Archive for the Ramadan Category

Eating/Drinking When Fajr Time Enters

Posted in Ramadan on February 9, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna
Many scholars use the following hadith to prove that one who is eating or drinking when the time for Fajr enters on a day of fasting, then he may continue eating until he is satisfied: “If one of you hears the call and the drinking vessel is in his hand then let him not put it down until he satisfied his need from it.” This hadith was reported by Abu Dawud (2350). Abu Hatim ar-Razi, however, declared this narration to be defective in ‘al-‘Ilal’ (340 and 759).

In fact, it goes against the apparent meaning of the following hadith reported by al-Bukhari (1/328) and Muslim (1092): “Eat and drink until Ibn Umm Maktum makes the call to prayer, as he does not make the call until it is the Fajr time.” So, this proves that the point in time to cease eating and drinking is when one hears the adhan (or, living in the West, when the time for Fajr enters).

In ‘as-Sunan al-Kubra’ (4/218), al-Bayhaqi said:

“This, if it is authentic, is interpreted by the peope of knowledge based on the fact that the Prophet knew that the caller to prayer would also make a call before the actual time for Fajr (translators note: also known as ‘al-Fajr al-Kadhib’ – the False Fajr)…So, this is in reference to the first adhan.”

In ‘al-Umm’ (2/96), ash-Shafi’i said:

“I prefer that the suhur is made late, provided it is not too close to a time in which it is feared that the Fajr has arrived. I like to stop eating at such a time. If the Fajr arrives, and one has something that he has put into his mouth and chewed, then he should spit it out, as entering it into his mouth does nothing to break his fast. Rather, what breaks his fast is his swallowing it.”

So, if one knows that the actual Fajr time has arrived while he is still eating or drinking, he should spit it out. If he cannot prevent himself from swallowing the food or drink, then he is excused due to his inability to do so, and he should not induce vomit, as this itself breaks the fast, as the Prophet said: “Whoever intentionally vomits, then he must make up his fast.”

And Allah Knows best.

A Simple Ramadan Program

Posted in 'Abdullah 'Azzam, Ramadan on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna
{“O you who believe! Fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may become pious. Fast for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number should be made up from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, they have to feed a poor person. But, whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast, it is better for you if only you knew.”} [al-Baqarah; 183-184]

“It is, as the Lord of Glory Said, a fixed number of days. Rather, it is a fixed number of hours! The month of Ramadan is either 720 hours, or 696 hours, and every minute of it has a price and a value. The Salaf and the Companions – may Allah be Pleased with them – used to await these days of Ramadan from the year to year, as it has been reported in a narration that the Companions used to say, when Rajab had arrived: “O Allah, assist us in worshiping You in Rajab and Sha’ban, and allow us to witness Ramadan.”Because Ramadan is the annual occasion of the cleansing of the soul, spirit, and body, its effect on the human spirit and body is not that profound. The acts of worship of the soul are many, and as much as the body receives its share of pain during the course of its worship, it will receive its share of light. That is why Jihad is the uppermost peak of Islam; because it is the most painful and difficult of the acts of worship. Its reward is greater, its effect on the soul deeper, and its result in building the spirit and in ingraining Tawhid in it is great.

Notes from chapters on fasting in ‘Fath al-Bari’

Posted in Ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani, Ramadan on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

Here a few useful notes the first few chapters of ‘Kitab as-Sawm’ in ‘Fath al-Bari’ (4/123 onwards):

1 – The lexical and Shar’i definitions of الصوم:

“Linguistically, siyam is to refrain from something. Shar’an, it is to hold back from something specific for a specific amount of time, under specific conditions…it is said to the knight who has refrained from joining an expedition for some time that he is sa’im. And in the Shar’, it is that one who is tasked with this obligation is to refrain from food, drink, sexual pleasure, and vomiting from sunrise to sunset.”

2 – Fasting is a shield:

“…and the narrations that are related to this show that it is a shield from the Hellfire, and this is what Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr opined.

As for the author of ‘an-Nihayah,’ he said: “What is meant by it being a shield is that it protects the person from the desires that can harm him.”

al-Qurtubi said: “It is a curtain.” So, it is a must for the one fasting to avoid that which will corrupt him and decrease his reward…

ِِAnd al-‘Iyad said in ‘al-Ikmal’: “It is a shield from sins or the Fire, or both of these,” and an-Nawawi took this opinion.”

3 – The meaning of “…و لا يجهل…”:

“This means that he should not do anything that is customary of the ignorant people, such as making foolish noises, fooling around, etc…al-Qurtubi said: “It is not to be understood here that this is allowed when one is not fasting. Rather, it is even more incumbent to avoid such things when one is fasting.””

4 – The various levels of fasting:

“And Ibn al-‘Arabi narrated from some of the ascetics that they said that fasting is of four types:

1) the fast of the layman, and that is from food, drink, and sex;

2) the fast of the chosen among the layman, and that is by avoiding all the forbidden statements and actions;

3) the fast of the chosen people, and that is to abstain from everything but the remembrance and worship of Allah; and

4) the special fast of the chosen people, and that is to fast from anything other than Allah, and there is no breaking of this fast until the Day of Resurrection.””

