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|Topic: The features of the month of Ramadan,|
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| Topic: The features of the month of Ramadan,
Posted: 04 July 2014 at 2:01am
All praise is to Allah, the Owner of favor, success and bestowal who legislated for His slaves the month of Ramadan to observe Saum (fasting) and Qiyâm (standing to pray at night) [Tarâwîh] once a year. He تعالى made it one of the pillars of Islam and one of its great bases .It purifies souls from sins and evil acts. Peace and blessings be upon the one whom Allah chose to clarify the rulings of Islam; and selected to convey His legislation to humanity. He was then the best in standing (praying at night) and in observing fasting; in fulfilling the Message and standing firm and upright. Peace and blessing are upon his sincere Family, respectable Companions and those who follow their footsteps continually and with perfection.
Indeed Allah تعالى prescribed fasting for all the nations even if it differed in way and time. Allahتعالى says:
﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ﴾ [البقرة: 183]
“O you who believe! Observing Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 183]. In the second year of Hegira, Allah prescribed definitely the fasting of Ramadan on the Ummah (nation) on the adult Muslim. If he is a healthy resident, observing Saum (fasting) will be compulsory; and as long as he is ill, he will be obliged to make up with the missed days. And so for the menstruating woman or one in post-partum bleeding. If one is a healthy traveler, he will choose between observance and making up. Indeed, Allah enjoined him to observe the fasting of the whole month from the start to the end and fixed him the beginning of fasting with an apparent limit, known by all; it is the sight of the crescent-moon or the completion of Sha ̀bân (30 days). So the Prophet said:
«لاَ تَصُومُوا حَتَّى تَرَوُا الْهِلاَلَ، وَلاَ تُفْطِرُوا حَتَّى تَرَوْهُ، فَإِنْ غُمَّ عَلَيْكُمْ فَاقْدُرُوا لَهُ»
“Do not observe Saum (fast) till you see the crescent-moon of Ramadan, and do not break Saum (fast) till you see the crescent of Shawwâl, and if the sky is overcast, then estimate it (Sha ̀bân) as 30 days.”
As He تعالى fixed the beginning of fasting to him with clear and evident limits. He made the start of observing fasting with the rise of the second dawn and limited its ending with the sunset within His statement:
﴿وَكُلُواْ وَاشْرَبُواْ حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّواْ الصِّيَامَ إِلَى الَّليْلِ﴾ [البقرة: 187]
“And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the thread (darkness of light), then complete your Saum (fast) till the nightfall).” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 187]. With this way and time, the obligation of observing fasting of Ramadan is prescribed definitely in Allah’s statement:
﴿فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ﴾ [البقرة: 185]
“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan, i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month.” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 185]. Observing fasting during Ramadan became one of the pillars of Islam. Therefore, whoever belies its duty and denies its obligation is an apostate cast out of the fold of Islam. If he repents, it will be accepted from him. If he does not repent, he is to be killed as a disbeliever. And whoever admits that it is obligatory and break his fasting deliberately, without any excuse commits, then, a major sin and a manifest evil act and deserves censure and deterrence.
Allah has distinguished the month of Ramadan from the other months of the year with a number of features. He تعالى marked the observance of its fasting from the acts of worship with several virtues, benefits and etiquettes.
The Features of the Month of Ramadan:
Among the features of this sacred month are:
- Observing Saum (fasting) during Ramadan: It is the fourth pillar of Islam and one of its significant bases, according to statement of the Prophet:
«بُنِيَ الإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ: شَهَادَةِ أَن لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ الله، وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا رَسُولَ الله، وَإِقامِ الصَّلاةِ، وَإيتَاءِ الزَّكاةِ، وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ، وَحَجِّ البَيْتِ الحَرَامِ»
“Islam is based on five [principles]: 1. The Shahadah (testimony): La Ilâha Illa Allâh Muhammad Rassûl Allâh (None has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) . Iqâmat –as- Salât (to offer the compulsory congregational prayers dutifully and perfectly). 3. To pay Zakât (mandatory charity). 4. To observe Saum [fast (according to Islamic teachings)] during the month of Ramadan. And 5. to perform hajj (i.e. pilgrimage to the House of Allah in Mecca.”.
It is known in religion as a necessity and one the duties enjoined by Allah تعالى, according to the consensus of the scholars of Islam.
- The obligation of fasting Ramadan is an individual obligation based on Allah’s statement:
﴿فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ﴾ [البقرة: 185]
“So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the fist night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month.” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 185].
- The Revelation of the Qur ́an in this month to bring people out from darkness into light and guide them to the way of truth and to the right path, to keep them away from wrong ways and error and to enlighten them with religious and worldly matters with what ensures them happiness and success in the present life and in the Hereafter. Allah تعالى says:
﴿شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ﴾ [البقرة: 185]
“The month of the Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'ân, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong).” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 185].
- The gates of Paradise are opened for a large number of lawful good deeds during this month, which are required to the access to Paradise; and the gates of Hellfire are closed for the short number of sins and evil acts leading to Hellfire.
- In Ramadan, devils are chained and tied. So, they fail to lead obedient people astray and turn them from the good righteous deeds. The Prophet said:
«إِذَا جَاءَ رَمَضَانُ فُتِّحَتْ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ وَغُلِّقَتْ أَبْوَابُ النَّارِ وَصُفِّدَتِ الشَّيَاطِينُ»
“When (the month of) Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained up.”
