Fasting enjoys, in the
eyes of God, a grace unparallelled by other acts
of piety and worship.
In a (qudsi hadith
(utterances attributed to God outside the Quran), Allah says "All man's work belongs to him. A good deed
from tenfold to seven hundred times". God
said "Fasting belongs to Me and I repay."
The Prophet said : "By He in whose hands Muhammad's
soul rests, Allah prefers the stench of the mouth of lie who fasts to
scent of musk".
and Muslim both reported that the Prophet had said : "With
the advent of Ramadan, the portals of Paradise are opened, the gates to
hell are closed, and the devils are chained."
Abu Hurayra, the Prophet said at the beginning of Ramadan
: "A glorious and blessed month has come Allah
that you fast during it. During this month, the portals of Paradise are
opened, the gates of hell are closed, and the devils are chained. In
month there is one night which is worth more than one thousand months".
The Prophet said "Whoever fasts during Ramadan out
of faith seeking no reward, will have all his past sins forgiven."
Hurayra reported that the Prophet also said "Whoever
breaks the fast even for one day in Ramadan without any legitimate
cannot compensate for it by a period of fasting at another time during
Fasting means to refrain and abstain,
from dawn till sunset, from certain
things forbidden by Islamic Law. These are dealt with later. Fasting is
divided into two main categories:
Fard (obligatory fasting),
which comprises the following:
kaffara (the fasting of atoenement).
Nadhr (rlating to the taking of a vow).
Tatawwu' (voluntary fasting),
which is confined to those additional days throughout the year which
Prophet used to observe as fasting days.
said : "Islam is built on five pillars: the
(profession of faith)
that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of
the sawn of Ramadan (fast) and
fast was prescribed on the second Monday of the month of Sha'ban, in
second year of the Hijra.
Fasting is obligatory for every
Muslim provided that he or she is adult and in full possession of his
or her faculties.
Exemptions for temporary causes
- Women in menstruation or
- Persons in sick bed or on a journey.
These exemptions will be discussed
It is preferable that children,
though they are not under obligation to
fast, should be trained in fasting in order to prepare them for
out their adult obligations in this respect.
Al-Rabi Bint Mu'awwadh said in this
connection "On the Day of Ashoura,
the Prophet had a man tour the villages of the Ansar (the original
of Medina who supported the Prophet) ordering those who had not yet
of food to fast during the day and those who had eaten to abstain and
the rest of the day. Later, we used to fast that day and have our small
children fast upon it. We used to take them to the mosque and give them
toys made of wool to distract them from their hunger until iftar time".
(i.e. the breaking of the fast).
1)The beginning of Ramadan becomes
official when the new moon is seen.
Its end is officially fixed when the new moon of the next month
is seen. Once the new moon of Ramadan is seen, fasting becomes
for all those who are required to fast it. When the new moon of Shawwal
is seen, the fast comes to an end, and everybody should break the fast.
The Prophet said : "Fast when you see it (the
new moon) and break the fast when you see
it (the new moon)."
2)The seeing of the new moon becomes
official by the testimony of one upright Muslim.
Ibn `Abbas reported : "A Bedouin came to the Prophet
announcing that he had seen the new moon of Ramadan, whereupon the
asked him: "Do you profess that there is no God but Allah ?"
said : "Yes." Then the Prophet asked him "Do you profess that
Muhammad is the messenger of Allah ?" The Bedouin answered : "Yes". The
Prophet then ordered Bilal (his
to call on the Muslims to fast the next
3) As to the seeing of the new moon
of Shawwal, announcing the end of Ramadan
fast, the testimony of one upright Muslim is not enough.
In his commentary on Muslim's
collection of hadith) al- Nabawi said that
the ulamas were unanimous that the testimony of one upright Muslim for
the Shawwal new moon is not enough, except Abu Thawr who considered it
4) In the event of it being
impossible to see the new moon of Ramadabecause
of weather conditions, then the month of Sha'ban (the month preceding
should be a full thirty days.
The Prophet said : "Fast when you see the new moon
and break the fast when you see the new moon ; but if it is hidden, let
Sha'ban be completed as thirty days".
in case of the new moon of Sha'ban not being visible because of bad
conditions, Ramadan shall be a full thirty days, on the strength of the
prophet's instruction to "fast when you see the
moon and break the fast when You see the new moon and if it is hidden
cloud or fog, count thirty days".
6) Man's knowledge of astronomy is
now very accurate, so much So that astronomers can calculate the hour,
minute and second (every day of the lunar year) of the appearance and
disappearance of the moon in every country of the world.
information is published in advance of every lunar year. Therefore, a
who has acquired this information can, even when he can not actually
the new moon, fix the beginning and end of his fast accordingly. The
says in this connection: "Fast when you see it,
break the fast when you see it ; but if you cannot see it, calculate
In his commentary on the Quran, al-Qurtubi said : "Matraf Ibn Abdullan,
a prominent figure of the generation following the Prophet, and Ibn
a famous linguist, stated that astronomical calculations should be
to in cases of cloudy skies, and that these calculations be regarded as
official." This verdict was accepted at a time when the knowledge of
was not so extensive and accurate as it is today. Such a verdict should
be even more acceptable at the present time.
is to be noted here that the Prophet, addressing the ordinary man,
that the month be counted as thirty in case the new moon could not be
; whereas, addressing people to whom astronomical knowledge was
said that the month should be calculated.
is an example of the wisdom of the prophet in addressing each group of
people according to their educational standards.
7) The appearance of the new moon may
differ from one country to the other, even though they may all be in
the same latitude. For instance, if the new moon is seen in one
country, the appearance is valid so far as those countries to its west
are concerned, but not so for countries to its east.
Kurayb told the following story...
"I saw the new moon in Damascus on
Friday. At the end of the month I arrived
in Medina. Ibn `Abbas asked me about the new moon and I said that I and
everyone else had seen it on Friday, and that everyone including
observed the fast on that day. Ibn `Abbas said that the people in
had seen the new moon on Saturday and that they were still fasting in
to complete thirty days. I asked if the witnessing of the new moon and
the fasting of Mu'awiya were not enough testimony for him. Ibn `Abbas
"No, for this is how the Prophet instructed us".
where Ibn `Abbas lived, is to the east of Damascus. That is why Ibn
had to abide by the Prophet's instructions until the new moon could be
seen on Saturday in Medina.
If the new moon is seen in any country, the people of every other
falling in the same day longitude should observe the fast on the same
There is a school of Muslim thought which considers that the people of
any country where the new moon is seen can deputize for all Muslims
in the world. Thus fasting begins with the seeing of the new moon in
country, likewise in all other countries even though the new moon might
not have been seen there.
For the fast of Ramadan to be valid,
one has to make up one's mind, or formulate the intention, during the
night of the day he will fast.
that the Prophet said : "whoever did not make up
his mind to fast before dawn, then his fast is not valid".
is an act of the heart; it is not necessary to utter it;
it is enough to harbour it. The Prophet
: "Acts are judged by the intentions prompting them".
on the hadith reported by Hafsa, al-Shukani said that it makes it
to formulate the intention to fast at any time of the night and that it
is necessary to renew the intention every day of fasting.
is essential only in the fard (obligatory fasting). It could be
during the day in the tatawwu' (i.e. voluntary) fast.