5 – The meaning of “Whoever fasts Ramadan out faith, and awaiting his reward…”:

“What is meant by ‘out of faith’ is that he deeply believes in fasting being an obligation, and ‘awaiting his reward’ is that he seeks the reward from Allah.

al-Khattabi said: “This means he should be energetic and willful, and should fast with the hope of getting a reward and purifying his soul, and he should not look at fasting as a burden, and should not be counting the days until Ramadan is over.””

6 – “The fasting person has two instances of joy: when he breaks his fast, and when he meets his Lord”:

“al-Qurtubi said, in regards to the joy of breaking the fast, that this is because his hunger and thirst are gone since he can now break his fast, and this is a natural type of happiness. It is also said that his happiness at breaking his fast is because he has completed his worship, been relieved from his Lord, and knows that he is able to fast again with help from Him.

I say that it is possible that the issue is more general than what has been mentioned, as each person’s happiness is in accordance with his different level in regards to his worship. So, there are some that express the permissible happiness, which is the natural joy of being able to eat, and some people express the happiness that is preferred…”

“…is such a person not nourished night and day by his Beloved?”

Posted in Ibn al-Qayyim, Ramadan on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

There is an interesting section of ‘Zad al-Ma’ad’ (2/33) where Ibn al-Qayyim talks about sawm al-wisal, which is that the Prophet would sometimes fast an entire 24-hour day without breaking his fast. When asked by the Companions why he had forbidden them from doing so while he himself would practice it, he replied: “I am not like anyone of you. During the night, my Lord provides me with food and drink.” Ibn al-Qayyim mentions that there are two interpretations to what the Prophet meant when he said this. The first is that he is literally provided with food and drink, and the second is that he is being nourished spiritually by Allah. The stronger of the two interpretations is the second, because if the Prophet was being provided with actual food and drink, he would no longer be fasting at all, let alone continuously.

He then proceeded with a beautiful exposition of how it is that the servant can be nourished by Allah without eating or drinking anything. Although Ibn al-Qayyim wrote this in regards to the Prophet’s continuous fasting, it is something that can actually apply to any fasting person, such as ourselves:

“…and those who have even the slightest bit of experience and longing know how little the body needs much physical nourishment when it is instead provided with the nourishment of the heart and soul, let alone when it comes to the one who is joyous, happy, and victorious because he has reached the One he has sought out, and whose eye is cooled by his Beloved, and feels blessed with His closeness, and is pleased with Him and the bounties and gifts of his Beloved.

And His protection showers him at all times, and his Beloved is constantly tending to his affairs, being as Generous as can be with complete Love towards him – is this not the greatest nourishment for the one who loves his Lord? So, how would it be when love of the Beloved – than Whom nothing is more exalted, and nothing is greater in might, and nothing is greater in beauty, and nothing is more complete, and nothing is greater in kindness – when love of Him fills the heart, and love of him takes over all regions of his heart and limbs, and love of Him is as firmly established as can be?

And this is his condition with the One he loves…

So, is such a person not nourished night and day by his Beloved?”

The Purpose of Fasting

Posted in Ramadan, Sayyid Qutb on February 7, 2008 by Tarek Mehanna

{“O you who believe! Fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may acheive taqwa.”}

“…And it is only natural that fasting would be obligated for the same Ummah upon whom Jihad in the Path of Allah is obligated, in order to establish His way of life on this Earth, and in order to lead humanity, and to become witnesses over the people. So, fasting is the manifestation of this intense, strong will, and it is the manifestation of the human being’s connection with his Lord – the connection of obedience and submission – just as it is the manifestation of one rising above all of his material needs and withstanding the pressures and pains of doing such, all in pursuit of Allah’s Pleasure.

And all of these are necessary components in preparing the soul to withstand the burdens of the path that is filled with obstacles and hardships, and that is surrounded on each side of it with desires and passions, and which throws in the face of the one traversing it thousands of deceptions!

Of course, this is all in addition to that which time has shown to be the physical benefits of fasting. Even though I generally do not like to connect the obligatory acts of worship and divine injunctions with the physical benefits that are obvious to the eye – since the underlying wisdom in them is to prepare the human spirit for its proper role on Earth, and to condition it for the complete reward that is awaiting it in the Hereafter – with this, I do not want to deny that which science has shown to be the physical benefits of these obligatory acts and injunctions…

And so begins the obligation of answering this call which is beloved to the believers – the call that is mentioned to them along with its underlying reality. Then, it is confirmed and established – after making this call to them – that fasting is an ancient obligation upon the believers in Allah from all religions, and that the primary purpose and goal of fasting is to prepare and condition their hearts to have taqwa, transparency, sensitivity, and fear of Allah:

{“O you who believe! Fasting was prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may acheive taqwa.”}

Such is the overall goal and purpose of fasting announced: it is taqwa. So, taqwa is what wakes up in the heart, while it is fulfilling this obligation, the obedience to Allah and the pursuit of His Pleasure. Taqwa is what shields these hearts from ruining one’s fast with sins, even those that simply appear in their conscience. And those whom the Qur’an is addressing know the value of taqwa with Allah, as it is a goal that their souls yearn for! And this fasting is simply one path to this goal. As a result, raised before their eyes is a goal and a guiding light that leads them by way of fasting…{so that you may acheive taqwa.”}”

[‘Fi Dhilal al-Qur’an’; 1/167-168]