ABC's of Islam New Muslims

The Fiqh of Fasting: Definition and Prerequisites – Part 1

Definition of the Sawm or Siyam

Sawm or Siyam (fasting) means in language to abstain from something.

Maryam (Mary) (peace be upon her) said,

“Indeed, I have vowed a fast to the All-Merciful. Thus, I shall not speak today to any human being.” (Qurʾan 19:26)

In the legal usage of the term, fasting means to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset.


In the legal usage of the term, fasting means to abstain from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset.

This must be accompanied by the niyyah, intention.1he great commentator Al-Qurṭubī, the author of Al-jamiʿ lī Aḥkam Al-Qurʾan, adds to this definition that the perfect and complete Fasting is that in which acts of disobedience are avoided and acts of worship are maintained.

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “If one does not eschew lies and false conduct, Allah has no need that he should abstain from his food and his drink.” [Al-Bukharī].

Observing the niyyah here means that you observe fasting as an act of worship only for the sake of Allah and out of obedience to Allah.

The legal ruling regarding fasting the month of Ramaḍan:

It is obligatory to fast the month of Ramadan according to the Qurʾan, the Sunnah and the Consensus.

Allah says:

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it has been prescribed for those (who have believed) before you, so that you may be (ever) God-fearing. … So whoever among you bears witness to the month shall then fast it.” (Qurʾan 2: 183-185)

On the authority of ʿAbdullahh, the son of ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭab (ra), who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) says, “Islam has been built on five [pillars]: testifying that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the Salah (prayer), paying the zakat (obligatory charity), making the hajj (pilgrimage) to the House, and fasting in Ramaḍan.” [Al-Bukharī and Muslim]

There is a consensus among all Muslim scholars that fasting Ramadan is obligatory.

The prerequisites for the obligation of fasting:

There are four prerequisites:

1- Islam

If non-Muslims fast or do any act of worship, it will not be accepted. Allah says,

“Yet truly it has been revealed to you, O Prophet, and to those of the prophets before you: If ever you were to associate any gods with God, then utterly futile would be all your good works. And, most surely, you yourself would have become among the losers, of an everlasting Paradise.” (Qurʾan 39:65)

ʿAʾisha reported: I said: Messenger of Allah, the son of Judʿan established ties of relationship, fed the poor. Would that be of any avail to him? He said: It would be of no avail to him as he did not ever say: O my Lord, pardon my sins on the Day of Resurrection. (Saḥīḥ Muslim)

2- Reaching puberty:

This is the second prerequisite. In Islam, there are three signs that denote a certain person has reached puberty.

  1. The first wet dream and menstruation

There is an agreement among scholars on only one of these signs which is having the first wet dream for boys and the first menstruation for girls. This is the most authentic sign.

  1. being 15 years old (only lunar years are used here)

Some scholars hold the opinion that if a person is 15 lunar years old, he or she is an adult who is obliged to fast and do other acts of worship.

However, the first sign is the most famous among the scholars.

What is the legal ruling regarding the child who fasts? 

If the child fasts, his or her fast is valid and acceptable. In addition, he and his or her parents will be rewarded. So, it is recommended for the children to train and learn to fast before they reach the age of puberty but it is not obligatory.

Narrated Al-Rubayiʿ bint Muʿawadh: “The Prophet (ﷺ) sent a messenger to the village of the AnSar in the morning of the day of ʿAshuraʾ (10th of Muḥarram) to announce: ‘Whoever has eaten something should not eat but complete the fast, and whoever is observing the fast should complete it.’ “She further said, “Since then we used to fast on that day regularly and also make our boys fast. We used to make toys of wool for the boys and if anyone of them cried for, he was given those toys till it was the time of the breaking of the fast.” (Saḥīḥ  al-Bukharī)

3- Sanity

An insane person cannot be asked to perform any act of worship because they cannot understand the Shariʿa address. Narrated Alī ibn Abū Ṭalib: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: There are three (persons) whose actions are not recorded: a sleeper till he awakes, a boy till he reaches puberty, and a lunatic till he comes to reason. (Related by Al-Nasaʾī, Abū Dawūd and Ibn Majah)

4- Ability

In addition to the three prerequisites mentioned above, fasting is only obligatory if the person has the ability to observe it. Allah says:

“God does not task a soul beyond its capacity.” (Qurʾan 2:286)


Read also:

The Best 10 Virtues of Fasting in Islam: What Are They?


Fasting New Muslims

The Fiqh of Fasting: Recommended Acts – Part 4

The recommended acts of worship are those acts whose performance is rewarded by Allah. However, there is no punishment if they are not performed.

The recommended acts of fasting:

Although there are many recommended acts concerning fasting, we will discuss here those ones related to fiqh. These are as follows:

1. Hastening to break one’s fast at sunset

It is recommended to break the fast with fresh dates. If there are no fresh dates, then one should break the fast with dried dates

When one feels sure it is sunset and the Maghrib (Sunset Prayer) announces, it is recommended for one to hasten to break the fast in both obligatory and supererogatory fasting.

