Since Ramadhan is a lunar month, it is necessary to ascertain the new moon in order to facilitate fasting. The Sharia has accordingly prescribed one of the following ways to identify the first and last days of Ramadhan:
1. One sees the new moon himself.
2. A group of trustworthy people report seeing the new moon.
3. Two just men report seeing the new moon and their descriptions do not disagree.
4. Thirty days have passed since the beginning of Shaban.
5. The leading mujtahid1 states that it is the first of Ramadhan.
6. The same procedure also applies to the last day of Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fitr.
Note: an astronomical report on the new moon is not a binding verification of the first day of Ramadhan.
1. If one is not certain whether it is the last day of Sha' ban (the preceding month) or the first day of Ramadhan, that person is not obliged to fast that day. However, if one chooses to do an optional or defaulted fast that day, and later on discovers it was the first of Ramadhan, it will be regarded as a normal Ramadhan fast.
2. If one intends to breakfast on the day of doubt, but has had none of the fast-breakers, then before noon the day was proved to be of Ramadhan, one must intend to fast that day as a fast of Ramadhan. In this way the day's fasting will be deemed correct.
3. But if one has had a fast-breaker, and before noon the day was proved to be of Ramadhan, it is obligatory to abstain the rest of the day, and make default for it later. Similarly if it was known in the afternoon, that the day was proved to be of Ramadhan, one must abstain the rest of the day, and make default later, even if one has had none of the fast-breakers.
4. If one is not certain whether it last the last day of Ramadhan or the first day of Shawwal (Eid-ul-Fitr), it is obligatory to fast that day, but if later the day was proved to be of Shawwal must break the fast.
Fasting during Ramadhan is compulsory upon every adult2 person of same mind, provided that the following conditions are met:
• He or she is not travelling
• He or she is not suffering from illness.
• He or she is not in a state of unconsciousness.
• A woman should not be in her monthly or puerperal period.
However, the first and foremost condition for fasting is Belief, and it is not acceptable from those who do not believe in Islam. Next follows intention, i.e. a fasting person must intend to fast solely for seeking Allah's Grace, and not merely a fainting from food, drinks and other acts without prior intention.
Likewise, as we have explained above, good health is necessary for fasting. Those who are sick are exempted, and nor should one fast when sure of adverse effects on health, or fears possibility of adverse effects.
a) If one fears the fear of any prudent person that fasting will make him/her sick, worsen malady or bring harm then he/she should not fast, but make up for the defaulted fasts later, on regaining health.
b) Mere feeling of weakness or for that matter psychological fear is not an excuse to forego fasting or to break the fast. But if the physical weakness is very severe and unbearable and is taxing the power of resistance, then it is allowed to break the fast.
c) If fasting has no adverse effects tor a sick person, then it is obligatory for him/her to fast.
d) If one fasts, believing there will be no adverse effects, but it turns out later that fasting did harm his/her condition, such a fast is not regarded as correct.
e) If one fasts knowing that it will be harmful, or possibly harmful, his/her fasting is null.
Earlier we had briefly mentioned the significance of intention (Niyya). Here, we wish to deal in detail with this important subject.
A tradition from Prophet Muhammad (s) says:
«Deeds depend on intentions. »
Hence, Intention is compulsory for every devotional act. A devotional act without a true, purely God-oriented intention is void. Fasting is thus one such act which requires the intention of gaining proximity to Allah. Yet, such an intention need not necessarily be present in the mind of the fasting person at each and every single moment of fasting, but the person concerned should be aware of the state. The intention to fast will remain effective and even if one forgets or sleeps, the fast will be valid.
However, the intention to fast requires certain basic rules:
1. Intention depends on two options. One can intend on the first eve of Ramadhan to fast for the whole month or can make the intention daily for that particular day but before dawn breaks.
2. The intention should be to fast from fajr (a little before dawn breaks) till Maghrib (a little after sunset).
3. Thus fasting will cover the entire period of the day, beginning at dawn till the redness of the dusk disappears in the east. During this time one should abstain from eating, drinking and all other acts which break fasting.
The end of the day comes a little after sunset. Sunset is not determined by the mere disappearance of the sun's orb, but the disappearance of the redness of the dusk in the east.
1. Eating or drinking anything in any quantity.
2. Sexual intercourse.
3. Any sexual activity that leads to ejaculation.
4. Attributing a lie to Allah, the Holy Prophet or the Imams (peace be upon them).
5. Allowing heavy dust or thick smoke (including tobacco) to reach one's throat.
6. Submerging one's entire head in water.
8. Taking a liquid enema.
9. Intentional vomiting.
1. If a person commits intentionally and willingly an act which breaks the fast, that day's fast will be considered invalid, but the fast is valid if the action committed was unintentional or involuntary.
2. If one breaks fast after merely being threatened, that fast is considered invalid and must be compensated later.
3. A fasting person can swallow the saliva gathered in the mouth but nasal discharge and frothy sputum must be spitted out.
4. To rinse mouth during ablutions is allowed and while doing if the water slips unintentionally down into the throat it will not break the fast.
5. Taking of injection in the muscles or veins is permitted as also using of medicinal drops in ears or eyes is allowed.
6. Brushing of teeth is permitted, provided the froth or saliva does not enter the throat.
Islam is called a natural religion. In other words, its laws unlike other creeds have logic and reason behind them and divine providence has fashioned them according to the nature of man and woman. It has no hard and fast rules for all age groups ignoring the state, or circumstances of the individual concerned. In such a case, its very claim to be natural and universal would have been open to doubt.
How merciful and benign is the Creator, Who as a sign of His unbounded bounty exempted from fasting persons passing through particular circumstances, and in a certain state of health or age group.
