But what exactly are the rules of Ramadan? What can you and can't you do?
During Ramadan, it is obligatory for all adult Muslims with few exceptions, to abstain from eating any food, drinking any liquids, smoking cigarettes, and engaging in any sexual activity, from dawn to sunset. ... Chewing gum is also prohibited.
Ramadan is increasingly well-known as a time when Muslim worshipers take part in fasting between early morning and sunset every day.
The auspicious month of Ramadan is a time for reflection, contemplation and celebration. To help you prepare for a blessed month this Ramadan.
The Islamic calendar follows the phases of the moon, commonly known as the lunar cycle. As a result, the Holy month of Ramadan falls approximately 10 days earlier each year in the Gregorian calendar. The Ramadan start date for 2021 is expected to begin on Monday 12th April 2021, following the sighting of the moon over Mecca. Lasting for 30 days, Ramadan will end on Tuesday 11th May 2021,
Sawm is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and the Arabic word for ‘fasting’. Although fasting occurs elsewhere in the Islamic calendar, it is primarily associated with the month of Ramadan for the month-long fast. Fasting is a key part of Ramadan and all those of able body and sound mind should fast during this Holy time.
Sawm takes place every day from sunrise to sunset and our Ramadan timetable of daylight hours makes it easier to prepare. It is essential to familiarise yourself with the fasting times as anyone who is still eating their suhoor (pre-dawn meal), at the completion of the Fajr (call to prayer) is disqualified from that day’s fast.
The sunset and the start of Maghrib prayers mark the end of the day's fast. It is traditional to break the fast by eating dates, a proven healthy snack, before iftar (evening meal) which is normally eaten with friends and family.
Rules regarding adherence to fasting and concessions during the month of Ramadan are clear.
But what exactly are the rules of Ramadan? What can you and can't you do?
RULES OF RAMADAN
- What fasting means:
Fasting means no food or drink and also abstaining from bad habits and sins such as smoking, swearing, gossiping, arguing, fighting or being disrespectful, cruel or selfish. Sexual relations are also banned during the hours of fasting.
- When to eat:
Fasting runs each day between a pre-dawn meal (known as suhoor) and a meal after sunset (iftar).
Accidentally swallowing food or dust (such as airborne particles of sieved flour) or your own saliva will NOT invalidate the fast. You can also deliberately taste food, for instance if checking the seasoning when preparing a meal for the iftar later, as long as you don't swallow the food.
- Who fasts:
All male and female adults (meaning anyone who has undergone puberty) must take part in fasting.
There are exceptions. Anyone who is ill or traveling during Ramadan and who doesn't take part in the fasting must make up the days of fasting later.
- Elderly or ill:
The elderly and chronically ill (including diabetics) are exempt from fasting, along with the severely mentally ill. Doctors can give advice on whether you are fit and well enough to fast.
- What happens instead:
Those with permanent health conditions instead help the poor to compensate for not fasting.
- Making it up (fidyah):
When someone cannot fast in Ramadan and can’t make up the lost days afterwards (for example, due to being elderly or because of ill health, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or menstruating), then they should pay for someone else to be fed. This is known as fidyah.
- Atonement (kaffarah):
Kaffarah (meaning 'penance') is the compensation you should pay if you deliberately miss or break a fast in the month of Ramadan without a valid reason.
To atone for the missed/intentionally broken fast, a person must fast continuously for 60 days.
If they are unable to do that, then they have to feed 60 poor people at a rate of £5 per person (the cost of an average meal in the UK). This amounts to £300 in kaffarah for each missed/intentionally broken fast, according to Islamic Relief.
- Forgetting to fast;
The fasting is still valid if it's unintentionally broken when someone eats or drinks in a moment of forgetfulness, or if they are coerced into doing so.
The fast is broken if you make yourself vomit deliberately, but not if it's done suddenly or involuntarily. Do not swallow the vomit or that will definitely break the fast.
- Intentional Sexual Intercourse:
If one has sexual intercourse while fasting, then he must perform kaffaarah, expiation of the sin. (Fasting continuously for sixty days or if unable then one should feed sixty poor people).
- Menstrual or Childbirth Bleeding;
The fast becomes invalid during menstrual or post-childbirth bleeding. Even if such bleeding begins just before sunset, the fast of that day is invalid and the day must be made up at a later time.
Pre-pubescent children are not required to fast but some of them do it for some days, or parts of days, to train themselves in readiness for Ramadan as an adult.
- Brushing teeth:
You can brush your teeth and rinse your mouth but it's not permitted to swallow any water, or you would invalidate the fast.
- Taking a shower:
It is permissible to shower, for any reason, even if you are showering due to thirst or being overheated.
- Rinsing the mouth and nose:
It is permissible to rinse the mouth and nose without exaggeration; using too much water may cause you to swallow water, which may invalidate your fast.
If you need injections for medical reason, it's perfectly acceptable to continue these and the fast will not be broken.
You must not be in a state of janaba. This is an Islamic term meaning impurity after sex, ejaculation or the completion of the menstrual cycle. A person in this state must wash so that they can become ritually pure and take part in Ramadan fasting and prayers the following day. The full-body cleansing ritual they must undertake is known as ghusl.
Eyeliner and eye drops are allowed, and drops MUST be continued if someone is suffering glaucoma. The advice is to use drops before and after the fasting and use a technique to stop the fluid draing down into the throat.
