The Manners of Fasting


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The Manners of Fasting

Ramadan comes with blessings to the Muslims. The reports from the Qur'an and the Sunnah encourage an increase in action to get reward as we saw and also out of gratefulness to Allah who says [in meaning]:

"(He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must glorify Allah for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him" [al-Baqara, 2:185]

and similarly about Hajj;

"So when you have accomplished your rites (of Hajj) remember Allah as you remember your fathers or with a far greater remembrance" [al-Baqara, 2:200]

1-Eating the Suhoor (the pre-dawn meal)

Suhoor is distinctive of the Ummah of Muhammad salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam;

`Amr Ibn al-`Aas reported that the Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said: "The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the people of the book [Jews and Christians] is the taking of Suhoor". [Muslim]

There are blessings in Suhoor ...

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (S) said: "Indeed Allah placed blessing in the Suhoor and in the weighing [of grain]". [Shirazi and al-Khateeb/ al-Jami`us-Sagheer; Hasan]

Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "Eat Suhoor, for there are blessings in it." [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Salman also reported that the Prophet said: "Blessing is in three : The Jama`a [the congregation of the Muslims], The Thareed [a broth of (crumbled) bread and meat] and the Suhoor". [Tabarani and Abu Nu`aim; Hasan]

A companion said: "I entered upon the Prophet (S) and he was taking the Suhoor and he said: "It is a blessing which Allah has given to you, so do not leave it". [Ahmad and an-Nasa'i; Sahih].

Abud-Dardaa' reported that the Prophet (S) said: "Come to the blessed morning meal (meaning the Suhoor)". [Ahmad, an-Nasa`i and Abu Dawood].

"Perhaps the greatest blessing of Suhoor is that Allah Subhanahu wa Ta`ala (SWT) [Most High and Free of all imperfection], covers the people eating Suhoor with His forgiveness and send His Mercy upon them. The angles ask for forgiveness for them and supplicate to Allah to pardon them, so that they may be granted freedom from the Fire by the Most Merciful in the month of the Qur'an

Abu Said al-Khudri said: The Prophet (S) said: "The Suhoor is a meal of blessings, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes a gulp of water, since Allah sends mercy and His angels seek forgiveness for those who take Suhoor". [Ahmad and Ibn Abi Shaibah]

These reports from the Prophet (S) leave no room for the believer to miss Suhoor. Therefore let us take it upon us to never miss it.

(a) What would fulfill eating Suhoor?

Eating Suhoor would be fulfilled by eating a small or large quantity of food, or even just by drinking a sip of water as mentioned in the Hadith of Abu Said al-Khudri. However, the best of Suhoor is eating dates since the Prophet (S) said: "How excellent are dates as the believer's Suhoor". [Abu Dawood, Ibn Hibban and al-Baihaqee; Sahih]

(b) The time for Suhoor: The time for Suhoor is between the middle of the night and dawn. It is considered best to delay it (that is, as close to dawn a possible).

The Prophet (S) said: "Hasten the breaking of the fast and delay the Suhoor". [Sahih al-Jami`]

Zaid ibn Thabit reported: "We ate Suhoor with the Messenger of Allah and then we got up for the prayer. He was asked: 'What was the amount of time between the two?' He responded: '[The time it would take to recite] fifty ayat."' [al-Bukhari and Muslim].

'Amr ibn Maimun adds: "The companions of Muhammad (S), would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their Suhoor." [al-Baihaqi, Abdur-Razzaq and al-Haithami; Sahih]

The Prophet (S) said: "We, the Prophets, have been ordered to hasten breaking the fast, delay the Suhoor, and to put our right hand on the left one in prayer". [Sahih al-Jami`]

2-Hastening in breaking the fast:

It is preferred for the fasting person to hasten in breaking the fast when the sun has set.

Sahl ibn Sa`d reported that the Prophet (S) said: "The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast." [Bukhari and Muslim].

Sahl also reports that the Prophet (S) said: "The Ummah will not cease to be upon my Sunnah as long as they do not await the stars when breaking the fast". [Ibn Hibban; Sahih]

'Amr ibn Maimun adds: "The companions of Muhammad (S), would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their Suhoor." [al-Baihaqi, Abdur-Razzaq and al-Haithami; Sahih]

He (S) said: "The religion [of Islam] shall continue to prevail as long as people hasten breaking the fast, for the Jews and Christians delay it" [Sahih al-Jami`]

Abud-Dardaa' said: "Three things are from the manners of the Prophets: Hastening in breaking the fast, delaying the Suhoor, and placing the right hand upon the left in prayer". [Tabarani]

Ahmad and Abu Dawood recorded through Anas with a Hasan Isnad that the Messenger of Allah (S) used to break the fast before praying.

He (S) used not to pray Maghrib unless he breaks his fast, even if it be a sip of water. [Sahih al-Jami`]

The fast should be broken with dates or, if that is not available, with some water.

Anas reported: "The Messenger of Allah (S) would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water." [Abu Dawud, al-Hakim and at-Tirmithi, / Sahih al-Jami`]

Sulaiman ibn 'Amr reported that the Prophet said: "If one of you is fasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying." [Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi]

After the prayer, the person may continue to eat, but if the evening meal is ready, one may begin with that. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah said: "If the food is already presented, eat before the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste." [al-Bukhari and Muslim]

3-Supplications while breaking the fast

We have already mentioned in the virtues of Fasting that at the time of breaking the fast supplication is granted. Moreover you are encouraged, Dear Sister, if you want more reward, to feed fasting brothers and sisters for you will get the reward of their fasting besides yours!

