The Obligation of fasting Ramadan

Fasting the month of Ramadan is an obligation and a great worship. It is among the best acts of obedience. In Fasting there is great reward. Imam al-Bukhariyy related the Qudsiyy hadith that the Prophet peace to be upon him said that Allah said:

كُلُّ حَسَنة بعشْرِ أمثالها إلى سبعمائة ضعف إلا الصيّام فإنَّهُ لى و أنا أجزي بِه

Which means: <<The reward of every good deed is multiplied from ten up to seven-hundred times–except that of the Fasting–which is usually done in sincerity, will be multiplied by as many times as Allah wills.>>

One of the doors of Paradise, named ar-Rayyan, is specified for those Muslims who used to fast in this world. On the Day of Judgment it will be opened, and those who used to fast in obedience to Allah will be called to enter through that door. Then ar-Rayyan will be closed, and no others will enter through it.

The month of Ramadan is the ninth month of the lunar year. It is the best month of the year, as the night of al-Qadr in Ramadan is the best night of the year. Fasting became an obligation on the Muslims in the second year after the Prophetic emigration. Prophet Muhammed peace to be upon him fasted Ramadan for nine years after which he died.

The obligation on the believers of fasting Ramadan is known from the Qur’an and the hadith. It was explicitly stated in Verse 183 of Surat al-Baqarah:

ياأيها الذين آمنوا كتب عليكم الصيام كما كتب على الذين من قبلكم لعلكم تتقون

Which means: [ O believers, Fasting is an obligation upon you as it was ordained upon the [Muslim nations] before you–to help you become pious.] Fasting was an obligation upon the nations before the nation of Prophet Muhammad peace to be upon him , however, fasting the month of Ramadan in particular is a specification for the nation of Prophet Muhammad peace to be upon him only.

Moreover, Prophet Muhammad peace to be upon him named Fasting (the month of Ramadan) as one of the five most important matters of Islam in the famous hadith known as “Hadith Jibril” as related by al-Bukhariyy and Muslim. Angel Jibril came to the Prophet in the shape of a man with white clothes and asked the Prophet to inform him about Islam. In response, the Prophet said:

الإسلام أن تشهد أن لا إله إلا الله وأن محمدا رسول الله، وتقيم الصلاة، وتؤتي الزكاة، وتصوم رمضان، وتحج البيت إن استطعت إليه سبيلا

Which means: <<Islam is bearing witness that no one is God except Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, performing Prayer, paying Zakah, Fasting the month of Ramadan, and performing Pilgrimage if you are able. >>

Consequently, for the one who has learned of its obligation, renouncing the obligation of fasting the month of Ramadan is blasphemy because it entails belying Allah and the Prophet. However, the one who believes Fasting is an obligation, yet does not perform it (without a valid excuse) does not blaspheme–although his neglecting to fast is an enormous sin.

Conditions of Valid Fasting

Among the conditions for the validity of one’s fasting is that the person does not become insane, not even for a moment, during the fasting day. If a person loses his sanity during the day or during part of the day, even for a moment, then his fasting will be invalidated. In addition to this, one’s fasting is invalid if one loses consciousness during the entire fasting day, that is, from the dawn until sunset. If one loses consciousness for only part of the day, this does not invalidate the fast even if one slept all day long.

Days of Unlawful Fasting

It is invalid to fast the day of the Feast of Fitr (^Id-ul-Fitr), the day of the Feast of Adha (^Id-ul-’Adha) and the three (Tashriq) days after the day of Adha. It is also invalid to fast the last half of Sha^ban and the Day of Doubt, except if one joins the fasting of these with those before them or if one is fasting for an expiation (kaffarah), make up (qada’), vow (nadhr), or habitual consistent practice (wird), like the one who usually fasts Mondays and Thursdays.

Recommended Deeds While Fasting

It is recommended (sunnah) to break one’s fast as soon as one is sure the maghrib (sunset) has begun. It is good to break one’s fast by eating dates, and if not available, then by drinking water. It is good to say the following statement upon breaking one’s fast:

اللهم لك صمت وعلى رزقك أفطرت

which means: <<O Allah, for Your sake I fasted, and with Your sustenance I broke my fast.>> It was narrated from Abu Dawud that the Prophet used to say this supplication upon breaking his fast. It is also good to delay the suhur meal until a time close to the dawn–but to stop eating before the dawn.

Refraining from backbiting, cursing a Muslim, and other sins, is more emphasized while fasting. In committing some sins, the reward of one’s fasting might be lessened or lost. If someone curses another, let the one cursed abstain from responding with a similar curse. Instead, let him say, “I am fasting. I am fasting.”

Paying the optional charity to the poor; reciting the Qur’an; staying in the mosque with the intention of i^tikaf, especially during the last ten days of Ramadan; praying the Tarawih prayer; and inviting others to break their fast on food which you provided are all rewardable acts.

The month of Ramadan is a great opportunity for one to gain a great deal of reward. Reward is earned by performing this obligation in worship and obedience to Allah, and by performing many of the recommended (sunnah) deeds. Let the person not waste his time during this blessed month.

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