Islamic Info Center
by Ghadeer Qutub
Fasting means patience and it is one of the five pillars in Islam. Muslims fast a lunar month which is twenty-nine or thirty days. Allah (the God) set the limit to one month, so it is not 31 days. Muslims fast twenty-nine to thirty days once a year and that period is called the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Fasting is obligatory to every believer from the time of Adam (PBUH) until the Day of Judgment. Originally, fasting was prescribed by Allah (the God) from the time of the last prayer (Isha) until the sunset of the next day, and that became a hardship for mankind. Allah then legislated that the fasting be from dawn to sunset. Fasting means that no food, smoking, or liquid is to enter the mouth from dawn until sunset every day. In Sura 2, Ver. 183-187 Allah says "O you who believe fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those who came before you so you may learn self-control. Fasting is for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is sick or traveling, a prescribed number should be made up later on, and those who can not fast for medical reasons then they should feed the needy for the number of days that they can not fast and whoever volunteers to fast even though it is a hardship for him then it would be better for them if you are not aware of it.
During the month of Ramadan the Quran was revealed to mankind and in it there is guidance and signs for mankind. Whoever is able should fast but whoever sick or get sick then they should make it up later on, and Allah does not want to be a hardship on you, but he wants you to be successful and to do your duty and to obey him and so you may glorify Allah and thank him for what he gave you, and if My creatures asked you about Me tell them I am nearby, I will respond to whoever makes supplications, so let them call for Me and invite them to believe in Me so they may be guided.
After sunset you may approach your wife and they are made to be your companion and to share your life and hardship, and eat and enjoy the evening until the white thread of darkness appears to you distinct from its black thread, then you may complete fasting until sunset, but do not approach your wife until sunset; these are the guidelines of Allah.
This is the time for mankind to learn self-control. A mother nursing her baby may be excused from fasting if that bothers her health, but she should make it up.
Fasting is obedience to Allah and He will give the reward for those who are fasting. Fasting is paradise and if one is fasting, he should control his temper, otherwise it will not be counted if someone approaches him to start an argument or to fight with him he should say "I'm fasting ... I'm fasting". To those who fast, they have two things to be happy about, the first is when they end their fasting and the second is when they meet the creator. On the Day of Judgment Allah will multiply the good deeds that are made many hundred times over. A saying by the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) about fasting is that whoever fasts in Ramadan only to get closer to Allah and obey Him, all his bad deeds will be forgiven.
Muslims fast because: Allah prescribed it. It is obedience to Allah. They may have self-control because when they are fasting they are in the control of their lust for food and other things. They learn patience, not to rush things and to keep in control of their desires and hopefully when the month of Ramadan is over they will continue with this attitude.
Fasting is good for the health, it reduces cholesterol, fat, it makes us healthy, and it gives our stomach a chance to rest during the month of Ramadan. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said fasting would make you healthy. In fact many health clinics prescribe the Islamic fasting as a solution. Muslims identify with the hungry and the needy. The month of Ramadan is important because the gospel was revealed to Jesus (PBLJH) on the first of day of Ramadan. The Torah was revealed on the thirteenth day of Ramadan and the Quran on the twenty fourth of Ramadan. Ramadan is important because it commemorates the beginning of the revelation of the holy Quran. During this month there is one night which is better than one thousand nights or 83.3 years. Allah sent the Quran from the seventh heaven to be revealed to Muhammad (PBLJH) over a period of twenty-four years. Allah supported the Muslims to victory over the disbelievers during this month. Devils are chained during this month and the angels will ask Allah to forgive the believers especially during Ramadan. For each 'Rukaa' or prayer unit fifteen hundred good deeds will be written for those who pray. During this month the gates of paradise are opened and the gates of hell are closed. The first third of this month is mercy, the second third is forgiveness and the last is freedom from hell. Good deeds and monitory contributions are multiplied by one thousand times. What Muslims do during this month is not limited to the following: 1. They are to abide by fasting regulations. 2. Complete reading of the Quran several times during this month. Contribute heavily and without hesitation to the needy and the poor. Do as many good deeds as possible. 5. Perform extra prayers after the last prayer at night. They may pray eight, twelve, or twenty-one units. 6. Give Zakat (charity). 7. Give Zakat of Ramadan, which is about 3-6 dollars per individual in the family. 