Our Generous and Dear Prophet (S) said: "He who gives food for a fasting person to break his fast, he will receive the same reward as him, except that nothing will be reduced from the fasting person's reward". [Ahmad, at-Tirmithi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hibban; Sahih]

When invited to break the fast, the Prophet (S) used to supplicate for his hosts by saying:

*"Akala ta`amakumul-abraar, wa sallat `alaikumul-mala'ikah, wa aftara `indakumus-sa'imoon" May the righteous eat you food, may the angel seek forgiveness for you and may those who fast break the fast with you. [Ahmad, an-Nasa'i and others; Sahih]

*Allahumma aT`im man aT`amanee, wasqi man saqani O Allah fees the one who fed me, and give drink to the one who gave me drink. [Muslim]

*Allahumma 'ghfir lahum warHamhum wa baarik lahum feema razaqtahum O Allah forgive them, have mercy upon them and place bless what You provided for them. [Muslim]

4-Refraining from performing any actions that do not befit the fasting:

Fasting is a type of worship that draws one closer to Allah. Allah has prescribed it to purify the soul and to train it in good deeds. The fasting person must be on guard against any act that may cause him to lose the benefits of his fast. Thus, his fast will increase his Taqwa, and Allah says in the Qur'an [in meaning]:

"O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so perchance you may attain Taqwa."

Fasting is not just refraining from eating and drinking, but it is also refraining from everything else that Allah has forbidden.

Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet said: "Fasting is not [abstaining] from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: "I am fasting, I am fasting." [Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim; Sahih].

Abu Hurairah also reported that the Prophet (S) said: "Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech [Bukhari and others]]

He also reported the Prophet (S) as saying: "Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then Allah Mighty and Majestic has no need [i.e. will not accept] that he should leave his food and drink".[Bukhari]

Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said: "Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness." [an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah and al-Hakim / Sahih al-Jami`]. In another Narration "It may be that a fasting person attains nothing but hunger and thirst from his fasting". [Ibn Majah, Darimi, Ahmad and al-Baihaqee; Sahih]

5-Using the Siwak [tooth stick brush]:

It is preferred for the fasting person to use a tooth stick or a brush. There is no difference if he uses it at the beginning or the ending of the day.

Aisha said, "The Prophet said, "It (i.e. Siwak) is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking Allah's pleasures." [Bukhari]

'Amir bin Rabi'a said: "I saw the Prophet cleaning his teeth with Siwak while he was fasting so many times as I can't count." And narrated Abu Huraira, "The Prophet said, 'But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution." The same is narrated by Jabir and Zaid bin Khalid from the Prophet who did not differentiate between a fasting and a non-fasting person in this respect (using Siwak). [Bukhari]

6-Being generous and studying the Qur'an:

Being generous and studying the Qur'an is recommended during all time, but it is especially stressed during the month of Ramadan. Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn 'Abbas said: "The Prophet was the most generous of people, but he would be his most generous during Ramadan when he would meet with [the angel] Jibreel (Gabriel). He would meet with him every night and recite the Qur'an. When Jibreel met him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind."

Abu Huraira reported that Jibreel used to repeat the recitation of the Qur'an with the Prophet once a year, but he repeated it twice with him in the year he died.

7-Praying in the nights of Ramadan:

Abu Huraira reported that the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said : "Whoever establishes prayers during the nights of Ramadan faithfully out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah's rewards (not for showing off), all his past sins will be forgiven. [Bukhari]

`Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhanee, radhiya Allahu `anhu said : A man came to the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallama, and said :"O Messenger of Allah, what if I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah, and I observe the five daily prayer, and I pay the Zakaah, and I fast and stand in prayer [at night, i.e. Qiyam] in Ramadan, the amongst who shall I be ?" He said : "amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs" [Ibn Hibban in az-Zawa'id : Its Isnad is Sahih]

This is better if done in Jama`a [congregation] for the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam said:

"When a man prays with the imam, until he (the imam) concludes (the prayer), it is recorded that he stood the whole night". [Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Tirimithi and Nasa'i and it is Sahih]

How did the Prophet (S) and his companions pray in the nights of Ramadan?

Abu Salma bin 'Abdur Rahman said : I asked 'Aisha, "How is the prayer of Allah's Apostle during the month of Ramadan." She said, "Allah's Apostle never exceeded eleven Rakat in Ramadan or in other months; he used to offer four Rakat-- do not ask me about their beauty and length, then four Rakat, do not ask me about their beauty and length, and then three Rakat." Aisha further said, "I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! Do you sleep before offering the Witr prayer?' He replied, 'O 'Aisha! My eyes sleep but my heart remains awake'!"[Bukhari]

Jaabir Ibn Abdillah said: "When the Prophet (S) led the people in prayer, during the night of Ramadan, he prayed eight Rak`ah and the Witr". [Ibn Hibban and Tabarani; Hasan]

Saa'ib Ibn Yazeed said: "Umar Ibn al-Khattaab ordered Ubayy Ibn Ka`b and Tameem ad-Daaree to lead the people in eleven Rak`ah of prayer, and the reciter would recite soorahs containing hundreds of Ayat to the extent we would have to support ourselves due to the length of the standing and we would not depart until the first signs of dawn. [Malik]

The conclusion of these Ahadith and others not mentioned here is that one should pray either eleven or thirteen Rak`ah including Witr. For more details refer to the book "Qiyaam of Ramadan" by Sh. Nasirud-Deen al-Albani, that will be available in English from al-Qur'an was-Sunnah Society soon insha'a Allah.

If one does not memorize Qur'an but knows how to read, he/she can recite from the Mushaf while praying as this was practiced by Aishah with her slave Thakwan as reported by al-Bukhari in a mu`allaq form [authentic as Sh. Ibn Baz observes].


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