By Haji Nsereko Mutumba
Muslims globally started fating July 10, 2013, that marked the first of Ramadhan, the ninth month in the Islamic calendar, when Muslims observe the obligatory fast.
Ramadhan is a month of fasting, spiritual reflection, personal renewal and ritual practice. There are many things that one should do during this month of immense blessing such as fasting from dawn until dusk, intensifying the recitation of the Holy Qur'an, praying Taraweh (night prayers held after Isha prayers), observing late night prayer, generously giving to charity etc.
Muslims are also enjoined to avoid bad habits/deeds like slander, fornication, drug abuse, stealing and many others as stipulated in the Holy Quran and Hadith.
This is a period of spiritual renewal and those fasting honestly stand to benefit from the blessings that this month comes with and they are expected not to revert to bad habits.
Do's & Don'ts of fasting in the month of Ramadhan
•It is important to make the intention of obligatory (fard) fast before fasting
Eating before Fajr (Taking Suhur) is a recommended Sunnah
•The Prophet (saw) said, "Take Suhur, as there is a blessing in it." (Bukhari)
•Eating Sehri (Daaku) ends when the Fajr Adhaan starts.
Fasting person should not misbehave or fight
•The Prophet (saw) said, “Fasting is a shield (or a screen or a shelter). So, the person observing fast should avoid sexual relations with his wife during day time and should not behave foolishly and impudently, and if somebody fights with him or abuses him, he should tell him twice, 'I am fasting."
Fasting person should not lie or commit evil deeds
•The Prophet (saw) said, "Whoever does not give up slander speech and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. Allah will not accept his fasting.)"
•Backbiting, lying, fighting, abusing, profanities and arguing corrupts the fast.
• Cracking dirty jokes, obscene vulgar actions, immoral behaviour and conversations on vulgar topics are all forbidden in the state of fasting. (Such things are forbidden even under normal conditions but such deeds while fasting corrupts the fast.)
Things that do and do not break the fast
•Due to extreme heat, the fasting person is allowed to take a shower and rinse his mouth with water. This does not break the fast.
•Eating out of forgetfulness does not break the fast. But as soon as the person realises that he/she was fasting, then the food in the mouth should be immediately spitted out.
•There is no harm in swallowing the saliva while fasting.
•Applying kohl in the eyes does not break the fast.
•If the need arises, the food can be tasted (for salt etc.), but it should be tasted by placing it at the edge of the tongue. But utmost care should be taken that it should not reach the throat.
•The blood that comes out of the teeth does not harm the fast, however, the blood should not be swallowed.
• A fasting person is allowed to smell and wear fragrance.
•Vomiting unintentionally does not break the fast, however if someone vomits deliberately then this breaks the fast.
•Letting blood by means of leeches etc (for treatment purposes) during fasting is allowed.
• If nose drops are used while fasting and if they reach the throat or the stomach, then the fast is broken.
•An injection that does not nourish and its purpose is not to provide energy or nourishment but it is only used as a medicine, is allowed while fasting. However if the injection is the type that provides nourishment to sustain the body without food and drink then such an injection breaks the fast.
•While fasting it is not allowed to sniff the water too high in the nose that there may be danger that the water might reach the throat. (Tirmizi)
•Eating or drinking intentionally while fasting nullifies one’s fasting. He/she should sincerely repent and make up for the fast.
•While fasting in Ramadan, if a husband forcefully has intercourse with his wife then this would not break the fast of the wife and she does not have to make up for it. However, the husband is guilty of sin and he has to repent and make up for the fast by freeing a slave and if that is not possible then he has to fast continuously for two months and if that too is not possible, then he has to feed 60 needy people.
•A lustful thought which leads to ejaculation of semen does not break the fast. (Bukhari) However ejaculation of semen due to any other intentional activity or intimacy or due to watching immodest things breaks the fast.
• Wet dreams, while sleeping does not invalidate the fast as this happens unintentionally.(Bukhari)
• Discharge of Mathi - prostatic fluid while fasting does not break the fast.( Bukhari) [Mathi is the fluid discharged due to lustful arousal before semen is ejaculated]
Masnoon and Recommended Acts while fasting
•Eating Iftar ( eating at Maghrib time to breakfast) should not be delayed and should be eaten as soon as the sun sets (Maghrib time) which is a Sunnah of the Prophet.
• The one who offers and provides iftar to a fasting person, gets the reward equivalent to a fast.
•Using siwaak while fasting is proven from the Sunnah. (Sahih Bukhari)
•It is a Sunnah to recite the Quran and to revise it in Ramadhan.
• Giving charity generously in the month of Ramadhan is the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallam.
• Taraweeh is a nafil (voluntary) prayer which is also called Tahajjud or Qayam ul Lail.
•The masnoon rakaat of taraweeh is eight (8), however since it is a nafil prayer the number of rakaat can be increased or decreased.
• In the last 10 days of Ramadhan, encouraging your family to perform worship is the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhe Wasallam.
• A person who is unable to benefit from the most blessed night of the year lailatul Qadr is a loser.(Ibn Majah)
• Lailatul Qadr should be searched in the last 10 odd nights of Ramadan.(Bukhari)
• Sitting in seclusion- Itekaf in the Masjid during Ramadhan is an obligatory sunnah which is obligatory on the Muslim community (Sunnat e Mokada Kafaya) and its duration is 10 days.
• Women should also sit in Itekaf. (Muslim)
• Charity of fitr (Sadqa e Fitr) is obligatory (fard) on every individual. It is not necessary to be sahib e istatat to give sadqa e fitr. Sadqa e fitr should be given before the eid prayer. (Ahmed)
• Missed fasts of Ramadan should be kept any time before the start of the next Ramadan.(Agreed Upon)
• Keeping six fasts in Shawwal is highly recommended after Ramadan.(Muslim)
Those who are exempted from fasting
•A person, who, due to extreme old age or an incurable disease is unable to fast, then he should feed one poor person in exchange for every day of missed fast.
• A person who was ill and left fasting in Ramadhan but then later regains health and does not make up for the missed fasts and dies, then his inheritors have to make up for his missed fasts.
• If it is difficult or dangerous for the health of the mother and child then pregnant and breast feeding women can leave the fasts, however, they have to necessarily make up for the missed fasts later on.
• It is better for a traveller to leave the fast, however, there is also no harm if the traveller fasts while on a journey because sometimes Prophet (saw) observed fasting while travelling and sometimes he would leave fasting while travelling. Both are acceptable.
Uganda Muslim Supreme Council Spokesperson
What you should know about the month of Ramadhan