Ramadan is considered as a sacred festival of fasting in the Islamic culture. The month of Ramadan holds much value for the followers of this religion, so much that the Muslims believe that the fasting absolves them of their past sins. Fasting is a founding pillar for Islam and is obligatory for most, who follow Islam.
It is therefore absolutely vital we plan effectively, to maximise the potential of what we can all achieve. The following Qur’anic injunctions and Prophetic statements highlight an important aspect of this preparation:
The Prophet Muhammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said:
“…Allah never tires of rewarding until you tire of doing good deeds.
Another hadith of the Messenger (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) also states:
“Eat and drink, but avoid excess.”
Ramadan presents unique opportunities to taste a special closeness with Allāh (subhanahu wa taala) and to achieve multifold ajar (blessings) with every righteous action.
There are many rules and regulations for observing the fast of Ramadan. Firstly, one needs to know who and who cannot hold the fast. The guidelines for the same are as follows:
– If you are sane and healthy and have reached puberty, you must hold the Ramadan fast.
– If you are travelling at the time of Ramadan or are sick, you should not observe the fast. However, it needs to be made up at a later date.
– If you are a woman and are menstruating or experiencing the post-childbirth bleeding, you should not fast for those days. You must compensate them at a later date.
– If you are old or sick and cannot fast, you must perform fidiya, that is, feeding a person for each day of missing the fast.
– The women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding and fear that observing Ramadan may weaken them or their child have an option of not observing the fast. However, after Ramadan ends, they must either fast or pay fidiya for each day of having missed the Ramadan.
There are six actions that can invalidate the Ramadan fast. They are as follows:
Intentionally eating or drinking during the fast
If someone chooses to eat or drink during the fasting part of the day for any reason, the fast becomes invalid. However, if the person eats or drinks because he forgot about the fast, did it mistakably or was coerced into doing so, the fast is still valid.
If a person feels pukish and vomits, the fast still continues. However, if a person observing the fast chooses to vomit for any reason, his fast is considered as invalid.
Intentionally indulging in sex
If one has sexual intercourse while he is observing his fast, he must performkaffaarah , which means he must expiate the sin. For this, he must either fast for a continuous sixty days or feed sixty poor people.
Fasting while menstruation or post-childbirth bleeding
If a woman who is menstruating or going through post-childbirth bleeding observes Ramadan, that day of her fast becomes invalid. These days need to be compensated later. Even if the menstruation begins just before sunset, the day’s fast becomes invalid.
What you are allowed to do during fasting
– You are allowed to rinse your mouth and nose with limited water, such that you do not swallow it. If you do so, it invalidates your fast.
– You can take a shower during your fasting period as you may feel thirsty, dehydrated or heated. However, make sure that you do not swallow the water.
– Women can apply kohl (kajal or eyeliner) or men/women can use eye drops or any other thing for the eyes. Many a times, the taste of the liquid poured into your eyes may travel to your throat but that is acceptable.
– One can take injections if he needs them for medical or nutritional purposes. There is no evidence stating otherwise in any of the texts.
– One is also allowed to take suppositories, such as enemas or douches, for cleansing, laxative purposes or any other relaxation purposes. Use of such medicines in the private parts is allowed. There is no text that states otherwise.
– Accidentally swallowing your own saliva, dust, or let’s say sifted flour, is allowed and will not invalidate your fast.
– If one simply tastes a food but does not swallow it and rinses it away, it is acceptable and his fast will still be valid.
– It is allowed for one to hug or kiss his spouse as long as they do not indulge in sexual intercourse.
– One must not be in a state of janaba while observing his fast. Janaba refers to the state of ritual impurity due to sexual intercourse or seminal discharge. A bath needs to be taken and a ghusl needs to be performed in order to be able to observe the fast for the day before the fajr, or dawn.
If you are observing the fast of Ramadan, you are recommended to practice the following:
– Have suhuur, which refers to the pre-dawn meal, and try to have it just before the dawn.
– Try to break your fast by having an odd number of fresh or dry dates. If they are not immediately available, have a glass of water.
– Another recommendation for the Ramadan is that one must increase his recitation, loud or mental, or study of the Qu’ran.
– It is recommended that one uses Miswaak, which refers to a piece of the root of tree Araak found in Hijaaz region in Arabian Peninsula, for cleaning the teeth or willow tree branches in case you are in Kashmir valley.