read

Fasting - Worship

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ َ

O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those that were before you, so that you may be God-fearing. (Holy Qur’an, 2:183)

أَيَّامًا مَعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَنْ كَانَ مِنْكُمْ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۚ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ ۖ فَمَنْ تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَهُ ۚ وَأَنْ تَصُومُوا خَيْرٌ لَكُمْ ۖ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ َ

(Fast) A certain number of days. But whoever of you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) the (same) number of other days; and for those who are able (with hardship to fast) a redemption by feeding a needy poor person. But whoever volunteers to do good it is better for him; and to fast is better for you, if you know. (Holy Qur’an, 2:184)

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنْزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَنْ شَهِدَ مِنْكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَنْ كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ َ

The month of Ramadhan in which the Qur'an was sent down to be a guidance for mankind and as clear signs of guidance and a criterion (between right and wrong). Therefore, whoever of you is present at the month, fast it; and whoever is sick, or on a journey, then (fast) the (same) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you; so that you should complete the number (of days decreed), and exalt Adah for His guiding you, so that you might be thankful. (Holy Qur’an, 2:185)

A Definition Of Fasting

Originally, in Arabic the word as-saw·m meant al-Imsak i.e. to abstain totally from any act including eating, drinking, walking, speaking etc. Thus, the Arabs used to refer to a horse refusing to run or to be fed, as saw’m i.e. fasting.

As is clear the word saw'm is ancient and was used in a different context by the Arabs before Islam. Then, however it did not have the specific meaning give n to it by Islam as a term denoting a certain religious obligation.

As an Islamic term, it means to refrain intentionally from what breaks fasting.1

To a Muslim, fasting is not just refraining from eating and drinking but carries the added significance of worship, psychological comfort, morality and legislation. It is neither the irrational motionless Imsak of pre-Islamic Arabs nor the mere abstaining from eating and drinking, but is in fact the building of one's character, control over desires, and an inspiration towards social and scientific creativity.

Allah has commanded this sanctified duty and enjoined it on the Muslims, as He had enjoined it on the believing nations before. He assigned the blessed month, the month of Ramadhan, for every adult and healthy Muslim as a period of fasting. This sacred ordinance was prescribed by Allah, the Exalted for all believers and revealed in the preceding month of Sha' ban, nearly a year and a half after the Hijrah. 2

Gradually, the Almighty revealed numerous other verses about the month of Ramadhan and the rules of fasting. In the light of these divine injunctions, the Prophet expounded the merits of fasting, its significance, regulations, effects, benefits and great reward. Hence, Fasting is one of the pillars of Islam, and a religious duty for all those who believe in Monotheism, and consequently whoever denies it is a disbeliever.

It is an apparent sign of obedience, submission and servitude to Allah, the Exalted. By fasting, a Muslim expresses his submission to Allah's command, his response to His will, and the control over his own desires and wishes at the Almighty's behest. In Ramadhan a Muslim's abstaining from food, drink, sexual intercourse etc. during the prescribed hours, is the very manifestation of the creatures obedience to the Creator's Will.

This self-deprivation represents a state of self-control, and of overcoming carnal pleasure, desire and enjoyment, for the blissful love of Allah, His proximity, and the eagerness to obtain His consent. It is a triumph of pristine love over one's desires and wants. It characterizes the control over transient pleasures for the eternal ones promised by The Almighty.

This response to divine commandments represents and incarnates true servitude, and is a brilliant display of spirit, intellect and decisive will power.

By fasting, a person keeps himself away from the pleasures of life, with no preventive or hindrance factor, except that of obeying Allah and showing genuine devotion to His commands. A hadith succinctly explains this fact:

A fasting person is in a state of worship, even when (asleep) in bed, except when he backbites another Muslim.3

Every breath you take is (has the reward of) Tasbih (praise to Allah) and your sleep in worship.4

In a moving speech, the Messenger of Allah describes the believing soul that fasts for love of Allah out of truthfulness and sincerity, and thus the whole day becomes an altar of worship, and each and every activity of the fasting body, provided it abstains from loathsome acts, is nothing but worship embodied.

The Prophet describes the sleep of a fasting Muslim even the very breathing to be acts of worship, because they emanate from a body regarded as being in continual worship through abstaining from tasting delicious and lawful things, solely out of obedience to the Creator.

The Almighty Himself extols fasting and attributes it as a special blessing for mankind as is clear from a hadith Qudsi.

