Friday, August 19, 2011

Makruh and Non-Makruh Acts for a Fasting Person

Question: What are makruh and what are not makruh for a fasting person?
The following things are makruh for a fasting person:

It is makruh to brush the teeth with toothpaste.

It is makruh to gargle with medicine. If a sore in the mouth prevents one from reciting in the namaz, then it will not be makruh to gargle with medicine because there is an excuse for it.

3. It is makruh to kiss one's wife when there is the danger of ejaculating.

4. If the fast is broken in Ramadan for such reasons as having an injection or vomiting a mouthful by forcing oneself to or if a traveler arrives in the city where he/she lives or if the menstruation of a woman stops, such people must abstain from what breaks the fast, as fasting people do. It is makruh for them to eat or drink.

The following things are not makruh for a fasting person:
If one has a nocturnal emission in the night and if there is little time for imsak (the time when prohibition on eating begins) time and if one eats pre-dawn meal first and performs a ghusl after dawn, that is, if one begins fasting in a state of impurity, this fast will be valid. It is permissible to perform the ghusl later.

2. It is permissible to make intention for Ramadan fast after dawn lest kaffarah (expiation) might become necessary if it is broken.

3. If a man has sexual intercourse with his wife in Ramadan and if they sleep late thinking that they will make a ghusl soon and if the sun has risen when they wake up, it does not harm their fasts. However, they must take a bath at the earliest opportunity to be able to perform a namaz.

4. It is permissible to delay the onset of menstruation by taking pills in order not to miss fast-days.

5. If a woman begins menstruating while fasting, she should not avoid eating and drinking like a fasting person; she can eat and drink.

Legal concessions for fasting
Is it permissible to make use of the legal concessions mentioned below to be able to fast?

1. To put water into one's mouth to quench one's thirst; to pour cold water onto the head or to take a bath with cold water to cool down,
2. To apply a nicotine patch to the skin when one feels the need to smoke a cigarette,
3. To spray medicine or to apply ointment on a part with pain or with rheumatic pain; to apply medication or a patch absorbed through the skin on the chest for heart attacks,
4. To insert acupuncture needles into the body or to wear diet patches when one feels hunger [they not only stop the feeling of hunger but also help weight loss],
5. To take pills to delay monthly period so as not to miss fast-days and to observe them fully.
ANSWERAll of them are permissible, but the acts that rank first on the list are makruh tanzihi (makruh of a lesser degree) according to Imam-i A'zam because such acts may be a sign of boredom with this act of worship. However, according to Imam-i Abu Yusuf, there is nothing wrong with doing them because one, by doing so, removes the difficulty to some degree and helps oneself perform the act of worship more easily. Following the statement of Imam-i Abu Yusuf, one can do all of the above-mentioned acts.

What to do if the fast breaks?
If a person's fast breaks in Ramadan, is it permissible for the relevant person to eat or drink?
ANSWERIf one breaks one's fast in Ramadan for any reason whatsoever or if a traveler arrives in the city where he/she lives, that is, if a person becomes settled (muqim) when he/she comes back or if the menstrual bleeding of a woman stops, such people must abstain from eating and drinking until dusk, like fasting people. But if the menstrual bleeding of a woman begins, she should not act like a fasting person; she should eat and drink. Those with excuses that prevent them from fasting should eat and drink secretly on the days when they do not fast.

The Time of Sahar and Sahur Meal

Question: What is the importance of the time of sahar (last portion of the night)? How is it calculated?
ANSWERThe time of sahar is the final one-sixth of the night. That is, it is the final one-sixth of the duration from sunset to the time of imsak (the time when prohibition on eating begins). Let us say for example that the sun sets at 5:30 p.m. and the time of imsak occurs at 5:30 a.m., the night is 12 hours long. The one-sixth of this equals 2 hours. When it is subtracted from 5:30 a.m., it is 3:30 a.m. The time of sahar is from 3:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. This duration increases or decreases in summer and winter.

