your kindness to thank You. Keep me wader Your protection: 0 One Who sees everything."

5th day:

"0 Allah, place me in it among the ranks of the repenters, and make me among Your good servants. Make me one of Your pious devotees through Your Mercy; 0 Most Generous of the Generous."

6th day:

"O Allah, do not leave me alone to be overcome by sins. Grant me refuge from Your wrath and anger. I appeal to Your kindness and bounty; 0 the last refuge for those who crave for help."

7th day:

"0 Allah, help me to keep fasts and to offer prayers in this (month). Protect me in it from errors and sins. Bestow on me Your remembrance and thanks through Your continuous guidance. 0 Guide of the Believers".

8th day:

"0 Allah, make me kind towards orphans and to feed the hungry and saj' greetings. And grant me the company of the righteous and to shun the evil-doers through Your benevolence.0 Hope of the hopeful."

9th day:

"0 Allah, bestow on me a share out of Your ample Mercy. Guide me to understand Your clear proofs and lead me towards Your good pleasure through Your love. 0 Hope of the seekers."

10th day:

"0 Allah, make me among those who trust You, successful an Your estimation, near to You. 0 Besought of the beseachers."

11th day:

"0 Allah, incline me towards good deeds and make me to dislike transgression and disobedience. Protect me from Your wrath and the fire through Your power. 0 the Support of those who seek help."

12th day:

"0 Allah, grant me refuge and chastity in it, and make me contented, and save me from what Ifear through Your protection. 0 Shelter of the scared." 13th day:

"0 Allah, cleanse me of all impurities and foul practices, give me the strength to bear all the events ordained by You. Guide me towards piety and the company of the good-doers through Your sustenance. 0 the Comforter of the eyes of the destitutes." 14th day:

"0 Allah, do not take me to task for my errors. Pardon my sins and unspeakable deeds. Let me not be the target of evil and vicissitudes through Your honour. 0 One Who ho hors Muslims." 15th day:

"0 Allah, bestow on me the sincerity of the worshipers. Expend my breast for sincere repentance. 0 Shelter of the scared." 16th day:

"0 Allah, guide me towards the deed of the righteous people and keep me away from the company of the wicked. Admit me by Your mercy to the permanent abode, through Your Divinity. o the Lord of the universe." 17th day:

"0 Allah, guide me towards good deeds. Grant my needs and wants. 0 One Who needs no remini1er~.O One Who is aware of what passes in the hearts of the beings." 18th day:

"0 Allah, awake me up to get the blessings of its Suhour (before the formal start of a fast) and fill my heart with Its lights. Make all my organs to follow its obligatories. 0 One Who enlightens the hearts of the knowing people."

19th day:

"0 Allah, Let me have an ample share of (this month's) blessings, and make easy for me the path of righteousness and deprive me not of its bounties. 0 One Who guides to the right path."

20th day:

"0 Allah, open for me inf'this month) the gates of paradise and close the gates of hell. Give me strength to recite the Qur'an. 0 One Who brings satisfaction to the hearts of the believers."

21st day:

"0 Allah, lead ,ne in(this monthho win Your good pleasure and not let the devil have access to me in it. 0 One Who fulfills the needs of the needy." 22nd day:

"0 Allah, open for me in (this month) the Gates of Your bounty and bestow on me Your blessings. Encourage me to gain Your pleasure and admit mc to enter Your paradise. 0 One Who answers the supplication of the oppressed." 23rd day:

"0 Allah, cleanse me in(this month) of all sins and purify me from all defects. Test my heart and see if I abstain from what is forbidden. 0 One Who overlooks the shortcomings of the sinners." 24th day:

"0 Allah, in (this month) I beg for that which pleases lou and for protection against that which displeases You. Teach me to obey Your commands and refrain from disobedience. O One Who is aware of what passes in the hearts of the beings." 25th day:

"0 Allah, make me love those close to You and an enemy of those who are Your enemies. Make me follow in the footsteps of the last Prophet (s.a. w.). 0 the Exalted in the hearts of all the prophets.

26th day:

"0 Allah, let my good efforts in this month be fruitful and my sins pardoned and my actions accepted and my defects concealed. 0 the Mosr Hearing." 27th day:

"0 Allah, let me make a greater effort of Nawafils (recommended prayers) in this month. Grant me through Your kindness to do good deeds which save me on the Judgement Day. Guidemeto the best means which lead meto wards You. 0 One Who doesn't get bored from the insistence of the supplicqnts." 28th day:

"0 Allah, in (this month) shower Your mercy upon me. Bestow on me Your Blessings and keep me away from sins. Clewise my heart of all impurities. 0 One Who is Merciful on His believing servants." 29th day:

"0 Allah, bestow on me the blessings of theNight of Qadr. Let my difficulties and problems be overcomed. Accept my repentance, free me from my sins and evil acts. 0 One Who is Merciful towards the virtwus." 30th day:

"0 Allah, perfect my faults to the stage which is acceptable to You and to Your beloved Messenger, in a way that the results of my fasts may lead me to a life of purity and righteousness, for the sake of Muhatnmed (s.a.w.) and his progeny."

EID PRAYER

The Eid Prayer is obligatory under certain conditions, and its time is sunrise till noon. It is prayed in congregation. Women are exempted from this prayer, but if they are inclined there is no restriction for them to pray.

The Eid prayer has two rakaats. In the first rakaat, there are five takbirs* and five qunuts* and in the second rakaat, there are four takbirs and four qunuts . Eid prayer is performed as follows:

In the first rakaat, after reciting aI-Hamd and another sura, (preferably sura A'ala), recite takbir and raise your hands to recite qunut. After finishing, recite takbir and qunut again. Repeat After the fifth qunut, recite takbir and then perform ruku (bowing) and two sajdahs (prostration) and stand erect. This completes one rakaat. In the second rakaat, after reciting al-Hamd and one other sura, (preferably sura Shams), recite takbir and qunut four times in the same manner as in the first rakaat and complete the prayer as usual.

After prayer, the Imam (prayer leader) recites two Khutbas (sermons). Note: The Eid prayer unlike the 5 daily prayers is not preceded by Adhan or Jqamah, but it is recommended to call thrice As-Salaat (To Prayer).

DU'A-QUNUT

"0 Allah, Lord of magnqfcence and greatness; and Lord of generosity and overwhelming power; and Lord of pardon and mercy. We implore You for the sake of this day which You have appointed as a Festival for the Muslims and for Muhammad (s.a. w.) and his progeny as a reminder, a distinction, an honour, to bless Muhammad and his progeny and admit me to all the bounties to which You have admitted Muhammad and his progeny, and keep me away from all evils from which You have kept away Muhammad (s.a.w.) and his progeny. May Your blessings be upon him and his progeny. I beg of You of the best which has been asked for by Your virtous good servants, and I seek Your protection from all those evils from which Your sincere servants have sought Your protection."


* Takbir is to say Allahu akbar (Allah i~ Great). * Qunut is the recommn'~ded supplication recited during the daily prayers ti.jt is obligatorfor a total of five takbirs and qunuts.

It is preferable to go to the Mosque for Eid Prayer. If this is not possible then one should say the prayer at home, in the manner described above. If this is not pOssible, then recite it like the morning prayers, but in the first Rakaat recite Qunut (whatever you know) 5 times, and in the second Rakaat 4 times.

Ghusul (bath) on Eid day is optional which should be taken und& a shelter and not under the open sky. Praise be to Allah, Lord of the worlds.