Allaah ﷻ says in the Qur'aan what may be interpreted as, "O' you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may achieve Taqwaa (righteousness, God-fearing)." [Surat Al-Baqarah, verse 183].
The prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, "Whoever observes the fast during the month of Ramadan, (while) believing in Allaah and seeking His rewards, will have his past sins forgiven." [Reported by Imaams Bukhaari, Muslim and others]
Fasting the month of Ramadan is one of the main pillars of Islam. It is obligatory upon every sane, healthy Muslim whose reached puberty and is not traveling during the time of fasting. As for women, they must not fast if they are menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding.
Actions That Are Permissible During Fasting.
There are some actions that are permissible to do while fasting, which will not nullify the fast. For example:
Applying eyeliner or eye drops
It is permissible to apply kohl (eyeliner) or eye drops or anything else to the eyes, even if some taste from it finds its way to the throat.
It is also permissible to take injections for nutritional or medical purposes; there is no text that proves this invalidates the fast.
Similarly, it is permissible to have an enema or douche. The injection of liquid into the rectum through the anus for cleansing, as a laxative, or for other therapeutic purposes, or the use of a suppository (a solid medication designed to melt within a body cavity) or any other medicine that can be used in the private parts, whether in the front or back is permissible. There is no text that considers these acts to nullify the fast.
Your fast will not become invalid if you consume something that you could not protect yourself from. For example, swallowing your saliva or accidentally swallowing dust or sifted flour that has accidentally entered your mouth.
Tasting food with the tongue
Your fast will be valid even if you taste food with your tongue or use toothpaste or mouthwash as long as nothing is swallowed.
Breathing in different scents
Kissing and embracing one's spouse
It is permissible to kiss and embrace your spouse as long as one is able to control oneself.
It is also permissible to draw blood in any amount for any reason. If drawing blood weakens the person, it will be considered a disliked action.
Being in a state of janaabah
Your fast will still be valid even if you find yourself in a state of janaabah (a major ritual impurity) after fajr (dawn) has arrived. Ghusl (a full bath) can still be performed once the time of fajr has begun.
Who May Be Excluded From Fasting?
There are certain situations when it is optional to fast during the month of Ramadan, however, the fast must be made up at a later date. This is the rule for the sick or for the one who is traveling.
However, women who are experiencing post-childbirth bleeding or are in their menses are not allowed to fast until their bleeding ends. They must make up the days they missed fasting at a later date.
For those who cannot fast due to a permanent illness or old age, they have to pay fidiya (feeding one poor person) for each day that they have missed.
Pregnant and nursing women, who are afraid that fasting may weaken them or the child, have the option of fasting or not. After Ramadan ends, they have the choice of fasting or paying fidiyah (feeding one poor person) for each day that they had missed during Ramadan.
However, according to the Hanafi School of jurists, such women are only to make up the missed days of fasting, and they are not supposed to feed one poor person a day. On the other hand, Imaams Ahmad and Ash-Shaaf'i, hold the opinion that if such women fear only for the baby, they must pay the fidiyah and make up the days later. If they fear only for themselves or for themselves and the baby, then they are only to make up the missed days at a later date.
Recommended Acts During Ramadan
There are some acts that are recommended, and if you practice them, you will gain more rewards from Allaah ﷻ such as: Having suhuur (pre-dawn meal) and delaying it until just before fajr (dawn) time.
We should also hurry to break the fast at sunset.
Another recommended act is that we break the fast by eating an odd number of fresh or dry dates, and if those are not available, then having a drink of water would be sufficient.
Also we can earn rewards by supplicating at the time of breaking the fast, as the prophet ﷺ used to say, Dhahabadh-dhama-oo wabtallatil-'urooqu, wa thabatal-ajru inshaa'Allaah. Which can be translated as, "The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and Allaah willing, the reward is confirmed."
Another recommended act is that we pray taraaweeh daily after Isha
To gain even more rewards, it is recommended that during Ramadan we increase our recitation and study of the Qur'an. This is because the revelation of the Qur'an began during this time, and also Angel Gabriel used to review the Qur'an with the Prophet during this month.
We can also gain rewards by using Miswaak (a piece of root from the Araak tree found in the Hijaaz region of the Arabian Peninsula used to clean the teeth), if not available, any other cleaning tool to clean the mouth is sufficient.
Eid al-Fitr meaning ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’, is the important holiday that follows the month of Ramadan. Celebrated for up to three days, Eid al-Fitr does not begin until the sighting of the moon although is expected to start on Wednesday 12th May or Thursday 13th May 2021. It is a time for great feasts, the giving of gifts to children and spending time with those dearest to you. Check with your local mosque for confirmation of dates and any community activities that are taking place near you.
Before the end of Ramadan and the special Eid al-Fitr prayer, all Muslims should make Zakat al-Fitr, a charitable contribution traditionally of a staple food item. Intended to help those less fortunate to enjoy the celebration of Eid al-Fitr with their friends and loved ones, you can donate Zakat al-Fitr through Muslim Aid and we will distribute food items to those most in need.
You can donate Zakat al-Fitr anytime throughout the month, however, like Zakat, many people choose to make their donation on Laylat al-Qadr (the Night of Power) which falls in the last 10 days of Ramadan. The Night of Power is a special time, in which rewards are multiplied.
We ask Allaah ﷻ to strengthen us in Ramadan, accept our fasts, and reward us with His forgiveness and the highest place in Paradise. Ameen.
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