THE BLESSED MONTH OF RAMADAN IS HERE?
There is a month in the year set aside by Allah(swt) the creator of heavens and earth as a period of abundant mercy and extra ordinary cleansing of the body and soul of mankind, this month is the month of Ramadan or Shabban (Arabic).
Allah(swt) says “…O you who believe, Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may learn self-restraint.
WHAT IS “Ramadan”
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, it is regarded s a special month or the month of Al-Qur’an and a time when Muslims across the world are abstains from food, drink and sexual desires dusk to dawn (daylight until sunset). During the month of Ramadan, which is usually either 29 or 30 days of the month.
Allah(swt) is a merciful God, who despite His warnings to mankind and the Jinns, He in His infinite mercy also dislike the idea of punishment for them, therefore, for this reason, He sent messengers and Prophets to them as guide and warner, who explains Allah’s mercy on those who fear Allah, do good and remember their lord in their activities and actions; being conscious of His angels who accompanies mankind and the jinns at every moments of their lives, taking records of their actions in minute details. They also gives the need of glad tidings of the ultimate goal and the best of reward of everlasting life awaiting them in paradise.
In the same vein, they also warn of the torments of the hell-fire and that is the end abode and resting place for those who are heedless and evil. The month of Ramadan is one of those special blessings of Allah(swt) to mankind and jinns, it is a very big opportunity given to them in order for them to be able to cleanse themselves of stains of sins and evil they have engaged themselves in during the past twelve months.
BLESSINGS OF FASTING
The blessings of fasting in the month of Ramadan are mentioned in both the noble Qur’an and Ahadiths.
Allah(swt) says: “..and were you to count the favours ad blessings of Allah, never would you be able to enumerate them; verily, man is indeed an extreme wrong doer, an extreme ingrate.” (Surah Ibraaheem, 14:34)
It was reported that Allah(swt) says in one Hadith:
“…except for fasting which is only for My sake, and I will reward him for it.” [Al-Bukhaari, al-Fat’h, no. 1904; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/407.]
Amongst many virtues of Ramadan are:
- Forgiveness of sins (sins preventing Allah’s blessings in our lives)
- Gates of heaven are opened (during the month showing Allah’s bountiful blessings)
- Gates of hell are closed (showing Allah’s mercy)
- Devils are chained up (making it easier for Muslims to get closer to Allah)
- It has a blessed night which is better than thousand months (equivalent to 83 years and 4 months)
- Quran recitation provides an opportunity for greater rewards in this life and the hereafter (this provides an opportunity to memorize and recite Quran regularly during the rest of the year.)
The following are the prophetic sayings on the virtues of the month of Ramadan.
“When Ramadan begins, the gates of Paradise are opened and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are put in chains.” [al-Bukhaari, al-Fat’h, no. 3277.]
“Whoever fasts Ramadan out of faith and with the hope of (Allah’s) reward, all his previous sins will be forgiven.” [ al-Bukhaari, Fat’h, no. 37.]
WHO SHOULD FAST?
All healthy adult Muslims should fast during the month of Ramadan by abstaining from all forms of bodily pleasures such as food, drinks, sexual intercourse with their spouse and wrong use of their tongue and thoughts from dusk to dawn. Thee Muslim’s physical and spiritual actions must be put under control for one to reap the benefit of Ramadan and the reward promised by His creator, without which his fasting will bee in vein.
WHO IS EXEMPT FROM FASTING?
Allah(swt), The Compassionate, despite the fact that He has ordered all believing men and women to obey His commands, yet does not intend to make life difficult for His slaves. He has permitted those who are in conditions beyond their own making, through hardship or health, the opportunity to abstain from fasting either temporarily, so they may payback at a later date when their conditions has improved or are completely exempted from fasting all together. Fasting is an agreement between true and faithful believer and his Lord.
Those exempted are:
- Children under the age of twelve
- Pregnant and nursing mothers
- Those who have attained Old Age (though, they are exempted, those who wish may fast if it will not impact their health)
- Those suffering from mental health
- Those who are sick or on a journey
It is noteworthy to mention that those on a long distance journey away from their domicile by foot and or carrying heavy luggage will find it more difficult than the one travelling thousands of miles by earoplane.
