Praise be to Allaah. Fasting is obligatory for a person if he fulfills five conditions:
- He is a Muslim
- He is accountable (mukallaf)
- He is able to fast
- He is settled (not travelling)
- There are no impediments to fasting
If these five conditions are met, then it is obligatory for a person to fast.
Kaafirs are excluded from the first condition. The kaafir is not obliged to fast and his fast is not valid. If he becomes Muslim he is not obliged to make up fasts from before.
The evidence for that is the verse in which Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And nothing prevents their contributions from being accepted from them except that they disbelieved in Allaah and in His Messenger (Muhammad) and that they came not to As-Salaah (the prayer) except in a lazy state, and that they offer not contributions but unwillingly” [al-Tawbah 9:54]
If the contribution is not acceptable even though it benefits others, because of their kufr, then other acts of worship may be even more unacceptable.
He does not have to make up fasts if he becomes Muslim because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Say to those who have disbelieved, if they cease (from disbelief), their past will be forgiven” [al-Anfaal 8:38]
And it was proven in mutawaatir reports that the Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not tell those who became Muslim to make up the obligatory duties that they had missed.
Question: Will the kaafir be punished in the Hereafter for not fasting if he did not become Muslim?
Answer: Yes, he will be punished for not fasting, and for not doing any other obligatory duties, because if the Muslim who obeyed Allaah and adhered to His laws will be punished for that, then it is more apt that he (the kaafir) should be punished. If the kaafir is to be punished for the blessings of Allaah that he enjoyed, such as food, drink and clothing, then it is more appropriate that he will be punished for doing haraam actions and not doing obligatory duties. This is by way of analogy.
With regard to the texts, Allaah says that those on the Right (i.e., the believers) will say to the disbelievers:
‘What has caused you to enter Hell?’
They will say: ‘We were not of those who used to offer the Salaah (prayers),
Nor used we to feed Al-Miskeen (the poor);
And we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allaah hated) with vain talkers.
And we used to belie the Day of Recompense’”
These four things are what will cause them to enter Hell.
“We were not of those who used to offer the Salaah (prayers)” means they did not pray; “Nor used we to feed Al-Miskeen (the poor)” means they did not pay zakaah; “And we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allaah hated) with vain talkers” means things like mocking the verses of Allaah; “And we used to belie the Day of Recompense.”
The second condition:
He should be accountable (mukallaf). The one who is mukallaf is one who is has reached the age of puberty and is of sound mind, because a minor or one who is insane is not accountable. Puberty is reached when one of the three signs is noticed.
The one who is of sound mind is the opposite of one is insane, which is one who has lost his mind, whether he is insane or feeble-minded. Everyone who has lost his mind, in whatever sense, is not accountable and he is not obliged to do any of the obligatory duties of Islam, be it prayer, fasting or feeding the poor; he does not have to do anything at all.
The third condition:
Being able to fast. The one who is unable to fast does not have to fast, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days” [al-Baqarah 2:185]
But being unable to fast falls into two categories: temporary inability and permanent inability.
Temporary inability is that which is mentioned in the verse quoted above, such as one who is sick but hopes to recover, and the traveller. These people are allowed not to fast, then they have to make up what they missed.
Those who are permanently unable to fast, such as one who is sick and has no hope of recovery, or those who are elderly and are unable to fast, are mentioned in the verse (interpretation of the meaning):
“And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskeen (poor person) (for every day)” [al-Baqarah 2:184]
As Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him) interpreted it, it refers to the old man and old woman who are not able to fast, so they should feed one poor person for each day.
The fourth condition:
He should be settled (not travelling). If he is travelling then it is not obligatory for him to fast, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Sawm (fasts) must be made up] from other days”
The scholars are agreed that it is permissible for a traveller not to fast.
It is better for the traveller to do that which is easier. If fasting is likely to be harmful then it becomes haraam to fast, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And do not kill yourselves (nor kill one another). Surely, Allaah is Most Merciful to you” [al-Nisa’ 4:29]
This indicates that whatever is harmful to a person is forbidden to him.
If you ask, what is the degree of harm which makes fasting haraam?
