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Sheikh Muhammad Salih Al‐Munajjid
First Edition, 1425/2004
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ﻢﻴﺧﺮﻟﺍ ﻦﲪﺮﻟﺍ ﷲﺍ ﻢﺴﺑ
Praise be to Allaah, we praise Him and seek His help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allaah from the evil of our own selves and from our evil deeds. Whomsoever Allaah guides cannot be misled, and whomsoever He leaves astray cannot be guided. I bear witness that there is no god except Allaah alone, with no partner or associate, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.
Allaah has blessed His slaves by assigning for them certain seasons of goodness in which hasanaat (rewards for good deeds) are multiplied, sayyi`aat (bad deeds) are forgiven, people’s statuses are raised and the hearts of believers turn to their Master. Those who purify themselves attain success and those who corrupt themselves fail. Allaah has created His slaves to worship Him, as He says:
“And I (Allaah) created not the jinns and humans except that they should worship Me (Alone).” [Surah adh‐Dhaariyaat 51:56]
One of the greatest acts of worship is fasting, which Allaah has made obligatory on His slaves. He () says:
“Observing al‐siyaam (the fast) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al‐muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:183]
Allaah encourages His slaves to fast:
“… And that you fast, is better for you, if only you know.” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:184]
He guides them to give thanks to Him for having made fasting obligatory on them:
“… that you should magnify Allaah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:185]
He has made fasting dear to people and has made it easy for them so that they do not find it too difficult to give up their habits and what they are accustomed to. Allaah says:
“…for a fixed number of days…” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:184]
He has mercy on them and keeps them away from difficulties and harm, as He says:
“… but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days…” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:184]
It is no wonder then that in this month, the hearts of the believers turn to their Most Merciful Lord, fearing Him above them, and hope to attain His reward and the great victory [of Paradise].
As the status of this act of worship is so high, it is essential to learn the ahkaam (rulings) pertaining to this month of fasting so that Muslims will know what is obligatory in order to do it, what is haraam (forbidden) in order to avoid it, and what is permissible so that they do not unnecessarily subject themselves to any hardship by depriving themselves from it.
This book is a summary of the rulings, etiquette and Sunnah of fasting. May Allaah make it of benefit to me and my Muslim brothers. Praise be to Allaah, Lord of the Worlds.
The Definition of Siyaam (Fasting)
(1) Linguistically, siyaam in Arabic means abstinence. In Islamic terminology, it means abstaining from things that break the fast, from dawn until sunset, having first made the intention (niyyah) to do so.
The Ruling concerning Fasting
(2) The Ummah (Islamic nation) is in agreement to the fact that fasting the month of Ramadan is obligatory, the evidence for which is in the Qur`aan and Sunnah. Allaah () says:
“O you who believe! Observing al‐sawn (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al‐muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:183]
The Prophet () said:
“Islam is built on five [pillars]…”1
…among which he mentioned fasting in Ramadan.2
Whoever breaks the fast during Ramadan without a legitimate excuse has committed a serious major sin, The Prophet () said when describing a dream that he had seen:
“…until I was at a mountain where I heard loud voices. I asked, ‘What are these voices?’ They said, ‘This is the howling of the people of Hellfire.’ Then I was taken [to another place], and I saw people hanging from their hamstrings with the corners of their mouths torn and dripping with blood. I said, ‘Who are these?’ They said, ‘The people who broke their fast before it was the proper time to do so (i.e., before the time of breaking fast).’ ”3
2 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, al‐Fat’h, 1/49.
Al‐Haafidh al‐Dhahabi (may Allaah have mercy on him) said,
“Among the believers it is well‐established that whoever does not fast in Ramadan without a valid excuse is worse than an adulterer or drunkard; they doubt whether he is even a Muslim at all, and they regard him as a heretic and profligate.”
Shaykh al‐Islam [Ibn Taymiyyah] (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:
“If a person does not fast in Ramadan knowing that it is haraam but making it halaal (permissible) for himself to do so, he must be executed; and if he does it because he is immoral [but believes it is haraam (impermissible)], then he must be punished for not fasting.”4
The Virtues of Fasting
(3) The virtues of fasting are great indeed, and one of the things reported in authentic (saheeh) ahaadeeth is that Allaah has chosen fasting for Himself, and He will reward it and multiply the reward without measure, as He says [in a Hadeeth Qudsi5]:
“Except for fasting which is only for My sake, and I will reward him for it.”6
3 Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/420.