- Allah تعالى has people He frees from the Hellfire in this month based on his statement:
«إِنَّ للهِ تبارك وتعالى عِنْدَ كُلِّ فِطْرٍ عُتَقَاءَ مِنَ النَّارِ وَذَلِكَ في كُلِّ لَيْلَةٍ»
“Allah has people whom He redeems from Hell upon every Fitr (breaking the fast) and that is every night.”.
- Forgiveness is attained with the observance of Saum (fasting) during Ramadan with sincere faith for this duty and seeking reward upon it to Allah تعالى, according to the Prophet's statement:
«مَنْ صَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ»
“Whoever observed fasting in Ramadan with perfect and seeking reward, he will have his previous sins forgiven.”.
- Performing Tarâwîh prayers (optional prayer) is desirable, following the Prophet who aroused the interest in Qiyâm (standing to pray) by saying:
«مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ»
“Whoever stood to pray (Tarawîh) in Ramadan with perfect faith and seeking reward, he will have his previous sins forgiven.”
- There is a night in this month, which is better than a thousand months, and standing to pray in that night is required for forgiveness. The Prophet said:
«إنَّ هَذاَ الشَّهْرَ قَدْ حَضَرَكُمْ وَفِيهِ لَيْلَة خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ شَهْرٍ مَنْ حُرِمَهَا فَقَدْ حُرِمَ الخَيْرَ كُلَّهُ وَلاَ يُحْرَمُ خَيْرُهَا إِلا مَحْرُومٌ»
“This month (of Ramadan) approaches you. There in is a night which is better than a thousand months, whoever is deprived of it, is deprived of all goodness. Only Mahrûm (unlucky) misses its goodness.” He also said:
«مَنْ قَامَ لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ»
“Whoever performs Qiyâm during Lailat Al-Qadr (Night of Decree) with Faith and being hopeful of Allah's reward, will have his former sins forgiven.”
- Fasting Ramadan to the next Ramadan expiates the minor sins and evils on condition that major sins are avoided. The evidence is his statement:
«الصَّلَوَاتُ الْخَمْسُ، وَالْجُمُعَةُ إِلَى الْجُمُعَةِ، وَرَمَضَانُ إِلَى رَمَضَانَ، مُكَفِّرَاتٌ ما بَيْنَهُنَّ إِذَا اجْتُنِبَتِ الْكَبَائِرُ»
“The five daily (prescribed) Salât, and Friday (prayer) to the next Friday (prayer), and the fasting of Ramadan to the next Ramadan are expiations of the sins committed in between them, as major sins are avoided.”
Indeed, among the other most prominent beneficial event that took place in Ramadan was the Great Battle of Badr in which Allah separated the truth from falsehood. So, Islam and its people triumphed and Shirk (polytheism) and its adherents were defeated therein, that was in the second year of Hegira. The conquest of Makkah happened in this month as well; and people entered in Allah's religion in crowds. Shirk (polytheism) and idolatry were eradicated by Allah's تعالى favor. Thus, Makkah became the house of Islam after it had been a stronghold of Shirk and polytheists. That was in the eighth year of Hegira. The Muslims won the Battle of Hittîn in Ramadan 584 A.H and the crusaders were crushed there. They took back Al-Qods (Jerusalem) and they also vanquished the Tartar armies in ̀Ayn Jâlût, where the events of that decisive battle occurred in Ramadan 658. A.H.
This is a summary of the features of the month of Ramadan and its several virtues and blessings. All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
The Virtues of Fasting:
As for the virtues of fasting, there are many. Among them:
- The rewards of good deeds are multiplied; and their increasing number is not restricted. While other good deeds multiply the reward by ten to seven hundred, according to what the two sheikhs (Al-Bukhâri and Muslim) reported from the hadith of Abu Hurayra who said:
«كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ يُضَاعَفُ الْحَسَنَةُ بعَشْرِ أَمْثَالِهَا إِلَى سَبْعِمِائَةِ ضِعْفٍ إِلَى مَا شَاءَ اللهُ يقُولَ اللهُ تَعَالَى: إِلاَّ الصِّيَامَ فَإِنَّهُ لِى وَأَنَا أَجْزِى بِهِ يَدَعُ شَهْوَتَهُ وَطَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ مِنْ أَجْلِى، لِلصَّائِمِ فَرْحَتَانِ فَرْحَةٌ عِنْدَ فِطْرِهِ وَفَرْحَةٌ عِنْدَ لِقَاءِ رَبِّهِ، وَلَخُلُوفُ فَمِ الصَّائِمِ عِنْدَ اللهِ أَطْيَبُ مِنْ رِيحِ الْمِسْكِ»
“The Messenger of Allah said: ‛Every (good) deed of the son of Âdam is multiplied in reward from ten to seven hundred times to what Allah may will’. Allah تعالى will say: ‛The reward of observing Saum (fasting) is different from the reward of other good deeds. Saum (fasting)is for Me, and I Alone will give its reward. The person observing Saum abstains from passion, food and drink only for My sake’. The fasting person has two joyous occasions, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of greeting his Rabb (Lord). Surely the breath which issues from the mouth of the fasting person is better smelling to Allah than the fragrance of musk.” . It becomes evident from this hadith that Allah تعالى has made fasting peculiarly to Himself from the rest of the good deeds and He has distinguished it by multiplying the reward as it as previously mentioned – and that sincerity in observing fasting is deeper in it than other (good) deeds, according to the Prophet statement:
«تَرَكَ شَهْوَتَهُ وَطَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ مِنْ أَجْلِي»
“He left his passion, food and drink only for My sake”. Allah will take care of the reward of the fasting person who will get joy in the world and the Hereafter; a praised joy that occurs upon the obedience of Allah تعالى as the Ayah (verse) refers to:
﴿قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُواْ﴾ [يونس:58]
“Say; ‛In the Bounty of Allah, and His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Quran); there let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass”. [Yûnus (Jonah): 58]. It is worth stating from this hadith that the results arising from the obedience of Allah are loved to Him تعالى as the change of the smell of the fasting person's mouth happens because of the observance of fasting.
