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A Guide to Fasting in

Ramadan

By Shafat Mostofa Rahim


CONTENTS

PREFACE
CHAPTER 1: THE MONTH OF RAMADAN
Meaning of Ramadan
Islamic Ruling on Fasting in Ramadan
Brief History of Ramadan
Commencement of Ramadan

CHAPTER 2: FASTING IN ISLAM


Meaning of Sawm
Types of Sawm
Purpose of Sawm
Preconditions of Sawm

CHAPTER 3: BENEFITS OF SAWM


Forgiveness of Minor Sins
Entry to Paradise
Salvation from Hell
Entry through the Gate of Rayyan
Gaining a Special Reward from Allah
Realisation of Allahs Blessings
Control of Sexual Desires

CHAPTER 4: RULES AND REGULATIONS OF FASTING


Pillars of Sawm
Nullifiers of Sawm
Penalty for Breaking Siyam

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Actions that Do Not Invalidate Sawm
People Exempted from Fasting

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PREFACE

Dear reader, Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh! May the peace,


blessings and mercy of Allah be upon you. I welcome you to this eBook named
Understanding Sawm: A Guide to Fasting in Ramadan. As the title suggests, it is
about fasting in the month of Ramadan, which is one of the pillars of Islam.
Sawm (fasting) is one of the most important actions of worship in Islam. The
Quran (the divine book of guidance from Allah) and Sunnah (the teachings of
Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) show how
significant Sawm is. Hence it is essential for us to learn about this act of worship. My
dear reader, Islamic knowledge has great importance for us. As Muslims, we need to
have firm knowledge about the different components of our religion. This will
increase our Iman (faith) to high levels and enable us to achieve success in this life
and the life hereafter, InshaAllah (if Allah wills).
One of the challenges we face as human beings is maintaining control over our
bodies and emotions. The urges to eat and engage in sexual intimacy are two of the
strongest desires we experience in this life. To help us control these urges, the act of
fasting in Ramadan has been legislated by Allah. Ramadan is a holy month in which
Muslims are taught to strengthen their connection with Allah. During Ramadan, we
have to refrain from food, drinks, and sexual intimacy for a certain period of time.
Temporary abstinence from the activities of eating, drinking and sexual relations can
effectively help us to control our appetites and carnal urges.
In this eBook, you will learn about the rules of fasting in details, as well as several
other aspects related to Sawm. Topics that have been included here are the rules and
regulations of fasting, rules related to sighting of the new moon of Ramadan, benefits
of fasting in this month, factors that invalidate a persons fast, and others. I have
provided references to authentic Ahadith (written reports about the traditions of our
prophet) in order to explain some points clearly.
You should know that there are differences of opinion among Muslim scholars
about certain matters of Islam. Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), there are general
agreements among the scholars regarding most issues of Sawm. This actually makes
it much easier for us to learn about this act of worship. All Muslims do not follow
the same rulings and opinions about different Islamic matters. So, every Muslim
might not follow the opinions that are stated in this eBook. However, you can be
assured that the rulings and opinions stated here are those that appear to be the
soundest and most correct. By reading this eBook, you can learn about the topic of
Sawm closely according to the Sunnah.

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There is one more thing you should know before starting to read the eBook. I am
not a scholar of Islam myself. I am rather just a Muslim who is trying to lead his life
according to the teachings of Allah and Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi
wasallam). The purpose of writing this eBook is to share the knowledge I have gained
about Sawm. As Muslims, we are encouraged to share the knowledge we acquire
with other people so that they can also benefit. Our prophet said regarding the
sharing of knowledge, Convey my teachings to the people, even if it is one sentence. (Sahih
Bukhari, Jami at-Tirmidhi) If you do find this eBook to be beneficial, then know
that the benefit is only due to Allah. If there are any mistakes or errors in this eBook,
then those mistakes are only my own.
Sawm is one of the easiest actions of worship a Muslim can perform. By having
knowledge about Sawm and its related matters, you will become motivated to
perform this act of worship to the best of your ability and get the most out of it. I
really hope this eBook is useful to you, and that you enjoy reading it just as much as
I enjoyed writing it.