4 Majmoo’ al‐Fataawaaa, 25/265.
5 Hadeeth Qudsi: a hadeeth which the Prophet () narrates from Allah exactly what He said. It differs from the Qur`an in that it is not recited, and it differs from a regular hadeeth in that the words themselves are revealed and not just the meanings.
6 Al‐Bukhaari, al‐Fat’h, no. 1904; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/407.
‐ Fasting has no equal7, and the du‘aa (supplication) of the fasting person will not be refused.8
‐ The fasting person has two moments of joy: one when he breaks his fast, and one when he meets his Lord and rejoices over his fasting9.
‐ Fasting will intercede for a person on the Day of Judgment and will say,
“O Lord, I prevented him from his food and physical desires during the day, so let me intercede for him.”10
‐ The smell that comes from the mouth of a fasting person is more beloved to Allaah than the scent of musk.11
‐ Fasting is a protection and a strong fortress that keeps a person safe from the Fire.12
‐ Whoever fasts one day for the sake of Allaah, Allaah will distance him from the Fire a distance of seventy years from the Fire.13
‐ Whoever fasts one day seeking the pleasure of Allaah, if that is the last day of his life, he will enter Paradise.14
‐ “In Paradise there is a gate called al‐Rayyaan through which those who fast will enter, and no one will enter through it except them; when they have entered it will be locked, and no‐one else will enter through it.”15
7 Al‐Nasaa`i, 4/165; Saheeh at‐Targheeb, 1/413.
8 Reported by al‐Bayhaqi, 3/345; al‐Silsilat al‐Saheehah, 1797.
9 Reported by Muslim, 2/807.
10 Reported by Ahmad, 2/174. Al‐Haythami classed its isnaad as hasan in al‐Majma’, 3/181. See also Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/411.
11 Muslim, 2/807.
12 Reported by Ahmad, 2/402; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/411; Saheeh al‐Jaami’, 3880.
13 Reported by Muslim, 2/808.
14 Reported by Ahmad, 5/391; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/412.
15 Al‐Bukhaari, Fath, no. 1797.
‐ Ramadan is a pillar of Islam, the Qur`aan was revealed in this month, and in it there is a night that is better than a thousand months.
‐ “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.”16
‐ Fasting Ramadan is equivalent to fasting ten months.17
‐ “Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and with the hope of (Allah’s) reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” 18
‐ With the breaking of every fast, Allaah will choose people to free from Hellfire.19
The Benefits of Fasting
(4) There is much wisdom and numerous benefits in fasting which relate to the taqwaa Allah mentioned in the aayah (verse):
“…that you may become al‐muttaqoon (the pious).” [Surah al‐Baqarah 2:183]
The interpretation of this aayah is that if a person refrains from halaal things hoping to gain the pleasure of Allaah and out of fear of His punishment, it will be easier for him to refrain from doing haraam things.
When a person’s stomach is empty and he is hungry, many of his other faculties are kept from feeling hunger or desires; but when his stomach is satisfied, his tongue, eyes, hands and private parts start to feel hunger. Fasting leads to the defeat of Shaytaan; it controls desires and protects one’s faculties.
16 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, al‐Fat’h, no. 3277.
17 See Musnad Ahmad, 5/280; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/421.
18 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, Fath, no. 37.
19 Reported by Ahmad, 5/256; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/419.
When the fasting person feels the pangs of hunger, he experiences how the poor feel, thus he feels compassion towards them and gives them something to ward off their hunger. Hearing about them is not the same as sharing their suffering, just as a rider does not understand the hardship of walking until he gets down and walks.
Fasting trains the person to avoid desires and to keep away from sin; it helps a person to overcome his own nature and to wean himself away from bad habits. It also trains a person to get used to being organized and punctual, which will solve the problem that many people have of being disorganized, if only they realized.
Fasting is also a demonstration of the unity of the Muslims, as the Ummah (Islamic nation) fasts and breaks its fast all at the same time.
Fasting also provides a great opportunity for those who are calling others to Allaah. In this month many people come to the mosque for the first time, and also those who have not been to the mosque for a long time, and their hearts are open, so we must make the most of this opportunity by preaching in a gentle manner, teaching appropriate lessons and speaking beneficial words, whilst also cooperating in righteousness and good deeds. The teacher should not be so preoccupied with others though that he forgets his own soul and becomes like a candle that lights the way for others while it is itself consumed.
