REGULATIONS FOR FASTING
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory
on every Muslim adult. The Arabic word sawm is used
for fasting. The word sawm (plural siyam) literally
means 'to refrain', but as an Islamic term, it means
refraining from food, drinks and sexual activity from
dawn to sunset. Allah says in the Quran, in Surah Al-Baqarah
'O you who believe, siyam is prescribed on you as it was prescribed
to those before you so that you may become self-restrained.'
The importance of
Siyam in Ramadan is clearly expressed in several sayings
of the Prophet(S.A.W.). It is reported by Abu Hurairah
that the Prophet said:
'He who fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeks his
reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven;
he who prays during the night in Ramadan with faith
and seeks his reward from Allah will have his past sins
forgiven; and he who passes Lailat al- Qadr in prayer
with faith and seeks his reward from Allah will have
his past sins forgiven.'
(Bukhari and Muslim)
Fasting in Ramadan
is practiced by Muslims all over the world. The most
significant aspect of Siyam is the development of Allah-consciousness
(Taqwa) in the heart and the soul of a fasting Muslim.
One must abstain from immoral behavior and attitude
as well. Refraining from food and such is essential
during fast but it is not sufficient. The Prophet of
Allah is reported to have said:
'If one does not abandon falsehood in words and deeds,
Allah has no need for his abandoning of his food and
Fasting is mandatory on every Muslim who is sane, adult,
able and resident. The following exemptions apply:
Fasting starts everyday in Ramadan at the break
of dawn, which is also the start of the Salatul Fajr time.
Fasting ends at sunset or with the call of Salatul Maghrib.
- the insane;
- children who are
not adolescent yet;
- the elderly and
chronically ill for whom fasting is unreasonably strenuous;
Such persons are required to feed at least one poor
person every day in Ramadan for which he or she has
- pregnant women
and nursing may postpone the fasting at a later time;
- the ill and the travellers can also defer their fasting.
Allah says in the Qur'an, Surah Al-Baqara:
'But if anyone is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period
should be made up by days later. Allah intends every
facility for you; He does not want to put you to
- Women during the
period of menstruation or of postchildbirth confinement.
Fasting during these periods is forbidden and should
be made up later, a day for a day.
The validity of fasting depends on the following:
The things which invalidate fast are of
two kinds. The first one requires Qada (only making up
missed days), the other one not only requires Qada but
also Kaffarah(a penalty).
- Abstaining from
food, liquids and sexual activity from dawn to sunset.
- The intention to fast must be made every day before dawn. The intention(niyyah)
may be made during night before going to sleep or
it can also be made at the time of Suhoor before dawn.
Suhoor is eating before fasting. It should be as close
to Fajr time as possible. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)
'Partake Suhoor, for there is blessing in Suhoor.'(Bukhari, Muslim)
It is desirable to break
the fast as soon as possible after sunset. Breaking
the fast with dates or water is a tradition of the
Prophet. Following is one of the Du'a for breaking
Allahumma laka sumtu wa 'ala ridhqika aftartu (O Allah! For You
did I fast and with Your bounties did I break the
The following are the things that
require Qada only:
Things that not only require Qada but also Kaffarah are
- Eating or drinking
intentionally. This includes non-nourishing items
taken by mouth.
- Deliberately causing
oneself to throw up.
- The beginning
of menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding even in
the last moment before sunset.
- Ejaculation for
reasons other than sexual intercourse.
- Intending to break
the fast before sunset even if one changes his mind,
since intention is one of the pre-requisites of the
validity of fasting.
- Eating, drinking
or having intercourse after dawn on the mistaken assumption
that it is not dawn yet. Similarly, engaging in these
acts before Maghrib on the mistaken assumption that
it is already sunset.
Sexual intercourse during fasting(dawn to dusk). The penalty
is to fast an additional period of 60 continuous days.
If one is not able to do so then he must feed sixty poor
people-one average meal each.
Before the days of the Prophet Muhammad(S.A.W.),
slavery was a common practice in the Arab world. Islam
eliminated slavery from the society in a very short
period of time. A useful approach was to allow people
free a slave as a charity or as a penalty for a sin.
Thus during the time of the Prophet(S.A.W.), setting
a slave free was the penalty one must pay as a kaffarah,
if he or she had a slave.
not break the fast:
- If anyone forgets
that he is fasting and eats or drinks, he should complete
his fast, for it is only Allah who has fed him and
given him drink.(A Hadith from Muslim).
- Swallowing things
which are not possible to avoid, such as one's saliva,
street dust, smoke, etc.
- Brushing the teeth.
- Injection or intra-venous
which is solely medical and not nutritional.
of fast under exceptional conditions:
Muslims are permitted to break the ordained fast of Ramadan when there
is danger to their health. In this situation a Muslim should
make up his fast later at any other time of the year.
November 01, 2002