Shafat Mostofa Rahim

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CHAPTER 1: THE MONTH OF
RAMADAN

Meaning of Ramadan
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It comes after the
month of Shaban and before the month of Shawwal.
The term Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word Ramda, which means the
intense heat of the sun. There is a connection between the linguistic meanings of
Ramadan and Ramda. Ramadan actually refers to the hot, dry sensations of hunger
and thirst that are experienced while fasting in this month. Moreover, heat is known
to shape and influence all matter, both organic and inorganic. In the same way,
Ramadan is supposed to shape and influence the Muslims.

Islamic Ruling on Fasting in Ramadan


Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory upon Muslims. The evidence for
this can be found in the two main sources of Islamic teachings, which are the Quran
and Sunnah (plural: Sunan). The Quran is the divine book of guidance revealed by
Allah for all mankind. The Sunnah refers to the teachings, practices and lifestyle of
the prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
It is written in the Quran, O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it
was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous. (Quran: Al-Baqarah,
183) This verse shows that fasting is a command which has been legislated by Allah.
As Muslims, we must follow this command which has been given to us.
In Islam, there are five main actions of worship that are compulsory to be
observed by Muslims. They are referred to as the Arkanul Islam, or pillars of Islam.
These pillars have been stated in a well-known Hadith (plural: Ahadith), or a written
report about the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam). The
prophet said, Islam is built on five pillars: declaring that there is no God except Allah and
that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, establishing the prayers, paying the Zakah,
performing pilgrimage to the House, and fasting in Ramadan. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih
Muslim) According to this Hadith, fasting in the month of Ramadan is a pillar of
Islam which Muslims must observe.

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Based on this Hadith and the verse of the Quran previously mentioned, there is a
consensus among the scholars of Islam that fasting in Ramadan is Fard, or
compulsory. If a Muslim fasts in Ramadan regularly every year, then he or she will
be rewarded by Allah. On the other hand, it is a major sin to not fast in this month
without a valid reason.

Brief History of Ramadan


The command to fast in Ramadan was legislated by Allah in the second year of the
Hijrah, i.e. in the second year after the prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi
wasallam) migrated to Madinah. When the prophet fasted for the first time in
Ramadan, he was fifty-five years old. He died at the age of sixty-three. Hence our
prophet fasted in Ramadan approximately nine times during his lifetime.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan actually went through three phases, which are
as follows:

1. Muslims could initially choose to either fast or not to fast during Ramadan. If a
person chose not to fast in this month, then he or she had to feed a poor person
for each day which was not fasted.
2. Later on, fasting in Ramadan was made compulsory on all Muslims. However, a
person was exempted from fasting if he or she was either sick or had other valid
reasons to not fast. What is more, if a person went to sleep before the time of
Maghrib (i.e. sunset) and slept through that time without breaking the fast, then
he or she was not permitted to eat and drink until the time of Maghrib on the next
day. In this phase, sexual relations with ones own spouse were also forbidden
during the fasting hours and at night.
3. The third phase is the one we are currently in. In this phase, it was compulsory
upon the Muslims to fast during Ramadan. If a person slept through the time of
Maghrib and did not break the fast at that time, then he or she was still permitted
to eat and drink after waking up. In addition, sexual intimacy with ones own
spouse was permissible at night and it was only forbidden during the fasting
hours.

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Commencement of Ramadan
The months in the Islamic calendar can consist of either twenty-nine or thirty days.
The beginning and end of the months are determined by the sighting of the new
moon.
The Quran states, So whoever sights (the new moon of) the month, let him fast it
(Quran: Al-Baqarah, 185) In this verse, the month refers to Ramadan. The prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also said, Fast when you see the moon and break
your fast when you see the moon. If it is hidden from you, then complete the month to thirty
days. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim) Based on this Hadith and verse of the Quran,
the beginning of the month of Ramadan is determined in one of the following ways:

1. On the twenty-ninth day of the month of Shaban, Muslims should look at the
sky. If the new moon is seen at night, which is in the shape of a crescent, then it
means that Ramadan has started. So, the Muslims will have to start fasting from
the next day onwards.
2. If the new moon is not seen in the sky due to cloudy weather or other reasons,
then Shaban should be counted as being of thirty days. Then Ramadan will start
after the thirtieth day of Shaban, and Muslims must begin fasting from that point
onwards.

When it comes to the sighting of the new moon of Ramadan, there are some
differences of opinion among Islamic scholars. These differences of opinion are as
follows:

1. Muslims should start fasting when the new moon of Ramadan is seen from any
place in the world.
2. Muslims should only start fasting when the new moon of Ramadan is seen in
their own region or local area. This opinion seems to be the one which is more
correct.

