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Muslims here in the UK and across the globe will be fasting during the month of July - August - known as the month of 'Ramadhan' - which is the their 9th lunar month and one which moves back approximately every 10 days every year due to lunar cycles.


Fasting starts at dawn (which means an early breakfast at approx 2.30am) lasting till sunset (approx 8.45pm) which means a total abstinence from food and water for those who are of sound body and mind!  "Ramadhan" is derived from an Arabic word for intense heat, ‘scorched ground’.  Fasting is one of the five major obligation for Muslims towards God (Allah).


Fasting isn't a new phenomenon as it has been enjoyed upon for centuries either for health benefits or as a religious duty as prescribed to other major faiths - to Christians and Jews, where fasting has been mentioned in the Old and New Testament in no less than 40 times.  Jesus Christ is also known to have fasted for 40 days.  Fasting is about the ‘purity of both thought and action’.




GIVING     CARING     SHARING     FORGIVING     REFLECTING


Why Muslims Fast

For Muslims, fasting has a number of benefits:

1. It helps one to feel compassion for those who are less fortunate and underprivileged, since each day Muslims feel greater appreciation for what they have as a result of feeling hunger and thirst.

2. It allows one to build a sense of self-control and willpower, which can be beneficial throughout life in dealing with temptations and peer pressure. Through fasting, Muslims learn to control their natural urges such as hunger and thirst, and thus are able to better resist temptations for things which are not necessary, such as drugs or other unhealthy or harmful substances and behaviours.

3. It offers a time for Muslims to "purify" their bodies as well as their souls, by developing a greater sense of humility, spirituality and community. Ramadan is a spiritual time for Muslims, and often they invite each other to one another's homes to break the fast and pray together.

A greater sense of generosity and forgiveness is also characteristic of this time.   Ramadan ends with the holiday and celebration of Eid ul-Fitr.

Ramadan

THE QURAN ON FASTING

 

"O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).

(Fasting) for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (i.e. an old man, etc.), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a poor person (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you know." (2:183-84)

"The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan), he must fast that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number (of days which one did not fast must be made up) from other days.

Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him" (2: 185).

THE HADITH ON FASTING

Abu Huraira (ra) related that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: Whoever fasts during Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. Whoever prays during the nights in Ramadan with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven. And he who passes Lailat al-Qadr in prayer with faith and seeking his reward from Allah will have his past sins forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim).

Abu Huraira (ra) related that Rasulullah said: If anyone omits his fast even for one day in Ramadan without a concession or without being ill, then if he were to fast for the rest of his life he could not make up for it (Bukhari).

Abu Huraira (ra) related that the Prophet said: Allah the Majestic and Exalted said: "Every deed of man will receive ten to 700 times reward, except Siyam (fasting), for it is for Me and I shall reward it (as I like). There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts: one when he breaks the fast and the other when he will meet his Lord" (Muslim).

Abu Huraira (ra) related that Rasulullah said: Many people who fast get nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst, and many people who pray at night get nothing from it except wakefulness (Darimi).

When to start fasting

Ibn Umar (ra) related that the Prophet said: Do not start fasting unless you see the new moon, and do not end 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)

Anas (ra) related that Rasulullah said: Take the Suhoor meal, for there is blessing in it (Bukhari, Muslim).

Breaking your fast

Salman ibn Amir Dhabi (ra) related that the Prophet said: Break your fast with dates, or else with water, for it is pure (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi).

Fasting during a journey

Aisha (ra) related that Rasulullah was asked whether one should fast when on a journey, and he replied: Fast if you like, or postpone it if you like (Bukhari, Muslim).

Behaviour while fasting

Abu Huraira (ra) related that the Prophet said: If a person does not avoid false talk and false conduct during Siyam, then Allah does not care if he abstains from food and drink (Bukhari, Muslim).

Forgetfully eating or drinking while fasting

Abu Huraira (ra) related that Rasulullah said: If anyone forgets that he is fasting and eats or drinks he should complete his Siyam, for it is Allah who has fed him and given him drink (Bukhari, Muslim).

Providing for those who are breaking the fast

Zaid ibn Khalid Juhni (ra) related that the Prophet said: He who provides for the breaking of the Siyam of another person earns the same merit as the one who was observing Siyam diminishing in any way the reward of the latter (Tirmidhi).

Lailat al-Qadr

Aisha (ra) related that the Prophet said: Look for Lailat al-Qadr on an odd-numbered night during the last ten nights of Ramadan (Bukhari).