-Among the virtues of fasting is that it will intercede for the slave of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. It will shield him against sins and harmful desires and will protect him from Hellfire. The Prophet said:
«الصِّيَامُ وَالْقُرْآنُ يَشْفَعَانِ لِلْعَبْدِ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يَقُولُ الصِّيَامُ: أَي رَبِّ مَنَعْتُهُ الطَّعَامَ وَالشَّهَوَة فَشَفِّعْنِى فِيهِ. وَيَقُولُ الْقُرْآنُ: مَنَعْتُهُ النَّوْمَ بِاللَّيْلِ فَشَفِّعْنِى فِيهِ. قَالَ فَيُشَفَّعَانِ»
“Fasting and the Quran will intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: ‛O Lord, I deprived him of his food and his desire, so let me intercede for him.’ And the Quran will say: ‛I deprived him of his sleep at night, so let me intercede for him.’ Then they will intercede.” 
«الصِّيَامُ جُنَّةٌ، وَحِصْنٌ حَصِينٌ مِنَ النَّارِ»
“Saum (fasting) is a shield (or a screen or a shelter) and a strong fortress.”
- And among its virtues is that the fasting person's Du ̀â (invocations) are answered, according to the Prophet statement:
«...وَإِنَّ لِكُلِّ مُسْلِمٍ فِي كُلِّ يَوْمٍ وَلَيْلَةٍ دَعْوَةً مُسْتَجَابَةً»
"…Surely for every Muslim in every day and night there is a granted supplication". It has already been said while mentioning the verses regarding Saum (fasting) that the fasting person is incited to invocate Allah a lot. Allah تعالى said:
﴿وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ﴾ [البقرة:186]
“And when My slaves ask you (O Muhammad ) concerning Me, then (answer them), I am indeed near (to them by My Knowledge) I respond to the invocations of the supplicant when he calls on Me (without any mediator or intercessor).” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 186].
- Among the virtues of Saum (fasting) is that it will keep the fasting person away from Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection. The proof is the statement of the Prophet :
«مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ يَصُومُ يَوْمًا فِى سَبِيلِ اللهِ إِلاَّ بَاعَدَ اللَّهُ بِذَلِكَ الْيَوْمِ وَجْهَهُ عَنِ النَّارِ سَبْعِينَ خَرِيفًا»
“Every slave of Allah who observes Saum (fasting) for one day for the Sake of Allah, Allah will draw his face farther from Hellfire to the extent of a distance to be covered in seventy years.”
- Among its virtues the privilege given to the fasting people with one of the gates of Paradise which none except them will enter through; an honor for them and a reward for their observance of fasting. The Prophet said:
«إِنَّ فِى الْجَنَّةِ بَابًا يُقَالُ لَهُ الرَّيَّانُ، يَدْخُلُ مِنْهُ الصَّائِمُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ، لاَ يَدْخُلُ مِنْهُ أَحَدٌ غَيْرُهُمْ يُقَالُ أَيْنَ الصَّائِمُونَ ؟ فَيَقُومُونَ، فَيَدْخُلُونَ، فَإِذَا دَخَلُوا أُغْلِقَ، فَلَمْ يَدْخُلْ مِنْهُ أَحَدٌ»
“There is a gate in paradise called Ar-Rayyân, and those who observe Saum (fast) will enter through it on the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it. It will be said to them: ‛Where are those who used to observe Saum (fast)?’ They will get up and none except them will enter through it. After their entry, the gate will be closed and nobody will enter through it.”
The whole virtues and features which have been enumerated through out are just considered as non-exhaustive compared to the interests that Allah تعالى gives to fasting.
The Benefits of Fasting
As for the benefits of fasting, they have great impacts in the purification of the soul, the refinement of the character and the consolidation of the body. Among them are:
- The fasting person familiarizes himself to patience and endures to resist things he is accustomed to and to leave his desires willingly and voluntarily so that he would restrain the caprice of his desire and overcome his soul, which is inclined to evil. He curbs his desires to give it the utmost happiness, so that it accepts that with which it would be purified; that with which it leads a happy eternal life. The fasting person narrows the circulations of Shaitân (Satan) by narrowing the streams of food and drink. He reminds himself of what the circumstances of the starving poor people are. For the love of the Lord of the world, he abandons the things he enjoys i.e. eating and drinking. And this secret between the slave of Allah and his lord [Allah] is the reality and end of fasting.