Keep in mind that both of the opinions above are valid because they are based on
sighting of the new moon. In general, you should follow the opinion which is held by
the majority of Muslims in your community. This is because the prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, Fasting is the day when all of you do so

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collectively, and breaking your fast is the day when all of you do so collectively. (Jami at-
Tirmidhi) What this means is that when the Muslims in a community consider a
certain day to be the first day of Ramadan, Allah will also consider it as the first day
of the month for that particular community.
Determining the beginning of Ramadan through the use of mathematical or
astronomical calculations is forbidden in Islam. This is because the prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, We are a nation which does not rely on
writing or calculation to know the beginning and end of the month. The month is either
twenty-nine or thirty days. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)

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CHAPTER 2: FASTING IN ISLAM

Meaning of Sawm
The Arabic word for fasting is Sawm (plural: Siyam), and it linguistically means to
refrain from doing something. In Islamic terminology, the technical meaning of
Sawm is an act of worship which is performed by refraining from certain actions
between dawn and sunset, while having a sincere intention.

Types of Sawm
In Islam, there are mainly two types of fasting which are as follows:

1. Obligatory fasting This is the fasting which is performed during the month of
Ramadan. Fasting in this month is compulsory upon Muslims because it is one of
the pillars of Islam.
2. Optional fasting Ramadan is not the only time when we can fast. There are
other times of the year when it is recommended for Muslims to fast. Observing
these fasts is not compulsory, but you will be rewarded by Allah for performing
them. Some of the optional fasts in Islam are listed below:

Fasting on Monday and Thursday.


Fasting on the 13th, 14th and 15th day of every Islamic month. These days are
often referred to as the white days, because the full moon can be seen in the
sky on these days.
Fasting on Ashura, which is the tenth day of the month of Muharram.
Fasting on any six days of the month of Shawwal. The six days of fasting do
not have to be consecutive.
Fasting on the day of Arafat, which is the ninth day of the month of Dhul
Hijjah.

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Purpose of Sawm
Allah did not command us to fast just so that we may experience hunger and thirst.
The main objective of fasting is to gain Taqwa. It is written in the Quran, O you who
have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may
become righteous. (Quran: Al-Baqarah, 183) In this verse, become righteous refers to
the attainment of Taqwa.
Taqwa is usually translated into English as piety or God-consciousness. It
actually means to be always aware of Allahs existence. By having Taqwa, it
becomes easier for us to refrain from sinful actions. This is because when you are
always conscious of the fact that Allah is watching you, you are more likely to obey
His commands and abstain from the things He has prohibited. Thus, the more
Taqwa you have, the stronger will be your relationship with Allah. Islam teaches that
Sawm is an effective means of increasing our Taqwa.

Preconditions of Sawm
There are some Shurut (singular: Shart), or preconditions, that a person must meet
before it becomes compulsory upon him or her to fast in Ramadan. These
prerequisites of Sawm are listed below:

1. To be a Muslim Sawm is an action of worship in Islam which must be


performed in a specific way. The person performing this act of worship must be a
Muslim, or else it will not be accepted by Allah. The first pillar of Islam is to
believe and declare ones faith in Allah and the prophet Muhammad (sallallahu
alaihi wasallam). Observing this first pillar is a requirement which must be met
before the other pillars of Islam can be performed, including Sawm.
2. To be of sane mind A person who wants to perform Sawm must be mentally fit.
If a person has some sort of mental illness and is unable to behave in a normal or
rational way, then he or she is exempted from fasting in Ramadan.
3. To reach the age of puberty A person who is at least at the age of puberty has
an obligation to fast during Ramadan. In Islam, there are certain signs of reaching
puberty, which are as follows:

Experiencing wet dreams.


Growth of pubic hair.
Women have an additional sign, which is experiencing menstruation.

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If none of these signs appear in a person, then he or she reaches puberty at the
age of fifteen.

4. To have the physical ability to fast The one who wants to fast in Ramadan
must ensure that doing so would not cause any harm to himself or herself. For
example, if you are very sick, then you are not required to fast in Ramadan if you
feel that fasting would worsen your condition.
5. To be a resident A person who is not travelling has an obligation to fast during
Ramadan. In contrast, travellers are not required to fast in this month. When you
are travelling, it is permissible for you to fast in Ramadan but doing so is not
compulsory.

