Fasting: Important points.Part1

Fasting: Important points.Part1


The fourth pillar of Islam is the Ramadan fast, during which Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, and sexual relations or satisfaction from dawn until sunset. Concerning the order to fast, the Qur’an declares:

The month of Ramadan, in which the Qur’an (began to be) sent down as a pure source of guidance for people, and, (when practiced,) as clear signs of guidance and the Criterion (between truth and falsehood). Therefore, whoever of you is present at this month must fast it, and he who is so ill that he cannot fast or is on a journey must fast the same number of other days. God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you, so that you can complete the number of the days required, exalt God for that He has guided you, and it is hoped that you may give thanks (due to Him). (2:185)


There are two types of fasting:

  • Obligatory/Voluntary

Obligatory fasts can be further subdivided into:

  • The fast of Ramadan,The fast of expiation and the fast of fulfilling a vow.


Most scholars say that it does not matter if the new moon has been seen elsewhere. In other words, after the new moon is seen anywhere in the world, all Muslims must begin fasting.


The Ramadan fast ends when the new moon (Shawwal) is seen. Most jurists state that the new moon must have been reported by at least two just witnesses.


According to the Qur’an, the fasting hours are as follows:

You can eat and drink until you can discern the white streak (of dawn) against the black streak (of night); then complete the Fast until night sets in (2:187).

Thus, the fast should start at the first thread of light at dawn (between 1.5 and 2 hours before sunrise, depending on the time of year), and maintained until sunset (the beginning of night).


All scholars agree that fasting is obligatory upon every sane, adult, healthy Muslim male who is not traveling or fighting on a battlefield at that time. As for women, those who are menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding cannot fast.

In addition, the following groups of people do not have to fast: those who are insane, minors, or travelers; pregnant women who fear that their unborn child might be harmed; the old and sick who think that fasting might harm them; and those who work in harsh circumstances or suffer such hunger or thirst that they fear fasting might result in death.


Those who are too old to fast, as well as the chronically ill, are permitted to break their fast, for fasting would place too much hardship on them. However, they must feed one poor person for each day that they did not fast. If those who were traveling or had another excuse die before making up the missed days, no recompense has to be paid. If they requested their heirs to pay such a recompense, however, the money should be taken out of the deceased’s estate. If those who died without making up the missed days, even though they had enough time to do so, must request their heirs to pay the necessary recompense.


All scholars agree that fasting on the two ‘Iyds (‘Iyd al-Fitr and ‘Iyd al-Adha) is forbidden. It does not matter if the fast is obligatory or voluntary. Fasting voluntarily on Friday exclusively is disliked. If one fasts on the day before or after it, if it is a day on which one customarily fasts (e.g., the 13th, 14th, or 15th of the month), or if it is the day of ‘Ashura (Muharram 10), then it is not disliked to fast on such a Friday. The same rule applies to Saturday. Fasting on the “day of doubt,” when one is not sure if it is the last day of Sha’ban or the first day of Ramadan, is also disliked, as is fasting on consecutive days without eating at all (al-wisal).


The Messenger exhorted Muslims to fast on the following days: six days of Shawwal; Muharram 10 (‘Ashura) and the days immediately preceding and following it; most of Sha’ban (the month preceding Ramadan); every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday during the sacred months (Dhu’l-Qa’da, Dhu’l-Hijja, Muharram, Rajab); every Monday and Thursday; and the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth days of each month. He also permitted those who can fast every other day, which is called sawm Dawud (the fast of Prophet David), to do so.

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