The Fast of Holy Ramadan

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The Fast of Holy Ramadan

O who believe, fasting is decreed for you

as it was decreed for those before you;

perchance you will guard yourselves.


The month of Ramadan is the month

in which the Koran was sent down,

a guidance for the people,

and clear verses of guidance and


[Quran: Chapter 2, 183]

  • The Excellences Of Ramadan by Ghawth al-`Adham Sayyid Abd al-Qadir Jilani

  • The Mysteries of Fasting by Hujjat ul-Islam Abu Hamid al-Ghazzali

  • The Inward Conditions of Fasting

  • The Outward Duties of Fasting

  • Recommended Voluntary Worship during Ramadan

  • The Outward Duties of Fasting

  • Requirements and Conditions Pertaining to Fasting Ramadan

  • The Secrets of Fasting by Muhyi al-Din Ibn `Arabi

  • Shaykh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani speaks on:

  • The Importance of Laylat ul-Qadr - The Night of Power

  • The Gates of Mercy in Ramadan

  • Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani talks in: Ramadan 1419

  • Selections from Nuzhat al-Majalis,a classical Islamic text on

Laylat ul-Qadr - The Night of Power

  • Fiqh of Ramadan in brief by Imam an-Nawawi

  • Fasting, A Gift From Your Creator - Every Day Fiqh by Maulana Yusuf Islahi

  • Ramadan by Suheil Laher

  • Why do Muslims fast?


The Mysteries of Fasting

There are three degrees of fasting: 1. The fast of the ordinary person.

2. The fast of the select few.

3. The fast of the elite.
The fast of the ordinary person has already been described, i.e. the abstinence of appetite, sexual intercourse, noise, arguing etc ...
The fast of the select few is that of keeping the ears, eyes, tongue, hands, feet together with all the other senses free from sin.
These virtuous people free themselves from sin in six ways:
1. Refraining from looking at anything that is blameworthy or disapproved. Jabir, on the authority of Anas related that the Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, said:

"There are five things that break the fast; telling lies, backbiting, telling tales, perjury, covetousness and lustful eyes."

2. Keeping the tongue free from ranting and raving, lying, backbiting, tale-telling, obscenity, abusive speech, wrangling, and hypocrisy. Rather, one should busy oneself with the remembrance and exaltation of Allah, as well as the recitation of the Holy Koran - this is the fasting of the tongue.
3. Closing the ears to all that is reprehensible. The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, said:
"The backbiter and the listeners are partners in sin."

4. Constraint of the rest of the senses from sin. Restraining the hand from evil, curbing the foot for the pursuit of wickedness, avoidance of questionable foods at the break of the fast.

The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, said:

"Many receive nothing from the fast except hunger and thirst."

This hadith has been explained as referring to the person who breaks the fast on unlawful food and drink. It has also been explained as referring to people who abstain from halal food and break the fast on the flesh of men through illicit backbiting, also, that it refers to the person who does not keep his senses free from sin.

5. Over indulgence when breaking the fast, even when the food is halal. The spirit as well as the secret of fasting is to weaken the flesh which is satan's tool for turning mankind back to evil.
6. After breaking the fast, the heart should remain in a state of suspense between fear and hope as one does not know whether the fast has been accepted.
"Al Ahnaf, son of Kays was once told: "You are an old man, and fasting will make you weak." He replied: "This fast is my preparation for a long journey. Indeed, to endure the yoke in the service of Allah is easier than to endure the yoke of His wrath.

The fasting person who is not truly fasting is the one, who while in a state of hunger and thirst allows himself every freedom in sin. But the one who truly understands fasting and its secret knows that whosoever abstains from food, drink, sexual intercourse but commits all manner of sins is like the person who, in performing the ablution runs his hand over one of his limbs thrice, thereby outwardly fulfilling the Law as far as the limb is concerned, but neglecting the truly important thing which is the actual washing. Consequently because of his ignorance, his prayer is rejected.

Whereas, the one who breaks the fast through eating but observes it by keeping himself free from sin is like the person who, in performing the ablution, washes each of the limbs of his body once only. His prayers are, by the will of Allah, accepted because he has fulfilled the principal thing in the ablution although he has failed to fulfill its details. But whosoever does both is like the person who, in performing the ablution, washes each limb of his body thrice, thereby fulfilling both the principal purpose of ablution as well as its elaborate details which constitutes perfection.