Anas ibn Malik (ra) related that Rasulullah said: When Lailat al-Qadr comes Gabriel descends with a company of angels who ask for blessings on everyone who is remembering Allah, whether they are sitting or standing (Baihaqi).

Ramadan

Once Moosa (AS) asked Allah Subhaana'O'Ta'ala:

O Allah! You have granted me the honor and privilege of talking to you directly, Have you given this privilege to any other person? Allah Ta'ala replied, O!! Moosa during the last period I am going to send an Ummat (nation), who will be the Ummat of Muhammed (SAW) with dry lips, parched tongues, emaciated body with eyes sunken deep into their sockets, with livers dry and stomachs suffering the pangs of hunger will call out to me (in dua) they will be much much closer to me than you O Moosa! while you speak to me there are 70,000 veils between you and me but at the time of iftaar there will not be a single veil between me and the fasting Ummati of Muhammed (SAW) O!! Moosa I have taken upon myself the responsibility that at the time of iftaar I will never refuse the dua of a fasting person!

 

 

Fasting is for Allah ...

The Messenger of Allah Sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam said, “The reward of every (good) deed of a person is multiplied from ten to seven hundred times. Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’aala says: ‘The reward of observing Saum is different from the reward of other good deeds; Saum is for Me, and I Alone will give its reward. The person observing Saum abstains from food and drink only for My sake.' The fasting person has two joyous occasions, one at the time of breaking his fast, and the other at the time of meeting his Rubb. Surely, the breath of one observing Saum is better smelling to Allah than the fragrance of musk.’”' (Muslim)

 

 

Abu Hurayrah relates that Rasulullah (SAW) said,

"My Ummah were given five things for Ramadhaan which were not given to anyone except them. For them, the smell from the mouth of a fasting person is more sweeter to Allah than the fragrant smell of musk. On their behalf the fish in the sea seek forgiveness for the fasting persons until they break their fast. Allah prepares and decorates a special garden in Jannah everyday and then says (to it), "The time is near when faithful servants shall cast aside the great trials of the world and come to you". In this month (for them) evil-minded Shaytaan is chained so as not to reach unto those evils to which they normally reach during other months besides Ramadhaan. On the last night of Ramadhaan they are forgiven". Hadith

Ramadan

 

There are important points to understand while fasting the month of Ramadan in order to take the maximum benefit from the wisdom and teachings we gain in this blessed month, in which Allah sent down His last revelation, the Quran.

Consider first an important statement of our prophet Muhammad, (peace be upon him), when he said, "Don't let the day of fasting be the same as the day you don't fast." He was talking about our behavior and attitude being the same whether we are fasting or not fasting and not having an effect on us. Let us keep this in mind while we consider the following ten points of fasting Ramadan, Insha'Allah.


POINT 1: Gaining Taqwa

Allah legislated fasting for gaining taqwa,

 "O you who believe, fasting has been prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those before you, so that you may attain taqwa." [Noble Quran 2:183]

 

Taqwa in this case means to make a shield between oneself and Allah's anger and Hellfire. So we should ask ourselves, when we break our fasts, 'Has this fasting day made us fear Allah more? Has it resulted that we want to protect ourselves from the hellfire or not?

 

POINT 2: Drawing closer to Allah

This is achieved by reciting and reflecting on Al-Quran during night and day, attending the taraweeh prayers, remembering Allah, sitting in circles of knowledge and, for those who can, making 'umrah. Also for those who can, making I'tikaf (seclusion) in the last ten nights of Ramadan, so as to leave all worldly pursuits and seclude oneself in a masjid just thinking of Allah, so as to bring oneself closer to Allah. When one sins, one feels distant from Allah. That is why one might find it heard to read the Quran and come to the masjid. However, the obedient worshipper feels closer to Allah and wants to worship Allah more, because he is not shy from his sins.

 

POINT 3: Acquiring patience and strong will

Allah has mentioned patience more than seventy times in the Quran and has commanded patience in more than sixteen ways in His Book. So when one fasts, and gives up one's food and drink, and one's marital sexual relations for those hours, one learns restraint and patience. This Ummah needs men and women that are strong willed, who can stand upon the Sunnah and the Book of Allah and not waver in front of the enemies of Allah. We do not need emotional people, who just raise slogans and shout, but when the time comes to stand upon something firm, they cannot do so, they waver.

