Rules of Ramadan
by Mufti Muhammad Shafi (rah)
To Fast during the blessed month of Ramadan is the 3rd obligation of Islam. Whoever denies this obligation doesn't remain a muslim.
He who fails to fulfill this obligation is a grave sinner.
Rasulullah said: "Whoever fasts during the month of Ramadan, with full faith in Allah Ta'ala and expectation of reward, all his past (minor) sins will be forgiven. (Sahih Bukhari; Hadith 38)
The Niyyah (Intention) of Fasting
Niyyah refers to the intention of the heart. Verbal utterance is not a condition.
Intention is a condition for the fast. If one doesn't make intention of fasting but abstains from eating and drinking, then too his fast will not be accepted.
It is better to make intention for the fast of Ramadan from the night before i.e. before subh sadiq and if not then at least one and a half hour before zawal (midday) with the condition that one abstained from eating and drinking during that day.
Factors that invalidate the fast:
1) To apply medication to the nose or ears.
2) To intentionally vomit mouth full.
3) When water accidentally goes down the throat whilst gargling.
4) To ejaculate because of contact with a woman.
5) To swallow items that are not normally eaten, like a stick or a piece of iron.
6) To intentionally inhale the smoke of incense. Cigarettes and hukkah etc. follow the same.
7) After eating or drinking forgetfully, one assumes his fast is broken and thereby continues to eat intentionally.
8) Eating after subh sadiq with the impression of it being before subh sadiq.
9) To make iftar before sunset with the impression of it being after sunset.
*note: The above factors invalidate the fast and make Qada Wajib. However, Kaffarah is not necessary.
10) If one intentionally has intercourse with one's wife, eats or drinks intentionally, the fast breaks and Qada as well as Kaffarah become Wajib.
***Kaffarah means: to free a slave. If this is not possible, then to fast 60 consecutive days. If one fast is missed in between the entire 60 have to be recommenced. If one is unable to observe these fasts then one should feed 2 meals to 60 needy people. Nowadays Shari'i (lawful) slaves have become scarce, therefore the last two options would apply.
Sayyidina Abu Hurairah reports that Rasulullah said: He who misses one fast of Ramadan with no valid excuse, will not be able to compensate for it even if he fasts for an entire lifetime. (Sahih ibn Khuzaimah; vol:3, pg 238)
Those factors that neither nullify the fast nor do they render it makruh:
1) To use a Miswaak.
2) To apply oil to the moustache.
3) To apply medication to the eyes.
4) Inhaling of any fragrance.
5) To have a bath due to severe heat or thirst.
6) To take any type of injection.
7) To eat or drink forgetfully.
8) When smoke, dust or any insect enters the mouth unintentionally.
9) When water enters the ears.
10) Vomiting involuntarily.
11) Experiencing a wet dream.
12) When blood comes out from the gums but does not enter the throat. This will do no harm to the fast.
13) If a person was in need of a compulsory ghusl (bath) due to intercourse or a wet dream, and was unable to have a ghusl before subh sadiq and in this condition he makes the intention, no harm would be caused to this fast.
The 3 Mustahab (preferable) acts of Fasting:
1) To partake of Sehri.
2) To do so during the last portion of the night.
3) To make iftar as soon as the time sets in.
Factors that excuse a person from fasting in the month of Ramadan:
1) If one does not have the strength to fast due to sickness or if due to fasting, the illness will increase, then one is excused from fasting. However, it will be necessary to keep the qada later.
2) If a pregnant woman fears some harm on herself or her child due to the fast, she should not fast but keep qada later.
3) That woman who is breastfeeding her own child or any other child, and if due to fasting, the child will not receive milk, then she should not fast but keep the qada later.
4) One who is traveling a distance of at least 88km (48mi) is permitted not to fast. If one is able to fast without causing any difficulty or harm to oneself then it is better for one to do so. If fasting will cause harm to oneself or those traveling with one, then it is better not to fast.
5) If one commences the journey whilst one is fasting then it is necessary for one to complete the fast. And if one does not fast whilst on a journey, but one ate or drank something and in this state one returns home then one should abstain from eating and drinking for the rest of the day. If one did not eat or drink and one reaches home at such a time wherein it is permissible to make intention for the fast then it is necessary for one to make the intention and observe the fast.