8. Visit relatives. 9. Remember Allah as much as possible. 10. Call for the cause of Allah (they inform others about Islam). 11. Ask for forgiveness. 12. Forgive those who are upset with them. Fasting represents self-struggle against lust, habits, and traditions that control the person. During the other eleven months of the year a person may eat as he wishes, but when fasting occurs the person becomes free from the control of the habits, and this will help him to control his desires. It also strengthens the will of those who fast. Somebody said to the prophet Joseph (PBUH) "you will not get hungry because you are in charge of the treasury of Egypt". He replied, "I'm afraid to be satisfied because then I may forget the hungry". Allah ordered mankind to fast because it is very beneficial for them to do so, and they alone will gain the benefits because they will be tested in their faith. During the month of Ramadan Allah revealed the Quran from the seventh heaven in one night, and the Quran was revealed then over a period of twenty three years according to events, and the night in which the Quran was revealed is called the night of power and Allah revealed Sura 97 with five verses describing what this night is and how important. Allah says "We revealed the Quran during the night of power; do you know what the night of power is? The night of power is better than a thousand months, during that night the angels and the spirits came down from the seventh heaven to the earth with permission from their Lord and they covered the earth in peace until dawn". The reference to the thousand months is because there was a man who fasted and fought for the cause of Allah against the disbelievers, and he did so for a thousand months and Allah loved this man because of his dedication, Allah says that the night of power is better than the thousand months that this person fought for restoring peace. The night of power is very important in Islam and anyone who makes supplications will be responded to, unless he called for disobedience to Allah then Allah will not respond. So, Muslims try to stay up all night. But of curse, that night is not pinpointed. According to the saying of prophet Muhammad (PB唀H) it is during the last ten days of Ramadan, and Muslims stay late at night praying, making supplications and reading the Quran during the last ten days of Ramadan so may they witness the night of power. Those who fast Ramadan continuously, on the Day of Judgment they will enter paradise from a special door called Rayyan designated for those who pray. Once the moon is sighted, Muslims make the intention to fast and the next day they do not feel hungry or thirsty, they will do so when they eat or drink, and Allah will help them to overcome their lust for food. So, when Muslims fast twenty nine or thirty days Allah will reward them ten days for each day they fast, and if they fast six more days then it is, as if they fasted the whole year. Fasting will not be accepted if: Someone intentionally eats or drinks. 2. If someone break his fast before the sunset. If medicine has been injected into his system for health reasons. 4. If he vomits, bleeds, and had intercourse, if he is married (he can have intercourse from dawn to sunset). When Muslims break their fast, they should not eat excessively or eat fast, instead they should eat modestly beginning with eating a few pieces of dates because it replaces the body with needed nutrients that he lost during the day, then he prays the Magrab (Sunset) prayer. Voluntary fasting during the rest of the year is up to the individual, some fast Monday and Wednesday and some fast three days a week, it depends on their ability to fast. If a Muslim made a promise and made Allah as a witness and he did not fulfill his promise, he should fast three days. Many people Wt two and three months of the year seeking acceptance from Allah. During the last ten days of Ramadan, Muslims from many countries visit the K'aba, and Safa and Marwa located in Mecca, they go around the K'aba seven times then pray several Rukaat and walk between two hills called Safa and Marwa, when completed it is called Ummra which is equivalent in its reward to pilgrimage according to a saying by prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Ramadan is a very important month in the Muslim calendar and Muslims during that month endeavor to do good deeds, visit relatives, pray and struggle within their-self to be in control of their lust and strive to be obedient to their creator and even though some do not pray during the year, when Ramadan comes they fast seeking acceptance from Allah. As Ramadan comes to an end, Muslims wish it will last the whole year because of the spiritual fulfillment they have felt during that month. Every Muslim should give Zakat Alfiter before the end of Ramadan. The next day after Ramadan marks the first Muslim festival called Eid Alfiter. Muslims take a shower, wear new cloths and go to the mosque to perform the prayer of Eid Alfiter which consist of two Rukaat and they hear the Kutba (Sermon), when they return from this prayer Allah will erase his bad deeds and they will be free from their sins like when his mother delivered them.
Ramadan provides unlimited benefits and forgiveness from the creator and if mankind learned about these benefits they would wish that every day of their life is Ramadan, I invite every human being to try fasting Ramadan I'm sure they will like it.