- Saum (fasting) refines the heart and softens it so that it remembers Allah. Thus, it facilitates it the way of the acts of worship.
- Among the benefits of fasting is that it leads to piety (fear of Allah) and to diminish the appeals to desires. Allah تعالى says: “That you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)” [Al-Baqarah (The Cow): 183] in referring to the prescription of observing fasting because it is a reason to reach piety in order to narrow the streams of desires and to deaden them. Since whenever food is little, desire is weak; and sins diminish whenever desire weakens.
- Among its medical benefits; the health of the body because fasting is a protection against food mixture, which causes diseases. Thus, it preserves -if Allah wills- external and internal organs as it was stated by the doctors.
The Etiquettes of Fasting:
Fasting has etiquettes which are to observe so that there would be agreement with the Islamic commands in order to purify and refine the soul. Therefore, the fasting person strives to fulfill them perfectly and to stick to them entirely, since his perfect observance of fasting is dependent on them. His happiness depends also on them. Among those etiquettes, that we take into account in observing fasting are:
First: welcoming the month of Ramadan with joy, exultation and happiness, because it is from Allah's favor and His Mercy upon people of Islam. He تعالى says:
﴿قُلْ بِفَضْلِ اللهِ وَبِرَحْمَتِهِ فَبِذَلِكَ فَلْيَفْرَحُواْ هُوَ خَيْرٌ مِّمَّا يَجْمَعُونَ﴾[يونس:85]
“Say: ‛In the Bounty of Allah, and in His Mercy (i.e. Islam and the Quran); therein let them rejoice.’ That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” [Yûnus (Jonah): 58]. He should thank Allah to be an adult and seek His help for observing fasting and offer good deeds during this month. As it is desirable for him to make Du ̀â ́(invocations) at the sight of every crescent (at the outset of every lunar month) of the year, according to the hadith narrated by `Abd Allah Ibn ̀Umar who said: “At the sight of the new moon (of the lunar month); the Messenger of Allah used to make this invocation:
«اللهُ أَكْبَر، اللَّهُمَّ أَهِلَّهُ عَلَيْنَا بِالأَمْنِ وَالإِيمَانِ وَالسَّلاَمَةِ وَالإِسْلاَمِ وَالتَّوْفِيقِ لِمَا تُحِبُّ وَترْضَى رَبُّنَا وَرَبُّكَ اللهُ»
“Allah is the Most High, O Allah, let this moon appear on us with security and Imân (faith), with safety and Islam, and in agreement with all that You love and pleases You. O (moon) you (Lord) and ours is Allah”, on condition that he does not face the crescent when invocating Allah , nor does he raise his head up to it, nor does he stand erect for it, but he faces Qiblah when invocating, as he does in Salât (prayer).
Second: Among the important etiquettes he should obseve is not to fast, thinking that it is of Ramadan before being certain that the month has begun; nor does he continue observing fasting after Ramadan ends, thinking that it is of it. He must observe it in its legal due time. He should not precede it nor should he delay it, according to the statement of the Prophet:
«لاَ تَصُومُوا حَتَّى تَرَوُا الْهِلاَلَ، وَلاَ تُفْطِرُوا حَتَّى تَرَوْهُ»
“Do not observe Saum (fast) till you see the crescent (of Ramadan) and do not terminate it till you see the crescent (of Shawwâl).” He also said:
«إِذَا رَأَيْتُمُ الهِلاَلَ فَصُومُوا وَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمُوهُ فَأَفْطِرُوا»
“Start observing Saum (fasts) on seeing the crescent –moon of Ramadan and stop observing Saum (fasts) on seeing the crescent –moon of Shawwâl.”
Third: taking Sahûr (predawn meal) due to its blessing and the recommendation of delaying it, according the following hadith:
«تَسَحَّرُوا فَإِنَّ فِي السَّحُورِِ بَرَكَةً»
“Take Sahûr (predawn meal). Surely, there is a blessing in the Sahûr.” It was also reported regarding its virtue and blessing that he said:
«البَرَكَةُ فِي ثَلاَثَةٍ: فِي الجَمَاعَةِ وَالثَّرِيدِ وَالسَّحُورِ»
“The blessing is in three (things): Al-Jamâ ̀ah (the communion), Ath-Tharrîd (i.e. a meat and bread dish) and Sahûr (predawn meal).” And according to the hadith of the Prophet :
«إِنَّ اللهَ وَمَلاَئِكَتَهُ يُصَلُّونَ عَلَى المُتَسَحِّرِين»
“Allah sends His blessings on those who take Sahûr (predawn meal) and also His angels” . Indeed, the Prophet made Sahûr the element which distinguishes our fasting from that of the People of the Scriptures. He said:
«فَصْلُ مَا بَيْنَ صِيَامِنَا وَصِيَامِ أَهْلِ الْكِتَابِ أَكْلَةُ السَّحَرِ»
“The difference between our observance of Saum (fasting) and that of the People of the Scriptures is the Sahûr (predawn meal) in Ramadan” . It would be preferable for the fasting person to eat Sahûr with some dates. The Prophet said:
«نِعْمَ سَحُورِ المُؤْمِنِ التَّمْرُ»
“The excellent Sahûr (predawn meal) for the believer are date” . If it is not possible to have any, his Sahûr will be fulfilled even with a gulp of water. He said:
«تَسَحَّرُوا وَلَوْ بِجُرْعَةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ»
“Take Sahûr (predawn mead) even with a gulp of water” .
