Bismillahir rahman ir raheem
August 12, 2009
How to Fast this Ramadan—Sh. Muhammad Hassan
Asalamu alaikum wrt wb,
All praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, All praise be to the One Who did not take a child, and has no partner in dominion, the One Who has no helper, Whom there is no god except He, the Creator of all things, and there is no creator other than Him, and there is no Lord other than Him. He Whom Allah guides, none can lead astray, and he whom he leads astray, cannot be guided. That is because Allah is the truth, and what they call on other than Him is falsehood.
I bear witness that there is no god other than Allah, unique in His Actions, Names, and Attributes; He has no equal, no partner, no opposite, no wife, no parents, nor children, unique in His Self, attributes, and actions. “Say: Allah is One, the Lord and Sustainer of the Universe, He has no children, no parents, and there is nothing like Him.”
And I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, may Allah send peace and blessings on Prophet Muhammad, the Shining Sun, and Allah opened through him blind eyes, and deaf ears, and sealed hearts, and left us on a clear manifest guidance, its night like its day, and none deviates from it except is in loss. He is the caller to the best of actions and speech and character, and may peace be on his companions, family, and all those who follow his guidance and Sunnah, and take from the fruits of his teachings until the Day of Judgment.
Welcome to you all, my honored brothers and sisters. Your efforts have been well, and you have prepared a place for yourselves in the Jannah. I ask Allah who joined us at this hour to join us in the afterlife with the Imam of the Prophets in the Gardens of Paradise, for He is capable of that.
Let our discussion today be regarding the month of Ramadan, and about Fasting, and what breaks the fast, and what doesn’t, and the various rulings regarding Fasting.
May Allah help us to reach Ramadan, and be from those who ultimately leave this month with Taqwa. Let me begin with a small introduction, and then spend the rest of the time regarding rulings of Fasting.
The month of Ramadan is a special month of worship, and it has special qualities that no other month has. Allah has given this month unique benefits, what no other month has, it is the month of Quran, it is the month of Fasting, and the Prophet said: “When Ramadan comes, than the doors of Jannah are opened,” and in another narration according to Muslim, “The doors of Mercy are opened.”
And in Tirmidhi, the Prophet said, “When it is the first night of Ramadan,” and may Allah let us reach it, “the Shaitans and Jinn are enchained, and the doors of the Fire are shut.”
The Prophet also said, “Allah says: All the actions of the son of Adam are for himself, except Fasting, for it is for Me, and it is a shield. If anyone argues with you say, “I am fasting.” And the odor of a fasting person’s breath is more beloved to me than musk. There is no reward for it except Paradise.”
The Prophet said, in the Saheehain, “The Quran, and Fasting, will intercede on behalf of a servant on the Day of Judgment.” Can you imagine, the Quran and fasting will intercede for you?
“His fasting will say, “I stopped him from his desires. And the Quran will say, “I prevented him from sleep.” So they will intercede on his behalf.”
Fasting is a great blessing; it is a school, a means of Tarbiyya that will allow us to graduate with Taqwa, if Allah blesses us with that. Yet, a person can fast, and not attain anything except hunger and thirst.
So let me ask you right now: We fasted many Ramadans in the past, but did it lead us to Taqwa (Consciousness and fear of God)?
Allah says, “Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before in order that you may attain Taqwa.”
Listen to these Hadith that explain the great merit of Ramadan:
In the Saheehain, The Prophet pbuh said, “Whoever fasts Ramadan with faith and seeking Allah’s reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
And in the Saheehain, he also said, “Whoever stood for Taraweeh prayer with faith and seeking Allah’s reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
And in the Saheehain, “Whoever stood for Laylutul Qadr in prayer, with faith and seeking Allah’s reward, his previous sins will be forgiven.”
And I want to remind my brothers and sisters as we enter upon this noble month to keep make dua for our Ummah. There are those who want to say our Ummah has no value and no voice in the world. I say, yes, we may be passing through a period of weakness, but Allah says, “These are days which We grant to people in turns.” The Ummah was, is, and will always be the best nation. And this is not to be arrogant, but I say this from Imaan in the verses of Allah:
Allah says, “And don’t feel weak, and sad, for we grant these days to people in turns.”