SHOULD COLLEGE STUDENTS FAST?
For those living in the western countries, this questions has been a very important issue to contend with, as there are forces who are sworn enemies of Islam and are doing everything within their powers to malign the faith, sometimes under pretext that they are concerned.
I have read in some of the newspapers in the UK claiming that “Head teachers have raised concerns about Muslim school children fasting during Ramadan, which this year clashes with the summer exam period.” In as much as their concern may seem truly legitimate, it should be noted that Allah(swt) our creator knows best what is good for His creatures and has prescribed fasting for them. Therefore, Muslim parents should handle such situation with wisdom by not insist that their children fast compulsorily on those days they have to sit for their exams if they feel it may impact them negatively.
Since those exams is only on few days of that month, what i always suggested is to let them wake up for the sahoor and give them options to break their fast at anytime during school period, if they feel they cannot continue as they can pay back those missed days at a later date after the month of Ramadan; just like a menstruating woman or sick person would do.
WHAT MAKES YOUR FAST VOID?
Some Actions that renders the fast Invalid Or Nullified are as follows:
All scholars have agreed that the following acts will invalidate the fast. They are:
- Intentional Eating or Drinking
If someone eats or drinks due to forgetfulness, a mistake, or coercion, then his fast is still valid and should continue to fast, but if you intentionally choose to eat or drink, for any reason, then your fast will become invalid.
2. Intentional Vomiting
If one is overcome by the urge to vomit, and vomits unintentionally, then he should continue to fast. If someone chooses to vomit, for any reason, then his fast will become invalid.
3. Intentional Sexual Intercourse
If one has sexual intercourse while fasting, then he must perform kaffaarah, expiation of the sin. (Fasting continuously for sixty days or if unable then one should feed sixty poor people).
4. Menstrual or Childbirth Bleeding
The fast becomes invalid during menstrual or post-childbirth bleeding. Even if such bleeding begins just before sunset, the fast of that day is invalid and the day must be made up at a later time.
All the actions mentioned above are agreed upon by all scholars. However, there are some other actions that are not mentioned above which are not agreed upon.
Actions That Are Permissible During Fasting
There are some actions that are permissible to do while fasting, which will not nullify the fast. For example:
- Taking a shower
- It is permissible to shower, for any reason, even if you are showering due to thirst or being overheated.
- Rinsing the mouth and nose
- It is permissible to rinse the mouth and nose without exaggeration; using too much water may cause you to swallow water, which may invalidate your fast.
- Applying eyeliner or eye drops
It is permissible to apply kohl (eyeliner) or eye drops or anything else to the eyes, even if some taste from it finds its way to the throat.
- Taking injections
- It is also permissible to take injections for nutritional or medical purposes; there is no text that proves this invalidates the fast.
- Taking suppositories
- Similarly, it is permissible to have an enema or douche. The injection of liquid into the rectum through the anus for cleansing, as a laxative, or for other therapeutic purposes, or the use of a suppository (a solid medication designed to melt within a body cavity) or any other medicine that can be used in the private parts, whether in the front or back is permissible. There is no text that considers these acts to nullify the fast.
- Accidental consumption
- Your fast will not become invalid if you consume something that you could not protect yourself from. For example, swallowing your saliva or accidentally swallowing dust or sifted flour that has accidentally entered your mouth.
- Tasting food with the tongue
- Your fast will be valid even if you taste food with your tongue or use toothpaste or mouthwash as long as nothing is swallowed.
- Breathing in different scents
- Kissing and embracing one’s spouse
- It is permissible to kiss and embrace your spouse as long as one is able to control oneself.
- Drawing blood
- It is also permissible to draw blood in any amount for any reason. If drawing blood weakens the person, then it should be avoided.
- Being in a state of janaabah:
Your fast will still be valid even if you find yourself in a state of janaabah (a major ritual impurity) after fajr (dawn) has arrived. Ghusl (a full bath) can still be performed once the time of fajr has begun.