The Etiquettes and Sunan of Fasting
Some aspects of fasting are obligatory (fard) and others are recommended (mustahab).
We should make sure that we eat and drink something at suhoor (the time before dawn), and that we delay it until just before the adhaan of Fajr. The Prophet () said:
“Have suhoor, for in suhoor there is blessing (barakah).”20
“Suhoor is blessed food, and it involves being different from the people of the Book. What a good suhoor for the believer is dates.”21
One should not delay iftaar (breakfast after dusk), because the Prophet () said:
“The people remain upon goodness so long as they do not delay iftaar.” 22
A person should break his fast in the manner described in the hadeeth narrated by Anas ():
“The Prophet () used to break his fast with fresh dates before praying; if fresh dates were not available, he would eat (dried) dates; if dried dates were not available, he would have a few sips of water.”23
After iftaar, it is Sunnah to recite the words reported in the hadeeth narrated by Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with them both), according to which the Prophet (), when he broke his fast, would say:
“Dhahaba adh‐dhama´, wabtallat il‐‘urooq, wa thabat al‐ajru in shaa Allaah (The thirst has gone, the veins are flowing again, and the reward is confirmed, in shaa Allaah).”24
20 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, Fat’h, 4/139.
21 Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 2345; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/448.
22 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, Fat’h, 4/198.
23 Reported by al‐Tirmidhi, 3/79 and others. He said it is a ghareeb hasan hadeeth. Classed as saheeh in al‐Irwaa´, no. 922.
24 Reported by Abu Dawood, 2/765; its isnaad was classed as hasan by al‐Daaraqutni, 2/185.
Keeping away from sin, because the Prophet () said:
“When any of you is fasting, let him not commit any sin…” 25
The Prophet () said:
“Whoever does not stop speaking falsehood and acting in accordance with it, Allaah has no need of him giving up his food and drink.” (Al‐Bukhaari, al‐Fat’h, no. 1903)
The fasting person should avoid all kinds of haraam actions, such as backbiting, obscenity and lying, otherwise his reward may all be lost. The Prophet () said:
“It may be that a fasting person gets nothing from his fast except hunger.”26
Among the things that can destroy one’s hasanaat (good deeds) and cause sayi`aat (bad deeds) to be recorded is allowing oneself to be distracted by quiz‐shows, soap operas, movies and sports matches, idle gatherings, hanging about in the streets with evil people and time‐wasters, driving around for no purpose, and crowding the streets and sidewalks. The month of tahajjud, dhikr and worship for many people becomes a month in which they sleep during the day – so as to avoid feeling hunger – and spend their nights in entertainment and indulging in their desires. This further causes them to miss their prayers and the opportunity to pray them in congregation. Some people even greet this month with feelings of annoyance, thinking only of the pleasures they will miss out on. In Ramadan, some people even travel to the lands of the disbelievers to enjoy a holiday! Even the mosques are not free from such evils, as women also attend wearing makeup and perfume. Even the Sacred House of Allaah (Ka’bah) is not free of these ills. Some people make this month a season for begging, even though they are not in need. Some entertain themselves with dangerous fireworks and the like, and some of them waste their time in the markets, wandering around the shops, or having new clothes stitched and following fashions. Some shop owners introduce new products and new styles in their stores during the last ten days of the month, thus keeping people away from earning rewards and hasanaat.
25 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, al‐Fat’h, no. 1904.
26 Reported by Ibn Maajah, 1/539; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/453.
A person should not allow himself to be provoked, because the Prophet () said:
“If someone fights him or insults him, he should say, ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.’ ”27
One reason for this is to remind himself, and the other reason is to remind the one who is provoking him. But anyone who looks at the conduct of many of those who fast will see something quite different. It is essential to exercise self‐control and be calm, but we see the opposite among the crazy drivers who speed up when they hear the adhaan for Maghrib.
