Friday, 17 June 2011

Fasting – A Great Act of Worship

Fasting – A Great Act of Worship

Fasting – A Great Act of

From Islamic Newsletter 'As-Sunnah'
Issue no: 9

Adapted from the book
‘Fasting - A great Act of Worship’ by Shaikh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-Uthaimeen
and translated by Dr. Abdullah al-Farsi.


The Virtues of Ramadaan

Allah says: “O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you
as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become Muttaqoon
(the pious).”
[Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 183] Fasting is a great act of
worship, if it was not then Allah, the All Wise would not have made it
obligatory on all nations.

Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) narrates: “The Messenger
of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “When the month of Ramadaan
starts, the gates of Jannah (Paradise) are opened and the gates of Hell are
closed, and Satans are chained.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 3, no: 123 and
Saheeh Muslim no: 2361 and 2362]

The gates of Jannah are opened as an encouragement for
those who seek rewards from Allah and perform righteous deeds. Likewise, the
gates of Hell are closed, since less sins are committed in this sacred month
and the Shaytaan is chained in order to prevent him from misleading the people
and attracting them to sinful acts.

Amongst the virtues of fasting is that it is
an atonement of sins. Narrated Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) that the
Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “He who observed the
fasts of the month of Ramadaan out of sincerity and hoping for the reward from
Allah, he will have his past sins forgiven.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 3,
no: 125]

Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) reported a Qudsi Hadeeth:
“Allah says: “All the deeds of Adam's children belong to them, except
fasting, which belongs to Me, and I will reward it. Fasting is a shield
(against the Hell and sins). If one of you happens to be fasting then he
should avoid sexual relations with his wife, and should avoid quarreling. If
someone quarrels with him, let him say: 'I am fasting.' By Him in Whose Hand
is my soul, the smell of the mouth of a fasting person is better in the Sight
of Allah than the musk.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 118) and Saheeh
Muslim (no: 2567)]

In this Hadeeth, Allah distinguished the sincere fast from
all good deeds and He favored the fast to be greatly rewarded. Fasting is
called a shield against Hell Fire because it protects the fasting person from
shameful and unjust deeds, which in turn defend him from the Hell-Fire.

Fasting is a praiseworthy act, which carries two occasions
of joy for the believer; one while he breaks his fast and enjoys the bounties
of Allah, i.e. he was favored with the Mercy of Allah and granted the ability
to fast and worship him, while others were deprived from this blessing. The
second is when he will meet his Lord and enjoy the abundant rewards of
fasting. Another virtue of fasting is its intercession on the Day of Judgement.

The Wisdom behind Fasting:

Fasting is a great act of worship, which a Muslim performs by avoiding
all his desires, solely to please His Lord, while hoping for His Mercy and
Rewards. Fasting proves the slave’s great love for Allah and devotion to Him,
because man by nature is desirous and he only prevents his desires and
cherished acts to acquire something better and more esteemed.

Fasting is a means of attaining Taqwa (piety) and
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
said: “He who does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah does not
need his refraining from eating and drinking.” [Saheeh Muslim (no: 2486)]
Thus, one who fasts refrains from all evil deeds and he is more inclined and
receptive to the Words of Allah and His Commandments, which make it easy for
him to become pious and devout to Allah.

A rich man’s fast is more appreciated because even though
all the means and food present with him, he abstain from them following the
Command of Allah and suffers the hardships faced by the poor and the needy.
This helps him maintain humbleness and motivates him to help those in need;
thus fasting prevents pride and egoism.

Apart from these spiritual benefits, fasting also includes
various health benefits; it reduces the intake of food and relaxes the
digesting system. Indeed, Great is the wisdom of Allah, and great are His

When does fasting begin?