The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him said: "Indeed, fasting is a trust; let each, therefore, take good care of his trust." When he recited the verse "Allah orders you all to hand back the trusts to their owners ..." he raised his hands so that they touched his ears and eyes and said:

"The gift of hearing and sight are each a trust from Allah." Similarly, the gift of speech is a trust, for if it were not so the Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, would not have said: "If anyone disputes with another and swears at him, let the latter say 'I am fasting, I am fasting."

It is clear, then, that every act of worship possesses an outward form and an internal form - an external husk and internal pith.

The husks are of different grades and each grade has different layers. It is for you to choose whether to be content with the husk or join the company of the wise and learned.

The fast of the elite is the fast of the heart from bad thoughts, worldly worries and anything else that may divert from anything but thoughts of Allah.

The Mysteries of Fasting

the Month of Ramadan

1.The fast of the ordinary person.
Requirements and Conditions of the Duties Pertaining to Fasting Ramadan:
Ascertaining the Beginning of the Month of Fasting

The watch for the sighting of the crescent moon which defines the lunar month, whose cycles are the basis for determining the months in a perfectly natural yet synchronized fashion. Once the new moon has been sighted (i.e. the month's beginning has been determined), its "arrival" should be proclaimed so that all may prepare to fast. Thus its proclamation as the beginning of the month of Fasting.

If determination of the new moon is impossible, for whatever reason, the length of the preceding lunar month of Shaban is to be considered thirty days, the thirty-first day being the beginning of the month of fasting and wholehearted devotion to God: Ramadan.

The determination of the lunar month should be by sighting the moon--it being witnessed by a Muslim known to be truthful and trustworthy--or as some scholars have acceded, by the establishment of its "newness" by accurate and trustworthy calculation, as is not possible through modern astronomy.

Similarly, the sighting of the new moon or determination by caculation of Shawwal is to be witnessed by two truthful and trustworthy people as a precaution.

Once a trustworthy witness announces that he has seen the new moon, or the new moon has accurately been determined by other means, the fast becomes obligatory upon those whose ears it reaches, even though an Islamic judge may not have announced the arrival of the new month.
Whenever the new moon has been verified, be it in another city or country that share the same beginning of the day, the fast becomes incumbent upon the two.


It is imperative during Ramadan to make the intention to fast every night before the dawn of the following day, otherwise the fast is void. However, it is not the case with voluntary fasts.

When it is unclear whether or not the following day is the first day of Ramadan one should make the intention to fast in case it is.
The possibility of a trustworthy witness being mistaken should not affect the intention of the person who plans to fast the following day.
If a woman anticipates the end of her menstruation during which fasting is prohibited before dawn, she should also make the intention to fast, the following day.

Conditions of the Daily Fast

It is obligatory upon every Muslim after reaching the age of puberty to fast each day of Ramadan and not miss any fasting day intentionally. It is obligatory to make up any days for which fasting was missed uninentionally during Ramadan by fasting at a later date whether or not they had a valid excuse among which are menstruation, pregnancy, nursing a baby, illness, travel and so on.

Fast days missed intentionally must be expiated by fasting for two consecutive months.

Eating or drinking invalidates the fast as does smoking, injections, enemas etc. Rinsing the mouth with water does not invalidate the fast, however, one must take care not to swallow or inhale as one's fast will become void.

Care must be exercised concerning eating just before the fast is due to begin. One must also be careful not to anticipate the arrival of evening and thereby break the fast early.
Married couples are forbidden to have intercourse whilst they are fasting. However, it is permissible after the fast has been broken in the evening.

In the event that one experiences a "wet" dream whilst sleeping and then wake up the following morning in this condition of impurity his fast is not broken.

Deliberate seminal emission either through sexual contact or through no sexual contact invalidates the fast.

The fast will not be broken by a kiss unless seminal fluid is discharged, however it is discouraged unless both are able to control their feelings.

Induced vomiting invalidates the fast. However, if one cannot help it, the fast remains valid.
Phlegm or mucus does not void the fast unless it is "collected" in the mouth and then swallowed.
In the event that one's fasting becomes void, one should continue the practice of those fasting - i.e. abstinence of food and drink etc.
However, if sexual intercourse occurs during the fast of Ramadan, its expiation will be to fast for two consecutive months.

If those who indulged in intercourse are unable to fast the two consecutive months then each should feed sixty poor people as an expiation.