6) If one is threatened with murder and is forced to break one's fast then it is permissible for one to break the fast and one should keep the qada later.
7) If one is overcome with sickness, thirst or hunger to such an extent that an expert Muslim doctor says that his life is in danger, then it is necessary for one to break the fast and to keep the qada later.
8) It is not permissible for a woman to fast during the days of haid (menses) and nifas (post delivery bleeding). It is necessary for her to keep the qada.
***It is necessary on the sick, the traveler, the woman in haid or nifas and all those who are excused from fasting that they respect the month of ramadan and do not eat during the day in front of others.
The Qada (missed) Fasts
When one misses a fast due to a valid excuse, one should keep the qada fast as soon as one is able to do so. There is no guarantee of life. One has a choice of keeping the qada consecutively or separately.
If the traveler after returning home, or the sick person after recovering, do not live for so long whereby they could complete tall the missed fasts, they they will be responsible for only the amount of days for which they lived thereafter.
Sehri (Early morning meal)
It is sunnah for the fasting person to partake of sehri during the last portion of the night, before subh sadiq. This is also a means of acquiring blessings and rewards.
The sunnah of sehri will be fulfilled if one eats after midnight, but it is better to eat during the last portion of the night.
If the adhan was mistakenly called before subh sadiq, then too one is allowed to eat till the time of subh sadiq.
After partaking of sehri, it is sufficient for one to make the intention in one's heart. It is good to utter the following words verbally:
"Bi saumi ghadin nawaitu min shah ri Ramadan"
"I intend to fast tomorrow for Ramadan"
One should try to wake up early for sehri and offer a few rakat of Tahajjud salah. This is also a time for acceptance of duas (Tirmidhi)
Iftar (Meal after fasting)
It is makruh to delay the iftar after being certain that the sun has set. If however it is a cloudy day, it will be permissible to delay the iftar for a few minutes, in fact as a precaution it should be delayed for at least 3 minutes.
It is better to make iftar with dates although there is no harm in making iftar with anything else.
It is sunnah to recite the following dua at the time of iftar:
"Allahumma laka sumtu wa 'ala rizqika aftar tu"
"Oh Allah, I have observed the fast for your sake, and I have opened my fast with sustenance provided by you."
And the following dua should be recited after iftar:
"Zhahabaz zama u wab tallatil uruqu wa thabatal ajru insha Allah"
"The thirst has vanished, the veins have been moistened and the reward has been established - if Allah Ta'ala wills."
One should try and engage in dua at the time of iftar as duas are accepted by Allah Ta'ala at that time (At-Targhib, vol 2, pg 89)
1) During the month of Ramadan it is sunnah to perform 20 rakat of tarawih salah in congregation after the fard and sunnah of Salatul Isha.
2) To perform tarawih salah in congregation is "sunnah 'alal kifayah" i.e. if a congregation is taking place in the locality and one performs one's tarawih individually at home, the sunnah will be fulfilled although one will be deprived of the rewards of performing tarawih with jamat (congregation) and in a Masjid. On the contrary, if there is no congregation taking place in the entire locality then everyone will be sinful for neglecting this sunnah.
3) It is sunnah to complete the entire Quran in the tarawih salah. If there is no Hafiz (one who has memorized the entire Quran) available or he demands a fee for leading the tarawih salah then the tarawih salah should be performed by reciting the short surahs or whatever else is easy. The community should not pay for listening to the Holy Quran. To give or receive a fee for the recitation of the Holy Quran is haraam.
4) It is not proper for one Hafiz to perform 20 rakat of tarawih salah in 2 masajid on one night.
5) The one who has missed out a few rakat of tarawih should complete the missed rakat after the witr Salah.
6) It is a grave sin to recite the Quran so hastily that the letters are not pronounced properly. In such a case neither the imam nor the muqtadi (follower) receive any reward.
7) A child who hasn't reached the age of puberty should not be appointed as an imam.
***Tarawih is Sunnah muakkida (an emphasized sunnah) on the males as well as females. (Shami, vol 2, page 43)
***It is Makruh for women to observe their own congregation wherein they appoint a female as their imam. This includes the tarawih salah. (Shami, vol 1, page 565)
1) Ei'tikaf means: to remain in the masjid with the intention of ei'tikaf. One may only leave the masjid to fulfil those needs that cannot be fulfilled inside the masjid, e.g. to go to the toilet, to make wudu, to take fard ghusl, etc.