Allah says: “So whoever of you sights (the crescent of the first
night of) the month (of Ramadaan), he must fast that month.”
[Soorah al-Baqarah
(2): 185]

Fasting begins upon sighing the new moon. However, it is
not incumbent on every individual to sight the new moon. If a trustworthy
Muslim testifies the sighting of the new moon, then everybody should observe

Abu Hurayrah (radhi allahu anhu) narrated: “A bedouin came
to the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) and reported: “O
Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam), I have seen the new moon of
Ramadaan.” Thereupon, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) asked the man:
“Do you bear witness that ‘Laa ilaha illa Allah.’” (i.e. there is no
god worthy of worship except Allah)?” “I do.” said the bedouin. The Prophet (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) further asked him whether he testifies that Muhammad (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) is the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). The
bedouin affirmed that too. Thereupon, the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
asked Bilaal (radhi allahu anhu) to announce the beginning of Ramadaan.” [Sunan
Abu Dawood no: 2333 and 2334. It is weak according to Shaikh al-Albanee]

Ibn Umar (radhi allahu anhu) also confirmed the practice of
sighting the new moon, saying: “The people were seeking the new moon. Having
sighted it myself, I reported to the Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam). He
began his fast and ordered the people to begin theirs, too.” [Sunan Abu Dawood
no: 2335 (saheeh)]

He who sights the new moon of Ramadaan must
inform those in authority in the Muslim government or community. Once the
Muslim government announces the beginning of Ramadaan upon the sighting of the
new moon, it becomes incumbent on all Muslims to begin their fasts.

Astronomical calculations should not be relied upon,
as the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) clearly commanded to
initiate fasting on seeing the new moon and not upon astronomical
calculations. If it becomes difficult to see the moon due to bad weather
conditions, then the Muslims may complete the month of Shabaan, i.e. 30 days
of the month preceding Ramadaan, and then initiate their fasts. He (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Fast when it (the moon) is seen and cease fasting
when it is seen, so if it is concealed by clouds, then complete thirty days of
Shabaan.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 4 no: 106) and Saheeh Muslim (no: 1081)]

It is not permissible to fast a day or two before
assuming that it might be Ramadaan. Abu Hurayrah (radhi
allahu anhu) reported that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam)
said: “None of you should start Ramadaan by fasting a day or two before it,
except for a man fasting his usual fast, then let him fast that day.” [Saheeh
al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 138)]

Who should fast and who should not?

Fasting is obligatory on every sane, mature and healthy Muslim. Young
children are encouraged to fast. [Saheeh al-Bukharee vol: 3, no: 181] Exempted
are those who suffer terminal illnesses, or are too old to fast. Allah does
not overburden His slaves.

Permission to abstain from fasting is granted to
those travelers, who do not travel for the purpose of breaking fasts. Although
it is permissible to break one’s fast during travel, it is praiseworthy to
maintain the fast if no hardships are imposed. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) was asked about fasting on a journey, he replied: “Fast
if you wish and break it if you wish.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no:
164) and Saheeh Muslim (no: 2487)]

Ibn Abbas (radhi allahu anhu) said: “Do not condemn one who
observes fast, or one who does not observe it (in a journey), for the
Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) observed fast in a journey or
he did not observe it (too).” [Saheeh Muslim (no: 2471)]

In any case, travelers should make up the missed days, once
Ramadaan is over and they are back home.

As for those whose sickness does
not allow them to fast, they fall into three categories:

a) If fasting does not impose hardships and does not
harm, then it is better to fast.

b) If fasting is hard but not harmful, then he is permitted to break
his fast.

c) If fasting is harmful for him, then he is ordered to abstain from
fasting, because Allah says: “Do not kill yourselves.” [Soorah an-Nisa (4):
29] “Do not throw yourselves into destruction.” [Soorah al-Baqarah (2): 195]

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:
“There is (to be) no harm or reciprocating harm.” [(saheeh) Musnad
Ahmad, Ibn Majah (Saheeh al-Jami as-Sagheer no: 7517)]

Missed days must be made up as soon as Ramadaan is
over and one is healthy again:

Women: During menstrual period or the post-natal bleeding, women
should abstain from fasting. [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 172)]. They must
make up their missed days as soon as the fasting month is over. The pregnant
or breast feeding women, whose health or the health of the suckling baby might
be effected due to fasting, should break her fast and make up the missed days

Mujahid: It is also recommended for those who engage in
combat in the Way of Allah to break their fasts. The Prophet (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) once commanded his companions: “You are going to meet your
enemy in the morning, abstaining from fasting is better for your strength, so
break your fast.” [Saheeh Muslim (no: 2486)]

Praiseworthy Etiquettes of Fasting

(A) Suhoor:
The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Take (the meal of) Suhoor because there is
blessing in it.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 146) and Saheeh Muslim
(2412)]. Even drinking a cup of water instead of a meal for Suhoor has
blessings, since taking Suhoor implies obeying the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) and following his Sunnah. Besides, Suhoor also adds to the
physical health with the essential nutrition and strength required to fast.
[see Fatawah as-Siyaam, p.40]

(B) Iftaar:
Breaking the fast as soon as the
sun sets. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The
people will not cease to be upon good as long as they hasten in breaking their
[Saheeh al-Bukharee 4/173 & Saheeh Muslim 1093]

(C) Invoking Allah upon breaking fast.


