Fiqh of Ramadan

Ramadan is the month in which the first verses of the Quran were revealed to Prophet Muhammad. Throughout the Holy month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from Dawn (time for Fajr prayer) until right after the sun completely sets (time for Maghrib prayer)

Shaykh Haytham Ibn Muhammad Sarhaan

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Last update
May 5, 2021
ﷺ means: Allah's Peace and Blessings be upn him
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Definition of Fasting (Siyaam)

Linguistic definition: To abstain from something. Islamic definition: Worshipping Allaah by abstaining from food, drink and other actions which invalidate a person’s fast, from true dawn to sunset.

The pillars of Fasting

1. A sincere intention (Niyyah).

2. Abstaining from anything that invalidates the fast.

Types of fasts and their Niyyah (intention)

1. Obligatory fast: This includes the month of Ramadhan, expiations and vows. A person must make an intention the night before he fasts i.e. before the Fajr prayer. It is sufficient for a person to make a single intention for the whole month at the beginning of Ramadhan. The intention is in the heart, and pronouncing it verbally is a Bid’ah (innovation).

2. Voluntary fast: The intention is made at any time of the day, as long as a person has not eaten or done something which would invalidate the fast. The reward for a voluntary fast is according to how early a person intends and begins his fast.

Conditions for the obligation of a Fast:

1. Islam: Fasting is only accepted from Muslims.

2. Intellect: A person who is mentally disabled does not fast.

2. Puberty: After the age of puberty, fasting is an obligation. However when a young child reaches the age of distinction (Tamyeez) then he is encouraged and trained to fast by the guardian.

3. Health: An ill or weak person does not need to fast.

4. Purity: From menstruation and post-natal bleeding. Wudhu is not a condition for Fasting.

5. Residence: Fasting is not obligated upon a traveling person, although it is better to fast as long as there is no difficulty upon him. Why?

  • The Prophet ﷺ often fasted whilst on a journey.
  • The fast need not be made up at a later date.
  • It is easier to fast during Ramadhan.
  • A person gains the virtue of the month of Ramadhan.

Fasting for the ill

1. Chronic illness: A weak or old person also falls under this category. There is no obligation to fast in this state. However, a poor person must be fed for each day missed. Each poor person must be given staple food of the locality such as wheat or rice to the measure a half a Saa’ (approx. 1.5kg). It is also encouraged to give a condiment of meat and sauce. If this cannot be afforded, nothing is obligated.

2. Temporary illness: A menstruating woman, a woman suffering from post-natal bleeding, a breastfeeding woman all fall under this category. They must make up the missed fasts at a later date according to the number of days missed.

The beginning of Ramadan

It can be known by one of two ways:

1. Sighting the new moon.

2. Completion of thirty days of the month of Sha’baan.

Recommended acts during the Fast

1. Delaying the Suhoor (pre-dawn meal) until its latest time.

2. Iftaar (breaking the fast) at the earliest time.

3. Breaking the fast with fresh dates and water; if they are not found, then dry dates. If there is no food or drink then the intention of Iftaar is done in the heart.

4. Du’aa during the day especially before Iftaar, reciting Qur’an, charity, Taraaweeh and Dhikr.

5. Performing Umrah.

6. Saying ‘I am fasting’ to the one who insults.

7. Seeking the Night of Al-Qadr (by increasing in good deeds in the last ten nights).

8. I’tikaaf in the last ten days.

Permitted acts during the Fast

It is permitted for a fasting person to swallow saliva, taste a minute amount of food due to a necessity, take a shower, use the Miswaak, brush the teeth with toothpaste, use perfume and any other action which is not an invalidator. A person can rinse the mouth with water but this should not be done excessively.

Acts which invalidate the Fast

1. Eating and drinking intentionally: If a person eats or drinks forgetfully, he should continue fasting.

2. Sexual intercourse: If a person has intercourse during his fast in a day of Ramadhan, then upon him is the major expiation:

  • Freeing a slave.
  • If unable to do so, then fasting two months consecutively.
  • If unable to do so, then feeding sixty poor people.

3. Discharge of semen: Due to touching, kissing, hugging or any other action out of desire.

4. Anything similar to eating or drinking: Such as taking a nutritional injection. As for injections that have no nutritional value, they do not invalidate one’s fast.

5. Bleeding due to Cupping: A small amount of bleeding due to blood-analysis or the like, does not invalidate a person’s fast.

6. Vomiting intentionally.

7. Menstruation and post-natal bleeding.

Impermissible acts during the Fast

These actions are impermissible, but do not invalidate the fast:

1. Swallowing phlegm excessively.

2. A young person kissing their respective partners as it may lead to other actions.

3. False statements and other impermissible actions such as lying and backbiting.

4. Ill-mannered behaviour and a lack of tolerance towards other people.

5. Fasting two days consecutively without breaking the fast in between.

Voluntary Fasts

1. Six days of Shawwaal: For a person who has completed fasting the month of Ramadhan, it is preferred to complete these six days consecutively.

2. Day of ‘Arafah: For a person who is not performing Hajj.

3. The Day of ‘Aashoorah: The tenth of Muharram along with the ninth and/or eleventh of Muharram.

4. Every Monday and Thursday.

5. Three days of every month: Specifically the 13th, 14th and 15th of each Islamic month.

6. Throughout the month of Muharram.

7. Fasting the first nine days of Dhul Hijjah.

8. The month of Sha’baan: Especially the first half of Sha’baan, however in the second half of Sha’baan a person should reduce the number of days he is fasting. He should not fast the last days of Sha’baan so they are joined to the first days of Ramadhan.

Disliked Fasts

Singling out Friday or Saturday. However, if a person fasts one of these days due to a specific reason then it is not disliked. For example, if the Day of ‘Arafah falls on a Saturday it is permissible to fast.

Impermissible Fasts

1. To specifically single out the month of Rajab for fasting.

2. To fast a day of doubt i.e. fasting the last day of Sha’baan with the excuse that “perhaps Ramadhan has entered.”

3. The days of Eid.

4. Fasting the days of Tashreeq - with the exception of a person performing Hajj who is required to but unable to sacrifice a sacrificial animal.

5. Joining two consecutive days of fasting without breaking the fast in between.

Making up Missed Days

It is recommended for a person to make up missed days of fasting immediately after the day of Eid. It is not permitted for a person to delay making up missed fasts until the next Ramadhan. The relatives of a deceased person can make up for any missed days on behalf of the deceased.

Zakatul-Fitr

This is charity paid by Muslims at the end of Ramadhan on the day of Eid. It is an obligation upon any Muslim who can afford it and reaches the sunset. A person should do this for himself and his family members who are under his responsibility. It is also recommended for a man to donate on behalf of the fetus in the womb of his wife.

Wisdom behind donating Zakatul-Fitr

1. It purifies a person who has just fasted the month of Ramadhan from any false and idle speech that may have emanated from him.

2. It helps the poor, so that their needs are met on the Day of Eid and they do not have to ask others.

Time for its donation:

1. Permitted time: Before Eid by one or two days.

2. Recommended time: Before the Eid Prayer, after Fajr.

3. Impermissible time: After the Eid Prayer.

The amount to be donated

A person should donate one Saa’ (approximately 3kg) of the staple food of one’s country (such as barley or rice). It is not permitted to donate money of its value, but money can be given to a person or a charity who will buy food on one’s behalf and distribute it.

Allah knows best.

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