The answer is:
Harm may be physical, or someone advises him that fasting may harm him. With regard to physical harm, that means that the sick person feels that fasting is harming him and causing him pain, and will delay his recovery and so on.
With regard to being advised, this means that a knowledgeable and trustworthy doctor tells him that it will harm him.
The fifth condition:
There should be no impediments. This applies specifically to women. Women who are menstruating or bleeding following childbirth should not fast, because the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Is it not the case that when she gets her period, she does not pray or fast?”
So she should not fast and her fast is not valid in this case, according to scholarly consensus. And she has to make up the days missed, also according to scholarly consensus.
Al-Sharh al-Mumti’, 6/330.
And Allaah knows best.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
It is noteworthy that the month of Ramadan is a blessed month and an opportunity for every Muslim to draw near to Allah, increase his morality and spirituality and to gain abundant reward. In this regard, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, president of the Fiqh Council of North America,states:
Almighty Allah says, (Your Lord does create and choose as He pleases …) (Al-Qasas 28: 68)
Allah is the Creator of everything visible and invisible. Everything in the heaven and earth belongs to Him and serves Him. Allah is also the Creator of time and space. As Allah chose some persons to be His Prophets and Messengers, and as He chose some places to become the sacred spots on this earth, similarly He also chose some time to become the sacred time. The sacred personalities teach us about Allah, His will, His rules and commands. The sacred places and times remind us about Allah’s special favors and blessings. In Islam we worship only Allah. We neither worship any person other than Allah, not any space or time. But certain spaces and times inspire us and motivate us to do good things. One of those important and sacred moments for us is Ramadan. It is a special month and a special time. Allah says in the Qur’an:
(The month of Ramadan is that in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, with clear signs for guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful. When My servants ask you concerning Me, I am indeed quite near: I listen and answer the call of every caller when he calls Me. Let them listen to My call, and believe in Me; so that they may be guided aright.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 185-186)
The blessed month of Ramadan is a great time and a beautiful time as well. We thank Allah that He is giving us another occasion to witness this blessed time in our life. May He help us to benefit from this season of virtues and blessings and may He grant us His love, mercy and forgiveness now and forever, Ameen.
Ramadan is a great month. This is the month of the Qur’an, and in this month is the Night of Qadr, which is better than one thousand months. Allah chose this month and a particular night in this month to grace humanity with His Final Testament, His Last Message, the Qur’an. The moment of this revelation became a sacred moment, and that time and month became an eternal time for us. Allah chose this time, and He has filled it with His countless blessings. In this month we have a greater urge and desire to do good deeds. This month becomes the month of virtues and blessings for us. This is the month about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:
“When the first night of Ramadan comes, the devils and rebellious jinns are put in chains and the doors of hell are closed, none of them remains open. The doors of heaven are open and none of them remains closed. And a caller calls, ‘O seeker of goodness, come forward, and O seeker of evil, desist. And Allah has many (in this month) who will be freed from Hell.’ This announcement is made every night.”(Reported by al-Tirmidhi, Hadith no. 618)
Ramadan is meant for our moral and spiritual training and for the purification of our bodies, minds and souls. This is an annual training program for all believers. It is a special time to get closer to Allah and to seek His blessings and bounties. It is a time to learntaqwa(God-fearing), piety, self-discipline and patience. It is a time to give more charity and become more generous. It is a time to seek Allah’s forgiveness and to forgive each other. It is a time to be thankful to Allah for His gifts and bounties and especially His gift ofiman.
I urge you, my brothers and sisters, do not miss any day of fasting and do not miss any moment of the blessed month of Ramadan. This is a very precious time and Allah will give us many benefits if we use it in the proper way.
Let us keep the following things in our mind when we observe this month:
1. Intention: Remind yourself again and again that you are fasting in obedience to Allah. Be sincere in your intention. You want Allah to accept your fasting. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:“Whosoever fasts in Ramadan with faith and seeking Allah’s reward, all his past sins are forgiven.”(Al-Bukhari, Hadith no. 37)
2. Sunnah: Observe the Sunnah in fasting. Take thesuhurmeal a little before dawn and end your fast at sunset. As much as you can, try to fast as much like the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) fasted. There was no prayer better than his prayer and no fast better than his fast. Try to follow his way of fasting. That is the most acceptable way of fasting to Allah.
