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Manners and Rules of Fasting

Posted on: 18 April 2019

Summarized rulings of Fasting:

  • Fasting Ramadan, which is one of the pillars of Islam, is obligatory upon each Muslim, sane, adult, able to fast, and free from الموانع
  • There are three signs of adulthood for male:
    • Reaching 15 years old
    • Hair on private parts
    • Disposing reproduction fluids
    • Females have a fourth sign which is menstruation
  • From Shari’ah perspective, start of month is determined through the visual confirmation of the new moon or the completion of 30 days. Prophet ﷺ said: “Fast for seeing it (the new moon) and “Observe fast on sighting it (the new moon) and break (fast) on sighting it (the new moon), but if the sky is cloudy for you, then complete the number (of thirty).” [Agreed Upon]. As for astronomical calculation, it is not a mean of determining the beginning of the month in Shari’ah. Ibn Taimiya said: “It’s well established in the Deen of Islam that it is not allowed to use calculation (for determining the beginning of the Hijri months)”.
  • One of the valid reasons for not fasting is inability, and it is either literal or conventional. Literal inability is like the one who has terminal illness, and the very old one who can’t perform fasting. Conventional inability is like the traveler, pregnant, post-delivery woman, menstruating woman, and non-terminal illness.
  • The first type doesn’t fast; instead, he/she should feed one poor for every day. Even if he/she ends up getting well (in the case of terminal illness), the day of fast has already been paid off with the feeding. Ibn Abbas said in Sahih Bukhari under the tafseer (explanation) of the verse “And upon those who are able [to fast, but with hardship] - a ransom [as substitute] of feeding a poor person [each day]” [2:184 – Sahih International]: “It is regarding the old man and old woman who can’t fast, so they should feed for each day one poor man” It was also by Ibn Abi Shaiba that Anas did that too.
  • As for the second type (conventional inability), he/she doesn’t fast and substitute each day with another day of fast later when he/she is capable.
  • Imsak (Starting the fast) starts at the truthful dawn, which is a spread-out light across the horizon horizontally and it is followed by increase of daylight.
  • Iftar (stopping the fast) is determined by sunset which is the time when the whole ring of the sun goes under the horizon. Even if its light stays, that doesn’t restrict the Muslim from stopping his fast.
  • The general ruling of the calendars (for prayer times) that Muslims have consistently used is that they are correct, and one shouldn’t consider the minor voices that say otherwise.
  • As for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries, they should take with whatsoever the Muslim community in that country/city take. In the case where there is no one Muslim community and they have multiple opinions, one should take with what he/she feels the closest to the truth.
  • The general nullifiers of the fast are three: eating, drinking, and intercourse, which are known by text and consensus.
  • In addition to those three general ones, the following is added to them: menses, post-delivery blood, dialysis (washing kidneys), intentional vomiting (the hadith regarding intentional vomiting is weak; however, the people of knowledge have collectively accepted its ruling, and Ibn Omar has taken the ruling with no one from the companions objecting that). As for Hijamah (Wet Cupping), it was narrated in the Sunnan that Prophet said: “The cupper and the one for whom cupping is done both break their fast” and the hadith is authentic. However, there is a difference in opinion regarding its meaning or whether it was abrogated or not, so it’s better not to do it. Other than these nullifiers, there is no evidence for something else.
  • As for foreplay, if it was from someone who can hold himself, he would be the same as the Prophet ﷺ as he used to kiss his wives. Aisha said: “he had the greatest control over his desire among you.” As for the one who can’t control himself and would end up committing what is prohibited, foreplay is haram (prohibited) for him; however, it doesn’t nullify his fast unless he had intercourse, or reached satisfaction from the foreplay.
  • It’s obligatory upon the fasting person to leave all the haram (forbidden actions), prophet ﷺ said “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions and does not abandon foolishness (sins), Allah is not in need of his leaving food and drink”