Following are those whom Islam has quite logically exempted from fasting and furthermore has released them from expiation for defaults:
1. Minors for pre-puberty years.
2. Insane for the period insanity lasts.
3. Unconscious - for the period of unconsciousness.
4. Non·Muslims -for the years before conversion to Islam.
There are different statuses of defaulted fasts:
1. An aged person who cannot fast is exempted from fasting and also from expiation. If, after Ramadhan it becomes possible for that aged person to fast, he/she should make up the defaulted Ramadhan fasts.
2. An aged person for whom fasting is hard is exempted but must pay 3/4 kilogram (l Mud) of food to the poor for every day of defaulted fast.
3. One who has a condition which causes insatiable thirst and who cannot tolerate going without water or for whom fasting is hard is exempted.
a) In the latter case, one must pay 3/4 kilogram of food to the poor for every day of defaulted fast.
b) If after Ramadhan, it becomes possible for both cases to fast, one should make up defaulted fasts.
4. A woman who is pregnant and whose delivery time is near or a woman who is breast-feeding her child. 1f fasting will harm herself or her baby, she should not fast.
a) She must give 3/4 kilogram of food as expiation to the poor and, make up for the defaulted fasts.
b) In case the harm was for her only and not for the child, then she should make up for the defaulted fasts without giving expiation.
5. Apostate (murtad) - A Muslim who turns away from Islam, should compensate for fasts defaulted during the period of apostasy.
6. Women in their monthly period or in nifas (post-partum bleeding) should make up for defaulted fasts.
7. A traveller who missed certain days fast because of Journey has to make up for missed fasts.
8. A sick person after recovery must fast the number of days missed during Ramadhan.
a- A sick person provided the sickness continues for one full year until next Ramadhan is exempted. However, in such case one must pay 3/4 kilogram of wheat or any other staple food to the needy as expiation for the days missed.
b- If one has not kept the fast for reasons other than sickness (example: being on a journey), and the same reason continues until next Ramadhan, that person must make up for the defaulted fasts, and it is also advisable to give 3/4 kilo gram of food to the poor for every day of defaulted fast.
Defaulted fasts should be made up before the next Ramadhan. In case defaulted fasts are delayed after next Ramadhan, then one has time to fast afterwards whenever one can but that person should in addition distribute 3/4 kilogram of wheat or any staple food to the needy for each day of defaulted fasts as expiation.
If a person for whom Ramadhan fasting is compulsory, breaks the fast intentionally and willingly, must do an act of atonement in addition to making up the defaulted fast.
Sharia prescribes three methods of atonement, and any one method will atone for one day of defaulted fasting:
1. Freeing a slave.
2. Fasting for 60 days. The first 31 days of fast must be consecutive. If in the first 31 days, a reason arises for breaking fast such as the menstrual period, or a journey which can on no account be delayed, one need not start the 31 days of fasting over and again. Rather, that person can complete the remaining days when the cause is removed.
3. Feeding 60 poor Muslims (for one full meal). If one cannot afford to feed 60 poor Muslims, should then feed as many as possible. In case of not being able to feed anyone, then that person should sincerely plead Allah for forgiveness (say astaghfirullah) for the deed done. It is a necessary precaution to perform any of the three methods of atonement whenever one is able to do.
4. If one invalidates the fast with a forbidden act (haram) such as drinking wine, adultery etc. must observe all the three above-mentioned atonements and if unable to afford all must observe the least taxing, and if that is also not possible must sincerely seek forgiveness from Allah.
1. A traveller who has to shorten prayers5 for a journey must not fast, but this does not apply to a person whose duty is to travel and who observes normal prayers, such as a professional traveller (e.g. sailor, pilot, driver, roving sales man. etc.), who must fast.
2. A fasting person, who begins a journey in the afternoon, must continue the fast. If the journey was before noon, and on reaching a point where neither one's hometown houses are visible nor the sound of adhan is heard, the traveller must break the fast. But if the fast was broken before reaching that particular point, atonement should be paid.
3. If a traveller returns to hometown or reaches a place before noon, intending to stay ten days, and has not done anything which would invalidate the fast, must fast that day. In case the traveller did something that would invalidate the fast, that day's fast is not obligatory. However if a traveller arrives home or to a place afternoon, where a ten day stay is intended, that particular day's fast is not obligatory.
Besides the obligatory fasting of Ramadhan, there are recommended fasts in ordinary days of the year, for those seeking to avail of Allah's unbounded bounty. Some of these are as follows:
1. Three days of every lunar month, especially the first, them, middle and the last.
2. Every Thursday and Friday.
3. Fasting during the months of Rajab and Sha'ban.
But fasting on the following days is forbidden in Islam:
1. Fasting on Eid-ul- Fitr.
2. Fasting on the Eid of Sacrifice (Al-Adhha).
3. Fasting on the 30th of Sha'ban with intention of Ramadhan.
4. Fasting during the Hajj (pilgrimage) in Mina (11, 12, 13th of Dhulhijjah).
5. Fast of silence.
Note: the woman should not perform recommended fasting without her husband's permission, and if he objects to her fasting, it is forbidden for her to do so.
- 1. A mujtahid is a person who is an expert in Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), he is also called faqih
- 2. In Islam, a boy or girl is considered adult reaching puberty, and thus have to perform all obligatory acts.
- 3. The state resulting from sexual intercourse with or without ejaculation, or seminal discharge while awake or asleep
- 4. Bleeding that occurs after childbirth.
- 5. To and from distance of about 45kilometers shortens four rakat prayer for two and breaks the fast.