It is better to perform the namazes of tahajjud (voluntary late night namaz) and witr at the time of sahar. It is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(Whoever fears that he will not be able to wake up in the last portion of the night, let him perform the witr in the early portion of the night. Then let him go to sleep. Whoever thinks that he will be able to wake up in the last portion of the night, let him perform the witr then because Angels of Compassion are present when he wakes up for it in the last portion of the night.) [Muslim]

(The du'a [supplication] made in the last portion of the night and the du'a made after namazes are accepted.) [Tirmidhi]

(Allahu ta'ala declares in the last portion of the night: "Isn't there anyone to make repentance, so that I shall forgive him? Isn't there anyone to ask, so that I shall give what he wants and accept his supplication?") [Muslim]

The time of sahar is a time when supplications and repentance are accepted. When one gets up for sahur (pre-dawn meal) in Ramadan, one will have gotten up at the time of sahar. One should deem it a great opportunity to make supplication at this time. In praising good people [in the Qur'an al-karim], Allahu ta'ala says, "They ask for forgiveness in the last portion of the night" (Adh-Dhariyat 18).

Ya'qub alaihis-salam said to his sons, "Soon [at the time of sahar], I will ask forgiveness for you from my Lord" (Yusuf 98).

In the 17th verse of Al-i Imran Sura, those who show patience, those who are truthful [in their speeches, deeds, and intentions], those who perform namaz, those who give zakat, and those who ask forgiveness in the last portion of the night are praised. The reason why those who ask forgiveness are mentioned after all others is that humans should consider their every act of worship as defective and should always implore for forgiveness.

Opportunity is a windfall. We should not waste our lifetimes on useless pursuits. Instead, we should spend them on things Allahu ta'ala is pleased with. We should perform five daily namazes with tadil-i arkan and in congregation, offer the namaz of tahajjud, and should not let the last portion of the night pass without imploring for forgiveness. We should not be overcast with the slumber of oblivion, but meditate death and afterlife. Turning away from prohibited worldly affairs, we should direct ourselves towards otherworldly deeds. We should engage in worldly earnings as much as indispensably necessary, and at other times we should fully occupy ourselves with making our afterlife better. (Maktubat-i Ma'thumiyya)
Question: Is it sinful to fast without getting up for sahur (pre-dawn meal)?
ANSWERIt is not sinful, but it is much reward-deserving to get up for pre-dawn meal. It is good to get up for it even if one gets up just to drink a sip of water. It is declared in hadith-i sharifs:
(Sahur meal is blessed. The whole of sahur is blessing. Get up for sahur even if you drink just a sip of water. Allahu ta'ala and His angels shower salat and salam upon those who get up for sahur.) [Imam-i Ahmad] (That is, Allahu ta'ala forgives those who get up for sahur and angels pray for them.)

(Get up for sahur; there is blessing in it.) [Bukhari]

(Aid yourselves in fasting by eating a meal at sahur.) [Bayhaqi]

(Getting up for sahur meal is a blessing that Allah has bestowed upon you. Do not miss it.) [Nasai]

(Providing that what they eat is halal [lawful], three people will not be called to account: a person who fasts, a person who eats sahur meal, and a person who keeps guard in the way of Allah.) [Nasai]

(Certainly sahur meal is blessed.) [Ibn Hibban]

(Have sahur meal even if it is just a morsel because there is blessing in it.) [Daylami]

(How excellent are dates as a Believer's sahur.) [Abu Dawud]

(Allahu ta'ala showers mercy upon those who get up for sahur.)

Fasting and Remaining Hungry

Question: Some people say, "What can the benefit of remaining hungry and thirsty be?" What is the purpose of fasting?

ANSWERFasting is not just the state of remaining hungry and thirsty. If an animal or a disbeliever is confined in a room and deprived of food and water, this is not considered fasting. In fact, fasting has a connection with other acts of worship, such as patience, giving thanks to Allahu ta'ala, and disciplining the nafs. Therefore, it is stated in a hadith-i sharif, "Everything has a gate. The gate of worship is fasting" (Ibn Mubarak).