Sahl bin Sa’d (RAA) narrated That the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “People will always be fine (on the right path, or following the Sunnah) as long as they hasten to break their fast.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

2. Starting with fresh dates, dried dates or water

It is recommended to break the fast with fresh dates. If there are no fresh dates, then one should break the fast with dried dates. If there are not any, then one should break his or her fast with water.

After that, one can have the main meal of the day called iftar (the breaking of the fast).

Narrated Anas ibn Malik: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) used to break his fast before praying (the sunset prayer) with some fresh dates; but if there were no fresh dates, he had a few dry dates, and if there were no dry dates, he took some mouthfuls of water. (Abu Dawud and Al-Tirmidhi)

3. Supplicating Allah when one breaks the fast

Supplication (du’aa) to Allah is always recommended. However, there are certain times on which du’aa is far more recommended. One of these times for the fasting person is at sunset. In addition, du’aa at this time is never rejected as long as the etiquette and prerequisites for making du’aa are observed.

Ibn Umar said that the Prophet (ﷺ) said when he broke his fast: Thirst has gone, the arteries are moist, and the reward is sure, if Allah wills. (Abu Dawud)

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “There are three whose supplication is not rejected: The fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just leader, and the supplication of the oppressed person; Allah raises it up above the clouds and opens the gates of heaven to it. And the Lord says: ‘By My might, I shall surely aid you, even if it should be after a while.” (Al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

4. Having Suhur direclty before dawn

In addition to the blessing in it, suhur gives the person observing fasting the energy to better perform the other acts of worship. It is recommended to eat suhur and to finish eating it 10 or 15 minutes before the time of dawn.

Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Eat Suhur (predawn meal). Surely, there is a blessing in Suhur.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].


Fasting New Muslims

The Fiqh of Fasting: Prohibited Fasts – Part 5

The true meaning of worship is achieved through the true submission and obedience to Allah’s commands. This is very obvious here, but how?؟

When it is obligatory to fast, Muslims hasten to obey Allah through observing it. Also, when it is forbidden to fast, they do not. This article highlights those days on which fasting is prohibited.

When it is obligatory to fast, Muslims hasten to obey Allah through observing it. Also, when it is forbidden to fast, they do not.

What are the days on which fasting is prohibited?

1. Eid al-Fitr (festival of fast-breaking)

This festival marks the end of Ramadan and based on proofs from the Sunnah, it lasts only for the first day of Shawwal, the 10th month in the lunar calendar. Traditionally, it can last for up to three days.

2. Eid al-Ad-ha (festival of sacrifice)

This is the Muslims’ second festival that marks the end of the most important pillar of the pilgrimage to Makka (mecca), namely, standing on Arafat. It lasts only for the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the 12th month in the lunar calendar. Usually, it can last for up to four days. The three days that follow the first day of the festival will be discussed below.

Scholars unanimously agree on the prohibition of fasting on those two days, that is, Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Ad-ha. Moreover, celebrating on these two days is an act of worship as long as acts of disobedience are avoided. This is supported by the proof from the Sunnah:

Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri (RAA) narrated. ‘The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has prohibited fasting on two days; the Day of Fitr (breaking the fast of Ramadan) and on the Day of sacrifice (‘Eid al-Ad-ha).’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

3. The days of Tashriq

These are the 11th, 12th and 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah. It is also prohibited to fast on these days except for the pilgrim who cannot offer a sacrifice.

‘A’isha and lbn ‘Umar (RAA) narrated, ‘Nobody was allowed to fast on the days of Tashriq except for those, who could not afford the Hadi (sacrifice).’ (Al-Bukhari)

Nubaishah Al-Hudhali (RAA) narrated that The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“The days of Tashriq (the three days following ‘Idul Ad-ha, i.e. 11th , 12th and 13th of Dhul Hijjah) are days of eating, drinking and remembering (dhikr) of Allah, the Most Great and Glorious.” (Sahih Muslim)

4. The day of doubt

This is the 30th day of Sha’ban, the 8th month in the lunar calendar.

On the 29th night of Sha’ban, it is sometimes impossible or to see the new moon. This makes people doubt the beginning of Ramadan and whether the following day is the 30th of Sha’ban or the first day of Ramadan. That’s why it is called “the day of doubt”.

According to the opinion of the majority of scholars, Muslims are allowed to fast only if the sight of the new moon is proven.

Scholars differ on whether fasting on this day is reprehensible or prohibited. The preferred opinion is that it is prohibited to fast on the day of doubt. This is in agreement with the meaning of the following hadith:

‘Ammar ibn Yasir said: “Whoever fasts on the day concerning which there is doubt has disobeyed Abul-Qasim (Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).” Al-Bukhary related this Hadith as Mu’allaq1  (Suspended).

However, fasting on this day is only allowed if it happens to be on the usual days a person usually fasts. For example, the person observing fasting on Mondays and Thursdays is allowed to fast on the day of doubt if it happens to be on Monday or Thursday.

1: Mu’allaq Hadith is a hadith in which one or more narrators is removed from the beginning of the isnad i.e the chain of narration. Scholars consider Mu’allaq hadiths found in Sahih Al-Bukhary to be authentic.