2) It is "sunnah muakkida 'alal kifayah" to observe ei'tikaf during the last 10 nights of Ramadan i.e. if in a town or village no one observes ei'tikaf, the sin of abandoning this sunnah will be upon the entire community. And if one person observes ei'tikaf, the rest of the community will be absolved.
3) It is not necessary for one to remain quiet throughout the period of ei'tikaf. Rather it is makruh to do so. One should speak of good things and abstain from arguments and futile talks.
4) There is no specific form of 'ibadah (worship) to be observed during ei'tikaf. One could occupy oneself with salah, zhikr of Allah Ta'ala, reciting the Holy Quran, studying or teaching the knowledge of deen or any other form of 'ibadah.
5) If Jumu'ah Salah doesn't take place at that Masjid wherein one is observing ei'tikaf then one may leave that Masjid to attend the Jumu'ah salah at another masjid. One should calculate the amount of time in which one could reach the masjid, perform the sunnah and listen to the khutbah. If one delays a while in that masjid, no harm will be caused to the ei'tikaf.
6) If for no valid reason one leaves the Masjid even for a little while, intentionally or unintentionally, the Ei'tikaf will be broken and he will have to make qada.
7) If one intends to observe ei'tikaf during the last 10 nights of Ramadan, he should be in the masjid from before sunset on the 20th Ramadan up to the sighting of the moon of 'Eid. Thereafter the ei'tikaf ends.
8) It is not permissible for one toe leave the Masjid just to have a bath on a Friday or for the purpose of calling oneself.
*** A women may observe ei'tikaf in that area of her house which has been designated for salah. She can't leave that place without a valid excuse. (Shami, vol.2, pg441 ; Tahtawi, pg 382)
Because the life span of this ummah compared to the other ummahs is short, Allah Ta'ala, through his grace has specified a night in which the reward for his worship is multiplied up to more than a thousand months.
However, Allah Ta'ala has kept its exact date concealed from the people so that they will exert themselves in searching for this blessed night. This results in them acquiring even more reward. Laylatul Qadr is most likely to occur on one of the odd nights of the last 10 nights of Ramadan i.e. the 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th night. It is even more likely to occur on the 27th night.
During these nights, one should exert one's self in the 'ibadah (worship) of Allah Ta'ala, tawbah (repentance) and dua. If one is unable to stay awake the entire night then according to one's ability one should perform nafl salah, recite the Holy Quran and make zhikr of Allah Ta'ala. And if this is also not possible for one, then one should at least perform the Isha and Fajr Salah with jamat. It has been reported in a hadith that this is equal to making 'ibadah the entire night.
It is a great loss for people to spend this night in lectures and huge gatherings. Lectures could be conducted on any other night. This opportunity for 'ibadah may never return. However those people who intend to stay awake the entire night may attend a lecture at the beginning of the night and thereafter occupy themselves with 'ibadah, nafl salah, zhikr, etc.
The Method of performing Eid Salah:
1) One should first make an intention verbally, or in one's heart that one is performing 2 rakat salah of Eid that are wajib with 6 extra takbirs behind the imam.
2) Thereafter one should recite Allahu Akbar, fold his hands and recite Thana
3) He should recite Allahu Akbar for the 2nd and 3rd time raising his hands to his ears and placing it to his sides each time.
4) After reciting Allahu Akbar for the 4th time, he should fold his hands and continue with his salah as normal.
5) In the 2nd rakat after the imam has recited the qirat, he should recite Allahu Akbar thrice each time, erasing his hands to his ears and leaving them at his sides.
6) After saying Allahu Akbar for the 4th time he should go into ruku without raising his hands. After the salah the people should listen to the khutbah and return home.
***Sayyidina Jarir reports that Rasulullah said: "The fast of Ramadan is suspended between the sky and the earth, and it is only raised with the sadaqatul fitr" (At-Targhib, vol 2, pg 151-152)
***Sadaqatul Fitr is wajib (compulsory) on every adult who possesses the nisab of zakat. It is the responsibility of the father to give the sadaqatul fitr on behalf of his minor children who do not possess the amount of nisab. If they possess the amount of nisab, then it may be discharged from their own wealth. (Tahtawi)
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