The Prophet said:

Allah, the Exalted says: Fasting is (exclusively) for Me and I will reward it.

The eighth Imam, Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha (‘a) quotes his ancestor the Prophet (s) on the chain of authority of his noble forefathers:

O people, anybody who in this month cultivates good manners will walk over the Sirat (bridge to Paradise) on the day when feet will tend to slip.5

Fasting - Education And Social Reforms

All obligatory acts ordained by Allah, the Exalted such as Fasting, Prayer, Hajj (pilgrimage) Zakat (poor-tax) etc., are not mere rituals as some are bound to misinterpret, but are an elaborate form of spiritual, psychological, physical and social education.

Besides being a form of worship and a means by which the Muslim displays his submission to his Creator, they play a vital role in reforming and developing the soul and personality of an individual which in turn positively affects the society as an integrated whole.

The purpose behind fasting was not just to prevent eating, drinking and sexual intercourse during the prescribed hours but to refrain from all acts injurious to one's self and fellow humans so as to help build a virtuous and progressive society. A narration from the Prophet (s) says:

"The easiest duty enjoined by Allah on a fasting person is to forego food and drink”6

Thus, fasting has two evolutionary aims. The first is to protect a person from all forbidden acts such as backbiting, calumny, envy, lying, vain discourses and the like. And the second is to encourage and enhance the moral and spiritual level by such recommended deeds as reciting the Holy Qur'an, giving alms, meditating on one's past life and a more righteous future course, remembering Allah's favours and greatness, helping fellow-humans and the doing of various other good that benefits the self and the society.

Fasting therefore is an institution designed for educating the soul and casting it in an Islamic evolutionary mould. There are numerous Hadiths which guide a fasting Muslim towards divine bliss. Imam Ali ibn Abi-Talib (a), quoting his cousin the Holy Prophet (s), says:

"Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadhan out of faith and seeking Allah's pleasure and guard s his ears, eyes and tongue from harming people, Allah will accept his fasting, forgive his past sins”7

Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (‘a) relates the Prophet's advice to Jabir ibn Abdullah:

O Jabir, whoever, fasts the days of Ramadhan, stands for prayers in parts of its nights, guards his/her sexual desires, reins in his/her tongue, lowers his/her gaze and injures not the feelings of others, will become free of sins as on the day he/ she was born.8

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (a), on the authority of his illustrious forefathers, quotes his noble ancestor Prophet Muhammad (s) as follows:

A fasting person when abused, replies peace be upon you I will not abuse as you do, The Lord, the Exalted and Most High, says, By fasting, My servant has saved himself from the evil of My (other) servant, I grant him refuge against the fire9

Once, the Prophet (s) heard a fasting woman abusing her maid servant. He ordered some food and told her to 'eat'. “I am fasting”, she said. He replied 'Can you be considered fasting when you have just abused your maid? (Beware) Fasting does not mean only to abstain from (mere) eating and drinking.10

What follows is an advice from Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (‘a) to a fasting Muslim:

When you fast, guard your hearing and sight against the forbidden and your limbs and all other organs from the vile. Do not rave at or injure a servant. Be dignified as a fasting person should, and keep silent and calm, except when remembering Allah. Do not regard your fasting day as an ordinary day and refrain from intercourse, kissing and loud laughter, because Allah dislikes that.11

The Prophet (s) says:

Whoever backbites his Muslim brothers, his fasting will be invalid and his ablution null. Should he die in such a state, he will die like the one who decreed lawful what Allah has forbidden.12

Such, therefore, are the lofty ethics, fasting persons are exhorted to observe, as Ramadhan is a month for worship and for reforming one's self.

As is clear the objectives of the great reformative duty called fasting cannot be fulfilled except by adhering to these lofty morals and ethics. If not, the act will turn out to be an exercise in futility with the fasting person gaining nothing except the pangs of hunger and thirst.

Islam strives to reform both the individual and the society, and the starting point for this healthy transformation is the human soul. If the human soul reaches perfection and moulds itself according to the dynamic principles of Islam, then society will be reformed accordingly.

How wonderfully the Glorious Qur'an confirms this fact:

اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ سُوءًا فَلَا مَرَدَّ لَهُ ۚ وَمَا لَهُمْ مِنْ دُونِهِ مِنْ وَالٍ

Surely Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change their own condition. (Holy Qur’an, 13:11)

Ramadhan, the month of Allah affords us this chance for meditation and social reform. It is for us to seize this wonderful opportunity to repent, reflect over our past deeds, seek the Almighty's forgiveness and strive towards perfection, in morals and behaviour.

