“O Believers, the fast [of Ramadan] has been mandated upon you just as it was upon those before you, so that you may develop taqwa.” (2:183)
The Prophet ﷺ said, “Ramadan has come to you, a month containing blessings in which Allah surrounds you [with His Love]. He sends His Mercy, erases your sins and answers your prayers in it. Allah is aware of your competing for good and boasts about you to the angels. So display your best before Allah because the most unfortunate is he who is deprived of Allah’s Mercy in it.” (Al-Targhib wa al-Tarhib)
PURPOSE OF FASTING1
- Elevation in Spiritual Degree & Closeness to Allah
- Erasing of Sins & Spiritual Purification
- Suppression of Desires & Mastery Over the Body
- Increase in Charity
- Increase in Obedience to Allah
- Prevention from Disobedience of Allah
- Gratitude to Allah
- Make sure you clear up time for these.
- Make the House of Allah your home. Attend the masjid for as many prayers as possible.
- Perform all of the sunnah prayers and the extra nawafil prayers through the day.
- Wake up a little before suhur (the pre-dawn meal) to pray tahajjud (2-8 raka`at). Pray ishraq (2 or 4 raka`at) after the sun has risen, duha (4 raka`at) after mid-morning and awwabeen (4 or 6 raka`at) after Maghrib.
- Recite Qur’an every chance you get whether you understand it or not. Recitation, in and of itself, is rewarding. There is no such thing as reciting too much.
- In all other moments, remember Allah often and send salat on the Prophet ﷺ. A few of the Sunnah remembrances are:
سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَبِحَمْدِهِ سُبْحَانَ اللّهِ الْعَظِيْم
subhanAllahi wa bihamdihi subhanAllah il-azeem
سُبْحَانَ اللّه وَالْحَمْدُ اللّه وَلَا إِلَهَ إِلا اللّه وَاللّهُ أَكْبَر
subhanAllah walhamdulillah wa la ilaha illallah wAllahu akbar
اللّهُمَ صَلِّ عَلَى مُحَمَّدٍ الْنَّبِى الْأُمِّى وَعَلَى آلِهِ وَصَحْبِهِ وَسَلِّم
Allahumma salli `ala Muhammad innabiy ilummi wa `ala aalihi wa sahbihi wa sallim
- Make du`a. A lot! The Prophet ﷺ and those who inherited knowledge from him prayed for everything they needed in this world and the next. The Prophetic du`as are the best, but do not be deterred from asking and speaking to Allah in your own words as well.
AVOID IN RAMADAN
- Be mindful of your thoughts and actions
- Sins of the tongue: lying, backbiting, arguing and foul language
- Sins of the eyes and ears from harmful sights and sounds
- Taking sinful income
- Ingesting haram foods
- Harming another individual—by action or by word
An Islamic fast is to refrain from eating, drinking, and intercourse from dawn2 to sunset seeking only Allah’s pleasure.
- The intention to fast for Ramadan is made preferably before dawn and by mid-day at the latest.
- The pre-dawn meal (suhur): It is a Prophetic Sunnah to eat and drink something even if just water. Be certain that you are done before dawn.
- The sunset breakfast (iftar): Once certain of the sun setting, do not delay in eating or drinking something. It is a Prophetic Sunnah to break the fast with dates and the following du`a:
اللّهُمَّ لَكَ صُمْتُ وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ أَفْطَرْتُ
O Allah, I have fasted for You, and I break my fast with what You have given me.
- The reward of a thousand months
- Max out your worship in the odd nights of the last 10 days especially the 27th night. The Prophet ﷺ recommended the following du`a for these nights:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنَّكَ عَفُوٌّ كَرِيمٌ تُحِبُّ الْعَفْوَ فَاعْفُ عَنِّي
O Allah, You are Forgiving, Generous. You love to forgive. So forgive me.
FIQH OF FASTING
What Breaks the Fast
- The fast is broken when one intentionally and knowingly consumes food or drink or engages in intercourse. The fast has to be made up and kaffarah3 is given.
- The fast is also broken when one consumes anything unintentionally, e.g., something present in the mouth is swallowed by accident. If one is forced to take some nourishment or medicine, such as an asthma puffer to preserve one’s health, or to take something providing no nourishment to the body, such as a stone, one will not have to give kaffarah. A make-up fast is still obligated.
- Intentionally inducing vomit to the extent that greater than a mouthful is vomited will break the fast and necessitate a make-up fast. If one vomits unintentionally, the fast will not break. There is no kaffarah in either situation.
What Doesn’t Break the Fast
- Eating, drinking, sexual intercourse or anything similar to these three if done while forgetting that one is fasting. In all three situations, one should continue to fast as if it did not happen.
- Tasting food, chewing or using toothpaste without swallowing is disliked.
- Swallowing smoke, dust, insects or a small amount of food stuck in the teeth unintentionally.
- Intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous, or intravaginal medicines, ear drops and eye drops.
- Generally, anything exiting the body such as unintentional vomiting, non-purposeful ejaculation, bleeding or having blood taken from you.
- Using an unflavored miswak is a recommended Prophetic Sunnah.
- Applying oils, scents, lotions, medications, etc. to the hair, skin and lips.
Who Doesn’t Fast (except for #1 & #2 below, each one is required to make-up any missed fasts.)
- A child less than the age of puberty. It is allowable if done without harm.
- A sick person whose illness may worsen and who does not expect to overcome his illness. He should give fidya4 daily instead.
- A sick person whose illness may worsen or whose becoming well may be delayed from fasting. He or she may ascertain this by being reasonably sure based on prior experience or on the advice of a knowledgeable, practicing Muslim physician.
- One who becomes a musafir5 before dawn of that day. It is recommended to fast despite being a musafir if one can do so easily.
- One who is pregnant or breast-feeding and there is concern for her well-being or the well-being of the child.
- A woman with menstrual bleeding or lochia.
Making up the fasts as soon as possible is better and more cautious. The “deadline” for making up these fasts is before one’s death, and no one is aware of when that might be.
To put it off without having any firm intention to make it up is sinful.
The intention for a make-up fast must be made before dawn.
The make-up fasts can be done any time of the year except for five days: `Id al-Fitr, `Id al-Adha and the three days following it.
Note: Content may differ slightly in different schools of fiqh. Please consult your local, trained fiqh scholar.
Click here for a printable version of these Ramadan Essentials.
1 Adopted from Maqasid al-Sawm by Al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam.
2 Dawn is the end of the suhur time and the beginning of Fajr. Mid-day refers to the midpoint from dawn until the sun’s zenith.
3 Kaffarah is an expiation done by fasting for sixty days continuously. If one is physically unable to do so, then he or she may feed the equivalent of sixty poor people or give each of them the amount of fidya.
4 Fidya is to feed a poor person at least the equivalent of 3.5 pounds of wheat per day of missed fast. One may give money equivalent to its cost instead.
5 A musafir is one who intends to travel for a distance greater than 48 miles and intends to return home before 15 days.