Rules of Fasting Ramadan
A unique moral and spiritual characteristic of Islam is Fasting or Siyam in Arabic. Literally defined, fasting means to abstain completely from foods, drinks, sex, and smoking, before break of the dawn till sunset, during the entire lunar month of Ramadhan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. Fasting Ramadhan is one of the five pillars of Islam. A fasting Muslim will usually eat a meal right after sunset called Iftar, which means breakfast, and another light meal right before dawn called Sahur.
The prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Whoever observes the fast during the month of Ramadan, (while) believing in Allaah and seeking His rewards, will have his past sins forgiven.” [Reported by Imaams Bukhaari, Muslim and others]. Fasting the month of Ramadan is obligatory upon every sane, healthy Muslim whose reached puberty.
The Essential Elements Of The Fast
There are two essentials elements for your fast to be valid and accepted. They are:
You must have the intention to fast before fajr (dawn) every night during the month of Ramadan. The intention does not need to be spoken, because in reality, it is an act of the heart.
- Abstaining from acts that nullify the Fast
Actions That Invalidate Or Nullify The Fast
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 a mistake, or coercion, then his fast is still valid and should continue to fast. If you choose to eat or drink, for any reason, then your fast will become invalid.
- 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.
- 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).
- Menstrual or Childbirth Bleeding
The fast becomes invalid during menstrual or post-childbirth bleeding.
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
- Rinsing the mouth and nose
- Applying eyeliner or eye drops
- Taking injections
- 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, it will be considered a disliked action.
- 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.
Who May Be Excluded From Fasting?
There are certain situations when it is optional to fast during the month of Ramadan, however, the fast must be made up at a later date. This is the rule for the sick or for the one who is travelling.
However, women who are experiencing post-childbirth bleeding or are in their menses are not allowed to fast until their bleeding ends. They must make up the days they missed fasting at a later date. For those who cannot fast due to a permanent illness or old age, they have to pay fidiya (feeding one poor person) for each day that they have missed. Pregnant and nursing women, who are afraid that fasting may weaken them or the child, have the option of fasting or not. After Ramadan ends, they have the choice of fasting or paying fidiyah (feeding one poor person) for each day that they had missed during Ramadan.
Written by Ustatha Menna Kotb
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