Once you meet all these preconditions that have been listed, it becomes
compulsory upon you to start fasting in Ramadan every year. A person who is
obliged to fast in Ramadan but does not do so without a valid reason will be
committing a major sin. Such a person does not have to make up the missed days of
fasting, but he or she will have to sincerely repent to Allah and ask for His
forgiveness.

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CHAPTER 3: BENEFITS OF SAWM

Sawm is a very important action of worship in Islam. It is obligatory upon Muslims


to perform it every year during the month of Ramadan, as it is one of the five pillars
of Islam. There is no doubt that one can gain several advantages by fasting. They
should motivate us to make the most out of fasting in the holy month of Ramadan.
Some of these benefits that can be gained by performing Sawm are explained in this
chapter.

Forgiveness of Minor Sins


Fasting in Ramadan is a means by which we can have our minor sins forgiven. The
prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, Whoever fasts in Ramadan out of
faith and seeks the reward will have his past sins forgiven. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim)
According to this Hadith, Allah will forgive all the minor sins that you have
committed in the past if you fast for the whole month of Ramadan.
Keep in mind that this Hadith mainly refers to the forgiveness of ones minor sins
and not the major ones. By fasting in Ramadan, you cannot have your major sins
forgiven. Some examples of major sins in Islam are disrespecting ones own parents,
stealing, fornication, adultery, consuming alcoholic drinks and murder. In order to
have your major sins forgiven, you must sincerely repent to Allah and ask for His
forgiveness.

Entry to Paradise
There is a Hadith which teaches us that fasting regularly can enable Muslims to go to
Jannah, or paradise. There was a Sahabi (female: Sahabiyah; plural: Sahabah), or
companion of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), named Abu
Umamah (radiyallahu anhu). He once asked the prophet, Oh messenger of Allah, tell me
a deed by which I can enter paradise. Then the prophet told him, You should fast because
there is nothing like it. (Sunan Nasai, Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Sahih Ibn Hibban)
Our prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) also said, If a woman performs
the five daily prayers, fasts in Ramadan, maintains her modesty and obeys her husband, then it
will be said to her, Enter paradise by any of its gates as you wish. (Musnad Ahmad ibn
Hanbal) This Hadith shows the characteristics of a woman who has a high chance of
entering Jannah. One of those characteristics is fasting in the month of Ramadan.

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Jannah is the place of eternal peace and happiness, and it will not be just given to
us easily. We have to work towards gaining entry into that place. So, try to keep
these Ahadith in mind, as they should encourage us to make the most out of Sawm.

Salvation from Hell


Islam teaches that Jahannam, or hell, is the place of suffering and punishment. The
torment and pain that one can experience there cannot be imagined in any way. One
of the ways in which Muslims can avoid going to Jahannam is by fasting. Fasting on
a regular basis increases the distance between a Muslim and Jahannam. The prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, Every servant of Allah who fasts for a day
for the sake of Allah will find his face further from the hell fire, up to the extent of a distance
covered in seventy years. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim) The prophet also said, Fasting
is a shield by which a person protects himself from the hell fire. (Musnad Ahmad ibn
Hanbal)

Entry through the Gate of Rayyan


We learn from authentic Ahadith that there are actually eight gates in Jannah. One
of those gates is named Babur Rayyan. According to Islam, the people who fast
regularly, especially during the month of Ramadan, will be able to enter Jannah
through that gate. The prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, There is
a gate in paradise called Ar-Rayyan and those who fast will enter through it on the day of
resurrection, and none except them will enter through it. It will be said, Where are those who
used to fast? They will get up and none except them will enter through it. The gate will be
closed after their entry and then no one will enter through it. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih
Muslim)
Thus, entry to Jannah through Babur Rayyan is a special reward which Allah has
specifically reserved for those who perform Sawm.

Gaining a Special Reward from Allah


There is a Hadith in which Allah speaks about the person who fasts with the
intention of pleasing Him. In this Hadith, Allah says, He has left his food, drink and
desires for My sake. The fast is for Me, so I will give the reward for it. (Sahih Bukhari)
According to this Hadith, Sawm is an action of worship which is specifically for
Allah. Other actions of worship in Islam have not been described in the same way,
and there is a reason for this.