A person should not overeat, because the Prophet () said:
“The son of Adam fills no vessel worse than his stomach.”28
The wise person lives not to eat, but rather, eats to live. The best type of food is that which is there to be used, not that which is there to be served. People indulge in making all kinds of food (during Ramadan) and treating food preparation as a virtual art form, and thus housewives and servants spend all their time on making food. This keeps them away from worship, and people spend far more on food during Ramadan than they ordinarily do. Thus the month becomes the month of indigestion, obesity and gastric illness in which people eat like gluttons and drink like thirsty camels. When they stand to pray Taraaweeh (the night prayer in Ramadan) they do so reluctantly, and some of them leave after the first two rak‘ahs.
27 Reported by al‐Bukhaari and others. Al‐Fat’h, no. 1894.
28 Reported by al‐Tirmidhi, no. 2380; he said, this is a hasan saheeh hadeeth.
A person should increase in his generosity by sharing knowledge, giving charity, using one’s position of authority or physical strength to help others, and having a good attitude. Al‐Bukhaari and Muslim reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas () said:
“The Messenger of Allaah () was the most generous of people [in doing good], and he was most generous of all in Ramadan when Jibreel met with him; he used to meet him every night in Ramadan and teach him the Qur`aan. The Messenger of Allaah () was more generous in doing good than a blowing wind.”29
How can people prefer stinginess to generosity and laziness to action to the extent that they do not do their work nor treat one another properly, and they use fasting as an excuse for all this?!
Combining fasting with feeding the poor is one of the means of attaining Paradise, as the Prophet () said:
“In Paradise there are rooms whose outside can be seen from the inside and the inside can be seen from the outside. Allaah has prepared them for those who feed the poor, those who are gentle in speech, those who fast regularly, and those who pray at night when people are asleep.”30
The Prophet () said:
“Whoever gives food to a fasting person with which to break his fast, he will have the reward equal to his (the fasting person), without it detracting in the slightest from the reward of the fasting person.”31
29 Reported by al‐Bukhaari, al‐Fat’h, no. 6.
30 Reported by Ahmad 5/343; Ibn Khuzaymah, no. 2137. Al‐Albaani said in his footnote, its isnaad is hasan because of other corroborating reports.
31 Reported by al‐Tirmidhi, 3/171; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/451.
Shaykh al‐Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, “What is meant is that he should feed him until he is satisfied.” 32
A number of the Salaf33 (may Allaah have mercy on them) preferred the poor over themselves when breaking their fast at the time of iftaar. Among these were ‘Abd‐Allaah ibn ‘Umar, Maalik ibn Deenaar, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others. ‘Abd‐Allaah ibn ‘Umar would not break his fast unless there were orphans and poor people with him.
What should be done in this Great Month
Prepare yourselves and your environment for worship [by doing the following]:
‐ Hasten to repent and turn back to Allaah.
‐ Rejoice at the onset of this month.
‐ Fast properly.
‐ Have the correct frame of mind and fear Allaah when praying Taraaweeh.
‐ Do not become tired during the middle34 ten days of the month.
‐ Seek Laylat al‐Qadr.
‐ Read the entire Qur`aan repetitively, try to weep, and try to understand what you are reading.
32 Al‐Ikhtiyaaraat al‐Fiqhiyyah, p. 109.
33 Salaf: Our pious predecessors, particularly those of the first three generations. (Editor)
34 Usually people start off the month with great enthusiasm, and also spend the last ten days in worship due to its great merits. As a result, people may feel apathetic during the middle of the month. (Editor)
‐ ‘Umrah during Ramadan is equivalent to Hajj [performed with the Prophet ()].
‐ Charity given during this virtuous time is multiplied.
‐ I’tikaaf (retreat in the mosque for worship) is a confirmed Sunnah of the Prophet ().
‐ There is nothing wrong with congratulating one another at the beginning of the month. The Prophet () used to tell his Companions the good news of the onset of Ramadan and urge them to make the most of it. Abu Hurayrah () said:
“The Messenger of Allaah () said, ‘There has come to you Ramadan, a blessed month. Allaah has made it obligatory on you to fast (this month). During it, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are locked, and the devils are chained up. In it there is a night that is better than a thousand months, and whoever is deprived of its goodness has indeed been deprived.’ ”35
Some Rulings concerning Fasting
(6) One kind of fasting is that which must be done on consecutive days, such as the fast of Ramadan, fasting in expiation for killing someone by mistake, divorcing one’s wife by dhihaar36, or having intercourse during the day in Ramadan. Also, one who makes a vow to fast consecutive days must fulfill it.
