Monday, June 13, 2016

The etiquettes of fasting

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Suhoor (The pre-dawn meal)

It is recommended to eat a pre-dawn meal and there is no sin upon one who does not do so. Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Eat a pre-dawn meal, for there are blessings in it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The reason is that it strengthens the fasting person, makes him more energetic, and makes fasting easier for him.

The minimum amount to eat in the pre-dawn meal

Eating a small or large quantity of food, or even by drinking just a sip of water suffices the person and he is considered to have adhered to the Prophetic recommendation. Abu Sa'eed Al-Khudri, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “The pre-dawn meal is blessed, so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray for those who have the pre-dawn meals.” [Ahmad]

The time for the pre-dawn meal

The time for the pre-dawn meal is between the middle of the night and dawn. It is considered best to delay it (that is, as close to dawn as possible). Zayd Ibn Thaabit, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: “We ate the pre-dawn meal with the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, and then we got up for the prayer. He, may Allaah be pleased with him, was asked: ‘What was the amount of time between the two?’ He may Allaah be pleased with him responded: ‘The time it would take to recite fifty verses.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Doubt concerning the time of Fajr (dawn)

If one is in doubt whether or not the time of Fajr has begun, he may continue to eat and drink until he is certain that it is Fajr. He should not base his action on doubt or suspicion. Allah has made the signs for beginning the fast very clear and unambiguous. Allah Says (what means): {…Eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomes distinct from the black thread [of the night]...} [Quran 2:187]

A man said to Ibn 'Abbas, may Allaah be pleased with him: “I eat until I suspect that its time (i.e. Suhoor) has ended so I stop.” Ibn 'Abbas, may Allaah be pleased with him, observed: “Continue to eat until you are certain about the time.” Abu Daawood, may Allaah have mercy upon him, reported that Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, may Allaah have mercy upon him, said: “If you are not sure whether or not it is time for Fajr, then eat until you are sure dawn has come.”

Hastening in breaking the fast

It is preferred for the fasting person to hasten in breaking the fast when the sun has set. Sahl Ibn Sa'd, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “People will continue to be upon virtue so long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

It is recommended to break the fast by eating an odd number of dates or, if that is not available, then by drinking some water. Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported: “The Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water.” [Abu Daawood, Al-Haakim and At-Tirmithi]

Sulaymaan Ibn 'Amr, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “If one of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying.” [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi]

The preceding narration also shows that it is preferred to break the fast in the above manner before praying. After the prayer, the person may continue to eat, but if the evening meal is ready, one may begin with that. Anas, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “If the food is already presented, eat before praying the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Supplications while breaking the fast and while fasting

It is confirmed that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would say upon breaking his fast: “The thirst has gone, the glands are wet and, Allah willing, the reward is confirmed.” [Abu Daawood]

The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, also said: “Three people will not have their supplications rejected: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just ruler, and an oppressed person.” [At-Tirmithi]

Refraining from performing any actions that do not befit fasting

Fasting is an act of worship that draws one closer to Allah. Allah has prescribed it to purify the soul and to train it in good deeds. The fasting person must be on guard against any act that may cause him to lose the benefits of his fast. Thus, his fast will increase his Taqwa (God-consciousness), as Allah Says (what means): {O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may attain God-consciousness.} [Quran 2:183]

This entails that fasting is not just refraining from eating and drinking, but it is also refraining from everything else that Allah has forbidden. Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Fasting is not abstaining from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: “I am fasting, I am fasting.” [Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibbaan and Al-Haakim]

To stress the importance of having one’s fast reflecting on his actions, the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech.” [Al-Bukhari]

Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, said: “Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness.” [An-Nasaa'i, Ibn Maajah, and Al-Haakim]

Using Miswaak (a tooth stick) or a brush

It is preferred for the fasting person to use a tooth stick or a brush. There is no difference if he uses it at the beginning or the ending of the day. It is confirmed that the Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, used tooth stick [Miswaak] while fasting.

Being generous and studying the Quran

Being generous and studying the Quran is recommended during any time, but it is especially stressed during the month of Ramadan. Al-Bukhari may Allaah have mercy upon him recorded that Ibn 'Abbas, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “The Prophet, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, was the most generous of people, but he would be most generous during Ramadan when he would meet with Jibreel [the angel Gabriel]. He would meet with him every night and recite the Quran. When Jibreel met him, he, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would be faster in spending charity than a fast wind.”

Striving to perform as many acts of worship as possible during the last ten days of Ramadan

Al-Bukhari and Muslim, may Allaah have mercy upon them, recorded from 'Aa'ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, that during the last ten days of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would awaken his wives during the night and then remain apart from them (refrain from sexual relations with his wives and concentrate on worship). A version in Muslim reads: “He, sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam, would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time.”

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