The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said:
“Indeed, there is for the fasting person, when he breaks his fast, a
supplication which is not rejected.” [(Saheeh) - Ibn Majah (1/557) ]



"Dhahabadh dhama’u wabtallatil ‘urooqu wa thabatal ajru
insha Allah"

“The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and the
reward is certain, Insha’Allah.”

[Abu Dawood (2/306)]

(D) Reciting the Qur'aan as much as possible during
the month of Ramadaan.

Practices which Break the Fast

- Sexual
intercourse in the daytime. The willful violation of the fast by this practice
requires the fast of sixty consecutive days in order to make up the day. [Saheeh
al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 57) and Saheeh Muslim (no: 2457)]

- Willful ejaculation by means of kissing and caressing, etc. Wet dreams and
unintentional ejaculation do not break the fast.

- Eating, drinking, smoking or taking any food substitutes such as receiving
blood, glucose, or IV. substances during the fast.

4 - Intentional vomiting.

- Menstrual bleeding. [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 172)] Regardless of the
time when the menses begins. The same rule applies to the post-natal

NOTE: Days in which the above 2 to 5 points
take place are to be made up a day for a day once Ramadaan is over.

Applying Kohl (surmah),
eye, ear or nose drops

do not break the fast because they are neither
food nor its substitute. Wearing perfumes, using the Siwaak or toothbrush
without toothpaste do not break the fast, since it has been reported that the
Prophet (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) used to do so. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) said: “The siwaak is a means of cleansing the mouth and
pleasing the Lord.”
[Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer (no: 3695)]

NOTE: It should be mentioned here that using toothbrush with
toothpaste in the fast is disliked.

Actions that should be
avoided while Fasting:

Carelessness in performing other acts of worship:
Performing the other
acts of worship and duties is most important and Salaat is of specific
importance, because without it no act of worship is accepted by Allah.

Not praying in
Praying in congregation is a great aspect in our religion,
thus everyone must attend the prayer. It is reward twenty-seven times greater
than the prayer performed individually. [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 1, no:
618)]. Once, the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) was about to
burn the houses of those who did not attend the congregational prayers. This
was due to the gravity of their sin. [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 1, no: 17) and
Saheeh Muslim (no: 1369)]

Regularly attending the congregational prayer is directed to men; the best
place for a woman is to pray is her house. The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu
alaihi wa-sallam) said: “Do not prevent your women (from going to) the
Masjid, but their houses are better for them.”
[(saheeh) Musnad Ahmad, Abu
Dawood, al-Haakim, Saheeh al-Jaami as-Sagheer no: 7458]

Bad behavior
such as lying, cheating, music, backbiting, slandering, etc. The Messenger of
Allah (sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) said: “No slanderer shall enter
[Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 8, no: 82) and Saheeh Muslim (no:
180)] and: “There will exist in my Ummah those who will deem unlawful
things lawful (such as) fornication, silk for men, intoxicating beverages and
musical instruments.”
[Saheeh al-Bukharee 7/494)]

In a Fatawah (religious
the Shaikh further explains that the fasting of a person who
engages in forbidden speech is not invalidated, but its rewards are
diminished. The gravity of his sin(s) might be so immense that it outstrips
all the rewards for his fast. [Fatawah as-Siyaam]

The Virtues of the Last
Ten Days of Ramadaan
It has been reported that the Messenger of Allah
(sallallahu alaihi wa-sallam) worshiped Allah more in the last ten days of
Ramadaan. [Saheeh al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 241), and Saheeh Muslim (no:

He used to awaken his family
in the night so that they may not loose the benefit of these blessed nights. [Saheeh
al-Bukharee (vol: 3, no: 241) and Saheeh Muslim (no: 2643)]

It is also reported that he
used to make Itikhaaf by spending the last ten days in the Masjid. [Saheeh al-Bukharee
(vol: 3, no: 242) and Saheeh Muslim (no:2636)

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