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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 7

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The Islamic Bulletin

Issue 7






In Arabic, fasting means abstinence from doing something. According

to religious scholars, it is an abstinence from food, drink, and sexual

intercourse, carried out fromdawn till sunset, or the purpose of gaining

God’s Content. The principles of fasting are set in theQuran as follows:

“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was pre-

scribed to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.

(Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a

journey, theprescribednumber (shouldbemadeup) fromdays later.

For those who can do it, (with hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of

one that is indigent. But he that will givemore, of his own freewill--it

is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down The Qur’an as

a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment

(between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at

his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any

one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made

up) by days later. God intends every facility for you; He does not

want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the

prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you;

and perchance ye shall be grateful.” (Qur’an 2:183-185)


“O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was

prescribed to those before you,”

God explains that fasting is not

new among the Holy Laws; it was ordained to previous peoples as

well. This doubtlessly soothes the heart, facilitates the acceptance of

fasting, and sweeps away the feeling of vexation, because Muslims

are not the only people requested to fast.

After this, God adds “that ye may (learn) self-restraint,” and this is

the purpose of fasting. People are commanded to adopt fasting as a

means to protect themselves against wicked and evil motives. Fasting

safeguards the person as an individual, and the society as a whole. It

protects the person from turning into a beast living according to the Law

of the Jungle; it also protects society by preparing the devout individ-

ual to work for the general welfare, thus living as a human being with

other human beings, not as a wild beast with other human beings. To

this effect, the Prophet (pbuh) confirms,

“Fasting is a shelter. When

one of you is fasting, let him not behave in an obscene or foolish

manner. If someone intends to fight against him or scold him, let

him just say: I am fasting! I am fasting!”

Fasting is a shelter in the sense that the faster knows his fasting is carried

out in order to avoid the evil of his “animal” nature.When he proclaims,

“I am fasting!” he is fully aware that he says it under the effect of his

human, not animal, nature. When he safeguards himself against the

evils of his animal nature, and his society against his own evil, he gains

God’s Content, and thus takes his stand among the righteous.

Fasting above all is an act of obedience and submission to the Al-

mighty. This submission and commitment is based upon the love

of the Almighty and the earnest effort to gain His pleasure and to

avoid His displeasure.

Hazrat Abu Hurairah (R.A.A.) says that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) said:

The Almighty and Master of Honor says: All other actions of a person

are for himself, except the case of his fasting which is exclusively for

Me and I shall pay (recompense) for him for the same. The fast is a

shield (against vice and the fire of Hell). Therefore when anyone of

you is fasting he should abstain from loose talk and avoid verbosity

and noisy exchange of words. If somebody starts abusing him or picks

up a quarrel with him, he should tell him that ‘I am observing a fast.’

By the Almighty in whose hands is the life of Muhammad (S.A.W.),

the breath of the mouth of one-who is fasting is more pleasant in the

sight of The Almighty than the fragrance of musk. A fasting person gets

two kinds of pleasure: firstly he feels pleasure when he breaks his fast,

and secondly he will be joyful by virtue of his fast, when he meets his

Lord. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Another version of Bukhari adds: The Almighty says: The fasting

person abstains from food, drink and from satisfying his passion

simply for My sake; as such a fast is undertaken for My sake, I shall

grant him the recompense for this. Other virtuous deeds (done in

the month of Ramadan) are rewarded ten times.

Imam Muslim’s version says: A man’s good acts are recompensed

many times, from ten times to seven hundred times. God The ex-

alted says: But a fast is an exception because it is undertaken simply

for My sake, (i.e. there is no limit for its recompenses.) I Alone shall

bestow the reward for it. (The person who observes a fast), gives up

his food, drink and sensual desires for my sake. For a fasting person

there are two pleasures -firstly a joy when he breaks his fast and

secondly another joy when he meets his Lord. His breath is more

pleasant in the sight of God than the fragrance of musk.

“That ye may,”

here, bears the sense of preparation and readiness.

The way fasting prepares the spirits of fasters for the devotion of God,

is manifested in many aspects. As a personal affair, fasting is left to the

conviction of the faster himself, with none assuming the role of guardian

over himexcept God.When the faster obeys God’s Commandments by

rejecting the appeals of his desires that come to his mind during fasting,

or when he trains himself to be patient every time he is tempted by

delights and desires, out of feeling that God watches him and knows

all the secrets of his heart-- when he keeps on this for a full month

(Ramadan), out of his continuous heed accompanying his activities

he certainly will attain the gift of God’s Watch over him, as well as his

own fear of The Almighty. He will try to avoid the shameful situation

of God’s finding him where he is prohibited to be. God’s Watch over

him enables him to carry out all deeds of goodness, and keeps him

away from evil. He then would not cheat, ill-treat, or do injustice to

others; nor would he spread corruption among people.