Fasting has remarkable benefits. It not only refines an individual's conduct by instilling virtue, but also has similar impacts on the interest of the Islamic society as a whole. Because once a group of individuals acquires honesty, integrity, intellect and other lofty morals, their desire for reform and to refrain from all things perverse positively affects the march of the society.

Islam looks at the human being from two angles; as an independent individual and as a part of a society affecting society and being influenced by it in turn. Consequently, all the rules, laws, regulations, morals and ethics conveyed through the message of Islam deal with the human being both as an independent entity and as part of an integrated whole.

Such being the case, these moral, social, economic and devotional aspects will certainly have political consequences as well because an individual's daily activities are interrelated and affect each other.

Thus, fasting could without doubt be considered as a great educational experience, because faith in Allah and the Day of Judgement has a profound influence not only on devotional and moral aspects but also in the economic and political spheres. So great is the reciprocal dynamism of these factors that if sincerely observed they hold the key to the perfection, bliss and harmony of both the individual and the society.

Narratives reaching us from Prophet Muhammad’s (s) Ahl-ul-Bait, wonderfully explain these facts.

How beautifully the eighth Imam of the Prophet's progeny, Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha (‘a) expounds the philosophy of fasting, as a blessing from the Almighty, so that one becomes aware of the hardships of the poor and the needy and quite naturally feels obliged to pay out of what Allah has granted us.

Moreover, he says that by realizing the pangs of hunger and thirst one becomes aware of the Day of Resurrection when people will have to stand for timeless hours waiting their turn to be judged.

In short, concludes the Imam, fasting builds up personality because the restraint over desires helps us acquire the virtues of modesty, self-control, humbleness of character, hope, Kindness, generosity, forbearance etc.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (‘a) has been quoted as saying:

Allah made fasting incumbent to make equity between the rich and the poor. A rich man does not feel the pains of hunger to have mercy for the poor, since he is able to obtain whatever he likes. (By enjoining fasting) Allah wanted to put His creatures on an equal footing by making the rich taste the pain of hunger, so that he may pity the weak and have mercy on the hungry.13

Therefore, fasting is an all-encompassing education whose social, spiritual, hygienic, economic and various other dimensions which if properly observed guarantee blissful harmony for the human race.

Fasting - Key To Good Health

Fasting also has its advantages from the point of view of health and hygiene. Islam wants a Muslim to be healthy, clean, alert, agile and energetic.

“Fast to be healthy”, had said the Prophet.

And physicians today acknowledge the many benefits of fasting that ensure health and the soundness of one's body and mind. Some of these positive points have a direct influence on psychology and physique of the fasting individual.

Fasting has been found to be an effective treatment for psychological and emotional disorders. It helps a person to firm up his will, cultivate and refine his taste and manners, strengthen his conviction of doing good, avoid controversy, petulance and rashness, which all contribute towards a sane and healthy personality. Besides nurturing resistance and ability to face hardships and endurance, fasting reflects on outward physical appearance by cutting out gluttony and getting rid of excess fat.

The benefits of fasting on health do not stop there but are instrumental in alleviating a number of physical diseases, including those of the digestive systems, such as chronic stomach ache, inflammation of the colon, liver diseases, indigestion, and conditions such as obesity, artenosclerosis, high blood pressure, asthma, diphtheria and many other maladies.

A Swiss physician Dr. Barsilus noted that: The advantages of hunger as a remedy exceed those ingesting medicine several times. As readers are well aware, several physicians advise patients to skip meals, sometimes for a few days before prescribing them a controlled diet.

Generally speaking, fasting hastens the destruction of the decaying tissues of the body by means of hunger, and then builds new tissues through nutrition. This is why some scientists suggest that fasting should be regarded as an effective means of restoring youthfulness and longevity. However, Islam exempts from fasting sick and old people whose health is bound to deter.

But fasting should have its regulations too, and not simply the unorderly skipping of meals, that is bound to harm health and stamina, rather than improving them. Here again Islam provides the answer, and in order to realize the benefits of fasting it recommends the late midnight meals called Sohour (before the formal start of a fast) and the breaking of the fast at the time prescribed. Of course to ensure good health one should abstain from gluttony after breaking fast.14

Repentance

How kind is Allah the Exalted Whose mercy to His creatures knows no limits. The All-forgiving has opened to us the gates of repentance, granting us the chance to return to His Grace, but it is we who stand to blame for our failure to avail forgiveness, because of our blind obstinacy.

