SPECIAL EDITION ON RAMADAN: FASTING {SAWM} ANOTHER TOOL TO UNITE THE UMMAH

Friday, June 01, 2018

10 - It grounds man in discipline and Healthy survival

When a person observes the regular course of fasting in consecutive days of the Holy Month and in the holy months of the consecutive years, he is certainly applying himself to a high form of discipline and a superb sense of order. Similarly, when he relieves his stomach and relaxes his digestive system, he is indeed insuring his body, not to mention the soul, against all harm that results from stomach overcharge. In this manner of relaxation he may be sure that his body will survive free from the usual disorder and break, and that his soul will continue to shine purely and peacefully.

11 - Sympathy with the poor and hungry

Anyone who has experienced the pangs of hunger while fasting must sympathize with the poor and with homeless refugees to whom hunger is a common experience. During the fasting month it is common express this sympathy by giving out food as and when one can afford it, and this practice is encourage at any tie of the year as an important act of charity. The act of giving food to those in need is made compulsory at the end of the fasting month when Zakatul-Fitr is to give out on behalf of every member of the family of those who have the mean.

12 - Unity, Brotherhood and Charity

The fast of Ramadan helps the Muslims to be aware of their unity. From the moment the new moon is seen, the whole Muslim world enters into the spiritual discipline of fasting. Mutual awareness and mutual sympathy between Muslims is increased. We try doing more acts of charity towards each other.

We bear in mind that back-biting gossip, quarrelling and so on can take away the spiritual benefits and reward of our fasting, as shown in a Hadith from Abu Hurayrah in which the Prophet is reported to have said: “if a person does not keep away from falsehood and false conduct Allah has no need of his fast.” (Bukhari). According to another Hadith “If someone tries to pick a quarrel with a Muslim who is fasting he is to control himself and reply   “I am fasting.” By all these means Muslims cultivate peace and brotherhood during the holy month.

Therefore, it is the duty of every Muslim to fast the month, however, he who is too sick to fast, or is on travel during the month, can omit fasting during Ramadan, but he has to fast an equal number of days after Ramadan. See Q2/183-5.

Allah the Almighty gives reward in fasting more than any other deed. Abu Hurairah relates that the messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “God the Almighty said: Every deed by a person is his except fasting, fasting is mine, and I reward for it. Fasting is a shield, so if one of you is fasting on a certain day, he should keep away bad language and from noisy exchanges.

 If someone abuses him or quarrels with him, let him just say: I am on fast. By Him who has Muhammad’s soul in His Hand, the breath of a person on fast is sweeter in God’s sight than the smell of Musk. The person on fast has two occasions to be joyful about: When he breaks his fast, he will feel the pleasure of it, and when he meets his Lord, he will be pleased with his fast.

In another version in Al- Bukhari Allah says: “… he leaves his food, drink, and lust for me. Fasting is mine and I reward for it, one good deed is worth ten with Me.”

In another version in Muslim:

 “ Every good deed by a person is rewarded manifold: a good deed is rewarded by ten times its worth up to seven hundred times- God  the Most Sublime says – except fasting, which is mine, and I reward for it: a person on fast leaves his lust and food for Me. A person on fast has two occasions to be joyful about: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets his lord Verily, the breath of a person on fast is sweeter in God’s sight than the smell of Musk”

In another occasion Abu Huraira (RLA) relates that the messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: “ He who spends a pair in the way of God, will be called on the day of Judgment from the gates of paradise, ‘ O Servant of God, this is the good [of your deed], so, a person who is known for his prayer will be called to enter from the Gate of prayer, a person who is known for his jihad (struggle in the way of God) will be called to enter from the Gate  of jihad.

A person who used to observe fasting will be called to enter from a gate called AR- Rayyan (literally sated with drink), a person who used to give away in charity will be called to enter from the Gate of charity.” Upon hearing this, Abu Bakr (RLA) asked: “O messenger of Allah, may my father and mother be given for you, one who I called from these gates will not be at a loss, but would someone be called from all the gates together?” He said: “Yes, and I do hope you will be one of them”

Making Up Missed Days of Ramadan 

Making up missed days of Ramadan is an obligation that need not be fulfilled immediately because the time for fulfilling is very wide and one may perform it at any time. This is also the case with the fast of expiation. It has been authentically reported that ‘Aishah would make up her missed days during the month of Sha’ban (the month preceding Ramadan), and that she did not perform them immediately even if she had the ability to do so. Observing the fast of Ramadan and making up the days are the same with respect to the fact that if one day of Ramadan is missed, then only one day needs to be made up. There is no additional penalty. They differ about the fact that when a person makes up the missed days he need not do so on consecutive days. This is because Allah says: “For him who is sick or on a journey, [the same] number of other days”--that is, whoever is sick or traveling and breaks the fast must fast the same number of days that he missed, consecutively or unconsecutively.

Allah has ordered the fast in a general manner without any restricting clauses. as for making up the missed days of Ramadan, ad-Daraqutni recorded from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet said: “If you wish, make them on nonconsecutive days and if you wish on consecutive days.”