The time of Sahûr starts shortly before dawn and ends when the white thread (light) of dawn appears distinct from the black thread (darkness of night). If the fasting person hears Adhân (the call to prayer) and his container is in his hand eating or drinking, he has to finish with the food or drink that the utensil contains. The Prophet said:
«إِذَا سَمِعَ أَحَدُكُمْ النِّدَاءَ وَالإِنَاءُ فِي يَدِهِ فَلاَ يَضَعْهُ حَتَّى يَقْضِيَ حَاجَتَهُ مِنْهُ»
“If any of you hears the Adhân (the call to Salât) and the vessel is in the hand of anyone of you, let him not put it down until he has finished with it” . The permission in the hadith makes the innovation regarding the start of abstention in ten minutes or a quarter of an hour before dawn invalid. Obliging the fasting person to follow some timings of abstention setup in conformity with such an innovation has no source in sharia and in its etiquettes.
It is recommended to delay Sahûr (predawn meal). The Prophet said:
«إِنَّا مَعْشَرَ الأَنْبِيَاءِ أُمِرْنَا بِتَعَجيِلِ فِطْرِنَا وَتَأْخِيرِ َسُحُورِنَا وَأَنْ نَضَعَ أَيْمَانَنَا عَلَى شَمَائِلِنَا فِي الصَّلاَةِ»
“We the Prophets have been commanded to hasten the breaking of our fast and to delay our Suhûr (the time before dawn when we take Sahûr), and to put our right hands over our left when praying” .
He used to delay Suhûr the time required for the recitation of fifty verses. Anas narrated that Zayd Ibn Thâbit said:
«تَسَحَّرْنَا مَعَ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ، ثُمَّ قَامَ إِلَى الصَّلاَةِ، قُلْتُ: كَمْ كَانَ بَيْنَ الأَذَانِ وَالسَّحور؟ قَالَ: قَدْرَ خَمْسِينَ آيَةً»
“We took Sahûr (predawn meal) with the Prophet and then he stood for Salât (the prayer). I asked, ‛What was the interval between the Suhûr (the time before dawn when we take Sahûr) and the Adhân?’ He replied: “The interval was sufficient to recite fifty verses of the Quran” . The companions used to do so as well. ̀Amr Ibn Maymûn Al-Awdi said:
«كَانَ أَصْحَابُ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وآلِهِ وَسَلَّمَ أَسْرَعَ النَّاس إفْطَارًا وَأَبْطأَهُمْ سحورًا»
“The Companions of Muhammad were the first to break the Saum (fasting) and the last to take Sahûr (predawn meal)” .
Fourth: Adherence to hastening to break the fast in order to carry on doing good deeds. The proof is the Prophet's statement:
«لاَ يَزَالُ النَّاسُ بِخَيْرٍ مَا عَجَّلُوا الفِطْرَ»
“People will continue to adhere to good as long as they hasten to break the Saum (fasting).” And he said:
«لاَ تَزَالُ أُمَّتِي عَلَى سُنَّتِي مَا لَمْ تَنْتَظِرْ بِفِطْرِهَا النُّجُومَ»
“People of My Ummah (nation) will continue to adhere to my Sunna as long as they do not wait the stars to appear to break the Saum (fasting)” . He also said:
«لاَ يَزَالُ الدِّينُ ظَاهِرًا مَا عَجَّلَ النَّاسُ الفِطْرَ لأَنَّ اليَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى يُؤَخِّرُونَ»
“The Islamic religion keeps uppermost as long as people hasten to break the Saum (fasting); in fact the Jews and the Christians delay it” . Indeed, the Prophet illustrated its meaning by saying:
«إِذَا أَقْبَلَ اللَّيْلُ مِنْ هَا هُنَا، -من جهة الشرق- وَأَدْبَرَ النَّهَارُ مِنْ هَا هُنَا، وَغَرَبَتِ الشَّمْسُ، فَقَدْ أَفْطَرَ الصَّائِمُ»
“When the night approaches from this side (i.e. the east) and the day retreats from that side (i.e. the west) and the sun sets, then it is time for a person observing Saum (fasting) to break his fast” .
*Etiquettes of Fitr (breaking the fast):
Breaking the fast is linked with a number of Islamic etiquettes, which are recommended for the fasting person to abide by, following the Prophet.
1- Breaking the Saum (fasting) happens before Maghrib Salât (sunset prayer), according to the statement of Anas Ibn Mâlik :
«مَا رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وآله وَسَلَّمَ قَطُّ صَلَّى صَلاَة َالمَغْرِبِ حَتَّى يُفْطِرَ وَلَوْ عَلَى شَرْبَةٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ»
“I have never seen the Messenger performed Maghrib Salât (prayer) before breaking his fast even with a gulp of water” .
2- Breaking his fast with some fresh date-fruits; if there are not any, he will eat dry date-fruits; and if there are not any dry ones, he will drink water, based on the hadith narrated by Anas's Ibn Mâlik who reported:
«كَانَ رَسُولُ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وآله وَسلَّمَ يُفْطِرُ عَلَى رُطَبَاتٍ، قَبْلَ أَنْ يُصَلِّي، فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ رُطَبَاتٍ فَعَلَى تَمَرَاتٍ، فَإِنْ لَمْ تَكُنْ حَسَا حَسَوَاتٍ مِنْ مَاءٍ»
“The Messenger of Allah used to break Saum (fasting) before performing Maghrib prayer with three fresh date-fruits; and if there were no dry date-fruits, he would take three draughts of water.”
