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Ramadan (lit. Scorching heat), the ninth month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, is considered to be the most sacred and glorious month in Islam. Muslims the world over hold this Holy month in reverence and fast throughout it from dawn to dusk. Ramadan is considered a very virtuous month in Islam wherein the rewards for good deeds get multiplied manifold and bad deeds are forgiven. As a result the onset of Ramadan encourages people to get actively involved in performing good deeds and getting close to Allah by offering sincere repentance. Ramadan is like a month of thorough training for Muslims in which they are “programmed” towards righteousness and get “charged” and gain the necessary momentum of faith supposed to be maintained the whole year round. Ramadan is the month of Mercy. Prophet Muhammad SAW said: “When the month of Ramadan starts the gates of heaven are opened, the gates of hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Bukhari) Ramadan is also known as the month of the Qur’an as the Noble Qur’an was revealed during this Holy month. The Glorious Qur’an mentions: “Ramadan is the (month) in which we sent down the Qur’an as a guide to mankind also clear (signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong) ” (2:185) The Laylat ul Qadr or the Night of Blessing (laylat ul Mubarak) also falls in this month. A good deed performed in this night is better than the rewards of good deeds of 1000 months (about 83.3 years). The Qur’an present in the Lawhe mahfuz or Sacred Tablet was separated from its stations in the Highest heavens (85:21-22) and revealed upon the lowest heavens, House of Honour or Bait al Izzah as a whole. Regarding this night the Glorious Qur’an mentions: “We have revealed this (message) in the Night of power; And what will explain to you what the night of power is? The night of power is better than a thousand months. Therein come down the angels and the spirit by the permission of their Lord, on every errand ‘Peace!’ So untill the rise of morn.”(97:1-5) The above references clearly describe the position and status of the Holy month of Ramadan in Islam. Now regarding fasting during this month, the Glorious Qur’an mentions “So everyone of you who is present (at home) during this month (Ramadan) should spend it in fasting”(2:185)
Further mentions the Glorious Qur’an that “O You who Believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed before you so that you may (learn) self- restrain.”(2:183) This verse clearly states that fasting was ordained for earlier people also specially referring to the people of the Book as can be confirmed from these statements of the Bible. The Bible mentions: “And when he (Jesus) fasted 40 days and 40 nights he was there after unhungered” (Mathew 4:2) Also it is mentioned: “And he (Moses) was there with the Lord 40 days and 40 nights; he did neither eat bread nor drink water and wrote upon the tablest the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.” (Exodus 34:28) Virtues of Fasting 1. Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights of Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And whoever passes Laylat ul Qadr with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. (Bukhari, Muslim) 2. Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: If one omits his fast for even a single day in Ramadan without a concession or without being ill, then if he fasted even for his entire life he could not makeup for it. (Bukhari) 3. Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: Every deed of man will receive 10 to 700 times reward except Siyam (fasting) for it is for me and I shall reward it (as I please). There are two occasions of joy for the one who fasts: one when he breaks his fast and other when he meets his Lord. (Muslim) When to start fasting Ibn Umar R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: Do not start fasting until you see the new moon and do not stop fasting until you see it. If the weather is cloudy then calculate when it should appear. (Bukhari, Muslim) The Suhoor meal which is eaten before dawn:
Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #143, Narrated Sahl bin Sad I used to take my Suhur meals with my family and then hurry up for presenting myself for the (Fajr) prayer with Allah's Apostle. Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol.3, Book 31, #146, Narrated Anas bin Malik The Prophet Fiqh-us-Sunnah 3.130a said, "Take Suhur as there is a blessing in it."
The sunnah would be fulfilled by eating a small or large quantity of food, or even just by drinking a sip of water. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "The pre-dawn meal is blessed, so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray for those who have pre-dawn meals." (Ahmad)
Breaking your fast (Iftaar):
Hadith - Al-Tirmidhi #1989, Narrated AbuHurayrah [Tirmidhi transmitted it.] Allah's Messenger said, that Allah Most High said, "Those of my servants who are quickest in breaking their fast are dearest to me." Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 31, Number 178, Narrated Sahl bin Sad Allah's Apostle breaking of the fast." said, "The people will remain on the right path as long as they hasten the
Hadith - Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 31, Number 182, Narrated Anas The Prophet said, "Do not practice Al-Wisal (fasting continuously without breaking one's fast in the evening or eating before the following dawn)." The people said to the Prophet, "But you practice Al-Wisal?" The Prophet replied, "I am not like any of you, for I am given food and drink (by Allah) during the night."
Behaviour while fasting: Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: If a person does not avoid false talk and loose conduct during Siyam, Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink. (Bukhari, Muslim) The very meaning of Siyam means “rest”. In the light of this Hadeeth we are to put to rest not only our hunger and thirst but also our desires and bad habits that prevent us from getting close to Allah. Forgetfully eating or drinking while fasting: Abu Huraira R.A.A. related that Muhammad SAW said: If anyone forgets that he is fasting and forgetfully eats or drinks he should complete his fast for it is Allah who has fed him and given him drink. (Bukhari, Muslim) Who must fast: The fast of Ramadan is obligatory upon every male and female who meets the following criteria: 1. To be sane and sound ie to be mentally and physically fit. 2. To be of proper age ie puberty. Children below age of puberty should be encouraged to fats but it is not obligatory on them. 3. To be present at your home, settlement etc. 4. To be sure that fasting is unlikely to cause you any physical or mental harm other than hunger
and thirst. Exemption from fasting: The following are exempted from fasting 1. Children under the age of puberty 2. People who are not mentally sound and insane 3. Such people whose health is likely to deteriorate by observance of the fast. But later they have to makeup for the fasts, a day for a day. 4. Expectant mothers and nursing women are also exempted from fasting if it is likely to endanger their health. But later they too have to makeup for the fasts, a day for a day. 5. Women in the periods of menstruation (max. 10 days) and Nifas (confinement of 40 days) . They are not allowed to fast ever if they can and have to later makeup for the fasts, a day for a day. 6. Travelers and old people are also exempted from fasting provided the traveler later makes up for the fasts, a day for a day and the old person feeds at least one needy Muslim. So, the month of Ramadan brings peace, happiness and joy with it and the virtue of fasting adds to its glitter. The month of Ramadan inculcates in Muslims many sublime qualities. And fasting is the only deed in which there can be no ‘show-off’ and in this way it saves us from hypocrisy also. Ramadan is the month of Devotion and during its course we must derive maximum blessings out of it. The Glorious Qur’an mentions: “And for those who fear Allah, He prepares a way out And provides for him from (Sources) he never could imagine. And if anyone puts his trust in Allah, sufficient is Allah for Him, for Allah will surely accomplish His purpose: verily for all things Allah has appointed a due proportion.” (65:2-3) (Yaqeen Ul Haq Ahmad Sikander is a student at International Islamic University Malaysia. He can be reached at http://www.yaqeenulhaq.info or can be mailed at email@example.com )
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