When the Prophet warned us of the days of weakness, he did not remove the Ummah from it its noble nature. He said, “The nations will soon devour you.” The Sahabah said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, will we be few in number then?” He said, “No, but you will have Wahn.” They said, what is Wahn?” He said, “It is love of dunya and hatred of death.”
The only reason for this weakness is because we have gone away from the Minhaj of the Messenger.
Yet, we should be careful, and not say to anyone they are Kaafir because they have fallen into major sins, like the Khawarij. No, the messengers would warn and give good news. The Prophet said, “One who says, the people are destroyed, he is the most destroyed of them, or he is the one who destroys them.”
But the one who says that the Ummah is in a difficult state to warn the Ummah, so that it wakes up from its sleep, so that it will rejuvenate and revive, and follow the methodology of the Prophet, there is no harm in that, as long as they are like doctors, wise callers, who are helping to remove the illness and germs from the Ummah.
And from the greatest blessings of Allah is that He made fasting the whole month of Ramadan required, and not just Sunnah. If that were the case, most would have fled from the responsibility, and not fasted due to so many excuses.
If Allah wants well for a person, He uses him for good deeds. I want to raise your spirits for this beautiful guest, this season of Quran, worship, Dhikr, and good deeds. It is a great opportunity, and we don’t know if we will be able to fast another Ramadan, or if we will die, it is a season, and a unique opportunity.
So prepare your house, your spirit, your books and minds and hearts. Prepare yourself from right now, with good deeds, kindness to your parents, neighbors, praying at night, and all good actions with a good intention, following in the Sunnah of the Prophet, is worship.
What is Saum, or Fasting?
Linguistically, Saum means to restrain from something. Maryam said, “I have sworn a Saum for the Most Merciful One, and thus I shall not speak to anyone today.” She meant, fasting from speech.
As for its definition in Shariah, it is: Refraining from all things that break the fast from the break of dawn to the setting of the Sun with intention.
What is the wisdom of requiring fasting, for 30 days, in these hot days, oh shaykh?! Oh shaykh, I can’t have a glass of water, or relations with my wife?
Yes, I want to remind you, there is no worship except that Allah legislated it for a great wisdom, and if its wisdom is hidden from us, it does not mean there is no wisdom.
If you teach your child something, you would not accept me saying that you had no wisdom in teaching him. Yet, we think that the All knowing Lord of the Universe didn’t place Hikmah in acts of worship?
From these wisdoms of Fasting are:
1.) That we leave the month with Taqwa. Allah says, “You have been commanded to Fast like those before you in order that you may attain Taqwa.” The goal is taqwa. 30 days, for taqwa? Yes, Taqwa means to place something between you and the anger of Allah, a barrier. These 30 days will help you, for the rest of the year, to live with taqwa.
Taqwa is the greatest advice I can give to anyone. Taqwa is not for just one season; no it is for all times and places. Taqwa is the best advice I can give to all people of the world, for Allah said, “And We enjoined on those given the Book before you and upon you to have Taqwa of Allah.”
And the Prophet once gave a long sermon, and the Sahabah though that it might be his last. They said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, give us parting advice.” He said, “I advise you to have Taqwa of Allah.” From the wisdoms of Fasting is in order for us to achieve Taqwa.
2.) Fasting purifies the character, and cleanses the soul. The Prophet said, “If someone argues with you, say, “I am fasting.””
Don’t let your actions go outside of the good character of a Muslim. You must remind yourself always, “I am fasting.”
3.) Fasting keeps the nafs from arrogance, and teaches humbleness.
4.) Fasting reminds the rich of the poor, and that they have brothers that are always hungry, throughout the year, and they are dying from hunger and thirst.