 

POINT 4: Striving for Ihsan (righteousness and sincerity) and staying away from riya (showing off)

Ihsan means to worship Allah as if one seeks Him, and even though one does not see Him, He sees all. Hasan al-Basri said, "By Allah, in the last twenty years, I have not said a word or taken something with my hand or refrained to take something with my hand or stepped forth or stepped back, except that I have thought before I have done any action, 'Does Allah love this action? Is Allah pleased with this action?' So when one is fasting, one should gain this quality of watching oneself and also staying away from riya (showing off). That is why Allah said in a hadith qudsi, "Fasting is for Me and I reward it." (al-Bukhari) Allah singles out fasting from all other types of worship saying, "Fasting is for Me", because no one knows whether you are fasting or not, except Allah. For example, when one is praying or giving charity or making tawaf, one can be seen by the people, so one might do the action seeking the praise of the people.

 

Sufyan ath-Thawri used to spend the nights and the days crying and the people used to ask him, "Why do you cry, is it due to the fear of Allah? He said, 'No.' They said, "Is it due to the fear of the Hellfire?" He said, 'No. It is not the fear of Hellfire that makes me cry, what makes me cry is that I have been worshipping Allah all these years and doing scholarly teaching, and I am not certain that my intentions are purely for Allah.'"

 

POINT 5: Refinement of manners, especially those related to truthfulness and discharging trusts.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah has no need that he should heave his food and drink." (al-Bukhari) What we learn from this, is that we must pay attention to the purification of our manners. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "was sent to perfect good manners." (Malik) So we must check ourselves, are we following the behaviour of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? For example: Do we give salam to those we don't know and those we do know? Do we follow the manners of Islam, by telling the truth and only telling the truth? Are we sincere? Are we merciful to the creation?

 

POINT 6: Recognizing that one can change for the better

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Every son of Adam sins and the best of the sinners are those who repent." (Ibn Majah) Allah provides many opportunities to repent to Him and seek His forgiveness. If one was disobedient they can become obedient.

 

POINT 7: Being more charitable

Ibn 'Abbas said, "The Prophet (peace be upon him) was the most charitable amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Jibril (angel Gabriel) used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month." (al-Bukhari) The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, without nothing being reduced from the fasting person's reward." [At-Tirmidhi]

 

POINT 8: Sensing the unity of the Muslims

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ".Those of you who will live after me will see many differences. Then you must cling to my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the rightly guided khalifahs (leaders). Hold fast to it and stick to it." [Abu Dawud]In this month we sense that there is a possibility for unity, because we all fast together, we break fast together, we all worship Allah together, and we pray Salatul-`Eid together. Therefore we sense that the unity of Muslims is possible. It is possible for Muslims to be a single body, but this will only be achieved when obedience is only to Allah and His Messenger.

 

POINT 9: Learning discipline

The Prophet (ma Allah send His blessing and peace upon him) made us adhere to discipline and strictness, strictness that does not lead to fanaticism or going outside the bounds that Allah has laid down. One cannot knowingly break the fast before the sunset, as this will not be accepted by Allah. Muslims should learn to be very strict in their lives, because they are people of an important message, which they mold their lives around.

 

POINT 10: Teaching the young to worship Allah

It was the practice of the people of Madinah, that during the fast of 'Ashura (which is now a recommended fast of one day) to get their children to fast with them. When the children would cry of hunger and thirst, their parents would distract their attention by giving them some sort of toy to play with. The children would break their fast with their parents. (as mentioned in al-Bukhari).

 

So the young should be brought to the masjid and they should pray with their parents, so that they are able to get into the habit of becoming worshippers of Allah. If one does not encourage children to fast when they are young, they will find it very difficult to fast for thirty days at the age of puberty. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Command your children to pray at the age of seven and beat them at the age of ten (if they do not pray." (Hakim)

 

There is yet another consideration for the fasters of Ramadan, although this is not something we usually consider as the motivation for following Allah's command, and that is the physical and medical advantages usually associated with fasting.

 

We are ordered to take care of our health and provide our body with its rights over us. Our prophet, (peace be upon him), told us our body has rights on us and in one hadith he said, "The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, and there is good in everyone." Sahih Muslim

 

Make du'a for us while you are fasting -please, Insha'Allah. May Allah accept your fasting and put you in His Jannah, ameen.

Ramadan

Muslims generally break their fast by eating dates. Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) is reported to have said: "if anyone of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. In case he does not have them, then with water. Verily water is a purifier."