However, the mere abstinence from food and drink is not the real

meaning of fasting that God enjoined on the righteous. The Holy

Prophet (pbuh) declares: “God does not accept the fasting of those

who do not restrain themselves from telling falsehood or from doing

false deeds.” The basic truth of fasting in Islam springs from God’s

Watch over the faster, as well as the latter’s carrying out of his fast

for the cause of none but God. To this effect, the Holy Prophet

(pbuh) explains:

“God will forgive all the sins of those who fast

during Ramadan out of true belief and in anticipation of God’s

Reward in the Hereafter.”

In the same way, fasting prepares the spirits of falters for the devotion

of God, in the sense that fasting moderates the violence of their

instinctive desires, the source of all sins. Along this vein, the Holy

Prophet (pbuh) declares:

“O ye young people! Those of you who

can afford marriage, let themmarry, for it confines eyes to mod-

esty and protects the wombs (of women) from evil intentions.

Those of you who cannot do this, let them fast because fasting

breaks off their lusts.”

Fasting also promotes the Islamic form of sociability. Muslims are

urged to invite others to break the fast with them at sunset, to gather

for the Qur’anic study, prayer and visitations. This provides spiritual

atmosphere - a better chance for socialization in a brotherly and

spiritual atmosphere.

Hazrat Zaid bin Khalid al-Juhani (R.A.A.) related that the Holy

Prophet (S.A.W.) said: Anybody who offers meal for the breaking of

the fast of another person earns the same merit as the one who was

observing the fast without diminishing in any way the recompense

of the fasting person. (Tirmizi and said this is sound and good).

Hazrat Umm Ammarah Al Ansaria (R.A.A.) relates that once the

Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) visited her when she placed some food before

him. He (S.A.W.) asked her to eat also. Thereupon she said “I am

fasting today.” This He (S.A.W.) remarked when non fasting persons

eat before a fasting person the angels call for God’s mercies upon

him till they have finished or he said, till they have eaten to their

satisfaction. (Tirmizi reported this and said it good).

Hazrat Abu Hurairah (R.A.A.) relates that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)

said: When any of you is asked to join in a meal, he should accept

the invitation. And if he is fasting, he should pray for the host, and

if he is not fasting he should joint the host. (Muslim)





enefits of



On both the individual and social levels, fasting has many virtues and

benefits. Of these we canmention the feeling of sympathy for the poor.

After all, man’s sense of compassion springs from his feeling of pain,

and fasting is a practical means to develop compassion in his spirit.

When rich people establish such a feeling for the hungry poor, their

inner humane principles attain an effective authority. In this regard, it

is reported that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) was the most generous

among people, and he was especially generous during Ramadan.

Moreover, fasting establishes equality among the rich and the poor.

In a way, it is a compulsory experience of poverty in that it is meant

to make all people share an equality, not diversity, of feeling and

to sympathize with one another through a collective sense of pain,

not through a discord or diversity of desires.

Among the other virtues of fasting is that it moderates the power of hab-

its. With some people, the dictates of habit have reached the extreme

of enslavement. If a meal is served late when they are hungry, they

lose their temper. The effects of stimulants like coffee, tea or smoking

are even stronger on their addicts than those of food. Such people are

slaves to their habits. In fasting there is a sharpening of one’s will-power.

Based upon the Qur’an, it has been the consensus of Muslims

throughout history that a Muslim who rejects the legitimacy of

Siyam rejects Islam as well. The Holy Prophet is reported to have

said about the significance of the month of Ramadan:

“A great month, a blessed month, containing a night which is better

than a thousandmonths. TheAlmighty has appointed the observance

of fasting during it as an obligatory duty, and the passing of its nights

inprayer as voluntarypractice. If someonedrawsnear toTheAlmighty

during it with some good act, hewill be like onewho fulfills an obliga-

tory duty in anothermonth, and hewho fulfills an obligatory duty in it

will be likeonewhofulfillsseventyobligatoryduties inanothermonth.”

A quote from another Hadith states:

“The month of Ramadan is

the month of endurance and the reward for endurance is para-

dise. It is a month whose beginning is mercy, whose middle is

forgiveness and whose end is freedom from hell.”