BREAKING THE FAST (IFTAR)
“The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) used to break his fast with fresh dates before praying; if fresh dates were not available, he would eat (dried) dates; if dried dates were not available, he would have a few sips of water.” [Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 3/79 and others. He said it is a ghareeb hasan hadeeth. Classed as saheeh in al-Irwaa´, no. 922.]
DUAH WHEN BREAKING THE FAST
“The thirst has gone and the veins are moistened, and the reward is confirmed, if Allah wills” [Hasan, transmitted by Abu Dawood]
“The people will remain in good so long as they hasten to break the fast (at it’s appointed time)” [Agreed upon by al-Bukharee and Muslim];
INTENTION MUST BE MADE PRIOR TO FASTING
Our intention is very important as every action is preceded by an intention, this is why prophet Muhammad(saw) said: “..innamal a’malu binniyat”, Meaning “..every actions is preceded by intention
The prophet(saw) said:
“There is no fast for the person who did not intend to fast from the night before.” [Reported by Abu Dawood, no. 2454. A number of the scholars, such as al-Bukhaari, al-Nasaa`i, al-Tirmidhi and others thought it was likely to be mawqoof. See Talkhees al-Habeer, 2/188.]
“The intention may be made at any point during the night, even if it is just a moment before Fajr. Niyyah means the resolution in the heart to do something; speaking it aloud is bid‘ah (a reprehensible innovation), and anyone who knows that tomorrow is one of the days of Ramadan and wants to fast has [due to that knowledge, already] made the intention. [Sheikh Munajjid]
TAKING SUHOOR (eating before Fajr Sallah)
The prophet(saw) recommend its best to eat something, no matter how little and make the intention to fast before the break of dawn:
“Take the sahoor (pre-dawn meal), for indeed in the sahoor there is blessing” [Reported by al-Bukhaari, Fat’h, 4/139.]
“Suhoor is blessed food, and it involves being different from the people of the Book. A good suhoor for the believer is dates.” [ Abu Dawood, no. 2345; Saheeh al-Targheeb, 1/448.]
AVOID OVER EATING
The prophet(saw) was reported to have said: “Man fills no vessel worse than his stomach. It is sufficient for the son of Adam to have a few mouthfuls to give him the strength he needs. If he has to fill his stomach, then let him leave one-third for food, one-third for drink and one-third for air.” (al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maajah. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 5674).
Eating so much that one does not find it easy to breath or move afterwards is not helpful for your body physically and spiritually.
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said to a man who burped in his presence: “Stop your burping, for the people who eat the most in this life will be the most hungry on the Day of Resurrection.” (Reported by al-Haakim. Saheeh al-Jaami’, 1190).
Therefore, Muslims should use the opportunity given to us through the blessings of Ramadan to remember those who are hungry and starving due to famine, wars, sickness and other sim
ilar vices all over the world. The month of Ramadan should be used as a time of sober reflection on our shortcomings and sins in the past year, so that we may use it to get us to repent and work hard to be better in the coming years, to look back at those events happening to Muslims and pains inflicted on the innocent people, children, women, elderly and families through unjust wars and terrorism.
We should also realize that Islam is a faith chosen for mankind by our creator Himself when He says: “..inna deena indallahi, al-Islam” [” ], so that we may also work hard to correct those negative image and lies about Islam and Muslims being promoted in the west especially by engaging ourselves and family in giving dawah in order to tell thee true story of Al-Islam.
We must ensure that we do not let this month go by without asking profusely for His mercy and forgiveness because if we received even a portion of that, it would be better than all that we accumulate in this world. To review the verse again, Allah says:
‘Say: “In the bounty of Allah, and in His mercy; therein let them rejoice.” That is better than what (the wealth) they amass.” (Surah Younus, 58.).
May Allah(swt) accept our fasting, duah and acts of ibadah throughout the blessed month of Ramadan, Amin.
[by Abdulkarim Adetoro-Ipaye]