  • If insulted or swear at, the fasting Muslim should deter the one insulting him by reminding him of the great right of Allah upon the fasting Muslim by saying: “I am a fasting man (or woman).” He could say that in the obligatory fast and other days that customarily fasted by people such as Arafah and the six days from Shawwal. Otherwise, it is better not to say that in order to protect one’s intention. As for the addition of “O’ Allah” (before saying “I am a fasting man”) there is no such addition any wording of the hadith, so one shouldn’t say it.
  • It is highly recommended for the fasting Muslim to busy himself/herself with the different kinds of worshiping actions such as: reading Quran, donating, and the intention to finish reading the whole Quran as much as possible following the example of the pious predecessors. If the person can finish reading all the Quran three times, that would be the ideal case, and if he can finish it each day, that should be fine too because of the great status of Ramadan.
  • It is from the Sunnah (highly recommended) to delay the Suhoor to the time specified by Ibn Hijr (RA) which is between the false dawn, and the truthful dawn. Therefore, one should delay it till 15 minutes before the Athan of Fajr, and as it gets closer to the Athan, it would be better.
  • Suhoor in Arabic language refers to the time between the false dawn and the truthful dawn which last for 30-45 minutes.
  • If the Athan is heard or it is known that the time of Fajr has started, one is obliged to start fasting immediately. As for the hadith of Abu Huraira in the Musnad and Sunan of Abu Daw’od and others: “,” this hadith is not authentic. It was stated by Abu Hatim Ar-Razi and others that it is weak. Also, the majority of scholars don’t follow it.
  • As for the customarily habit of starting the fast before Fajr with a certain extra time in order to be safe, this is a bida’a (innovation in religion) that should be abandoned.
  • There is a difference in opinion regarding completing the fast till the next day (without breaking your fast), and the right opinion is that it is allowed till Sohoor (i.e. one would just eat/drink before the Fajr of the next day ensuring that he broke the fast of the previous day). However, it is not recommended; instead, it is better to hasten the breaking of the fast.
  • It is from the Sunnah to make Iftar as early as possible. It was narrated by Sahel Ibn Sa’ad that the Prophet ﷺ said: “The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast” [Agreed Upon]
  • As for delaying the Iftar a little bit to be safe, this is a Bida’a that is not allowed. In fact, it is from consistent actions of Rafida (Shia’a) and from their characteristics.
  • It is Sunnah to break the fast with dates, if not, then water.  On the authority of Salman Ibn A’mer Ad-daby in the Sunnan that the Prophet ﷺ said: “When one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates; but if he cannot get any, then (he should break his fast) with water, for water is purifying”
  • As for the one narrated by At-Tirmthi and others that Anas Ibn Malik said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAW) would break the fast with fresh dates before performing Salat. If there were no fresh dates then (he would break the fast) with dried dates, and if there were no dried dates then he would take a few sips of water,” this hadith is weak. Abu Hatim and Abu Zura’ah Ar-Raziain said: “Abdelrazak Ibn Humam (one of the men in the chain of narration) made a mistake in it”
  • The Muslim should make dua’a whether fasting (during day) or not (during night). It was narrated by At-Tirmthi and Ibn Majah with a sound  Isnad (chain of narration) on the authority of Abu Hurirah (RA) that the Prophet ﷺ said: “There are three whose supplications are not turned back” and he mentioned among them “a fasting person until he breaks his fast.” As for the narration of “when he breaks his fast” in this hadith, it is not authentic. As a result of that, many people would be oblivious and loose the great reward of dua’a while fasting. As for the dua’a specifically when breaking the fast, Ibn Majah narrated on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Omar (RA) with a sound Isnad (chain of narration) that the Prophet ﷺ said: “For the fasting person a supplication that wouldn’t be turned back when he breaks his fast”
  • It is recommended for the fasting person to say when he is about to break his fast what Abu Dao’od narrated with a sound Isnad (chain of narration) that the Prophet ﷺ said: “Thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills”
  • And Allah Knows best