Some people may happen to be ill during the month of Ramadan,

or just may be on a tiring journey. In this case, God’s Wisdom ne-

cessitates that the severity of fasting be mitigated for these people,

and to this effect, God instructs:

“If any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should

be made up) from days later.” (Quran 2: 184)

These people may make up for the days on which they break their

fast, outside Ramadan when they can afford it. A traveler is allowed

to break his fast when he makes a moderate march of a day and a

night, which covers around eighty-six kilometers and a half.

In this regard, Abdullah Yusuf Ali comments by saying: “Illness and

journey must not be interpreted in an elastic sense: they must be

such as to cause real pain or suffering if the fast were observed. For

journey, some Commentators make it precise by naming a distance of

16 farsakhs, equivalent to 48 miles. A journey of eight or nine miles

on foot is more tiring than a similar one by hullock cart. There are

various degrees of fatigue in riding a given distance on horseback or

by camel or in a comfortable train or by car or by steamer, aeroplane,

or airship. In my opinion, the standard must depend on the means of

transportation and on the relative resources of the traveler. It is better

to determine it in each case according to circumstances.”

Then we have God’s word:

“For those who can do it (with hardship),

is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent.”

Such ability with

hardships means reaching the utmost a person can stand, and Arabs

make this statement only when a person is too weak to do something,

so that he suffers a lot in doing it. The people meant in this verse are

aged people, ill persons, women suckling their babes, women expecting

childbirth, or those whose illness is terminal. Such people may break

their fast, and, for every day they break their fast, offer food for a poor

person enough to feed amiddle-agedman; and thus escape damnation.

God then adds,

“But he that will give more, of his own free will”

- by increasing the prescribed ransom, feeding more than just one

poor person for every day he breaks fast, or combining another fast

with the prescribed ransom -

“it is better for him”

; the benefit and

good credit of such a deed will be his, after all.

Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as

a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment

(between right and wrong). This part of the verse specifies the period

of fasting required of Muslims, the days of Ramadan. The wisdom

underlying the choice of this month for this kind of worship, is its

being the month in which The Qur’an was revealed.

Fasting has also many Psychological benefits. It enhances the feeling

of inner peace, contentment, and optimism. These feelings result

from the realization of The Almighty’s pleasure.

Fasting teaches patience and perseverance and enhances the feeling

for moral accomplishment.

Hazrat Abu Hurairah (R.A.A.) related that the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.)


If a person does not refrain from lying and indecent activ-

ities, The Almighty, does not want that he should abstain from

eating and drinking. (Bukhari)

Note: The idea behind this tradition is that backbiting, lying and indecent

activities while fasting lessen the recompense of the fast and decrease its

radiance. Therefore one should shun these thingswhile fasting. Voluntary

deprivation of the lawful appetite leads one to appreciate the bounties of

The Almightywhich are usually taken for granted (until they aremissed!)

For a complete month every year, Muslims go through a different

and exciting experience which breaks the normal routine of life.

Not only can this be refreshing, it also teaches the person to adapt

to varying conditions and circumstances.



Develop special interest for prayers during the month of Ramadan.








ight of




Arrange to offer as many Nafls (optional prayers) as possible during

the Laila-tul-Qadr, and recite the Holy Qur’an as the importance

of this night lies in the fact that it was on this very night that the

Divine message descended. The Holy Qur’an in Surah Al-Qadr

(The Night of Power) says:

“We have indeed revealed this (Message) In the Night of Power.

And what do you know (about the significance and importance) of

this night? The Glorious Night is better than a thousand months.

On this night the angels and Hadrat Jibrail (Gabriel) descended

(embark upon their allotted mission) by the command of their

Sustainer. That (Night) is all peace until the dawn.” (Qur’an 97:1-5)






The tradition has it that the Holy Prophet (saw) observed I’tikaf (i.e.

prayers in seclusion) during Ramadan, and therefore, we should follow

the same practice. According to Hadrat Ayesha (ra), “When the last

ten days of Ramadan arrived, the Holy Prophet (saw) used to awake

as much as possible and offer prayers. He also made arrangements

to wake up his wives and prayed with all devotion to The Almighty.”






Should be given on behalf of adult, minor, male or female Muslims. It

consists of a sa’a (measure of about 2.5. Kgs) of rice, wheat, dates or

similar things of food or its equivalence in cash of $3 dollars and 50

cents or $4 dollars. Give it voluntarily and without any hesitation, on

Eid-day, or a day or two before to enable the needy and the poor to

arrange for their requirements so that theymay celebrate and enjoy the

Eid festivities along with the others. The Holy Prophet (saw) has highly

recommended the Zakat al-Fitr so that itmay expiate for the irregularities

committed during Ramadan, and may help for the sustenance of the

poor and the indigent. (Abu Daud)



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