Fasting in Ramadan is all about controlling desires. A part of the broader program that Islam prescribes for man is to fulfill his moral and spiritual destiny in this world and in the Hereafter. It is the special worship designed to develop in man the ability to exercise self-restraint and patience for the pleasure of Allah; man's Creator and Lord. It seeks to free the human soul and lends it the moral and spiritual strength to promote beauty, harmony, kindness, peace, compassion and justice.
Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam. It has been an integral part of all major religions. The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) fasted for forty days before he was called to Prophet Hood (Matthew 4:2). Similarly, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) fasted for forty days and nights before he was given the Law (Exodus 24:18).
Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an act of obedience and submission to Allah's commands. Fasting during Ramadan is obligatory on every adult, sane, and able Muslim.
"Fasting for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number should be made up from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have a choice either to fast or to feed a poor person for every day. But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know" (2:183-84)
When to start fasting
Ibn Umar related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Do not start fasting unless you see the new moon, and do not end fasting until you see it. If the weather is cloudy then calculate when it should appear (Bukhari, Muslim)
When to fast
Fasting in Islam involves abstinence from three primal physical needs of human beings- food, drink, and intimate intercourse from dawn (approximately one and a half hours before sunrise) to sunset during the month of Ramadan.
What cause the fast invalidation?
1. Intentional consumption of food, drink, medicine, or smoking during the fasting.
2. Any injection which has some nutritional value.
3. Beginning of menstruation or post natal birth bleeding.
The conditions mentioned above invalidate fasting and require making up only the missed day or days. However, intentional intercourse during the hours of fasting invalidates fasting and not only requires making up only the missed day or days but also additional penalty.
The Suhoor meal (which is eaten before dawn)
Anas related that Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Take the Suhoor meal, for there is blessing in it (Bukhari, Muslim).
Breaking your fast
Salman ibn Amir Dhabi related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).
Behavior while fasting
Abu Huraira related that the Prophet said: If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink (Bukhari, Muslim).
Eating or drinking unintentionally while fasting
Abu Huraira related that Rasulullah said: If anyone forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks he should complete his Siyam, for it is Allah who has fed him and given him drink (Bukhari, Muslim).
Providing for those who are breaking the fast
Zaid ibn Khalid Juhni related that the Prophet said: He who provides for the breaking of the Siyam of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing Siyam diminishing in any way the reward of the latter (Tirmidhi).
Amongst the nights of Ramadan, there is one special night of Power (Lailat al-Qadr) which is highlighted in Surah al-Qadr. This was the night when Quran was revealed to mankind.
"It has the significance of being better than a thousand months" (Quran 97:3).
Anas ibn Malik related that Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: When Lailat al-Qadr comes ,Gabriel descends with a company of angels who ask for blessings on everyone who is remembering Allah, whether they are sitting or standing (Baihaqi).
Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).
By Nouran Radwan