I have seen this with my own eyes, while at the same time millions are spent on wicked things, and there is no goodness in our hearts if we don’t have mercy and love for all people, for those who cannot even have a drink of water.
I ask Allah to never deprive us of the blessing of water. We don’t know the greatness of the blessing of water, unless water is cut off for one or two days. I remind you, my youth, to not leave the faucet on, or pollute the rivers, it is haram, and may Allah never deprive us of the blessing of water.
Fasting reminds us of the plight of the poor, and that they have brothers who are thirsty, from Muslims, and from all people in a wider sense, who are in need of water. It reminds the rich of the poor.
5.) Fasting is good for the health, but wait, don’t say to yourself, I am on a diet! No, the intention has to be for Allah. Then afterwards, yes, there is benefit for the body and soul.
Now, What are the Pillars (Arkaan) of Fasting?
1.) The first pillar is Intention: Intention is the foundation of all acts of worships. It must be for Allah. If I give 5 million to build a Masjid, but I do that to attain a position, it will not be accepted from Allah. 5 million?! Yes, even 5 million will not be accepted. The Prophet pbuh said, “Actions are according to intentions.” You wanted the reward in the world, not for Allah and the afterlife.
The Prophet said, that Allah said, “I am not the least in need of having partners in worship.”
You must go to sleep with Niyaa, intention to fast the next day. When must this intention take place? And is one intention sufficient for the whole month, such as make the intention on the first day?
The Maliki school of law says yes, but the majority, they so no, one must have a fresh intention every night. Every Muslim, male or female, who is mature, must renew the intention every night.
Oh Shaikh, this is too strict! What if I went to sleep and I forgot to say my Niyaa?
No, do you think that intention means saying, “Nawaytu as Siyaam al fard…”?
Not at all, if you wake up, and eat Suhoor, this is the Niyaa. There is no evidence that the Prophet ever said his Niyaa out loud, not in prayer, nor in fasting.
Some people have whisperings and they keep making Takbeer, and repeating their intentions over and over during prayer. No, there is no need for this hardship.
If you went to sleep, and wanted to fast the next day, that is Niyaa. What if you didn’t have the Niyaa and you woke up, and watched a beneficial program and decided to fast, is that enough?
No, the Prophet said, “One who did not go to sleep with the intention of fasting before Fajr, he has no fast.” But this is for mandatory fasts only.
What about optional fasts, Mondays and Thursdays, etc? No, it is not required to have the intention; rather you can make your intention anytime during the day, as long as you have not eaten anything.
Aisha said, “The Prophet entered upon me one day, and asked, Do you have any food? I said, No. (Look at this, the beloved Prophet had no food in his house! So what was the solution?...) The Prophet said, “Then I am fasting.”
Have you ever done this? Or would you get angry that there was no breakfast?
For required fasts, the intention must be before Fajr, but for optional fast, it can be at anytime. The Maliki school stated that one intention in the beginning of the month is sufficient, but the rest said it must be made every night.
2.) The second pillar of Saum is called Imsaak: withholding from all food, drink, and sexual relations from the break of dawn until sunset.
There is nothing in Islam called Imsaak time, or the firing of a canon at Imsaak time. Rather, one may enjoy food and drink and relations right until the actual break of Fajr.
Allah says, “Eat and drink until the white thread becomes distinct from the black thread at Fajr.”
In Bukhari, Ubay bin Hatim, took two threads, one white and one black, and placed them under his pillow. He kept looking at them to see if they had become distinct. He came to the Prophet and said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, I placed these two threads under my pillow. So the Prophet laughed, and said, you must have a very wide pillow indeed! It means the whiteness of day, and darkness of night!”
3.) The third pillar of Saum is that a person fasting must be Muslim, mature, and not have a legal excuse such as being sick, etc.
Ok, What are the Things that Break my Fast?
1.) The first and the most dangerous thing is sex. It is a great violation for a man to have sex with his wife in Ramadan. Believe it or not, some people called me and told me they didn’t know they couldn’t have sex during the day in Ramadan!
