Ramadan Fasting Exemptions

The Insane person: An insane person should not fast and should not be asked or forced to fast because he does not know or understand what he is doing. Furthermore the Prophet (S) told us that he is not responsible for anything until he comes back to sanity. Those permitted to break the fast, but who must pay a “fidyah” (ransom) for not fasting. The frail elderly men and women are permitted to break their fasts, as are the chronically ill, and those who have to perform difficult jobs under harsh circumstances and who could not find any other way to support themselves. All of these people are allowed to break their fast, because such a practice would place too much hardship on them during any part of the year. Instead of fasting they are obliged to feed one poor person [miskin] a day (for every day of fasting that they do not perform).

The Pregnant and Breast-feeding Women: If they fear for the baby, can break the fast and pay the fidyah (ransom). They do not have to make up the days missed according to one opinion of scholars. The Prophet (S) said to one of his companions (*): “Come, I shall inform you about the fast. Allah, the Blessed and Most High, remitted half the prayer for the traveler, and fasting for the pregnant and breast-feeding” .[at-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah, Abu Dawud and an-Nasa’i, Sahih] (*) Anas Ibn Malik al-Ka`bee who is different than Anas the servant of the Prophet (S). Allah says in the Qur’an [in meaning]: “And [for] him who is sick among you or on a journey [the same] number of other days.” [al-Baqara, 2:185]

A sick person: may break his fast which, if continued, would only aggravate the illness or delay its cure. Similar is the case of a the person who is overcome by hunger and/or thirst and fears that he may die because of it, even if he is resident and healthy. He must make up the days of fasting that he missed. The following two ‘ayat support this point: “And do not kill yourselves, Allah is ever Merciful to you,” and “He has not laid upon you in your religion any hardship.” If a sick person or a traveler fast and withstand the hardships of the fast, and continue to fast while feeling the hardship, their fast will be valid but disliked, for they did not accept the concession Allah gave him, thereby causing himself much hardship and the Prophet (S) said: “Allah loves to give allowances just as He hates that you commit sins” and in another narration “just as He love to give His obligations” [Ibn Hibban and others; Sahih]. He also said: “It is not righteousness to fast during a journey”. [Bukhari and Muslim]

The traveler: can break his fast in any circumstances. However, if he feels hardship, he must brake the fast otherwise he will be going against the spirit of the Sharia [Islamic law]. But if he has the strength to fast, he can fast and it is still good for him. This is portrayed in the following Ahadith that shows how the Prophet (S) and his companions behaved during their journeys.

There are other Ahadith in this topic that show that the Messenger of Allah (S) broke his fast and told his companions to break theirs. Other ahadith related to Sahaba show that some of them would break the fast before starting the trip, and all these are proof that the traveler has many options.

Permissible Acts During the Fast

  1. Pouring water over one’s self and submerging one’s self in water. Similarly, one can have a bath or swim without invalidating his fast.
  2. Applying Kohl(*) or eye-drop or anything to the eyes. It is the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (S) to apply Kohl to his eyes (unfortunately this practice has been abandoned by Muslim men of this age). There are reports of many Sahaba applying Kohl while fasting, among them Anas who did not see any harm in use of Kohl for the fasting person. [Bukhari]. Similar is wearing or smelling perfumes.
    (*)A black substance applied to the rims of the eyelids
  3. Kissing and foreplay for one who has the ability to control himself. This is permissible even if it led to some pre-seminal fluid secretions. However, young men or women are discouraged to kiss or have foreplay as it may lead to loss of control.
  4. Injections, eye and ear drops. Medically required injections, eye and ear drops and medications placed on wounds, as long as they are not for nourishing purposes they do not invalidate the fast even if one finds a taste in the throat .
  5. Cupping (Hijaamah) and blood-letting [or donation] for medical purposes This used to be an act that breaks the fast. The Prophet (S) said “The cupper [al-Hajim] and the cupped [al-Mahjoum] have broken the fast” [Sahih al-Jami`]. However, this was abrogated later as the The Prophet (S) did it while fasting.
  6. Rinsing the mouth and nose. These acts are allowed in general, but it is disliked to exaggerate (that is, use a lot of water and put the water deep into the mouth or nose while fasting). Laqit Ibn Sabra reported that the Prophet said: “Exaggerate when rinsing your nose unless you are fasting.” [an-Nasa’i, Abu Dawud, at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah; Sahih].
  7. Those things which one could not protect one’s self from such as swallowing one’s saliva [or sputum], the dust of the road, sifting flour and so on are all overlooked: Ibn ‘Abbas ruling is that: “There is no problem with tasting liquid food or something you wish to purchase.” Similarly one can taste food (when cooking) with the tongue without swallowing.
  8. The fasting person can eat, drink, and have sexual intercourse until fajr. If someone has food in his mouth when fajr is beginning, he should spit it out. If he is having intercourse (with his wife) at that time, he should immediately stop. If he does so, his fast will still be valid. If he continues in these actions at that time, he will have broken his fast. Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from Aishah that the Prophet said: “Bilal makes the call to prayer while it is still night; therefore, eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktum makes the call to prayer.”
  9. It is permissible for the fasting person to be Junub (sexually defiled or having had intercourse or a wet dream) at the time of Fajr (that is, a person is not required to perform ghusl before fajr) Umm Salamah [the wife of the Prophet (S)] narrated that Abu Bakr ibn Abdur Rahman reported that Marwan sent him to Umm Salamah to ask whether a person should observe fast who is in a state of junaba and the dawn breaks upon him, where upon she said that the Messenger of Allah (S) (wasat times) junub on account of intercourse and not due to sexual dream, and the dawn broke upon him, but he neither broke the fast nor recompensed. [Muslim]
  10. Delaying the purifying ghusl (bath) from menstruation till after fajr (dawn) time. If the blood of a menstruating woman or of a woman with post-childbirth bleeding stops during the night, she can delay ghusl until Fajr.
  11. Involuntary actions such as ejaculation in a wet dream or involuntary vomiting do not invalidate the fast [the case of vomiting has already been indicated in the hadith concerning intentional vomiting].

