Prepared by Mohamed Baianonie, Imam of the Islamic Center of Raleigh, NC
Allaah ﷻ says in the Qur'aan what may be interpreted as, "O' you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may achieve Taqwaa (righteousness, God-fearing)." [Surat Al-Baqarah, verse 183]
The prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, "Whoever observes the fast during the month of Ramadan, (while) believing in Allaah and seeking His rewards, will have his past sins forgiven." [Reported by Imaams Bukhaari, Muslim and others]
Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam. It is obligatory upon every sane, healthy Muslim whose reached puberty and is not traveling during the time of fasting. As for women, they must not fast if they are menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding.
There are two essentials elements for your fast to be valid and accepted. They are:
If you maintain these two essential elements during fasting, then your fast will be valid and accepted.
All scholars have agreed that the following acts will invalidate the fast. They are:
All the actions mentioned above are agreed upon by all scholars. However, there are some other actions that are not mentioned above which are not agreed upon.
There are some actions that are permissible to do while fasting, which will not nullify the fast. For example:
There are certain situations when it is optional to fast during the month of Ramadan, however, the fast must be made up at a later date. This is the rule for the sick or for the one who is traveling.
However, women who are experiencing post-childbirth bleeding or are in their menses are not allowed to fast until their bleeding ends. They must make up the days they missed fasting at a later date.
For those who cannot fast due to a permanent illness or old age, they have to pay fidiya (feeding one poor person) for each day that they have missed.
Pregnant and nursing women, who are afraid that fasting may weaken them or the child, have the option of fasting or not. After Ramadan ends, they have the choice of fasting or paying fidiyah (feeding one poor person) for each day that they had missed during Ramadan. However, according to the Hanafi School of jurists, such women are only to make up the missed days of fasting, and they are not supposed to feed one poor person a day. On the other hand, Imaams Ahmad and Ash-Shaaf'i, hold the opinion that if such women fear only for the baby, they must pay the fidiyah and make up the days later. If they fear only for themselves or for themselves and the baby, then they are only to make up the missed days at a later date.
There are some acts that are recommended, and if you practice them, you will gain more rewards from Allaah ﷻ such as:
Having suhuur (pre-dawn meal) and delaying it until just before fajr (dawn) time.
We should also hurry to break the fast at sunset.
Another recommended act is that we break the fast by eating an odd number of fresh or dry dates, and if those are not available, then having a drink of water would be sufficient.
Also we can earn rewards by supplicating at the time of breaking the fast, as the prophet ﷺ used to say, Dhahabadh-dhama-oo wabtallatil-'urooqu, wa thabatal-ajru inshaa'Allaah. Which can be translated as, "The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and Allaah willing, the reward is confirmed."
Another recommended act is that we pray taraaweeh daily after Isha
To gain even more rewards, it is recommended that during Ramadan we increase our recitation and study of the Qur'an. This is because the revelation of the Qur'an began during this time, and also Angel Gabriel used to review the Qur'an with the Prophet during this month.
We can also gain rewards by using Miswaak (a piece of root from the Araak tree found in the Hijaazregion of the Arabian Peninsula used to clean the teeth), if not available, any other cleaning tool to clean the mouth is sufficient.
We ask Allaah ﷻ to strengthen us in Ramadan, accept our fasts, and reward us with His forgiveness and the highest place in Paradise. Ameen.