3.Wara`(Avoiding everythingharamormakruh): Keep your body and mind very clean. Fasting is not just avoiding food and drink. Fasting is to learn how to avoid bad words and bad deeds. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:“Whosoever does not leave bad words and bad actions, Allah does not care if he leaves his food and drink.”(Al-Tirmidhi 641)
4. Qur’an: Fasting and revelation are inter-connected. Prophet Musa fasted when he received the Torah. Prophet `Isa fasted when he received the Gospel. Prophet Muhammad fasted when he received the first message of the Qur’an. Let us do the same thing. You must fast and spend more time with the Qur’an. Read the Qur’an every day. Try to finish at least one time the whole Qur’an [with understanding] during this month by your own personal reading.
5. Prayer or Salah,Du`a’andDhikr: Pray on time and observe all the prayers. Do not ignore the Tarawih or Ramadan night prayers. Make more extra and voluntary prayers. Do as much worship as you can. Do moredhikr(remembering Allah) anddu`a'(supplication) for yourself and for others. Repent and seek forgiveness for yourself and for others as much as you can. This is the best time for devotion and seeking Allah’s forgiveness. Seek the Night of Qadr by special devotion during the last ten nights of this month.
6. Zakah,Sadaqahand Generosity: Ramadan generates the spirit of giving and sacrifice. When we deprive ourselves of food and drink we understand and realize well what it means to be hungry and thirsty. We realize the pain of those who cannot find the basic necessities of life. Be very charitable and generous. Give more to help the poor and needy. Contribute generously to useful social and community projects.
7. Family: Goodness must begin at home. Be very good to your family, immediate family and the extended family. Spend more time and quality time with your family members. Try to havesuhur(pre-dawn meal) together. Break your fast together and pray together as much as you can. Do this more at this time. Ramadan should bring you closer to each other. Allah’s special mercy comes on the families that are united, harmonious and peaceful.
8. Good Conduct: Fasting should transform you and should make you a different person. Try to be extra kind and courteous during this month. Forget your quarrels and disputes. Reconcile and forgive. Do not get involved in backbiting, lying, cheating and anything that is wrong. Be very good to Muslims and to all human beings. Be good to your friends and neighbors. Let your non-Muslim neighbors and co-workers know that this is your blessed and sacred time.
9.Tafakkur(reflection): Think, reflect and plan to improve the moral and spiritual condition of your own self and your family. Think about any wrong things and sins you might be doing and decide to correct yourself. Think about any deficiencies you have in your Islamic observances. Plan to change yourself. Think what you can do for the Ummah and for humanity to make this world a better place for everyone. Think about the life after death and the Day of Judgment.
10. Be cheerful and happy: Ramadan is not a time of mourning or sadness. It is a time of thankfulness to Allah. In a Hadith it is reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,“When you fast, anoint yourself. Let not the signs of fast be seen on you.”(Al-Bukahri,Al-Adab al-Mufrad) Do not feel tired and miserable. Feel alert and relax. Take things easy. This time is for your own good. Give the greetings of Ramadan to each other and enjoy this beautiful time.
It is reported in a Hadith that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave a sermon about Ramadan to a gathering that met towards the end of Sha`ban. He said:
“O People, a great and a blessed month is approaching you. In this month, there is a night that is better than one thousand months. Allah has made fasting obligatory and prayers at night commendable during this month. Whosoever will do a voluntary good deed during this month, it is as if he performed an obligatory good deed at another time and whosoever will perform an obligatory good deed, it is as if he performed seventy obligatory good deeds at another time. This is the month of patience and the reward of patience is Paradise. This is the month of kindness. In this month the believer’s provision is increased. Whosoever will give food to a fasting person in this month, it will bring forgiveness for his sins, will save him from the hellfire and he shall have his reward while the fasting person will not lose any of his reward.“(As-Suyuti,Ad-Durr al-Manthur)
We invoke Almighty Allah to enable us to reap the fruits of the blessed month, accept our acts of worship, and grant us forgiveness and immunity against the punishment of Hellfire.