WE covered in the previous article the meaning of Ramadan and fasting, why Muslims fast and the virtues of fasting. This week –inshallah- we will cover the methodology of fasting; who should observe fast and the status of our righteous predecessors during the Month of Ramadan.
Who has to fast the Month of Ramadan?
Every Muslim adult is required to fast the month of Ramadan. Nevertheless, there are certain people who are exempted from fasting:
1. Minors and the mentally retarded: Those in such a category do not have to do a remedial (Qadhaa) fasting, nor have to feed a needy as an expiation”.
2. The ill or the wayfarer: Those who fall under this category have to make a remedial fasting (Qadhaa) for the missed day/s. The ill who is suffering an incurable disease is required to feed a needy person per day, for every day misses in Ramadan.
3. The woman during the menses or post-partum bleeding: She is required to make a remedial fasting for the days she missed.
4. The aged person (male or female): If fasting causes a hardship, he/she is required to feed a needy person for every day of fasting missed.
5. The pregnant or breast-feeding woman: This category has two conditions:
– If she’s worried over her health as well as the infant’s; she is required to make up all the missed days.
– If she’s worried over the infant’s health only, she’s required to make up the missed days plus feeding a needy person for every day missed as well.
Simply abstain from eating, drinking and/or sexual activity from Fajr Azan (Dawn) until Maghrib Azan (Sunset).
Nullifiers of Fasting:
They fall into two categories:
1. Nullifiers mandating remedial fasting:
A. Deliberate Eating or drinking.
B. Deliberate vomiting. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever vomits deliberately has to make up the fast” (Ahmed 10463)
C. Menses and post-partum bleeding, even if occurred moments before sunset.
D. Deliberate Masturbation: Requires remedial fasting for the missed day/s.
2. Nullifiers mandating remedial fasting plus an expiation “Kaffara”:
This category applies to the intentional sexual intercourse only. The expiation of this offense beside the remedial is in sequence: Freeing a slave (not applicable nowadays), fasting a continuous two months or feeding sixty needy poormen.
Things Nullify not the fast & require no remedial or expiation (Qadaa or Kaffara not required):
1. Unintentional eating, drinking or sexual intercourse “forgetfully”, or “ignorantly” or under threat of harm. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “If someone ate or drank forgetfully, let him complete his fast, for what he had for eat or drink was given to him by Allah” Al Bukhary (1831)
2. Unintentional vomit.
3. Having a wet dream.
How did our Salaf observe Ramadan?
They used to Focus on acts of worship such as:
> Reading the Quran profusely. Uthman bin Affan may Allah be pleased with him, used to recite the entire Qur’an once a day. Imam al-Shafii’ used to recite the entire Qur’an 60 times, in other than his regular prayers.
When Ramadan would begin, az-Zuhri used to quit reading books of hadith and attendance of scholastic gatherings. Instead he used to engage himself in reciting the Qur’an.
Sufiyan ath-Thawri used to leave all acts of voluntary worship and engage himself in reciting the Qur’an. Al-Aswad used to recite the entire Qur’an every two nights in Ramadan. Qatadah used to normally recite the entire Qur’an every 7 nights, yet in Ramadan every three nights, and once a night throughout the last ten nights of Ramadan.
> Qiyam Allail: Umar bin al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, used to offer the late night prayer until midnight; then he used to awaken his family to offer the prayer, saying “the prayer, the prayer,”
Narrated Alqamah bin Qais: “I spent a night with Abdullah bin Masoud, may Allah be pleased with him (in his house). He (Ibn Masud) woke up in the early portion of the night and offered the late night prayer. He used to recite the same recitation of an Imam (slowly with the Telawah) until just a little before dusk, then offer the Witr prayer.”
Narrated as-Saa’ib bin Zaid: “The Imam back then used to recite hundreds of verses in the late night prayer, and we used to lien on stick to support ourselves out of long standing (in prayer), and we used to leave at dawn.”