Page 70 - Islam In Focus

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Knowing what Fasting can do for man, God has enjoined, as an alternative, the fast of
three days on anyone who breaks an oath. Similarly, if someone declares his wife as
forbidden for him as his mother, - an old pre-Islamic custom, he must pay for his
carelessness and irresponsibility. To expiate for this sin he has, as an alternative, to
observe the fast of two consecutive months (Qur’ an, 2:183-185; 5:92; 58:1-4). [It is
interesting to note that expiation for breaking an earnest oath is the feeding, or
clothing of ten indigent persons. If that is not possible the offender must emancipate a
slave or ransom his freedom. If that also is not possible then the fasting of three days
is the last resort (Qur’ an, 5:92). In the case of that thoughtless use of words, that
distasteful pre-Islamic custom, the offender’ s first obligation is to emancipate a slave
or ransom his freedom. If he cannot afford that, then must observe the fast of two
consecutive months before he resumes intimacy with his wife. If he cannot fast, then
he must feed sixty needy person or distribute sixty average meals among the poor.
There are other occasions where fasting is either required or recommended to
substitute for unmanageable tasks (Qur’ an, 58:1-4; cf – 2:196)].
Who Must Fast?
The Fasting of Ramadan is compulsory upon every Muslim, male or female, who has
these qualifications:
1. To be mentally and physically fit, which means to be sane and able;
2. To be of full age, the age of puberty and discretion, which is normally about
fourteen. Children under this age should be encouraged to start this good practice on
easy levels, so when they reach the age of puberty they will be mentally and
physically prepared to observe the Fasting;
3. To be present at your permanent settlement, you home town, your farm, your
business premises, etc. This means not to be travelling on a journey of about fifty
miles or more;
4. To be fairly certain that the Fasting is unlikely to cause you any harm, physical or
mental, other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst, etc
Exemption From Fasting
These said qualifications exclude the following categories:
1. Children under the age of puberty and discretion;
2. The insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two
categories are exempted from the duty of fast, and no compensation or any other
substitute is enjoined on them;
3. Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fast and
bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer, at
least, one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person per day.
This compensation indicates that whenever they can fast even for one day of the
month, they should do so, and compensate for the rest. Otherwise they are
accountable for their negligence;
4. Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by the observance of fast.
They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and make up for it,
a day for a day;
5. People in the course of travelling of distances about fifty miles or more. In this case
such people may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it
in later days, a day for a day. But it is better for them, the Qur’ an tells, to keep the fast
if they can without causing extraordinary hardships;