 

The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to break his fast by eating some dates before offering Maghrib prayer, and if ripe dates were not available, he used to substitute them with some dried grapes. When they too were not available, he used to have a few sips of water, according to some reports. Modern science has proved that dates are part of a healthy diet. They contain sugar, fat and proteins, as well as important vitamins. Hence the great importance attached to them by the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam).

 

Dates are also rich in natural fibres. Modern medicine has shown that they are effective in preventing abdominal cancer. They also surpass other fruits in the sheer variety of their constituents. They contain oil, calcium, sulphur, iron, potassium, phosphorous, manganese, copper and magnesium. In other words, one date is a minimum of a balanced and healthy diet. Arabs usually combine dates with milk and yogurt or bread, butter and fish. This combination indeed makes a self-sufficient and tasty diet for both mind and body.

 

Dates and date palms have been mentioned in the Holy Qur'an 20 times, thus showing their importance. The Prophet likened a good Muslim to the date palm, saying, "Among trees, there is a tree like a Muslim. Its leaves do not fall."

 

Sayyidah Mariam (alaiyhas salaam) mother of Isa (Jesus - alaiyhis salaam) had dates as her food when she felt labour pains and during confinement. They are definitely the "crown of sweets," and ideal food which is easy to digest, and within half an hour of taking it, the tired body regains a renewed vigour.

 

The reason for this is that a shortage of sugar in the blood is the main factor that makes people feel hungry and not an empty stomach as is often assumed. When the body absorbs the nutritional essence of a few dates, the feeling of hunger becomes appeased. When one breaking the fast with dates takes some other food afterwards, he cannot eat much. It would seem that breaking the fast with dates then helps one avoid excessive eating.  Experiments have also shown that dates contain some stimulants that strengthen the muscles of the uterus in the last months of pregnancy. This helps the dilation of the uterus at the time of delivery on one hand and reduces the bleeding after delivery on the other.

 

Dieticians consider dates as the best food for women in confinement and those who are breast-feeding.  This is because dates contain elements that assist in alleviating depression in mothers and enriching the breast-milk with all the elements needed to make the child healthy and resistant to disease. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has emphasized the importance of dates and their effectiveness in the growth of the fetus. He has also recommended they be given to women.

 

Modern dietary institute now recommend dates to be given to children suffering from a nervous nature or hyperactivity. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has also recommended dates as a medicine for heart troubles, according to some reports. Modern science has also proved the effectiveness of date, in preventing diseases of the respiratory system.

 

Sayyidah Ayisha, (R.A.) wife of Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam), used to prescribe dates for those suffering from giddiness. It is now well known that a fall in the level of the sugar in the blood and low blood pressure  are among the causes of giddiness. She was also reported to have used dates combined with cucumber to treat her over-slim condition! She said, "they've tried to fatten me giving me everything. But I did not become fat. Then they fattened me with cucumber and ripe dates and I gained!" Ayisha was quite correct, as we now know that one kilogram of dates contains nearly 3,000 calories which alone are sufficient to supply the minimum daily requirements of an active man for one full day.

 

Dates are rich in several vitamins and minerals. When the level of trace elements falls in the body, the health of the blood vessels is affected leading to an increased heart-rate and a consequent inability to perform its function with normal efficiency. As dates are also rich in calcium, they help strengthen the bones. When the calcium content in the body decreases, children are affected with rickets and the bones of adults become brittle and weak.

 

Dates are also important in keeping up the health of eyes. It is quite effective in guarding against night-blindness. They are the best stimulant for muscles.

 

The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) used to combine dates with bread sometimes. At other times he mixed ripe dates with cucumber, or dates combined with ghee. He used to take all varieties of dates, but he preferred the variety called Ajwah.

 

In short:

Dates are easy to digest so they don't exhaust the fasting person stomach.

 

Dates decrease the great hunger feeling of the fasting person and so he doesn't rush into excessive food eating which causes digestion disorders.

 

Dates prepare the stomach to receive the food after being inactive through out the day with activating the release of digestive secretions and juices.

 

Dates are very rich with sugary energy and so the body is supplied with the most important nutrients which is sugar that is irreplaceable as a nutrient for the brain cells and nerves.

 

Dates protect the fasting person from having constipation as a result of changing meals times or as a result of having low fiber amounts in meals.

 

The alkaline salts in dates adjust the acidity of blood which result from excessiveness eating of meat and carbohydrates which causes a lot of hereditary diseases as diabetes, gout, renal stones, gall bladder inflammations, high blood pressure and hemorrhoids).

Ramadan

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