In the case of a women whose menstruation finishes during the day, there is no obligation upon her to practice the fast for the rest of that day.

Pregnancy & Nursing

If a woman is pregnant or breast feeding and cannot fast on that account, fearing harm to her own health or that of her child, it is obligatory for her to fast the days that are missed later on, and according to some scholar to atone for missing the fast by feeding the poor with the equivalent of a bushel of wheat for each lost day.

Ill and Elderly

In the case of elderly or ill people who are unable to fast, their expiation is also the feeding of the poor with the equivalent of a bushel of wheat for each day lost.


The traveler is not obliged to fast provided travel began before the time for the dawn prayer, the travel entailing the distance considered a condition for shortening the prayers.

Missed fasts of the traveler must be made up after the end of Ramadan, but need not be expiated
In the event that a person has already started fasting, he should not break the fast when he embarks upon a journey, nor yet when he returns from a journey. There is no obligation upon a non-fasting traveler to resume the fast upon reaching their destination before the end of the fasting day, however it is preferable for the traveler to fast the entire day unless it incurs more than the usual hardship of fasting.
Menstruation and Lochia

If a woman is menstruating or is bleeding due to childbirth (lochia), fasting is not valid until the menstruation ceases. Days missed by her can be made up anytime after the end of Ramadan during the year before the next Ramadan commences.

2. The fast of the select few
Recommended Voluntary Worship During Ramadan
There are a number of highly recommendable worshipful practices to be performed during the days of Ramadan, for those who seek closeness to their Lord and His Companionship.

  • Partaking of food prior to the commencement of the fast.

  • Breaking the fast by eating dates or with a drink of water.

  • Putting away the toothbrush after the noon prayer (dhuhr).
  • Charity and good deeds.

  • Performance of voluntary congregational night prayers Traweeh.

  • Recitation and contemplation of the Holy Quran.

  • The Night of Power

  • Retreat to the mosque during the last ten days and nights of Ramadan.

Partaking of Food Prior to Commencing the FastIt is recommended to partake of a light meal (suhoor)prior to commencing the fast. The fast begins at first light and ends at sunset (maghreb).
"Eat some food before the fast begins, there is blessing in its partaking."
[Bukhari and Muslim]

Zaid, the son of Thabit related: "We partook of suhoor (food before the commencement of the fast) during Ramadan with the Messenger of Allah and then stood up for prayer.

He was asked what was the interval of time between the two, so he replied: 'The time it takes to recite fifty verses (of the Quran).'"

The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, said: "My nation will remain in goodness as long as they break the fast as soon as it is due."


Breaking the Fast

The fast is broken at sunset, and it is termed in Arabic iftar. It is a time of happiness and refreshment after experiencing the pangs of hunger and thirst. It is usually broken with dates and in many cultures a light soup with bread or small side dishes. Breaking the fast is followed immediately by the evening obligatory prayer. In many parts of the world, including the US, breaking fast is observed in congregation in mosques and homes.

The Prophet (s) said: "Whosoever fasts experiences two joys. He is joyful when he breaks his fast, and is joyful because of his fasting when he meets his Lord."

"When evening approaches from this side (east) and the day retreats from this side (west) and the sun has set, the one who is fasting breaks his fast."

[Bukhari and Muslim]

"Break your fast with a date, or with water because it is pure."

[Abu Daud and Tirmidhi]

Putting away the Toothbrush after the Noon Prayer

The Prophet (s) said: "By Him in whose Hands is the life of Muhammad, the breath of one who is fasting is better with Allah than the fragrance of musk."

Generosity and Good Deeds During the Month of Fasting

Our beloved prophet, Prophet Muhammad, praise and peace be upon him, spoke on many occasions about the fast of Ramadan.

He informed us of the way in which we should prepare ourselves as well as urging us to do good, to be charitable, and to refrain from ways in which our fast would become invalid.
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur'an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).


Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)"
[Bukhari]. "Allah, the Mighty, the Glorified says: 'All the deeds of the son of Adam are for himself, but his fasting is for Me and I shall reward him for it.
The fast is a shield. When any of you fasts he should forsake swearing and noise.'"

Retreat - 'Itikaf

Regarding the retreat, it was the practice of the Prophet, praise and peace be upon him, to retreat to the Mosque during the last ten days and nights of Ramadan, fasten his cloak around his waist and encourage his family to do the same. His time in the Mosque was spent in worship and not in idle talk.