قُلْ يَا عِبَادِيَ الَّذِينَ أَسْرَفُوا عَلَىٰ أَنْفُسِهِمْ لَا تَقْنَطُوا مِنْ رَحْمَةِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَغْفِرُ الذُّنُوبَ جَمِيعًا ۚ إِنَّهُ هُوَ الْغَفُورُ الرَّحِيمُ 

Say: "O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Holy Qur’an, 39:53)

Allah the Exalted knows that the human beings, due to their earthly constitution, are likely to sin and error. They, therefore, are in need of an opportunity enabling them to repent and reform themselves, and hence the chance of repentance in the month of Ramadhan. Divine forgiveness is an opportunity for reform.

Repentance is a process of transformation in the manner of life and nature of behaviour and intellectual changes. It is also the outcome of a new resolution undertaken by the repentant for a fresh way of life to which he decides to adhere. The repentant of his sins as such as if he had committed no sins at all.

Part of the divine favours to mankind is to keep the doors of forgiveness and mercy always open. Ramadhan is the month of pardon and forgiveness, the season for praying and remembering the Almighty's favours. It is for us to avail this wonderful opportunity of repentance and ask forgiveness for all faults in sincerity, with an intention not to repeat them again.

We should allow it to be a time of self-criticism and self-reproach, so that one may begin a new course, ushering in a true change in soul and thought, through one's deeds of faith during this period. This month-long opportunity to lead an Islamic way of life will enable one to observe Allah's commandments and adhere to the straight path of righteousness and bliss.

The month of Ramadhan creates an atmosphere of congregational worship, in which all Muslims feel they are living a new life and following a new direction. This stimulates a psychological state which helps them to repent, seek forgiveness and gain the blessings of the Almighty. In the process they witness a popular advancing towards Allah, while disdaining those who turn away from His straight path and His pleasure.

The opposite of these are those whose hearts are closed against the light of mercy, and their souls are irresponsive to the call of repentance. They do not even realize their own mistake when they see that collective procession moving towards Allah, the Exalted. They disregard all those reminders during the month of Ramadhan such as the obligation of fasting, the recommended reciting of the Qur'an, the gathering for invocation and preaching, and other rituals observing the sanctity of this month. The Prophet described people who are unaffected by all this and have hearts full of cruelty, obstinacy and misery as:

Indeed, miserable is the one who is deprived of Allah's forgiveness during this great month.15

The Spring Of The Quran

The month of Ramadhan is aptly termed the springtime of Qur'an. The Holy Book, the Almighty's final and most comprehensive revelation to mankind, was sent down to Prophet Muhammad (s) in this blessed month.

In this month the souls are more refined, more inclined towards the Creator, and more receptive towards the bounties in Allah's Book of wisdom, guidance and righteousness. Hence reciting the Qur'an and contemplating on its eternal verses is emphasized more in this blessed month than at any other time of the year.

The Prophet (s) says:

Invoke your Lord in right earnest with hearts that are free of sin and evil, to enable you to fast and to recite His Book (Qur'an) 16

Whoever recites an Aya (verse) from the Qur'an (in Ramadhan) will receive a similar reward as the one who recites the whole Qur'an in other months.17

He who makes lawful what is forbidden in the Qur'an has no faith in it.18

The fifth Imam of the Prophet's infallible progeny Muhammad al-Baqir (‘a) says:

Everything has springtime and the springtime of the Qur'an is the month of Ramadhon.19

Reports suggest Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (‘a) used to recite the whole Qur'an ten times during Ramadhan.

The eighth Imam Ali ibn Musa ar-Ridha (‘a) advised one of his companions as follows:

Invoke Allah, ask for forgiveness, recite the Qur'an and repent to Allah for your sins more frequently, so that the blessings of the month of Ramadhan may come to you, while you are sincere to Allah, the Exalted.

The Prophet himself took the lead in this regard. He and his infallible progeny recited the Book of Allah more than anyone else in Ramadhan. They taught Muslims how to contemplate on its eternal wisdom, apply its instructions in day-to-day affairs and enlighten people with its storehouse of knowledge.

What a wonderful trail they blazed, whose radiance enables us to tread the right path. We should seize upon this opportunity and endeavour to make the Holy Qur'an bloom it’s brightest in blessed Ramadhan. We should try to comprehend its eternal verses, and make others understand in turn. Although, reward is there for sincere efforts, reciting by rote without trying to understand the meaning of the glorious verses avails no benefit, and likewise mere understanding without practical application is also a futile exercise.