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When a Muslim performs other acts of worship such as Salah (plural: Salawat),
which is the Islamic prayer, it is possible to show off and boast about it. However,
you cannot show off and boast about yourself while performing Sawm. During the
fasting hours, we have to refrain from food and drinks. A person who is performing
Sawm can break the fast in secret by eating or drinking something, while ensuring
that no one else is around. Islam teaches that Allah is always watching us. Therefore,
when you perform Sawm properly and do not break the fast between dawn and
sunset, you have proved that you really fear Allah and are conscious of His
existence.
It is because of this reason why Allah has referred to Sawm as an action of
worship which is specifically for Himself. This is why a Muslim who properly fasts in
Ramadan will get a special reward from Allah, as mentioned in the previous Hadith.
It has not been revealed to us what this reward actually is.

Realisation of Allahs Blessings


In this life, Allah has given us innumerable blessings and it is common to take them
for granted. In reality, the blessings that have been given to us by Allah are so great
in number that it is actually impossible to count them. It is written in the Quran,
And if you should count the favour of Allah, you could not enumerate them. (Quran:
Ibrahim, 34)
One of the most important blessings of Allah is the food and drinks we consume.
Eating and drinking are necessary activities for surviving in this world. We generally
do not tend to thank Allah and express our gratitude to Him for these essential
blessings. However, Ramadan is a time when we can actually understand the need
and importance of food and drinks. This is because we have to refrain from food and
drinks during Ramadan, which causes us to feel hunger and thirst. As a result, we are
more likely to become grateful towards Allah for His blessings.
In addition, fasting in Ramadan enables you to know how needy people feel.
There are many people who are poor and they lack the basic necessities of life, which
include food and drinks. Thus, Sawm can help you to have sympathy towards those
who either have little or no access to food and drinks. By fasting, we can become
more generous towards those people and have empathy for them.

Control of Sexual Desires


The prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, Oh young people, whoever
among you can afford to get married should do so, because it helps to lower the gaze and

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protects the private parts. And whoever cannot afford it should fast, because it restrains the
sexual desires. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Nasai) In this Hadith, the
prophet is specifically addressing the youth regarding the topic of marriage. This is
because young people generally have a lot of energy and a high level of sexual desire.
Sexual relationships outside the bond of marriage are forbidden in Islam. So, getting
married will enable a person to fulfill his or her sexual desires in a lawful way which
is acceptable to Allah.
The Hadith also states a solution for those who cannot get married. A person
might be unable to get married due to a lack of financial means or other reasons. In
this case, the person should fast regularly as this was the advice of our prophet.
When you fast, you are unlikely to think about sexual intimacy and have an urge to
engage in it. This is because the hunger pangs you experience are likely to prevent
this from occurring. Hence fasting can be very effective in helping us to control our
sexual desires.

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CHAPTER 4: RULES AND
REGULATIONS OF FASTING

Pillars of Sawm
Sawm has two important elements that are referred to as the Arkan (singular: Rukn),
or pillars, of fasting. It is compulsory to observe these two elements while fasting in
Ramadan. The Arkan of Sawm are listed below:

1. To make a Niyyah, or intention, of fasting. There are some differences of opinion


among Muslim scholars about when the Niyyah should be made. These
differences of opinion are as follows:

i. The Niyyah should be made on every day of Ramadan before the time of Fajr,
i.e. dawn. This is based on the Hadith in which the prophet Muhammad
(sallallahu alaihi wasallam) said, Whoever does not determine to fast before the break
of dawn, there is no fasting for him. (Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Sahih Ibn
Khuzaimah)
ii. An intention of fasting for the whole month of Ramadan should be made
before the month starts.

Both of these opinions are valid, so you can follow any one of them. It is
actually permissible for you to make a generic intention to fast on every day of
Ramadan before the beginning of the month.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the Niyyah of Sawm must not be verbalised in
any way. Verbalising the Niyyah was never the practice of our prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam), so do not do this. Your intention is the
fact of knowing that you are going to fast in Ramadan. When you know with
certainty that you are going to refrain from eating and drinking during the fasting
hours in Ramadan, you have discharged your duty of making the Niyyah.

2. To refrain from the actions which invalidate the fast between the time of dawn
and sunset.

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If both of these two Arkan are not observed while fasting, then the Sawm will be
invalid and it will not be accepted by Allah.