Another kind of fasting is that which does not have to be done on consecutive days, such as making up days missed in Ramadan, fasting ten days if one does not have a sacrifice [in Hajj], fasting for breaking an sworn oath (according to the majority), fasting to compensate for violating the conditions of ihraam (according to the most correct opinion), and fasting in fulfillment of a vow in cases where one did not have the intention of fasting consecutive days.
35 Reported by al‐Nasaa`i, 4/129; Saheeh al‐Targheeb, 1/490.
36 A jaahili form of divorce in which a man says to his wife, “You are to me as the back of my mother” – Translator.
(7) Voluntary fasts make up for shortcomings in the obligatory fasts. Examples of voluntary fasts include ‘Aashooraa´, the Day of ‘Arafah (for those not performing Hajj), Ayyaam al‐Beed37, Mondays and Thursdays, six days of Shawwaal, and the specifics fasts of Muharram and Sha’baan.
(8) It is not permitted to single out Friday for fasting38 or to fast on a Saturday unless it is an obligatory fast39. What is intended here is singling it out without there being a valid reason. It is not permitted to fast for an entire lifetime, or to fast for two days or more without a break (i.e., to fast two or three days [straight] without breaking one’s fast each day after Maghrib).
It is haraam to fast on the two Eid days or on the Ayyaam al‐Tashreeq ‐ the 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhu’l‐Hijjah, ‐ for these are days of eating, drinking and remembering Allaah. It is permissible though for pilgrims performing Hajj to fast them (Ayyaam al‐Tashreeq) in Minaa if they do not have a sacrifice to offer.
How is the Onset of Ramadan Determined?
(9) The onset of Ramadan is confirmed by the sighting of the new moon or by the completion of thirty days of Sha’baan. Whoever sees the crescent of the new moon or hears about it from a trustworthy source is obliged to fast.
37 The 13th, 14th and 15th days of each Hijri month – Translator.
38 Al‐Bukhaari, Fat’h al‐Baari, no. 1985.
39 Reported and classed as hasan by al‐Tirmidhi, 3/111.
Using calculations to determine the onset of Ramadan is a bid‘ah (innovation), because the hadeeth of the Prophet () clearly states:
“Fast when you see it (the new moon) and break your fast when you see it.” 40
If an adult, sane, trustworthy, reliable Muslim who has good eyesight says that he has seen the crescent with his own eyes, then we should take his word for it and act accordingly (i.e., start fasting).
Who is Obligated to Fast?
(10) Fasting is an obligation on every adult, sane, resident [i.e., not traveling] Muslim who is able to fast and has nothing to prevent him or her from doing so, such as menstruation or postpartum bleeding.
A person is deemed to have reached adulthood when any one of the following three things occur:
1) emission of semen, whether in a wet dream or otherwise;
2) growth of coarse pubic hair around the private parts;
3) attainment of fifteen years of age.
In the case of females, there is a fourth, namely menstruation. When a girl reaches menarche (starts her periods), she is obliged to fast even if she has not yet reached the age of ten.
(11) Children should be instructed to fast at the age of seven if they are able to, and some scholars said that as in the case of Salaah, a child may be physically disciplined at the age of ten if he does not fast.41 Children will be rewarded for fasting, and their parents will be rewarded for bringing them up properly and guiding them to do righteous deeds. Al‐Rubayyi’ bint Mu‘awwidh () said, speaking about Ramadan when it was made obligatory:
40 Muslim. (Editor)
41 See al‐Mughni, 3/90.
“We used to make our children fast, and we would make them a toy made out of wool. If any one of them started to cry for food, we would give them that toy to play with until it was time to break the fast.”42
Some people do not think that it is important to instruct their children to fast. Indeed a child may be enthusiastic about fasting and may be capable of doing it, but his father or mother may tell him not to fast out of so‐called “pity” for him. They do not realize that true pity and compassion consist of helping him to become accustomed to fasting. Allaah says:
“O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the Commands they receive from Allaah, but do that which they are commanded.” [Surah al‐Tahreem 66:6]
Extra attention must be given to the matter of girls when they have just reached the age of maturity, for they may fast during their menses out of shyness without making up their fasts later.
(12) If a kaafir (non‐Muslim) becomes Muslim, if a child reaches puberty, or if an insane person comes to his senses during the day, they should refrain from eating until dusk, for they are now among those who are