Hence, dear readers, let us promise this Ramadhan to educate and enlighten ourselves with the eternal light of the Qur'an, our one and only constitution. The gems in the Holy Book's fathomless treasuries are waiting to be discovered, but have we pondered to explore them? The rich heritage bequeathed by the Prophet and his Ahl-ul-Bait is an ocean of knowledge dealing with every topic under the sun, but unfortunately we have turned our backs, lured by the deceptive glamour of the Western Culture.

The Qur'an opens to us new vistas of thought and heights never attained before. But look what the western culture has done, degrading human honour, exploiting carnal desires and wasting away both our body and soul. Remember the Prophet's words:

After death there will be no blaming, and after this world there is nothing except Paradise and Hell.20

If today some apostate pours poison on human values in the enticing guise of literature, are we not to blame? True we have the Qur'an, and we sincerely defend it, even by sacrificing our lives. But, have we really done any concrete thing to enlighten others around of Islam's truth.

So dear readers, let us start better late than never. The recent satanic slander against values we hold dear should be enough to awaken our conscience, but the condition is sincerity of intention stemming from a pure and God-fearing heart as the next chapter stresses.

Supplication

Supplication is one of the greatest aspects of servitude and displays sincere submission to none other except Allah the Creator Who fashioned us from nothing, gives us our daily bread and affords us the chance to live this beautiful life, however short, but with promises of an eternal abode.

It is an expression of one's recognition of the Omniscient Majesty and acknowledgement of the fact that He hears our invocations and responds to them. Are there not moments in our life when only divine grace has saved us or solved our anxieties? Allah's mercy is so all-embracing that He even res ponds to the call of the disbelievers in their hour of need if the invocation is sincerely directed.

وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

When My servants question you about Me, surely I am very near; I answer the prayer of the suppliant, when he calls Me; so respond to Me, and believe in Me; so that they may be led aright. (Holy Qur’an, 2:186)

Supplication is also a psychological state arising from one's inner depths. It is the feeling of being in need of the Almighty. A feeling which educates: one to have true faith in Allah, to love Him, to rid oneself of self-conceit and arrogance, and to accept the principle of brotherhood and equality among all people.

The elated feeling makes the suppliant realize that all are equal in their need of the Creator and it is only He Who is above all needs and wants and to Whom all creatures turn. Did not Allah give us the wonderful thing called intellect and made the human race the most excellent form of life on this Planet?

Invoking Allah the Exalted for help, seeking forgiveness for our errors and thanking the Almighty for His bounties is especially encouraged during blessed Ramadhan, so as to deepen our love and gratitude to Him. A sincere supplication serves as a wonderful tonic for our fasting body and soul. It purifies our souls, enlivens our hearts, awakens our conscience and reforms our outward behaviour which all help to contribute towards a progressive and peaceful society.

The Prophet's sermon which we quoted at the beginning is a clear pointer in this regard:

Do repent to Allah for your sins, and supplicate with your hands raised at the times of prayer, as these are the best of times, during which the Almighty looks at His servants with mercy, (He) Answers if they supplicate, Responds if they call, Grants if they ask and Accepts if they entreat.21

Likewise, the miserable is the one who is deprived of divine grace in this month, as is evident from Imam Ali's (‘a) narration:

Pray and seek forgiveness more frequently in the month of Ramadhan. Prayer wards off misfortune and forgiveness cleanse you of your sins.22

Amir-ul-Momineen's (‘a) gem of an advice has been sincerely followed by the righteous in every age and era. Is there any better example for Muslims than Prophet Muhammad (s) and his noble progeny?

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq(‘a) advises Muslims to remember Allah and His bounties more in Ramadhan by reciting frequently Tahlil (La ilaha IlAllah - There is no god but Allah), Takbir (Allahu Akbar - Allah is Great), Tahmid (Al-Hamdu Lillah - Praise be to Allah) and Tasbih (Subhan Allah - Glory be to Allah).

Thus, as is clear, reciting the Qur'an, understanding its wisdom and supplicating to Allah does have a subliming effect on our souls and conscience. Divine grace not only inspires us towards good and creativity but also guards us against sin, error and all things preserve in this short life span.

For the benefit of dear readers, we have selected some supplications at the end of this booklet. Those looking for more details can refer to authentic books of prayer such as “Sahifa - Sajjadia" which is a compilation of supplications from Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (‘a) the fourth Imam.

