Fasting is the third Pillar of islam. Fasting is another unique moral and spiritual characteristic of Islam. Literally defined, fasting means to abstain "completely" from foods, drinks, intimate intercourse and smoking, before the break of the dawn till dusk (sunset), during the entire holy month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. But if we restrict the meaning of the Islamic Fasting to this literal sense, we would be sadly mistaken. Fasting is Fard in the month of Ramzan and Sunnath if fast other than these month.
Who Must Fast?
Fasting is compulsory for every human beings, who has these qualifications during this month of islam:
- To be mentally and physically fit, which means to be sane and able.
- To be of full age, the age of puberty and discretion, which is normally about fourteen. Children under this age should be encouraged to start this good practice on easy levels, so when they reach the age of puberty they will be mentally and physically prepared to observe fasting.
- To be present at one's permanent settlement, your home town, one's farm, and one's business premises, etc. This means not to be on a journey of about fifty miles or more.
- To be fairly certain that fasting is unlikely to cause you any harm, physical or mental, other than the normal reactions to hunger, thirst, etc.
Exemption From Fasting
These said qualifications exclude the following categories:
- Children under the age of puberty and discretion.
- Insane people who are unaccountable for their deeds. People of these two categories are exempted from the duty of fist, and no compensation or any other substitute is enjoined on them.
- Men and women who are too old and feeble to undertake the obligation of fast and bear its hardships. Such people are exempted from this duty, but they must offer, at least, one needy poor Muslim an average full meal or its value per person per day.
- Sick people whose health is likely to be severely affected by the observance of fast. They may postpone the fast, as long as they are sick, to a later date and make up for it, a day for a day.
- Travelers may break the fast temporarily during their travel only and make up for it in later days, a day for a day.
- Pregnant women and women breast-feeding their children may also break the fast, if its observance is likely to endanger their own health or that of their infants. But they must make up for the fast at a delayed time, a day for a day.
- Women in the -period of menstruation (of a maximum of ten days or of confinement (of a maximum of forty days).; They must postpone the fast till recovery and then make up for it, a day for a day. It should be understood that here, like in all other Islamic undertakings, the intention must be made clear that this action is undertaken in obedience to God, in response to His command and out of love of Him. The fast of any day of Ramadan becomes void by intentional eating or drinking or smoking or indulgence in any intimate intercourse, and by allowing anything to enter through the mouth into the interior parts of the body. And if this is done deliberately without any lawful reason, this is a major sin which only renewed repentance can expiate. If anyone, through forgetfulness, does something that would ordinarily break the fast, 0a observance is not nullified, and his fast stands valid, provided he stops doing that thing the moment he realizes what he is doing. On completion of the fast of Ramadan, the special charity known as Sadagat-ul-Fitr (charity of ' Fast-breaking) must be distributed before 'Eid-ul-Fitr (approximately), seven dollars per head.
Recommendation of Fasting
It is strongly recommended by Prophet Muhammad to observe these practices especially during Ramadan:
- To have a light meal before the break of the dawn, known as Sahar.
- To eat a few dates or start breaking the fast by plain water right after sunset, saying this prayer Allah humma laka sumna, wa 'ala rizqika aftarna. (O God! for Your sake have we fasted and now we break the fast with the food You have given us).
- To make your meals as light as possible because, as the Prophet put it, the worst thing man can fill is his stomach.
- To observe the supererogatory prayer known as Taraweeh.
- To exchange social visits and intensify humanitarian services.
- To increase the study and recitation of the Qur'an.
- To exert the utmost in patience and humbleness.
- To be extraordinarily cautious in using one's senses, one's mind and, especially, the tongue; to abstain from careless gossip and avoid all suspicious motions.
- To Make Dua, Allah will full fill his needs.