So whoever has relations with his wife, whether there is climax or not, there are two Kaffaras:
• He must fast 2 consecutive months. If he stops at all, even for a single day, he must start over. If he cannot, and it is too difficult, he must feed 60 people. The daleel is in Bukhari and Muslim, a man came to the Prophet and said, “Oh Messenger of Allah, I am destroyed!” The Prophet said, “Why?” He said, “I had sex with my wife in the day in Ramadan.” The Prophet said, “Can you free a slave? He said, no. He said, “Can you fast 2 months?” He said, no. He said, “Can you feed sixty people?” He said no. He said, “Take these dates, and feed the poor.” He said, “ Who is poorer than the people of my family!” The Prophet smiled, and said, “Take them and feed your people.”
Look at this mercy!
• The second Kaffara is that he must make up the day.
The scholars differed regarding the woman who was forced by her husband to have sex. Some stated she only has to make up the day, and she is not required to make the Kaffara for 60 days. And this is the strongest opinion.
2.) What also breaks the fast is someone who releases his desires, (masturbates), and this requires making up the day, but no Kaffara is required, (although this action is haram.)
What about if someone has relations with his wife, and wakes up after Fajr time comes in? There is no problem, he should wake up, take a bath, and continue his fast. The Prophet used to do this. He should hurry to catch his prayer in the Masjid.
3.) What also breaks the fast is eating and drinking deliberately, not by accident. Allah says, “Eat and drink until…Fajr.” So if someone is in a plane, it is not permissible to break the fast until he physically sees the sun setting, not the time in his home or destination country. It is not permissible to break your fast until you see the sun set.
As for a person who breaks his fast by accident, there is no harm. In the Saheehain, the Prophet said, “Whoever ate or drink forgetfully while fasting, then he should continue his fast, as Allah has fed him, and there is no sin on him.”
Ok, if you ate a whole bunch of grapes, and there was only one grape left, then you remembered you were fasting, and finished of the last one, you only broke your fast by eating that last grape!
4.) Another thing that breaks the fast is deliberately vomiting. But if someone accidently vomits, this does not break the fast. In Tirmidhi, the Prophet said, “Whoever deliberately vomits, he should make up his fast. And one who is overwhelmed by vomiting, there is no sin on him.”
5.) From the things that break the fast is seeing the blood of menstruation. If the blood comes at any time before Maghrib, it breaks her fast, and she has to make up the day.
Aisha said, “We used to have blood, and the Prophet would command us to make up the fasts, but not the prayers.”
Now let us talk about some of the dispensations (Rukhass) regarding fast:
1.) It is permissible to break the fast due to sickness or traveling. Allah says, “And whoever from is sick, or traveling, (and breaks his fast,) he can make them up from other days.”
There is no harm for the sick person, or a traveler, to break his fast. An ill person is of two types:
• One who fears fasting will increase his pain, or delay his recovery. He can break his fast and make it up later.
• The other type is one terminally ill, and will not recover. This person can feed a poor person for each day he misses.
As for the traveler, they can fast or break their fast. Hamza asked the Prophet about breaking fast while travelling, and he said: “It is a mercy from Allah, whoever takes it is free to, and there is no harm on the one who does not.”
Umar bin Abdul Aziz was asked, which one is better, fasting, or breaking fast while traveling. He said, “Whatever is easier for you.” If it is easy to fast, no problem, and if it is hard, it is better to break it.
2.) From the things permissible during fasting is using a toothbrush. Before Zuhr, or after, it doesn’t matter. There is a hadith that says that Ali said, “If you fast, then use a toothbrush in the morning, but don’t use it in the afternoon.” But the Hadith is extremely weak.
So there is no harm in using the Siwak, such was before wudu, when you wake up, when you enter the house, before prayer, or whenever there is bad breath.
3.) Also, it is permissible to gargle, but don’t go to extremes. For the Prophet said, “Gargle strongly except if you are fasting.”
4.) And from what is allowed, is that a woman can taste the cooking, as long as none of the food reaches her stomach.
