Saturday 25 April 2020

Step by Step Guide to Fasting in Ramadan

Alhamdolillah, the month of Ramadan has finally come for those newly reverted brothers and sisters who will be experiencing their first Ramadan of their lives. It is indeed  great blessing of Allah that you will be fasting for the first time in your lives as Muslims. May Allah accept your fasts / saum (Arabic of fasting) and all your supplications you make this month and hereafter. Aameen.

Remember, fasting is mandatory for male and female who are health, is sane and pubescent.

Although, by now you would acquainted yourselves with the procedure to fast, let us here give you a step by step guide of how to go about fasting during this most sacred month of Islamic calendar. 

Allah has commanded us to fast during the month of Ramadan in verse 183 of Surah ii Al Baqarah:

يٰٓـاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡا كُتِبَ عَلَيۡکُمُ الصِّيَامُ کَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِيۡنَ مِنۡ قَبۡلِکُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُوۡنَۙ‏ 

“Believers! Fasting is enjoined upon you, as it was enjoined upon those before you, that you become God-fearing.” [2:183]

Fasting is obligatory for all healthy adult male and female:

اَيَّامًا مَّعۡدُوۡدٰتٍؕ فَمَنۡ كَانَ مِنۡكُمۡ مَّرِيۡضًا اَوۡ عَلٰى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنۡ اَيَّامٍ اُخَرَ​ؕ وَعَلَى الَّذِيۡنَ يُطِيۡقُوۡنَهٗ فِدۡيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسۡكِيۡنٍؕ فَمَنۡ تَطَوَّعَ خَيۡرًا فَهُوَ خَيۡرٌ لَّهٗ ؕ وَاَنۡ تَصُوۡمُوۡا خَيۡرٌ لَّـکُمۡ اِنۡ كُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡلَمُوۡنَ‏ 

"Fasting is for a fixed number of days, and if one of you be sick, or if one of you be on a journey, you will fast the same number of other days later on. For those who are capable of fasting (but still do not fast) there is a redemption: feeding a needy man for each day missed. Whoever voluntarily does more good than is required, will find it better for him;and that you should fast is better for you, if you only know." (2:184) 

However there are special instructions for the women:
Those under Menstruation & Post-Natal bleeding: If the period begins before sunset, the woman’s fast is invalidated and she has to make up that day later when she is clean. During the rest of her period she cannot fast. If she becomes pure before Fajr then she should fast, even if she does not bathe until after the time of Fajr starts. All the missed days have to be made up after Ramadan. 
Both nursing and pregnant women are required to fast in Ramadan. You should not fast if you fear harm for yourself or your child, or if it is too physically difficult.All the missed days have to be made up after Ramadan . On the other hand, if fasting does not result in hardship or harm, then a pregnant or nursing mother must fast.
So when the moon for first of Ramadan is sighted after the month of Rajab, the believers are ordained to fast from the coming morning. So  intend in your heart the night before that you will fast the next day based on what the Prophet, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said: There is no fast for the person who did not intend to fast from the night before.” (An-Nasa’i).

Taraweeh PrayersOne of the four hallmarks of Ramadan besides fasting, the Night better than a thousand night and Aitikaf is Taraweeh Prayers which are often offered after the obligatory cycles of the Isha prayer. Please read more about Taraweeh Prayers in one our earlier posts: Taraweeh Prayers - Salāt al-Tarāwīḥ

Sehr / Suhoor - The Pre-Dawn Meal specific to Ramadan: after performing your prayers, one may go to sleep but get up much more than the time for the Fajr / Pre Dawn prayer for one of the recommended ritual of Sehr / Suhoor, the pre-dawn meal specific to Ramadan. Since one has to remain without food and water, therefore one must take a adequate meal before the time for Fajr prayer commences. If you have exact time of Fajr prayer available, even then it is recommended to stop eating a few minutes before that time to be the safe side. However, if you sleep over the Fajr time and could not get up for this pre-dawn meal, and wake up after sunrise, you must fast for the remainder of the day, and the fast is still valid.

 وَكُلُوۡا وَاشۡرَبُوۡا حَتّٰى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَـكُمُ الۡخَـيۡطُ الۡاَبۡيَضُ مِنَ الۡخَـيۡطِ الۡاَسۡوَدِ مِنَ الۡفَجۡرِ​ؕ
"and eat and drink at night until you can discern the white streak of dawn against the blackness of the night" (2:187)
In this connection, too, there was a misapprehension at first. Some thought that eating and drinking were absolutely prohibited after the performance of the 'Isha' (Night) Prayer. Others thought that one could eat and drink so long as one had not fallen asleep, but that if one had it was not permissible to eat on reawakening. These were people's own fancies and often caused great inconvenience. This verse seeks to remove all such misconceptions. It clearly lays down the duration of the fast: from dawn until sunset. Between sunset and dawn it is permissible to eat, to drink, and to indulge in the legitimate gratification of sexual desires.
At the same time the Prophet introduced the pre-fasting repast, recommending a good meal just before dawn.
In fixing the time of obligatory rites, Islam has been mindful that these timings should be so clear and simple that people, at all stages of development, should be able to follow them. This is why Islam bases its timing on conspicuous natural phenomena and not on the clock.
Some people object that this principle of timing is untenable in areas close to the poles, where night and day each last for about six months. This objection is based on a very superficial knowledge of geography. In point of fact neither day nor night lasts for six months in those areas - not in the sense in which people living near the Equator conceive of night and day. The signs of morning and evening appear at the poles with unfailing regularity and it is on this basis that people time their sleeping and waking, their professional work, their play and recreation. Even in the days before watches were common, the people of countries like Finland, Norway and Greenland used to fix the hours of the day and night by means of various signs that appeared on the horizon. Just as those signs helped them to determine their schedules in other matters, so they should enable them to time their various Prayers, the pre-fast meal and the breaking of the fast.
Some people have adopted an attitude of extreme caution with regard to the time of both the end and start of fasting. The Law has not fixed these schedules with rigid precision. If a person wakes up just at the crack of dawn it is proper for him to eat and drink hastily. According to a Tradition the Prophet said: 'If anyone of you hears the call for [the morning] Prayer while he is eating he should not stop immediately, but should finish eating to the extent of his bare need.' (Abu Da'ud. Siyam', 14 - Ed.) 

