“O Believers, fasting is prescribed upon you as it was prescribed upon those before you, so that you may attain Taqwa” (Surah Baqarah (2), Verse 183)
The virtues of the month of Ramadan are well known to Muslims with fasting being the main Ibadah. It is mentioned in a Hadith, “Whoever fasts in Ramadan having faith and hope of reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” (Bukhari)
In this auspicious month, sins are forgiven, the gates of heaven are opened, the gates of hell are closed, the devils are chained up and in it is a blessed night which is better than 1000 months (83 years and 4 months).
Due to the blessings of Ramadan, a Muslim experiences a refreshment of faith and a renewed vigour to do good deeds. This is facilitated through fasting during the day and performing Taraweeh prayers at night and recitation of the Quran.
Importance of Fasting
In Islam, fasting means to refrain from eating, drinking and engaging in sexual intercourse from Subh Sadiq (pre-dawn) to sunset with the intention of observing the fast.
Observing the fast of Ramadan is a fundamental tenet of lslam. A person who does not fast (without a valid excuse) is guilty of a major sin and is deprived of great blessings.
Miscellaneous Rules of Fasting
1. Fasting is obligatory upon every sane adult Muslim male and female in the month of Ramadan. It is not obligatory for a minor to fast. However, they should be encouraged to fast from the age of seven
2. The fast commences from Subh Sadiq and terminates after the sun has set.
3. It is Sunnah (highly recommended) to partake of Suhoor/Sehri (to eat something before Subh Sadiq)
4. The fasting person should terminate his fast at sunset, preferably with dates or water
5. In the event of a fast becoming invalid, then it is compulsory (wajib) to remain in the state of fasting till sunset. The Qaza of the invalid fast must be kept after Ramadan
Factors that Nullify the Fast
The fast will be nullified in the following instances and Qaza (fulfilling the fast after Ramadan) becomes necessary:
1. Vomiting a mouthful intentionally by inducement or vomiting a mouthful involuntarily and then taking back the vomit or part of it down the throat voluntarily.
2. Inserting medicine/oil into the nasal cavity or the ear
3. Allowing water down the throat whilst gargling (whilst being conscious of the fast)
4. Deliberately eating, thinking that one's fast has been broken, after one has mistakenly eaten
5. Eating particles of food stuck between the teeth, provided the substance is the size of a chickpea/lentil or larger. If the particles of food stuck between the teeth are taken out of the mouth and eaten again, the fast will break, irrespective of the size of the particle
6. Swallowing such things that are normally not eaten e.g. wood, iron, cloth, etc.
7. Intentionally bringing the smoke of incense sticks, etc. near and inhaling it
8. If someone forces something into the mouth of a fasting person and this goes down his throat
9. Swallowing blood (discharged from the mouth), if the quantity is equal to or greater than the saliva
10. Partaking of Sehri after dawn, thinking it is still night and breaking the fast (Iftar) thinking that the sun has already set when in actual fact the sun had not
The fast will be nullified in the following instances and Qaza and Kaffarah become necessary:
Intentionally eating, drinking and engaging in sexual intercourse
N.B. Kaffarah is the penalty which the Shariah imposes upon a Believer for flagrant violation of the sanctity of fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Kaffarah is fulfilled by:
1. Fasting for two months consecutively, and if one does not have the strength to fast, then
2. feeding sixty poor people two meals for a day, or feeding one person two meals a day for sixty days
Some undesirable acts whilst fasting
1. To chew anything, even though one may not be consuming it.
2. To clean the teeth with toothpaste or tooth- powder.
3. To indulge in unnecessary conversation, back-biting, slanderous and abusive utterances.
4. To collect one's saliva and swallow it.
5. To delay deliberately the obligatory bath for ritual purity
6. To take water deep into the nose (beyond the fleshy part) when cleaning the nose and to take water to the back of the mouth (upper throat) when gargling the mouth.
Factors that exempt a person from fasting in Ramadan
1 Being on a Shari journey (Musafir)
2. Such sickness that keeping the fast is detrimental to the health as advised by an upright Muslim doctor.
3. Old age and extreme weakness that renders the fast unmanageable.
The missed fast must be kept once a person is able to.