Recommended Prayers

Recommended prayers of course in addition to the 5 daily obligatory ones have special merit in Ramadhan and are well rewarded by the Almighty.

"Whoever offers recommended prayers in it (Ramadhan) Allah will save him from Hell, and whoever observes in it obligatories, his reward will be that of seventy such obligatories observed in other months. Whoever recites in it blessings (Salawat) on me, Allah will keep the scales of his good deeds heavy (on Judgement Day) whi1st the scales of others will be tending to lightness”.23

At least, one should try to perform in this month Tahajjud, the late midnight prayer, which in light of traditions has many-fold benefits. It is called the Believer's Honour and could be performed until the call for the Fajr prayer.

Our getting up for the last pre-dawn meal offers us the best opportunity to perform this recommended prayer whose benefits have been described as expiation for past sins protection against torments of the grave, increase in daily provisions, forgiveness for the parents, peace of mind and etc.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (‘a) says that it was the habit of the Prophet during the last ten nights of Ramadhan to avoid the company of his wives and spend the nights in worship.

How bountiful is Divine grace, it affords us the chance to compensate for our neglect of prayers in the past, and to ask mercy for our parents or deceased relatives and friends.

Interested readers are advised to consult local scholars or refer to authentic books which deal with recommended prayers in Ramadhan.

Charity

Another great blessing of Ramadhan is charity and the giving of alms for the poor and the deprived. Besides educating the self-charity promotes love and harmony in the society we live in.

Though charity and alms-giving are always stressed in Islam, they assume added significance in the blessed month of fasting, as is evident by narratives reaching us from the Prophet and his progeny.

What a wonderful social institution Islam has created by emphasizing on these wonderful aspects. It instils in the society a feeling of brotherhood and makes us realize the fact that before our Lord the Creator we are all equal. We are in need of His mercy as the less fortunate in this mundane world of matter deserve kindness and generosity.

After all, we have been given wealth and power as a trial, to see how we spend it and how we care for our fellow humans. Ramadhan is the month of freedom from sins and bondage, from desire and exploitation. As we wish to attain forgiveness for our past mistakes so should we mete out pardon and justice to those in our temporary worldly power. It was the habit of the Prophet to set free prisoners of war during Ramadhan.

Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (‘a) narrates that his illustrious grandfather Imam Zain-ul-Abideen (‘a) used to emancipate twenty or more slaves on the last day of Ramadhan.

Thus charity does not go unanswered. In fact it is a sin to hoard and make things rust and rot instead of giving to the needy and the deprived.

  • 1. Mohaqqiq al Hilli. Shara'e al-Islam.
  • 2. The Prophet's auspicious migration to Madina, (622 A.C.) which marks the start of the Islamic calendar
  • 3. Al Kulayni. al-Furu min al-Kafi, vol. 4. The Book of Fasting. p. 190/3rd edition.
  • 4. Prophet' s Sermon - Uyun Akhbar ar-Ridha.
  • 5. Ibid.
  • 6. Al- Hur al-Amili. Wasa'il ash-Shi'a,vol.4, Abwab Adab as-Sawm
  • 7. Ahmad ibn Hanbal and the compilers of Sunan have narrated the above with slight difference.
  • 8. Shaykh al Suduq, Thawab al amal, p.88
  • 9. Al kafi, al kulaini
  • 10. ibid
  • 11. Wasail ash-Shia, al- Hurr -al -Amli
  • 12. Backbiting does not make the fast void but since it is a sin it negates the reward a fasting person deserves.
  • 13. Wasail Ash Shia, Al-Hurr Al-Amili
  • 14. “Medicine in the Glorious Qur'an, Dr. Abdul-Hamid Diyab and Dr. Ahmad Qara Quz”
  • 15. Prophet's Sermon - Uvun Akhbar ar-Ridha.
  • 16. Prophet' s Sermon, Uyun Akhbar ar-Ridha.
  • 17. Prophet' s Sermon, Uyun Akhbar ar-Ridha
  • 18. Al-Hassan a,s, Tuhaf al Uqul
  • 19. Wasail Ash Shia, Al-Hurr Al-Amili
  • 20. Tarikh Al Yaqubi, vol 2, page 89, Dar sadir, Beirut.
  • 21. Prophet' s Sermon. Uyun al Akhbar ar-Ridha
  • 22. Wasail ash Shia, Al-Hurr Al-Amili
  • 23. Wasail ash Shia, Al-Hurr Al-Amili