The nervous system has a vital place in the human body. Those whose lingual nerves have been paralyzed cannot talk. Those whose nerves in their legs have been paralyzed cannot walk. Our lives are in danger to a lesser or greater degree as per the nervous system disorder we experience. People who suffer from neurosis are restless and impatient. Most of the fights and murders that occur within the community spring from being nervous and lacking patience. The hadith-i sharif, "Fasting is half of patience, and patience is half of faith," states that a fasting person is forbearing. (Abu Nu'aym)

Thus, it is seen that fasting is also from faith. Those who have faith do not commit crimes or sins in accordance with the strength of their faith. They keep their temper. There is a zakat for everything, and the zakat of the body is hunger. Because the desires of those who remain hungry by fasting are restrained, it is easy for them to show patience. Fasting people remain hungry. Remaining hungry, in turn, is beneficial: It develops one's insight (basirah) and enhances one's ability to understand. As a matter of fact, it was declared in hadith-i sharifs, "The comprehension of a hungry person increases, and his intellect is sharpened" and "Meditation [tafakkur] is half of worship, while eating little is all of it" (Imam-i Ghazali).

Those who eat much sleep much, thus spending their lives doing nothing. They are like drunks. Their brains become sluggish, and their intellects and memories atrophy. However, hunger brings tenderness to the heart. A hadith-i sharif says, "The interior of a person who eats little is filled with lights. Allahu ta'ala loves the Believer who eats and drinks little and whose body is light in weight" (Daylami).

In a state of hunger, desires are curbed. Leaving disobedience, our nafses become submissive. On the other hand, overeating causes negligence. Just as it is difficult to subjugate a wild horse, so it is difficult to subjugate the nafs that had gotten out of hand as a result of overindulgence in food. Hunger facilitates training of the nafs. It was declared in a hadith-i sharif:
(The human heart is like crops in a field, and eating is like rain. Just as excessive rain causes crops to rot, so excessive food causes the heart to die.) [Imam-i Ghazali]

Those who are always full up become merciless and ruthless. They cannot imagine what it means to be hungry. Gluttonous people become hard-hearted. It was related in a hadith-i sharif, "Do not kill your heart by eating and drinking much" (Imam-i Ghazali).

Those who keep their temper experience inner happiness. Hunger crushes one's hankering to commit sins and prevents one from doing evil deeds. A hadith-i sharif says, "Fighting against the nafs through hunger and thirst is like fighting in the way of Allah" (Imam-i Ghazali).

Those who eat much drink much water. Those who drink much water, in turn, sleep much. Since such people spend their lives sleeping, this state keeps them from earning material and spiritual profits. This means to say that hunger keeps nerves agile and energetic. Repletion results in imbecility. It inhibits memorization and keeping something in mind. A hadith-i sharif says, "Eating a meal once a day is moderation" (Bayhaqi).

Having meals three times every two days [that is, morning and evening meals on the first day and lunch on the second day] was reported to be standard. (Tashil-ul-manafi)
Most of diseases result from eating much. It was stated in a hadith-i sharif, "Eating and drinking much is the source of diseases" (Dara Qutni).

Those who eat little will have healthy bodies. "He who fasts will have a good health," was said in a hadith-i sharif. (Tabarani)

The feeling of pity in those who consume excessively will lessen. Their sensual desires will increase, and they will engage in forbidden deeds. It is necessary to block off all the paths that excite unlawful desires. Hunger, in this respect, blocks off Satan's path. A hadith-i sharif declares, "Satan circulates in the body like blood. Make his passage narrow by means of hunger" (Ihya).

The Virtues of Fasting and Ramadan

Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states the following about this subject:
The blessed month of Ramadan is very honorable. The rewards given for the voluntary prayer, remembrance of Allah, alms, and all other such worships done in this month are like those given for the obligatory ones done in other months. One obligatory act of worship done in this month is like seventy obligatory acts of worship done in other months. If a person gives (the supper called) iftar to a fasting person in this month, his or her sins will be forgiven. He or she will be emancipated from Hell. In addition, he or she will be given as many rewards as those which the fasting person receives. The rewards of that fasting person will not decrease in the slightest degree.

