In the name of Allah,
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic calendar. It is during this month that Muslims observe fasting. Lasting for about 30 days, Muslims around the world fast during the daylight hours and break their fast in the evening at sunset. The Quranic verses state that it is from the immense mercy of Allah upon his slaves. He made them Muslims and believers and extended their lives till they reach Ramadan. The companions of the prophet of Allah would pray to Allah during the six months before Ramadan to extend their lives so that they can get the opportunity to fast in Ramadan and in the six months after Ramadan they would ask Allah to accept their fasting and prayers in Ramadan.
Is Ramadan obligatory?
Fasting in Ramadan became Waajib or obligatory for every healthy adult in the month of Sha’baan in the second year after the Hijrah ( Nawawi, 6/250). Accordingly, he (PBUH) fasted for nine Ramadan whereas most of Ramadan were for twenty-nine days ( Jibril, p16).
How is fasting defined?
The linguistical definition of the Arabic word صُيامُ or fasting is ‘abstain’. Maryam alayhis salaam, mother of Prophet Isa (PBUH) said as mentioned in the verse of the Quran:
“Verily! I have vowed a fast unto the Most Beneficent (Allah) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.” (Translation Surah Maryam: 26)
When she said I am going to abstain; she meant she would abstain from talking. The Shar’eeah definition of fasting is to worship Allah by abstaining from eating, drinking, and other matters that invalidate your fast, from predawn to sunset.
The acceptance of dua’s
According to Islam, Dua (literal translation – supplication or prayers) is the best form of worship, as mentioned in the hadith:
“Du’a’ is worship” ( Dawud 1479)
The Quran and the sunnah teach us that Allah accepts Du’a more often during designated special times such as:
- During the last hour of the night
- The entire month of Ramadan
- Laylatul Qadr (the Night of Decree or Night of Power)
- The last ten nights of Ramadan
While the entire month of Ramadan is a month of virtuous worship, the last ten days are auspicious because Allah listens more closely to sincere prayers and genuine repentance and accepts them. The prophet Muhammad SAW (PBUH) has said,
‘Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven” (Bukhari 38)
The chaining of Shaytaan (the devil), the opening of the doors of Jannah, and the forgiving of sins
Muslims believe that in the holy month of Ramadan, Allah opens the doors of mercy, forgiveness, and kindness. The devil is chained and the doors of punishments are closed so believers can supplicate and fast to their best. Abu Hurairah narrated (may Allah be pleased with him), Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) said:
“When the month of Ramadan arrives, the doors of Heaven are opened, the doors of Hell are closed and the devils are put under the chain. According to another narration: the doors of mercy are opened”
For the entire month, the devil gets chained up, restrained, and shackled so that he cannot entice the Muslims, lure them into sin and evil, and turn them away from doing righteous acts of generosity, something which they might find difficult to do during the other months of the year. The chaining of the Shaytaan is mercy and kindness on the part of Allah for the believers so that they have an unfettered opportunity to do good deeds and receive forgiveness for their past sins.
The Prophet) said:
“The five daily prayers, Jumu’ah to jump ‘ah and Ramadan to Ramadan is an expiation for that which is between them, as long as the major sins are abandoned” (Tirmidhi 214)
The power of a single night over 1000 months
In the month of Ramadan, there is a night that is extra special than the others because it was the night when the noble Quran descended from the heavens to the earth. It is called Laylatul Qadr or The Night of Decree. This night is a blessed night and is considered to be better than a thousand months. Allah the almighty said:
‘We have indeed revealed this (Message) in the Night of Power; And what will explain to thee what the night of power is? The Night of Power is better than a thousand months. (Translation Al-Qadr, Verses.’ 1-3)’
The Recitation of the Qur’an
The Quran is the last of the divine Books and the noblest of them. In Ramadan, Allah encourages his believers to recite Quran in abundance, contemplate its meaning, and act by it. Allah says,
“(This is) a Book (the Qur’an) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may remember.’’ [Translation Surah Sad 38:29]
The Prophet (PBUH) said:
‘He who recites one letter from the Book of Allah will have a good deed, and the good deed is multiplied 10 times it’s like. And I do not say that alif, lam, mim is one letter; rather, a lif is a letter, lam is a letter, and mim is a letter” ( Tirmidhi 2910).
Spending on others in Ramadan
One of Islam’s biggest tenets is to spend from good wealth and lawful earnings towards others, especially for those who need it. Spending one’s hard-earned wealth for the sake of Allah is one of the noblest acts of faith. Zakat— or spending for others from a portion of one’s wealth is a core pillar of Islam. Moreover, it is a right for those who ask, those who are indigent, disabled, or underprivileged. Therefore, it is befitting for believers to do what is a rightful obligation for them with their wealth. If he/ she gives obligatory charity and optional charity, they will receive multi-fold rewards, especially in the blessed month of Ramadan (Fawzaan, 2017, p 39)
Moreover, one should not belittle charity even if it is a small amount. The Prophet PBUH) said:
“Protect yourself from the Fire even with half a date stone. And he who does not have this, then with a good statement” ( Nasa’i 2552).
The Quranic Ruling concerning Fasting
The Ummah agrees that fasting in the month of Ramadan is obligatory, except for those with valid shariah reasons. Allah says,
“O you who believe! Observing as-sawm (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become al-muttaqoon (the pious).” [Translation Surah al-Baqarah 2:183]
There are numerous benefits of fasting which Allah mentions in the following aayah (verse):
“…that you may become al-muttaqoon (the pious).” [ Translation Surah al-Baqarah 2:183]
The interpretation and meaning behind this aayah are that if a person refrains from the usual halaal things of life (like eating and drinking) in the hope of gaining the pleasure of Allah, it will be easier for them to avoid haram (restricted) things. The benefits of fasting include:
- Fasting trains a person to avoid harmful desires and keep away from committing sins. It helps a person to overcome the defects in their nature and wean themselves away from bad habits.
- It trains a person to manage their time, organize it well, and be punctual.
- Fasting helps Muslims to take responsibility for their mistakes. The prophet (PBUH) said, ‘when fasting, You must not engage in acts of insults or ignorance. If called bad names or offended, one is to say, ‘I am fasting, I am fasting.’’ “Therefore, he is not to respond to one who speaks about him. Rather, he says, “I am fasting.” And if it is the case that he is not to respond to one who transgresses against him, then how about him transgressing against others?!”
- Fasting also helps one learn how to be patient. In this regard, fasting supersedes other acts of worship. The prophet (PHUH) said, ‘’One half of patience exists in fasting” (Tirmidhi 3519).
- Fasting helps purify the soul and cleanse it from immorality and bad mannerisms.
- Fasting unites the Muslims of the world.
We can conclude from the above facts and statements that fasting is one of the highest form of worship. As Muslims, we should learn rulings pertaining to the month of Ramadan and fasting. We can achieve the immense mercy of Allah by proper utilising the month Ramadan by avoiding the prohibited and following the obligations.
Nawawi, al-Majmu (6/250)
Jibril, Shaykh Ahmad, The Comprehensive Fiqh of Fasting (Zaad Al-Mustaqni’)
Tirmidhi, Jami` at
Fawzaan, Saalih, (2017), Sittings in the month of Ramadan, a gift to the people of Imaan in lessons for the month of Ramadan. USA: Authentic Statements Publishing.
Munajjid, Saalih Muhammad, (2004), Rulings pertaining to Ramadaan. Rabwah: the Islamic propagation office.