3- Du ̀a ́ (invocations) uttered when breaking the Saum (fast). It is stated that the Prophet used to say when breaking his fast:
«ذَهَبَ الظَّمَأُ وَابْتَلَّتِ العُرُوقُ وَثَبَتَ الأَجْرُ -إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ-»
“Dhahaba Ad-Dama ́u Wa Btallati Al- ̀Urûqu Wa Thabata Al-́Ajru Inshâ’ Allâh” (The thirst has gone and the veins are moistened, and reward is confirmed, if Allah wills” .
Fifth: Among the etiquettes of fasting also, the recommendation to use Siwâk (stick cleaning for teeth) for a fasting or non-fasting person. It can be used soft or hard, by night or by day, before performing every Salât (prayer) or making ablution,́ according to the Prophet's statement:
«لَوْلاَ أَنْ أَشُقَّ عَلَى أُمَّتِي لأَمَرْتُهُمْ بِالسِّوَاكِ عِنْدَ كُلِّ صَلاَةٍ»
“Had I not thought it difficult for the people of my Ummah (nation, community), I would have commanded them to use the Siwâk (stick cleaning for teeth) before every Salât” . In another version:
«عِنْدَ كُلِّ وُضُوءٍ»
“Before every ablution”. This evidence does not concern the fasting person only. Ibn ̀Umar said:
«يُسْتَاكُ أَوَّل النَّهَارِ وَآخِرهُ»
“Brushing one's teeth with Siwâk (or Miswâk) (stick cleaning for teeth) every day and night” . Within this ruling, Ibn Taymiya may Allah have mercy on him said: “…as for the Miswâk, it is permissible without any divergence. However, there is a difference in opinion regarding the dislike of using it in the afternoon on two well-known statements of Imam Ahmad. But no Islamic legal evidence is valid to make the use of Miswâk undesirable in the afternoon” .
Sixth: Striving in doing good and intensifying the acts of worship. Indeed, during the month of Ramadan, the Prophet used to do more acts of worship and good actions. He was the kindest and best in treatment. In his hadith, Ibn `Abbâs said:
«كَانَ -أي النَّبِىُّ صلى الله عليه وآلِهِ وسلم- أَجْوَدَ النَّاسِ بِالْخَيْر، وكَانَ أَجْوَدَ مَا يَكُونُ فِى رَمَضَانَ، حِينَ يَلْقَاهُ جِبْرِيلُ، وَكَانَ جِبْرِيلُ -عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَم- يَلْقَاهُ كُلَّ لَيْلَةٍ فِى رَمَضَانَ حَتَّى يَنْسَلِخَ ، يَعْرِضُ عَلَيْهِ النَّبِىُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم الْقُرْآنَ، فَإِذَا لَقِيَهُ جِبْرِيلُ -عَلَيْهِ السَّلاَمُ-كَانَ أَجْوَدَ بِالْخَيْرِ مِنَ الرِّيحِ الْمُرْسَلَةِ
“The Prophet was the most generous of the men; and he was the most generous during the month of Ramadan when Jibrîl visited him every night until it ends and recited the Quran to him. During this period, the generosity of the Prophet waxed faster than the rain bearing wind” .
He used to recite the Quran very much during this month. He prolonged Qiyâm (standing at night to pray) in Ramadan more than he did out of it. He became more generous than ever in giving charity and gifts and in other sorts of kindness. The Prophet strived harder in the last ten days and nights of this month–in observing I ̀tikâf (seclusion in the mosque), in Qiyâm (standing to pray at night), reciting the Quran and in remembering Allah more than he did in the rest of the year. It was reported in the hadith:
«إِذَا دَخَلَ الْعَشْرُ شَدَّ مِئْزَرَهُ، وَأَحْيَا لَيْلَهُ، وَأَيْقَظَ أَهْلَهُ»
“When the last ten nights (of Ramadan) would begin, he would prepare himself to be more diligent in worship, keep awake at night (for prayer and devotion) and awaken his family” .
Among the acts of worship that the Prophet recommended Muslims to achieve is performing ̀Umrah (lesser hajj) in Ramadan. It has a great reward that equals to a reward of hajj. The Prophet said:
«عُمْرَةٌ فِي رَمَضَانَ تَعْدِلُ حَجَّةً»
“A ̀Umrah in Ramadan is equal to a hajj (in reward)” .
The reward of performing Salât (prayer) in the Mosque of Makkah and Al-Madînah is multiplied. The Prophet said:
«صَلاَةٌ فِي مَسْجِدِي هَذَا خَيْرٌ مِنْ أَلْفِ صَلاَةٍ فِيمَا سِوَاهُ إِلاَّ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ»
“One Salât (prayer) in my mosque is better than one thousand prayers in any other mosque except Al-Masjid Al-Haram”. In addition, the committed sins and evil acts are expiated thanks to successive ̀Umrahs. It was stated that the Prophet said:
«الْعُمْرَةُ إِلَى الْعُمْرَةِ كَفَّارَةٌ لِمَا بَيْنَهُمَا»
“Performing ̀Umrah is expiation for the sins committed between it and the previous one” .