Nullifiers of Sawm
There are certain actions that invalidate or break our fast. During Ramadan, you
have to refrain from these actions between the time of dawn and sunset. The Quran
states, And eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct to you from the
black thread (of night). Then complete the fast until the sunset. (Quran: Al-Baqarah, 187)
You must start refraining from the nullifiers of fasting as soon as the Adhan, or the
Islamic call to prayer, is given at the time of Fajr. When the Adhan is given at the
time of Maghrib, you can only start eating and drinking from that point onwards.
The actions that invalidate our Sawm are listed below:

1. Eating and drinking deliberately.


2. Sexual intercourse, even with ones own spouse.
3. Vomiting on purpose. This is when you cause yourself to vomit deliberately by
smelling something nauseous, putting a finger in your throat, and so on.
4. Ejaculation which occurs while being in a state of consciousness. If you cause
yourself to ejaculate on purpose, such as through masturbation, then your fast
will become invalid.
5. Taking an injection which provides nourishment to the body, such as glucose
drips.
6. Menstruation.
7. Post-natal bleeding.

Penalty for Breaking Siyam


If you break your fast by engaging in any of the actions listed in the previous section,
then you will have to make it up. This means you must fast on a day after Ramadan.
Making up your fast in this way is called Qada. A Qada is needed for each day in
which you invalidated your fast during Ramadan.
In addition, if you deliberately break your fast by engaging in sexual intercourse,
then not only will you have to perform Qada but an expiation is also needed. This is
known as Kaffarah. The Kaffarah must be offered in the following way:

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1. You must free a slave. This is something which is impossible at present, as slavery
no longer exists.
2. If freeing a slave is not possible, then you must fast for sixty days. These sixty
days of fasting must be performed consecutively. In other words, if you do not
fast a single day among the sixty days, then you must start fasting for sixty days
all over from the beginning.
3. If fasting for sixty days is not possible due to a medical reason or because it would
be harmful to you, then you must feed sixty poor people. You can either feed
sixty different people, or feed the same person for sixty times. Hence you must
specifically provide sixty meals. The food you provide must be something which
is considered to be a staple diet in your culture.

If you break your fast in Ramadan deliberately by engaging in sexual intercourse,


then you have an obligation to give the Kaffarah, regardless of whether you are a
male or female.

Actions that Do Not Invalidate Sawm


There are certain actions that some Muslims believe break their fast, but they
actually do not. The following actions do not invalidate our Sawm:

1. Swallowing ones own saliva.


2. Using an inhaler. The medicine inside an inhaler is in the form of a gas. It does
not go to your stomach, but it rather goes to your lungs.
3. Taking an injection which does not provide nourishment to the body.
4. Using eye drops and nasal sprays, as long as it is not done excessively.
5. Rinsing the mouth and nostrils with water. You must ensure that the water does
not reach your throat.
6. Taking a bath, if it is ensured that water does not reach the throat.
7. Swimming, if it is ensured that water does not reach the throat.
8. Brushing the teeth, even with toothpaste as long as it is not swallowed.
9. Eating and drinking due to forgetfulness.
10.Chewing or tasting food for a valid reason, as long as the food is not swallowed.
11.Engaging in physical intimacy with ones own spouse, such as hugging and
kissing, as long as it neither leads to sexual relations nor ejaculation. If you feel
that you will be tempted to ejaculate or engage in intercourse, then such physical

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intimacy must be avoided. However, physical intimacy with your own husband
or wife is permissible while fasting if you can control your sexual desire. Aishah
(radiyallahu anha), the wife of our prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi
wasallam), once said, The prophet used to hug and kiss his wives while he was fasting,
and he had the most control over his desires than any of you. (Sahih Bukhari, Sahih
Muslim)
12.Vomiting unintentionally, such as due to nausea.
13.Withdrawing blood from ones own body. Although this does not break the fast,
you should not do this while fasting as it is likely to make you feel weaker.

People Exempted from Fasting


Fasting in the month of Ramadan is compulsory upon Muslims. However, there are
some categories of people who are not required to fast in this month. These people
are as follows:

1. Children below the age of puberty Young children who are below puberty do
not have to fast in Ramadan. If they want, then they can choose to fast in this
month but it is not an obligation upon them. As soon as a child reaches the age of
puberty, it is only then when it becomes compulsory upon him or her to fast in
Ramadan.
2. Women who experience menstruation and post-natal bleeding It is actually
forbidden for such women to fast. If a womans menses or post-natal bleeding
starts while she is fasting, then her fast will become invalid. These women have to
make up the missed days of fasting after Ramadan.
3. Travellers People who are travelling do not have to fast in Ramadan. They may
choose to fast if they want, but doing so is not obligatory upon them. If they
choose not to fast, then they must make up the missed days of fasting after
Ramadan.
4. People with a severe sickness If a person has a severe sickness, such as a high
level of fever, then his or her condition might become worse by fasting. In this
case, the person is not required to fast in Ramadan but he or she must make up
the missed days of fasting after the month.
5. People with a permanent sickness - A person who has a sickness which cannot
be cured is not required to fast in Ramadan, if fasting would worsen his or her

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condition. An example is a person who has diabetes. Such a person must feed a
poor person for each day which was not fasted in Ramadan.
6. Old people who lack the physical ability to fast A person who is very old
might not have the physical capacity to fast in Ramadan. Such a person is not
required to fast in this month, but he or she must feed a poor person for each day
which was not fasted.
7. Women who are pregnant and breastfeeding If a woman is either pregnant or
breastfeeding, then fasting in Ramadan might worsen her condition or that of the
foetus. If it would worsen the condition, then such a woman has no obligation to
fast during Ramadan. However, a pregnant or breastfeeding woman must fast in
this month if doing so would not worsen her own condition or that of the foetus.
It is recommended for the woman to consult a good doctor to know whether
fasting in Ramadan would be feasible. A Muslim doctor should specifically be
consulted if possible, because such a doctor is likely to know the importance of
fasting in Ramadan. The missed days of fasting must be made up after the month
of Ramadan.

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GLOSSARY

Adhan: A public call which is made to announce that the time of the Islamic prayer
has started.
Arafat: A plain in Saudi Arabia towards the south-east of Makkah. It is located
approximately twenty kilometres away from that city.
Arkanul Islam: The pillars of Islam. It refers to the five main actions of worship that
are compulsory to be observed by Muslims.
Ashura: The tenth day of the month of Muharram.
Babur Rayyan: The name of one of the gates of paradise. Muslims who fast
regularly, especially during the month of Ramadan, will be allowed to enter paradise
through this gate.
Dhul Hijjah: The twelfth month of the Islamic calendar.
Fajr: The name of the Islamic prayer which is performed at dawn.
Fard: A term used to refer to actions that are compulsory in Islam. By performing
such an action, a Muslim will be rewarded by Allah. On the other hand, not
performing an action which is Fard without a valid reason is a major sin.
Hadith (plural: Ahadith): A written report about a saying or action of the prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Hijrah: The migration of the prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) from
Makkah to Madinah.
Jahannam: The Arabic word for hell.
Jannah: The Arabic word for heaven or paradise.
Kaffarah: An expiation which must be given if one breaks the fast in Ramadan by
engaging in sexual relations.
Maghrib: The Islamic prayer which is performed after sunset.
Muharram: The first month of the Islamic calendar.
Niyyah: Intention.

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Qada: The act of making up a day of fasting in Ramadan either because it was
missed or the fast was broken.
Quran: The divine book of guidance revealed by Allah over a period of twenty-three
years. It is the last and final book which Allah has sent down to this world for the
guidance of all mankind.
Radiyallahu anha (plural: Radiyallahu anhunna): It means, may Allah be pleased
with her. This phrase should be said when the name of a female companion of
Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is mentioned.
Radiyallahu anhu (plural: Radiyallahu anhum): It means, may Allah be pleased with
him. This phrase should be said when the name of a male companion of Prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is mentioned.
Ramadan: The ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the month in which it is
compulsory upon Muslims to fast, because it is one of the five pillars of Islam.
Sahabah (masculine singular: Sahabi; feminine singular: Sahabiyah): The
companions of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Salah (plural: Salawat): An action of worship which is performed by saying specific
words and doing specific actions. It is the second pillar of Islam.
Sallallahu alaihi wasallam: It means, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. It is
compulsory upon Muslims to say this phrase whenever the name of Prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) is mentioned.
Sawm (plural: Siyam): An act of worship in Islam which is performed by refraining
from certain actions between dawn and sunset, while having a sincere intention.
Shaban: The eighth month of the Islamic calendar.
Shawwal: The tenth month of the Islamic calendar.
Sunnah (plural: Sunan): The teachings, practices and lifestyle of the prophet
Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
Taqwa: The awareness of the fact that Allah is always watching us. It is usually
translated into English as piety or God-consciousness.

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