The last ten days of Ramadan

How to take full advantage and benefit from the last part of Ramadan ?

Though all parts of Ramadan are full of blessings and rewards, its last ten days hold a special status reflected in the recommendations and practices of the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and his companions. I will focus here on three major practices of the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, and his companions during these days.

1-Praying in the last ten nights of Ramadan

2-Performing I`tikaf in the Masjid (seclusion in the Mosque)

It is known from the Sunnah, that knowledge of the exact night upon which Lailatul-Qadr falls was taken up because the people argued, ‘Ubaadah ibn as- Saamit, radiyalloahu ‘anhu, said: The Prophet came out intending to tell us about Lailatul-Qadr, however two men were arguing and he said: “I come out to inform you about Lailatul-Qadr but so and so, and, so and so were arguing, so it was raised up, and perhaps that is better for you, so seek it on the (twenty) ninth and the (twenty) seventh and the (twenty) fifth.'[Bukhari]

Some of the ahadeeth indicate that Lailatul-Qadr is in the last ten nights, while others indicate that it is in the odd nights of the last ten, so the first are general and the second more particular, and the particular has to be given priority over the general. Other ahadeeth state that it is in the last seven – and these are restricted by mention of one who is too weak or unable. So there is no confusion, all the ahadeeth agree and are not contradictory.

In conclusion: The Muslim should seek out Lailatui-Qadr in the odd nights of the last ten: the night of the twenty-first, the twenty-third, the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh and the twenty-ninth. If he is too weak or unable to seek it out in all the odd nights, then let him seek it out in the odd nights of the of seven: the night of the twenty-fifth, the twenty-seventh and the twenty-ninth And Allah knows best. (1)

What are the signs of Lailatul-Qadr?

Allah’s Messenger , salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, described the morning after Lailatul-Qadr, so that the Muslim may know which day it is. From Ubayy, radhiya Allahu ‘anhu, who said: that he, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: “On the morning following Lailatui-Qadr the sun rises not having any rays, as if it were a brass dish, until it rises up. “[Muslim, Abu Dawud, Tirmithi and Ibn Majah]. We pray to Allah All Mighty Most Merciful to bless us this Ramadan by witnessing Lailatul-Qadr.

Zakat ul-Fitr

None of us can escape not saying a few misplaced words during Ramadan. It is from the Mercy of Allah SWT that He prescribed on us Zakat al-Fitr to get rid of the bad effect of vain talks and useless speeches in Ramadan, as well as to feed the needy on the day of `eid and make him happy on that day as well.

Zakat al-Fitr is mandatory on every Muslim on his behalf and on the behalf of all people he is in charge of. Zakat al-Fitr has to be given in the form of food. That is the practice of the Messenger of Allah salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam and the practice of the Sahabah. It also has to be given to the poor before Eid Prayer.

It can be given a day or two before Eid as well and [Shaikh Ali Hasan and Shaikh Salim al-Hilali say :] it is from the Sunnah that there should be a person with whom it is gathered just as the Prophet entrusted Abu Hurairah, radiya Allahu ‘anhu, who said: “Allah’s Messenger entrusted me to look after the zakah of Ramadan.” [Bukhari]

As for its wisdom, “It has been prescribed by the Wise Legislator as a purification for those who fasted, from loose and indecent talk, and to feed the poor Muslims so that they have enough provision for that day – as is shown by the previous hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas, radiya Allahu ‘anhuma.”

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