If one delays performing the missed days of fasting until the next Ramadan comes, he is to fast the present Ramadan and then make up the days from the previous Ramadan. There is no ransom payment to be made, regardless of whether the person delayed the fasting due to some acceptable excuse or not. This is the opinion of the Hanafiyyah and al-Hassan al-Basri. Malik, ash-Shaf’i, Ahmad, and Ishaq agree that there is no ransom payment if the fasting was delayed due to some excuse, but they differ when the fasting was delayed without any acceptable excuse. In such a case, according to them, the person should fast the present Ramadan and then make up the days he missed from the previous Ramadan along with a ransom payment of a Mudd of food given in charity each day. It should be noted that they have no acceptable evidence for that opinion. Apparently, the correct opinion is that of the Hanafiyyah, as there is no lawmaking without an authentic legal text to support it (that is, a Qur’anic verse or hadith). 

Whoever dies and still had some days of Ramadan to make up 

The scholars agree that if an individual dies and has missed some prayers during his life, his guardian or heir is not to perform those prayers on his behalf. Similarly, if one does not have the ability to fast, no one is to fast for him while he is alive. There is a difference of opinion over the case of one who dies and has not made up some days of fasting although he had the ability to do so.

Most scholars, including Abu Hanifah, Malik, and the Shaf’iyyah, say that the guardian or heir is not to fast on such a person’s behalf, but is to feed one person a day for the missed days. The chosen opinion, however, among the Shaf’iyyah is that it is preferred for the guardian to fast on the deceased’s behalf, thus fulfilling his duty. There is therefore no need for him to feed anyone.

The meaning of guardian is near relative, whether it be an agnate or an heir or someone else. If a non relative fasts for the deceased, it will only be valid if he got the permission of the guardian.

The proof for the preceding is what Ahmad, al-Bukhari, and Muslim recorded from ‘Aishah. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: “If one dies and has some fasts to make up, then his guardian’ should fast on his behalf.” Al-Bazzar added the words: “If he wishes to do so, while Ibn ‘Abbas related that a man came to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah, my mother died and a month’s fasting was due from her. Should I fast on her behalf?” The Prophet asked: “If your mother had a debt would you fulfill it for her?” He said, “Yes.” The Prophet observed: “A debt to Allah has more of a right to be fulfilled.” This is related by Ahmad, At Tirmizhi, an-Nasa’i, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah.

An-Nawawi [one of the most knowledgeable of the Shaf’iyyah] says: “That statement is the most authentic one, and we follow it. This is the opinion that has been determined to be correct according to our companions in both hadith and fiqh.”

 Places where the day is extremely long and the night is short 

Scholars differ about what the Muslims who are in areas where the day is extremely long and the night  is short should do. What timings should they follow? Some say they should follow the norms of the areas where the Islamic legislation took place--that is, Makkah or Madinah. Others say they should follow the timings of the area that is closest to them which has normal days and nights.

Night of Qadr, its virtue 

The night of qadr is the most virtuous night of the year. Allah says in the Qur’an: “We revealed it on the night of power [that is, qadr]. What will tell you what the night of power is? It is better than a thousand months.” Any action therein, for example, reciting the Qur’an, making remembrance of Allah, and so on, is better than acting for one thousand months which do not contain the night of qadr.

Night of Qadr, it is preferred to seek this night 

It is preferred to seek this night during the last ten nights of Ramadan, as the Prophet, upon whom be peace, strove his best in seeking it during that time. We have already mentioned that the Prophet would stay up during the last ten nights, would wake his wives, and then would remain apart from them to worship.

 Night of Qadr, which night is it? 

Scholars hold different opinions as to the night which is the night of Qadr. Some are of the opinion that it is the 21st, some say the 23rd, others say the 25th and still others say it is the 29th. Some say that it varies from year to year but it is always among the last ten nights of Ramadan. Most scholars, though, vouch for the 27th.

Ahmad recorded, with a sahih chain, from Ibn ‘Umar that the Prophet said: “He who likes to seek that night should do so on the 27th. Ubayy ibn K’ab said: By Allah, and there is no God but Him, it is during Ramadan--and He swore to that--and by Allah, I know what night it is. It is the night during which the Prophet ordered us to make prayers, the night of the 27th. Its sign is that the sun rises in the morning white and without any rays.” This is related by Muslim, Abu Dawud, Ahmad, and by at-Tirmizhi who called it sahih. 

Night of Qadr, praying and making supplications during the night of Qadr 

Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: “Whoever prays during the night of Qadr with faith and hoping for its reward will have all of his previous sins forgiven.”

As to the supplication during the night of qadr, ‘Aishah said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: ‘O Messenger of Allah, if I know what night is the night of qadr, what should I say during it?’ He said: ‘Say: O Allah, You are pardoning and You love to pardon, so pardon me.’ “This is related by Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and by At Tirmizhi, who called it sahih.