In this month, also those bosses who facilitate the work of those under their commands and who make it easy for them to worship will be forgiven. They will be emancipated from Hell. In the blessed month of Ramadan, the Messenger of Allah used to emancipate the slaves and would give whatever was asked from him. Those who can do good deeds in this month will be blessed with doing such deeds all the year round. If a person disrespects this month and commits sins in this month, he or she will spend all the year sinning.

We should consider this month as an opportunity. We should perform as many acts of worship as we can, do the deeds which Allahu ta’ala likes, and deem this month an opportunity for earning the next world.

The Qur’an al-karim descended in the month of Ramadan. The Night of Qadr is in this month. In holy Ramadan, it is an act of sunnat to have the iftar early and to have the sahur (pre-dawn meal) late. The Messenger of Allah was careful about performing these two sunnats.

Maybe hurrying for the iftar and being late for the sahur show humans' incapacity and that they need to eat and drink, and consequently, everything. And this is the meaning of worshiping.

It is a sunnat to have the iftar with a date. It is an important sunnat to recite the prayer, Zahabazzama’ wabtallat-il uruq wa thabat-al-ajr insha-Allahu ta’alaafter breaking the fast, to perform the namaz of Tarawih, and to read a khatm (that is, to read the entire Qur’an al-karim).

In this month, thousands of those Muslims who are to go to Hell are forgiven and emancipated every night. In this month, the gates of Paradise are opened. The gates of Hell are closed. The devils are chained. The doors of compassion are opened. May Allahu ta’ala bless us all with the lot of worshipping Him in a manner worthy of His greatness and with being on the right way which He likes! Amen. (Maktubat, Vol. 1, Letter 45)
Those who do not fast and who eat in public are not respectful to this month. Even people who do not perform namaz must fast and avoid the prohibited actions. Such people's fasting is accepted and is a symptom of their faith.

It is very thawab to fast in the blessed month of Ramadan, and it is a grave sin not to fast without a good excuse. A hadith-i sharif says, "If a person does not fast for a single day in Ramadan without a good excuse, he cannot earn the thawab of this single day, even if he fasts all the year round instead of it" [Tirmidhi].
(If there is a religiously legitimate excuse, then it is not sinful not to fast.)

Some hadith-i sharifs about fasting in Ramadan are as follows:
(The month of Ramadan is a blessed month. Allahu ta'ala made fasting in Ramadan obligatory for you. In this month, the gates of compassion are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed. The devils are put in chains. In this month is a night which is more valuable than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of the goodness of that night [the Night of Qadr] has been deprived of all goodness.) [Nasai]

(If a person fasts by knowing it as fard to fast in the month of Ramadan and by expecting its thawab from Allahu ta'ala, his sins are pardoned.) [Bukhari]

(If a person dies after fasting in Ramadan, he will go to Paradise.)

(When the month of Ramadan comes, it is said, "O seekers of goodness, run to what is good. O seekers of evil, abstain from what is evil.") [Nasai]

(Ramadan is the month of barakah. In this month, Allahu ta'ala forgives sins and accepts supplications. Fulfill the rights of this month. Only he who will go to Hell does not become the beneficiary of compassion in this month.)

(When the holy month of Ramadan comes, Allahu ta'ala orders angels to pray for forgiveness of Believers.) [Daylami]

(An obligatory namaz becomes atonement for the sins committed up to the next namaz. A Friday becomes atonement for the sins committed up to the next Friday. The month of Ramadan becomes atonement for the sins committed up to the next Ramadan.) [Tabarani]

(He who can fast for three consecutive days must observe the fast of Ramadan.) [Abu Nu'aym]

(The fast of Ramadan is fard and Tarawih is sunnat. If a person fasts in this month and spends its nights performing acts of worship, his sins are forgiven.) [Nasai]
(The reason why this month is called Ramadan is that it burns and melts sins.) [I. Mansur]