Seventh: Avoiding things which prevent achieving the objective of fasting, looking out for all that the Islamic sharia prohibits, such as evil words and foul deeds which are forbidden and disliked all the time, especially in Ramadan. Their wickedness is greater in punishment for the fasting person during this month. For this reason, he has to keep his tongue from bad speech, such as lying, backbiting, calamity, insults, and disputes and from losing his time in reciting poems, telling tales and riddles, praising and disparaging wrongly. It is also obligatory upon him to prevent his hearing from tending his ear to them and listening to what is legally ugly and disapproved. He has to work hard to keep his soul and body away from desires and prohibitions, such as lowering the gaze from looking at forbidden things and preserving the other parts of the body from committing sins. He should not stretch his hand to falsehood or even walk to it. He has to eat only lawful food with moderation and without excess in order to curb his soul from desires and to fortify it against Satan and its helpers. In addition to that, his heart should remain –after breaking his fast and at the end of every act of worship– between hoping to see his fasting accepted by Allah تعالى to be among those brought near to Him and fearing that it might be rejected and then he would be among hated people.
Indeed, many texts in sharia reported in this regard. They warn the fasting person against the evil of the tongue and of the other parts of the body. The Prophet said:
«مَنْ لَمْ يَدَعْ قَوْلَ الزُّورِ وَالْعَمَلَ بِهِ فَلَيْسَ لِلَّهِ حَاجَةٌ في أَنْ يَدَعَ طَعَامَهُ وَشَرَابَهُ»
“Whoever does not give up lying speech (false statements) and acting on those lies and evil actions etc; Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink [i.e. Allah will not accept his Saum (fasting)]” .
The aim of observing fasting in Islam is not in the nature of hunger and thirst, but is what goes with it like abstaining from desires, rendering the soul which is inclined to evil a complete rested and satisfied soul. For this purpose, the Prophet said:
«رُبَّ صَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ صِيَامِهِ إِلاَّ الجُوعُ، وَرُبَّ قَائِمٍ لَيْسَ لَهُ مِنْ قِيَامِهِ إِلاَّ السَّهَرُ»
“There are people who fast and get nothing from their fast except hunger, and there are those who pray Qiyâm (standing to pray at night) and get nothing from their Qiyâm but a sleepless nigh.” . The true fasting person is the one whose stomach abstains from all kinds of food, the parts of his body from committing sins, his tongue from harsh and foul language, his hearing from absurdity, his sex from intercourse with his woman and his sight from looking at forbidden things. When he speaks, he does not utter words which hurt his fasting; and if he does, he will not say things which spoil his fast. His speech will be beneficial and his deeds will be righteous and good. The Prophet said:
«قَالَ اللهُ تعالى: كُلُّ عَمَلِ ابْنِ آدَمَ لَهُ إِلاَّ الصِّيَامَ، فَإِنَّهُ لِى، وَأَنَا أَجْزِى بِهِ. وَالصِّيَامُ جُنَّةٌ، وَإِذَا كَانَ يَوْمُ صَوْمِ أَحَدِكُمْ، فَلاَ يَرْفُثْ وَلاَ يَصْخَبْ، فَإِنْ سَابَّهُ أَحَدٌ، أَوْ قَاتَلَهُ فَلْيَقُلْ إِنِّى امْرُؤٌ صَائِمٌ»
“Allah said: ‛Every act of the son of Adam is for him, except Saum (fasting) which is (exclusively) for Me and I will reward him for it.’ Fasting is a shield. When anyone of you is observing fast, he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice, and if anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: ‛I am a fasting person’ ” . In another hadith Marfû ̀ (Elevated):
«لاَ تُسَابَّ وَأَنْتَ صَائِمٌ، فَإِنْ سَابَّكَ أَحَدٌ فَقُلْ: إِنِّي صَائِمٌ، وَإِنْ كُنْتَ قَائِماً فَاجْلِسْ»
“Do not revile while fasting, and if anyone reviles you, say I am fasting; and sit down if you are standing…”. The fasting person might not reach the reward of his Saum (fast) despite his endurance to hunger and thirst because he did not abandon the prohibited acts. The reward of fasting decreases by committing sins, and will be invalid only by doing things which spoil it. In the preceding hadiths, there is an incitation of the fasting person to forgive wrong people errors and to avoid replying to others' evil.
Eighth: Getting ready to serve the fasting persons meals or something to break their fasts in order to request similar reward to theirs. The Prophet said in referring to its merit:
«مَنْ فَطَّرَ صَائِمًا كَانَ لَهُ مِثْلُ أَجْرِهِ، غَيْرَ أَنَّهُ لَمْ يَنْقُصْ مَِنْ أَجْرِ الصَّائِمِ شَيْئًا»
“He who provides a fasting person something with which to break his fast, will earn the same reward as the one who was observing the fast, without diminishing in any way the reward of the latter”.