If it is one's intention to offer the retreat then there are specific rules to be observed:
Once the intention or vow has been taken to observe these days of continuous retreat, the continuity of its observance is broken if he leaves the mosque without a justifiable necessity, such as to attend a funeral.

However, the observance is not broken when one leaves to go to the toilet. Those in retreat are permitted to renew their ablutions in their own home, but the restatement of the intent must be renewed unless the intention to spend the ten days in advance has been made. Any form of business to and from the mosque is not permissible.

It was the practice of the Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, not to leave the mosque except for the call of nature. Neither would he inquire about a sick person except as he passed by without stopping.

Sleeping, eating, washing hands in the mosque do not invalidate the retreat, nor yet the emergence of a limb or part of the body from the mosque.

Sexual intercourse invalidates the observance of the retreat, but not a non-arousing kiss.
The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, would go into seclusion for (the last) ten days during the month of Ramadan, but the year in which he passed away he went into seclusion for twenty days.


Narrated 'Aisha: "Allah's Apostle used to practice Itikaf in the last ten nights of Ramadan and used to say, 'Look for the Night of Qadr in the last ten nights of the month of Ramadan'".


Narrated 'Aisha (r) (the Mother of the Believers):" Allah's Apostle used to let his head in (the house) while he was in the mosque and I would comb and oil his hair. When in Itikaf he used not to enter the house except for a need."


Recitation of Quran

It was the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) to recite the entirety of the Quran during Ramadan, and in his last year of life (s) he recited it twice.

It has become a common practice in Muslim countries and especially in the United States, to recite the entirety of the Quran during the voluntary congregational worship of Ramadan, taraweeh. This is usually done by reciting one-thirtieth or thereabouts each night.
Narrated Ibn 'Abbas: The Prophet was the most generous amongst the people, and he used to be more so in the month of Ramadan when Gabriel visited him, and Gabriel used to meet him on every night of Ramadan till the end of the month. The Prophet used to recite the Holy Qur'an to Gabriel, and when Gabriel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind (which causes rain and welfare).



It was the practice of the Prophet (s) to perform extra devotional prayers during the night during the month of Ramadan. These are called taraweeh. He prayed this special prayer only three times in congregation during his lifetime, after which he prayed it in his private apartment, fearing it would become a burden on his community.

Later Sayiddina `Umar, may God be pleased with him, second of the Successors of the Prophet (s), ordained that the congregational prayer should become a major institution of Ramadan and established it as a form of nightly congregational worship, though remaining optional in nature. Upon seeing the benefits and blessings pertaining thereto he stated "what an excellent innovation this is!" - "na'imatul-bida` hadhihi" [Bukhari].
According to the major schools of Islamic law (Maliki, Hanifi, Shafi'i and Hanbali) the taraweeh consists of

20 cycles of prostration (raka`ts)

Narrated Abu Huraira: "I heard Allah's Apostle saying regarding Ramadan, "Whoever prayed at night in it (the month of Ramadan) out of sincere Faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven."


Ibn Shihab said, "Allah's Apostle died and the people continued observing that (i.e. Nawafil offered individually, not in congregation), and it remained as it was during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr and in the early days of 'Umar's Caliphate." 'Abdur Rahman bin 'Abdul Qari said, "I went out in the company of 'Umar bin Al-Khattab one night in Ramadan to the mosque and found the people praying in different groups. A man praying alone or a man praying with a little group behind him. So, 'Umar said, 'In my opinion I would better collect these (people) under the leadership of one Qari (Reciter) (i.e. let them pray in congregation!)'. So, he made up his mind to congregate them behind Ubai bin Ka'b. Then on another night I went again in his company and the people were praying behind their reciter. On that, 'Umar remarked, 'What an excellent Bid'a (i.e. innovation in religion) this is; but the prayer which they do not perform, but sleep at its time is better than the one they are offering.' He meant the prayer in the last part of the night. (In those days) people used to pray in the early part of the night."

[Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 32, Number 227]
Sa'eeb ibn Yazid, who said: " In the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab (r) the people used to observe 20 rak'ahs and the witr."
[Al-Bayhaqi related it in al-Marifa]
Sa'eeb ibn Yazid, who said: "In the time of Umar ibn al-Khattab, radiallahu anhu, they would perform 20 rak'ats in the month of Ramadan. He said (also): And they would recite the Mi'in[9], and they would lean on their sticks in the time of Uthman ibn Affan, (r), from the discomfort of standing."