(The beginning of Ramadan is mercy. Its middle is forgiveness, and its end is emancipation from Hell.) [Ibn Abi ad-Dunya]

(Islam is to say Kalima-i shahadah, to perform namaz, to give zakat, to fast in the month of Ramadan, and to make a pilgrimage [to Mecca].) [Muslim]

(The beautiful mansions in Paradise will be given to those who are honey-tongued, whose salams are many, who offer meals, who observe the fast, and who perform namaz at nights.) [Ibn Nasr]

(A fasting Believer's silence is regarded as tasbih [glorification of Allahu ta'ala], and his sleep is regarded as an act of worship. His prayer is accepted, and the reward for his good deeds is multiplied.) [Daylami]

(Do not utter obscene speech especially when you are fasting. If anyone aggresses against you, say to him, "I am fasting.") [Bukhari]

(The true fast is the one observed not only by leaving eating and drinking but also by leaving vain speech and foul language.) [Hakim]

(Only fasting people will sit Allahu ta'ala's table spread that is full of blessings that no eye has ever seen, no ear has ever heard, and no mind has ever imagined.)

(Whoever observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allahu ta'ala keeps him seventy years' distance away from Hell.) [Bukhari]

(Cleanliness is half of faith, and fasting is half of patience.) [Muslim]

(If a person dies while being in a state of fasting, thawab is recorded for him as if he fasted until Doomsday.) [Daylami]

(He who dies while fasting enters Paradise.)

(A person who fasts and performs namaz will get his reward on the Day of Judgment in proportion to the degree of his aql.) [Hatib]
(Fasting curbs lust.) [Imam-i Ahmad]

On blessed occasions, we should strictly avoid sins and increase righteous deeds, acts of worships, and all kinds of charitable acts. Those who are liked by Allahu ta'ala engage in virtuous deeds at virtuous times, while those who are disliked by Him engage in evil deeds at virtuous times. This demeanor of those who engage in evil actions causes the torment they will suffer to become more severe and causes Allahu ta'ala to dislike them much more because such people, by doing so, have left themselves destitute of the blessings of these times and have violated the sanctity and honor of them. (Maw'iza-i hasana)

The dream of our master the Prophet
(I saw astonishing things in my dream.
[In my dream] the Angels of Torment grabbed someone from my Ummah. Ablutions he had performed came and saved him from the difficult situation he was in. I saw someone being squeezed in his grave. The namâzes he had offered came and saved him from the torment of the grave. The devils were pestering someone. The remembrances [dhikr] he had made came and saved him from the devils. One's tongue stuck out as a result of a raging thirst. The fasts he had observed in Ramadan came and quenched his thirst.

Someone was encircled by darkness. The pilgrimage he had made came and delivered him from darkness. The Angel of Death came to someone. The kindnesses he had done to his parents came. They averted death and delayed it. Someone was not allowed to talk to Muslims. Then sila-i rahm
[visiting relatives, good treatment towards them, maintaining good ties with them] came and made intercession for him, so he could talk to them. Someone who wanted to go near his Prophet was being prevented from going. The ghusls he had taken brought him near me. Someone desired protection from the Fire. His voluntary charities came and became a veil against the Fire. When the Angels of Hell were taking someone to Hell, his enjoining the doing of what was good and forbidding the doing of what was evil came and saved him. Someone was thrown into Hellfire. The tears he had shed out of fear of Allah came and saved him.
When the deed-book of a person was being given to him from his left, his fear of Allah came and carried it to his right. Someone's thawab weighed light. His children who had died before himself came and made it heavy. Someone was quaking with fear by Hell. When his husn-i zann [having a good opinion of] about Allahu ta'ala came, his quaking ceased. Someone who crossed the Sirat with difficulty came to Paradise, but the gates were closed. His Kalima-i shahadah came and put him into Paradise.) [Tabarani, Hakim-i Tirmidhi]