After one has stopped eating, he must make the intention of keeping the fast by saying
 وَبِصَوْمِ غَدٍ نَّوَيْتُ مِنْ شَهْرِ رَمَضَانَ
(Wa bisawmi ghadinn nawaiytu min shahri ramadan)
I intend to keep the fast for tomorrow in the month of Ramadan

The Prophet of Allah has recommended the eating of pre-dawn meal as he is quoted as saying: "Take suhoor as there is a blessing in it." He is also quoted as saying that eat even it be  simple date and a glass of water.

Thereafter, after commencement of the Fajr prayer time, your fast begins and will continue to be in place till the sunset next evening that is up to the Maghrab prayer.

Now the test commences from the pre-dawn prayer (Fajr) till the Maghrab prayer for those who are fasting. Here is a list of things that you are not allowed to do during the time under fasting:
  • No drinking or eating during the day. This also includes taking any oral medicines.
  • Smoking, prohibited at all times, also invalidates the fast.
  • If one by mistake eats and drinks, he should immediately repent, but continue to fast. The fast will be valid. The Prophet of Mercy, may the mercy and blessings of Allah be upon him, said:If he forgets, and eats and drinks, then let him complete his fast, for Allah has fed him and given him to drink.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)
  • One has to abstain from marital relations with one's spouse during the fast time, whether one ejaculates or not, for it invalidates the fast However There are no restrictions at night.
  • By extension, masturbation also invalidates fasting.
  • Self-induced vomiting ruins the fast as the Prophet said:Whoever vomits unintentionally does not have to make up the fast later, but whoever vomits on purpose does have to make up the fast.” (Al-Tirmidhi)
Breaking the Fast: Finally the time comes for breaking the fast. Fourth, the time for Maghrib or evening sunset prayer begins when the sun sets. That’s also when you ‘break’ your fast and can resume eating and drinking. This meal is called ‘iftar’.  

'Complete your fasting until night sets in' means that the time of fasting ends with nightfall, i.e. sunset marks the breaking of the fast. The precise time of the end of the pre-dawn repast is when a lean strip of aurora appears at the eastern end of the horizon and begins to grow. The time to break one's fast starts when the darkness of night seems to have begun to appear over the eastern horizon.

One need not wait for the light of day to disappear fully before breaking the fast. The Prophet, for instance, used to ask Bilal to bring him something to drink as soon as the sun had set. Bilal expressed his astonishment, pointing out that the light of day could still be observed. To this the Prophet replied that the time of fasting came to an end when the darkness of night began to rise from the east.

Before breaking the fast one must say:

 اللَّهُمَّ اِنِّى لَكَ صُمْتُ وَبِكَ امنْتُ وَعَليْكَ تَوَكّلتُ وَ عَلى رِزْقِكَ اَفْطَرْتُ
(Allahumma inni laka sumtu wa bika aamantu wa alayka tawakkaltu wa ala rizq-ika-aftartu)

O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You and I put my trust in You and I break my fast with Your sustenance

The Prophet would first break his fast, even if only with a sip of water, and then pray the dusk or Maghrib prayer. You are totally free to have your dinner at this time or later,however, you should not miss the Maghrib prayer because you are busy eating!

And from here on, the cycle repeats till the month of Ramadan comes to en end with the siting of the moon of Shawal, the first of which shall be celebrated as Eid ul Fitr.

There are yet two other hallmarks of Ramadan left: The Night better than Thousand Nights and the Aitikaf, that fall during the last ten days of the Ramadan. We shall write about Aitikaf when the last ten days of month of Ramadan near, while you may click on the link to know more about the Night better than Thousand Nights, a unique night that falls once in a year during this sacred month..

May Allah help us to understand the simple and most practical religion of all - Islam and allow us to take advantage of the month of Ramadan and concessions given to us in fasting when traveling or being sick. Aameen.

To know more about fasting and importance of month of Ramadan, please consult our reference page: Ramadan - A month of fasting and Blessings. You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.

May Allah show us the right path so that we do not go astray due to what man has interpreted verses of religious scriptures to suit their own religions and faith. Aameen.

Photo | Reference: Surah ii Al Baqarah
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