[Bayhaqi in al-Sunan]

The Night of Power

It is during the last ten nights of Ramadan that the Night of Power occurs. By the consensus of many scholars it is most probable that the Night of Power falls on an odd night such as 21st, 23rd, 25th or the 27th.

About this night, God, the Glorious and Exalted said: In the name of God, the Beneficent the Merciful

Indeed We sent it [the Holy Quran] down on the Night of Power.

What will convey to you what the Night of Power is like!

Better is the Night of Power than a

thousand months

in that Night the angels and the Spirit descend

by the permission of their Lord for every affair.

Peace it is, till the break of dawn.

[Quran, Chapter 97]

The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, said: "Whosoever offers voluntary prayers during the Night of Power out of belief and charging Allah with its recompense will have his past sins forgiven."

[Bukhari and Muslim]
Some of the companions of the Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, had a vision that the Night of Power was among the last seven nights of Ramadan, whereupon the Messenger of Allah said: "I see that your visions all agree upon the last seven nights. Whoever, then, seeks the Night of Power should look for it among the last seven nights of Ramadan."

[Bukhari and Muslim]

The Messenger of Allah, praise and peace be upon him, would go into seclusion in the Mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan and said: "Look for the Night of Power among the last ten nights of Ramadan."

[Bukhari and Muslim]

Lady Ayesha, Mother of Believers, may Allah be pleased with her relates "I asked the Prophet, praise and peace be upon him: 'O Messenger of Allah, tell me, if I should realize which night the Night of Honor is, how should I supplicate?' He answered: 'Supplicate: 'O Allah, You are the All Pardoning and You love pardoning, so pardon me.'"


Al-Hamdulillah, praise and peace be upon His Prophet Muhammad and on his Family,

Companions and his Followers, inwardly and outwardly.

On the Secrets of Fasting
Ibn `Arabi
translated by Aisha Bewley
Selected from al-Futuhat al-Makkiyya
O you who laugh in the form of the weeper!

By us you are the complaint and the complainer.

Is the fast abstention without elevation

or elevation without restraint?

They are both together

for the one who affirms tawhId by association.

Intellects are trapped and prevented

from their freedom of action without nets or snares.

Intellects are impaired from their freedom of action,

severely cut off by the Shari'a.

They surrender to what their proof refutes

and they believe without perception.

The star of guidance carries them along,

swimming between the angels of the spheres.

My self, had it not been for you, I would not have been

as if I were Him, were it not for you! Were it not for you!

Fast from phenomenal being and do not break your fast!

The God of creation will bring you close, taking charge of you by that.

Inasmuch as it is a fast, intend that. By nature it is your nourishment.
If you reflect on it, there is a meaning in the fast

whenever a creature alights at your abode.

"There is nothing like the fast."

The Lawgiver said that to me, so reflect on that!

This is because it is non-action. Where is that

which you have done and where is your claim?

The matter has returned to its root.

My Lord has seized control of you by that.

If you reflect on the principle of the fast

and the basis of its meaning by your meaning,

Someone with news came from Him

about your prescribed fast which will divest you.

The fast belongs to Allah, so do not be ignorant.

You are merely the place of its manifestation.

The fast belongs to Allah,

and yet you are the one dying of hunger, so know that!

The Merciful made you feminine because of what appears

from you when He fashioned you (the self).

Glory be to the One who fashioned you! Welcome to Him!

He only gave that to you!

You, like the earth, are a bed for it

and your source-spring (eye) is described as weeping.

You see the source of the handiwork of Allah

between the two of you, so where is your manifestation?

When you called on Allah out of abasement to Him, the Great,

He said, "At your service" to you.

The highest pen in His Tablet

wrote your pure description from Him.

You are the source of all, not His source.

He brought you near from one aspect and put your far from another.

Beware of being content with what pleases you

for the sake of what He makes pleasing to you.

Remain with your root in all He desires.

Do not forget so as to be forgotten.

This is the knowledge

which came to me from one who does not lie.

He brought it down at the command of the One who has the most

knowledge of what is between the ascetics and devout.

Praise be to Allah who bestowed on me knowledge of lights and darkness.

He gave me a form whose perfection is only by your shelter.

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