Masail of Fasting
Q: What is the aim of Ramadan?
Ans: Muslims, during Ramadan, are meant to self reflect on their actions and show their love and devotion to Allah. It is also meant to establish equality. It is meant to result in spiritual purification, as well as physical. It helps in a renewed focus on spirituality.
Q: What makes Ramadan so special and unique from every other event in Islam?
Ans: Muslims cherish each and every important event as prescribed by Allah. It is true Ramadan is given special attention, as it is considered to be the holiest period in the Hijri Calender. It was said by the Holy Prophet that during Ramadan, the gates of Hell are closed and the gates of Heavens are open. Furthermore, every good deed done during Ramadan is given more weight than at any other time of the year.
Q: Is it mandatory for all Muslims to fast?
Ans: All Muslims who have hit puberty must fast. However, exceptions are made for pregnant women, nursing mothers, postpartum women, women who are menstruating, Muslims on medication, travelers, seniors who are unable to fast because of health reasons. However, it is required that once a person recovers from such temporary impediments, they should Qaza those Fasts, it matters not if they are kept in Ramadan.
Q: How did fasting become mandatory for Muslims?
Ans: Fasting became obligatory in 624 AD, the duty has been described in the Quran’s second chapter, verses 183 and 185; “O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint… Ramadan is the (month) in which was sent down the Quran, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting…”
Q: What are the benefits of fasting?
Ans: There are many benefits, such as; physical and spiritual purification, self-restraint, increased compassion and love for one’s way of life, basic necessities. It brings all kinds of Muslims together; poor and rich, Sunni and Shia, family and friends, resulting in love and strengthening of relationships. Furthermore, Science shows fasting helps clean your body and boost your immune system.
Q: What acts that invalidate a fast?
Ans: First and foremost, having any form of nutrition invalidates a fast. Other acts are: having sexual intercourse, going insane, renouncing Islam, unconscious during the hours of the fast, menses, post-natal flow, giving birth, deliberate vomiting, drowsiness that affects one’s thinking ability.
Q: Why do the dates for Ramadan change every year?
Ans: Ramadan is a lunar month; it begins about eleven days earlier each year. Hence, Ramadan can occur during any of the seasons.
Q: Is water allowed during a fast?
Ans: No, water is not allowed. The purpose of fasting is for Muslims to put themselves in the place of the less fortunate and understand what they go through, hence resulting in them being compassionate about it.
Q: Is coffee, chewing gum, and cigarettes allowed during a fast?
Ans: No, any form of nutrition should be abstained from. And since, smoking is considered to be a form of intoxication and generally not allowed in Islam, it is required that there should be no smoking
Q: Can Muslims fast with few breaks in between during the whole month of Ramadan?
Ans: No, Muslims must consecutively fast for a whole month, that may be 29 days or 30 days depending on the appearance of the moon. This helps in discipline and dedication. If a Muslim is going to skip a fast, they must have a reasonable excuse.
Q: What are the normal practices and routines of Muslims during Ramadan?
Ans: To keep themselves nourished for the day, Muslims wake up before dawn / Fajar Salah and have a small meal called, Sehri. Then, throughout the whole day, Muslims go about their normal routines such as; going to school or college, going to work, doing chores. And at the same time, they abstain any form of nutrition like eating and drinking, they also abstain from sensual pleasures, and try to observe the basic practices of Islam, like praying the five prayers, not cursing, not listening to music, reading the Quran, helping others, reflecting and assessing their way of life, asking for forgiveness from Allah, giving charity and Zakat.
At sunset, Muslims break their fast with family and friends. Later at night, Muslims pray the Taraweeh at night, which are special prayers for Ramadan, while also praying the Isha Salah.
Q: Does donating blood break a fast?
Ans: Donating blood, in general, is allowed. However, for the health of those who are fasting, it is recommended that the blood should be donated in moderate quantities.
Q: How can Muslims compensate for a fast that has not been fulfilled in Ramadan?
Ans: Compensation for the obligatory fast can be done in mainly three ways and it depends upon the cause for the un-fulfillment of that fast: Having the obligation to make up for the days missed, Making up the days missed and paying fidyah, having no obligation to make up for the days missed but must pay fidyah.
Q: Are there significant days relating to Ramadan?
Ans: There are 2 main events; Laylat al Qadr and Eid ul Fitr.
Laylat al Qadr, translated into the “Night of Power,”. On these days, the Holy Prophet received the first revelation of the Holy Quran. It’s celebrated on an odd numbered day in the last 10 days of the month of Ramadan.
Question: A person used to make mistakes in the way he performed his wudhu (minor ablution) or ghusl (major ablution). After many years, he comes to realize his mistakes. When he inquires as how to solve his problem, he is told: "Repeat all your prayers and perform the pilgrimage again." Since saying all the prayers and doing the pilgrimage again is difficult, is there a solution which would salvage his prayers and pilgrimage performed with wudhu and ghusl that he thought was correct? Is there such a solution as a concession to this person so that he does not become disheartened and rebellions against religious obligations in a society which encourages such kind of rebellion?