5.) Also, it is permissible to place drops in the eyes, and in the nose. But it is better if one can delay it until after Maghrib. Even in the nose, the strongest position of the scholars is that it doesn’t harm the fast.
6.) Even taking shots, or taking blood, it does not affect the desires, and it is not food or drink.
7.) And having medical exams, or gynecological exams, does not break the fast.
8.) Even inhaling an asthma inhaler does not break the fast, since it is not food.
So there is no harm to use any of these medicines which I have mentioned. I have reviewed the rulings of the Fiqh Councils, and I have come to this conclusion, that these are all allowed if one must, but if they can do it after Maghrib, that is better.
Some of the Adaab of Saum
Now, let us discuss some of the Adaab of Saum
1.) Taking Suhoor: In the Saheehain, the Prophet said, “Take Suhoor (pre-dawn breakfast) for in it is Baraka.”
What if you started drinking a glass of water, and then you heard the adhan? You can finish the water, this is what the scholars stated, and it is not my own opinion.
The Suhoor should be close to the time of the adhan, so make it as late as possible.
2.) Also, from the Adab is to break the Fast as soon as possible, when the Sunset occurs. Some people like to wait until the adhan is over, but this is not required. The Prophet said, “People will be in goodness as long as they do not delay breaking their fasts.” If you have dates, that is good, otherwise water is fine.
3.) From the dua of breaking the fast is: What Abu Dawud narrated, that the Prophet said, “Dhahaba adhama’ wabtaltal ‘uruq wa thabata al ajr inshallah.” “The thirst has gone, the veins have become satiated, and the reward has been recorded, God-willing.”
This is the most authentic dua.
4.) Also, from the Adab of fasting, is: Leaving backbiting, and hate mongering. These are haram all the time. Backbiting is saying anything about your brother that he dislikes. Thus, we must leave these harmful uses of the tongue.
Some Common Mistakes of Those Fasting
Here are some of the common mistakes made during Ramadan:
1.) There is no doubt that fasting is the best of the acts of worship, but many start out the month reading two Juz of Quran every day, and lowering their gaze, and staying away from TV shows, but then the Shaitans from people, not the Jinn, affect them, and by the time the last ten blessed days come around, they have slipped back to their old ways. We should be careful, and not leave our good actions as the end of the month approaches. We have to be careful to make the most of this month. How many people were with us last Ramadan, and now they are gone.
2.) And from the common mistakes, is being harsh and rude. You say to someone, “Leave me alone, I am fasting!” Fasting is softness, obedience, character, forgiveness, and we should never forget the goal, and it is not right to be harsh using the excuse that one is fasting.
3.) And from the common mistakes is that one sleeps all day until they are near the time of Maghrib! And the greatest danger is that you might miss your prayers.
4.) And from the mistakes is wasting food. Be careful, yes eat halal and good food, but do not waste a grain of food. You can save it for the poor, or better yet, you should remember the poor before your meal, and send them food so they can break their fast too. Not wasting food will help you train your nafs. As the poet said in rhyming verses, “You eat loaves of bread, drink jugs of water, sleep long days, and yet you think you are great heroes!”
Our time together is up. I ask Allah to accept from our righteous deeds, and that He let us reach Ramadan, and bless us during it, and that He returns the Muslims to His Deen beautifully, and I ask that he guide the leaders and rulers to Islam during this Ramadan.
May Allah bring our hearts together, and remove the sadness from the Ummah, and protect our women, and rectify our girls and boys, and teach them the Quran, and seeking forgiveness, and righteousness.
I congratulate the whole Ummah, the rulers, the common people, the rich and poor, all, on the coming of this blessed month. May every year see you in much goodness!
And I ask Allah to never deprive us of Taqwa of Him, and may peace and blessings be upon Prophet Muhammad, his family, and companions.
To my dear brothers and sisters on Jannah.org, I wish you all an early Ramadan Kareem. Please share this and other beneficial articles with your friends and family, and help spread the knowledge.