What is fasting?
Literally, the word “sawm/siyam” means to
abstain or refrain from something. Technically, it
means to refrain from food, drink, sexual
intercourse, and all that which breaks the fast
from dawn to sunset, intending to do so in
obedience to Allah.
Lessons and moralities of fasting…
Allah, Most High, says,
Blessed be He in whose hand is the
Sovereignty, and He is able to do all
things. He created death and life that
He may try which of you is best in
deed. He is the Exalted in Might,oft
(Al-Mulk 67: 1-2)
Also, He says,
It is He who made the night and day
follow each other for such as have the
will to celebrate His praises or to show
(Al-Furqan 25: 62)
Life and death and the succession of the night
and day have a purpose, and that is to test us
and to give us an opportunity to express our
thanks and gratitude to our Creator and
Sustainer. The month of Ramadan comes and
goes. We must examine ourselves and see what
we can learn and achieve during this month. The
test of success of this month lies in the effects it
leaves upon us, as follows:
We learn in this month how to discipline
ourselves for the sake of Allah. In the morning
and evening, we follow a strict schedule of eating
and drinking. We are constantly aware that even
in such mundane activities as eating and drinking,
we must remain under divine injunctions. We
change our habits in our daily routine because we
learn that we are not the servants and slaves to
our habits, but always the servants of Allah. Then
after Ramadan, we should keep this spirit of
discipline in other modes of our life and must
continue with our submission to the commands of
b)Renewal of Devotional Life
Ramadan renews our enthusiasm to worship
and be devoted to Allah. In this month we are
more careful of our daily prayers and perform
special prayers at night. There is no religion
without prayer and Muslims learn in this month
how to strengthen and deepen their religious life.
c)Renewal of Our Contact with the Qur’an
Ramadan and the Qur’an are linked together
from the beginning. It was in this month that this
divine message was revealed to Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
Fasting prepares the believers’ hearts to learn the
Word of Allah. It is the most suitable condition for
our spiritual and mental communication with the
Qur’an. The Muslim Ummah (nation) pays more
attention to the Qur’an in this month. This
renewed contact with the Qur’an helps us to
follow its message..
d)Renewal of Our Identity with the Ummah
Ramadan is not only an individual experience,
but it is a community experience as well. The
whole Muslim Ummah fasts together in one and
the same month. We identify with one another in
our obedience to Allah. This gives us a new sense
of togetherness and association. Ramadan
teaches us that the Muslim Ummah is the
community of piety and being devoted to Allah
and its members derive their strength from each
other through deeds of piety and virtue. The
bonds that are based on piety and virtue are the
strongest bonds and it is these bonds that prove
good for mankind. The strength of the Muslim
community lies in its commitment to the values of
goodness, morality and piety. Ramadan leaves an
imprint of all these values upon the Muslim
e) A Fresh Sense of Care and Sympathy
Fasting in the month of Ramadan helps us to
understand the suffering and the pains of the poor
and needy. By our voluntary hunger and thirst we
realize what it means to be deprived of the basic
necessities of life. Ramadan is called the month of
charity and sympathy. We learn how to be more
kind and generous in this month. Many Muslims
also pay their Zakah in the month of Ramadan.
f) Jihad or Struggle
Fasting in Ramadan and Jihad, both of them,
were prescribed in the same year, that is, the
second year of Hijrah in Madinah. Fasting
prepares one for hardships and sacrifice. These
are two important points without which Jihad is
not possible. Muslims learn in Ramadan how to
struggle against the forces of evil in their own
selves, in the society around them, and in the
world at large.
To summarize all the moral and spiritual gifts
of Ramadan, we can say that Ramadan gives us
the great gift of taqwa (piety). Taqwa is the
overall result of an Islamic life. It is the highest
virtue in Islam. It means God-consciousness,
piety, fear and awe of Allah and it signifies
submission to Allah and total commitment to all
that is good, and rejection of all that is evil and
3. Who should fast?
Fasting during the month of Ramadan is
obligatory upon every Muslim, male or female,
who fulfills these specifications:
a) To be mentally and physically fit, which means
to be sane and able.
b) To be of full age, the age of puberty and
discretion, which is normally about fourteen.
Children under this age should be encouraged
c) To be resident, not to be traveling (on a
journey of about 50 miles or more).
d) In case of women, to be free from menses
(hayd) and post-birth bleeding (nifas).
4. Those exempted from fasting
a) The insane
b) Children under the age of puberty
c) The elderly and the chronically ill for whom
fasting is unbearable. A person, in this
category, is required to feed one poor person
for every day he does not fast in Ramadan.
d) Pregnant women and nursing mothers who
fear that fasting may endanger their lives or
health, or those of their fetuses or babies.
According to Malik, she is treated like those in
category C above. According to Abu Hanifah,
she should make up for the days she does not
e) People in the course of traveling. They should
make up for the days they do not fast later.
f) Women during the period of menstruation or
post-child birth confinement. They should
make up for the days they do not fast later.
5. Requirements for the validity of fasting
a) Abstaining from food,drink,smoking,and
sexual intercourse with one’s wife from dawn
to sunset each day in Ramadan.
b)Having the correct intention, i.e., intending to
fast the month of Ramadan in compliance with
6. Sunnan (desirable acts) of fasting
a) To take a night meal (Suhuur) as close to the
time of Fajr as possible.
b) To break the fast as soon as one is sure that
the sun has set.
c) To say the du`aa’ that the Prophet (peace and
blessings be upon him) used to say at Iftar
(the time one breaks one’s fast).
d) To avoid any act that is contradictory to
e) To do good deeds: give charity, tarawih,
Qur’an, dhikr, etc.
8. Acts which do not invalidate the fast
c)Kissing one’s wife or husband if he/she is able
to control himself/herself
d)Rinsing:rinsing the mouth or nostrils with
water provided that it is not overdone
e)Swallowing unavoidable things such as one’s
h)Smelling flowers or wearing perfumes, etc.
i)Experiencing a wet dream
j)Eating or drinking due to forgetfulness
9. Types of fasting
First: Obligatory: That is the fasting of the
month of Ramadan.
a) Fasting on `Eidul-Fitr or `Eidul-Adha
b) Fasting the days of Tashreeq: 2nd, 3rd, and 4th
days of `Eidul-Adha
c) The wife’s optional fast in the presence of her
husband without his consent
Third: Desirable Fasting
a) Fasting 6 days during the month of Shawwal
b) Fasting the day of `Arafah, 9th of Dhul Hijjah,
provided that the person is not offering Hajj
c) Fasting the 10th of Muhrram, and if possible
the 9th and the 11th of the same month as
d) Fasting as many days as possible during the
month of Sha`ban
e) Fasting during the months of Ragab, Dhul
Qi`dah, Dhul Hijjah
f) Fasting on Mondays and Thursdays
g) Fasting the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every lunar
These are some of the important manners and etiquette of Fasting
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