Ninth: Guarding the optional night prayer (Tarawîh) in congregation and adhering to its performance. If he does not join it or he abandons it, he will miss a great reward. The Prophet exhorted his Companions to perform Qiyâm (standing for prayer at night) in Ramadan without ordering them. He said:
«مَنْ قَامَ رَمَضَانَ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ»
“Whosoever stood to pray (Tarawîh) in Ramadan with perfect faith and seeking reward, he will have his previous sins forgiven” , especially in the last ten days of Ramadan where there is a night which is better than a thousand months. Allah تعالى will provide those who perform its Qiyâm a great reward and their past sins will be forgiven. The Prophet said:
«مَنْ قَامَ لَيْلَةَ الْقَدْرِ إِيمَانًا وَاحْتِسَابًا غُفِرَ لَهُ مَا تَقَدَّمَ مِنْ ذَنْبِهِ»
“Whosever performed Qiyâm during Lailat-ul-Qadr (Night of Decree) with faith and being hopeful of Allah's reward, he will have his former sins forgiven” . It was reported regarding the virtue of performing Qiyâm in congregation that the Prophet said:
«إِنَّ الرَّجُلَ إِذَا صَلَّى مع الإِمَامِ حَتَّى يَنْصَرِفَ كُتِبَ لَهُ قِيَامُ لَيْلَةٍ»
“Whosever pray Qiyâm with the Imâm until he finishes, it will be recorded for him that he spent the whole night in prayer.” For that merit, the fasting person should not neglect the Qiyâm of Ramadan in congregation in order not to miss this great blessing and abundant reward.
Finally, the Muslim must show great concern to his religion and care about what corrects it from heresies in order to get the benefits issuing from it, especially the pillars of Islam and its great bases such as Saum (fasting during Ramadan), which is repeated in the Muslim's lifetime once a year. The Muslim whom Allah granted success to observe the fasting of Ramadan, to pray Qiyâm of its night with sincerity and adherence to the Prophet's Sunna has to end up with asking Allah's forgiveness and submitting himself to Him تعالى. Seeking forgiveness is the ending to all [good] deeds and acts of worship. The Muslim should not be self-conceited and proud of his deeds, nor should he consider them pure. He should admit that his deeds are short and neglected in the right of Allah and that they could be refused or accepted. The Salaf used to strive hard to perform complete and perfect deeds. Then they became preoccupied with the acceptance of their deeds and feared that their actions would be rejected. Allah تعالى qualified them in saying:
﴿يُؤْتُونَ مَا آتَوا وَّقُلُوبُهُمْ وَجِلَةٌ﴾ [المؤمنون: 60]
“And those who give that ﴾their charity﴿ which they give ﴾and also do other good deeds﴿ with their hearts full of fear ﴾whether their alms and charities have been accepted or not﴿.” [Al-Mu'minûn (The Believers): 60]. They did not feel secure because they feared the plot of Allah very much. They –with the fear of non-acceptance– begged Allah's forgiveness and repented a lot, hoping that Allah would have accepted their deeds rather than showing concern to them, because the acceptance is the sign of piety (fear of Allah). Allah تعالى says:
﴿إِنَّمَا يَتَقَبَّلُ اللهُ مِنَ الْمُتَّقِين﴾ [المائدة: 27]
“Verily, Allah accepts only from those who are Al-Muttaqûn (the pious)”. [Al-Mâ ́idah (The Table Spread With Food):27].
If the hypocrite rejoices with the end of Ramadan to devote himself to desires and sins, which he missed all along the month, the believer rejoices to see Ramadan over, after completing his good deeds with perfection, hoping to assure its rewards and the merits of fasting, pursuing with beseeching Allah's forgiveness, saying Takbîr (Allâhu Akbar) and performing acts of worship. Indeed, Allah prescribed to ask Allah’s forgiveness, which is the slogan of the Prophets linked to Tauhîd (Islamic Monotheism). The Muslim is in need to them so that his deeds would be based on Tauhîd. In Seeking Allah's Forgiveness, he purifies his deeds, his vanity and all what afflicts them such as negligence, defect or error.
In this context in which Tauhîd (Islamic Monotheism) and seeking Allah's forgiveness are linked, Allah says:
﴿فَاعْلَمْ أَنَّهُ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللهُ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لِذَنبِكَ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَاللهُ يَعْلَمُ مُتَقَلَّبَكُمْ وَمَثْوَاكُمْ﴾ [محمد: 19]
“So know (O Muhammed ) that Lâ Ilâha Illa Allah ( none has the right to be worshiped but Allah), and ask forgiveness for your sin , and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women. And Allah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest (in your homes).” [Muhammad: 19]. And He تعالى said concerning Yûnus (Jonah):
﴿فَنَادَى فِي الظُّلُمَاتِ أَن لاّ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ أَنتَ سُبْحَانَكَ إِنِّي كُنتُ مِنَ الظَّالِمِينَ﴾
“But he cried through the darkness (saying); Lâ illâha Illa Anta [None has the right to be worshiped but You (O, Allah)] Glorified (and Exalted) are You [above all that (evil) they associate with you]. Truly, I have been of the wrongdoers” [Al-Anbiyâ' (The Prophets: 87].
We ask Allah to provide us with the good of this month and its blessing, to provide us with its virtues and its promised rewards and not to deprive us of good deeds during this sacred month and others. As we ask Him success, pertinence, acceptance of our (good) deeds and pardon for our negligence. All praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings of Allah are upon Muhammad, his Family, Companions and Fellow-Brothers till the Day of Recompense.
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Note: The 99 names of Allah avatars are courtesy of www.arthafez.com