Answer: If he was ignorant out of innocence, and therefore made mistakes without causing harm (e.g., did not follow the proper sequence in washing the head and the other parts of the body in ghusl; or did the wiping of the head or feet [mash] with a new water), then his wudhu and ghusl will be considered correct; and, consequently, his past prayers and pilgrimage will also be considered correct.
But if he was ignorant out of negligence in learning the Islamic laws or did mistakes which do invalidate the act in general (e.g., leaving out some parts of the body which must be washed in wudhu or ghusl), there is no way to validate his past prayers and pilgrimage.
However, if there is the fear that he would totally rebel when asked to make up all the past prayers and pilgrimage, then it is not appropriate to ask him to do so. Maybe Allah will improve his situation in future.
2Question: Is it okay to delay namaaz for a majlis or matam?
Answer: It is better to offer the prayers on time.
3Question: Some people pray for years and even perform pilgrimage, yet they do not pay khums. Is it obligatory on them to repeat their prayers and pilgrimage?
Answer: Based on precaution, it is obligatory on them to repeat prayers and pilgrimage, if the particular dress that they used in prayers, in tawaf and in salat of tawaf was from items on which khums had become due.
However, if only the dress they used in salat of tawaf was from items on which khums had become due, and they were ignorant (even out of negligence) of the law or the status of the dress, their pilgrimage is valid, but they have to repeat salat of tawaf if they had no excuse for their ignorance. [In this case,] they have, as a matter of precaution to return to Mecca [to perform the salat of tawaf again], if it does not entail great difficulty; otherwise they can perform that salat wherever they are.
Similarly, they will have to do the pilgrimage again if the animal offered as a sacrifice was bought with money on which khums had become due. However, if they had bought it with money whose unspecific portion was liable for khums -as is the case normally - there is no problem in their pilgrimage, even if they used it from the money on which khums had become liable; of course, they will be responsible for that amount [for payment of khums].
All this is applicable, if they knew about the obligation of khums and the law forbidding them to utilize items on which khums has become wajib or if they were ignorant out of negligence. But, if they were ignorant out of innocence, their prayers and pilgrimage are valid.
4Question: If a traveller leaves his home town immediately after the adhan of noon prayer, i.e. without saying that prayer, and reaches his destination after sunset, has he committed a sin? And is it obligatory on him to make up for noon prayer?
Answer: Yes, he has committed a sin by neglecting the obligatory prayer in its appropriate time, and he has to make it up.
5Question: Is the ink that had dried [on our hands, for example] a barrier to perform wudhu or ghusl?
Answer: If it does not form a mass that would prevent water from reaching the skin, the wudhu and ghusl is valid. However, if one has doubt whether it forms a mass or not, it must be removed.
6Question: Is it permissible for a Muslim to involve in pleasure by continuing to watch an entertaining movie even, though salat time is due, and then he goes to say his prayers just before it becomes overdue (qadha)?
Answer: It is not appropriate for a Muslim to delay the saying of salat from its preferred time (i.e., at the beginning of its time span) except for an excuse; what has been mentioned in the question is not an acceptable excuse.
7Question: Is cream a barrier to water reaching the skin, and if so should it be removed prior to wudhu and ghusl?
Answer: Apparently the effect left on the skin after it is applied is nothing but just moisture, and so it does not constitute a barrier to water reaching the skin.
8Question: Some women let their nails grow longer than necessary for beauty. Sometimes a nail breaks up, requiring a cover that must be placed over the broken nail. Knowing that such a cover prevents water from reaching the nail in wudhu and ghusl, is it permissible to use it? How should wudhu and ghusl be performed with that cover?
Answer: Wudhu and ghusl with such a cover over the nail is not valid; therefore, it is necessary to remove it for ablutions. And the purpose mentioned above for the cover is not justifiable.
9Question: When should one say his salat full (tamam) and when should one say it qasr (two rakat instead of four)? Is the general perception about a person being resident of a city sufficient for him to say his salat fully [in that city]?
Answer: The conditions for qasr in travelling have been mentioned in the Manual of Islamic Laws. When a person considers residing in a city for a long time, and in the general perception it is considered as such, he is not considered as a traveller (e.g., if he intends to reside in that city for year and a half, it will be considered as his home-town after one month). But if he intends to stay in that city for a short while only and is considered, in the general sense, as a visitor, he should pray qasr.
10Question: How can we know the time of mid-night? Do 00.00 hours the point of mid-night as it is commonly held by some people?
Answer: Midnight is halfway between sunset and true dawn. So if the sun sets at 7 p.m. and the true dawn begins at 4 a.m., then midnight will be at 11:30 p.m. The criteria for determining midnight are the timings of sunset and true dawn, which differ according to place and season.