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Ramadhaan 101

Zainab (AnonyMouse)

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What Everyone Should Know About Ramadhaan

  • Fasting in Ramadhaan is one of the pillars of Islam
  • It is obligatory for every sane, healthy, mature, resident Muslim to fast the entire month.
  • To deny the obligation of fasting in Ramadhaan is an act of kufr.
  • Fasting has been prescribed upon you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain taqwah. (2:183)

Prepping for Ramadan

  • The Salaf spent 6 months before Ramadhaan begging Allah to keep them alive for Ramadan – follow their example
  • Learn the rules and regulations of fasting in Ramadhaan
  • Begin the month with a clean slate: Make tawba (sincere repentence) for the sins we commit on a daily basis
  • Make du’aa that Allah help you fast properly and correctly, and receive the maximum benefit from it
  • Begin the month with a firm intention to follow the example of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) by fasting not only with the stomach and the private parts, but with the tongue, the hand, etc.
  • Set feasible goals to accomplish every day of Ramadhaan (give $5 in sadaqah, read a certain number of pages of Qur’an before/ after every salaah or after waking up/before bed, improve your character), and start “warm-up” goals NOW so that it becomes easier for you to continue on a larger scale when Ramadhaan begins.
  • Remember that every night, Allah Descends from His Throne (in a manner that befits His Majesty), extends His Hand, and asks who will turn to Him in repentance. Take advantage of this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Forget about arguing exactly how Allah descends/ what His Hand looks like, and focus on the message instead.)
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In Debt (owing fasts from the previous Ramadhaan)

  • If someone missed fasts from the previous Ramadhaan for a valid reason (sickness, traveling, pregnancy – in some cases, menstruation, post-natal bleeding, etc.) then there is no sin on them. They have right until the two days before this Ramadhaan to make up for what they missed.
  • Those who missed fasts from a previous Ramadhaan with NO valid reason are sinning and must make up their fasts ASAP. Some scholars say that they must also pay kaffaarah (expiation) for every day that they missed, but our opinion is that it’s not necessary.
  • If someone still hasn’t made up their fasts (ones missed without a valid reason) from the previous Ramadhaan, and another Ramadhaan begins, they have sinned, must make tawbah, and have to make them up immediately after ‘Eid.

What Not To Do (When Not To Fast in Sha’ban)

  • The Day of Doubt – the day before Ramadhaan, the 30th of Sha’baan (exception for those who have regular fasting habits, e.g. every second day or every Monday and Thursday).
  • Fasting specifically on the 15th of Sha’baan, believing that it has special qualities. This is false, and the ‘evidence’ used for it is actually referring to Laylatul-Qadr. Anyone who fasts or performs extra ‘ebaadah on this day believing the bid’ah, are in error. (However, fasting the 13th, 14th, and 15th of Sha’baan, and indeed of every Islamic month, is permissible and encouraged.)
  • Fasting in Sha’baan is permissible in order to fulfill a vow, make up previously missed fasts, continue habit, prepare for Ramadhaan
  • Difference of opinion on whether there’s a cut-off date for voluntary fasts: Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee said halfway through the month is the cut-off date based on a Hadith whose authenticity is debatable; majority say that there is no cut-off date except the Day of Doubt.

Moon-sighting: Local vs. Global

  • Both are acceptable, but majority of the scholars go with global sighting as best for today’s situation (in North & South America/ Europe)
  • The conditions must be fulfilled for the moonsighting to be accepted and the beginning/end of the month confirmed
  • The Muslims of every community (especially the men) MUST make an effort to look for the moon
  • Look for the moon locally but also take into consideration news from other countries
  • The Muslim world has a good (if not perfect) system for moon-sighting; rumours that Saudi goes by calculations/ decides on a date ahead of time are FALSE.
  • Revive a Sunnah: Organize moon-sighting groups for every month of the Islamic calendar, not just for Ramadhaan and Dhul-Hijjah; make an effort to know what day, month, and year it is of the Islamic calendar!

More on Moon-Sighting

  • We do NOT accept astronomical calculations! (Hadith)
  • Allah chose even the number of days in the month, and the months of the Islamic calendar.
  • Every Islamic month has only 29 or 30 days, and we should look for the moon on the night of the 29th
  • If the moon is not sighted (even due to cloudy skies), then complete the 30 days of Sha’baan and begin Ramadhaan the day after that.
  • Instruments such as binoculars and telescopes are permissible to aid in sighting the moon, but going out in a plane is a bit on the extreme side.
  • Astronomical calculations can be used to help sight the moon (i.e. determine where would be a good place to look for it, at what time it’d be best to see it), but CANNOT be depended upon for actually determination of moon-sighting.
  • The crescent moon looking bigger than usual is one of the signs of Qiyaamah.

Three Groups of People:

  1. Those who fast in Ramadhaan only because everyone else does, and they’ll get in trouble with their family if they don’t; they don’t really care about getting the maximum benefit out of Ramadhaan. These people gain nothing except hunger, thirst, and unsatisfied desires.
  2. Those who hate Ramadhaan, will not fast/ will only pretend to fast. They will be punished for their hatred of this blessed and beloved month.
  3. Those who love Ramadhaan, can’t wait for it, prepare for it the way one prepares for the arrival of a loved one; spend their days fasting in a way that Allah is pleased with them, spends their nights in tahajjud and other ‘ebaadah. They were good people before Ramadhaan, and are even better during Ramadhaan. Their reward with Allah is abundant and is so great only Allah knows how much ajr they receive.

Miscellaneous

  • If someone tries to pick a fight with you, say “Ana saa’im.” (“I am fasting.”) This is a reminder to yourself, and a warning to the other person.
  • Make every pang of hunger a reminder to yourself to be thankful to Allah, to turn to Him in reptentance, to beg of His Mercy for yourself and your fellow brothers and sisters in Islam
  • Imam ath-Thahabi: The alcoholic and fornicator who believe in the obligation of fasting are better than those who reject siyaam.

Merits and Virtues of Ramadhaan

  • The gates of Hell are shut, the devils are chained, and the gates of Heaven are open wide
  • Baab ar-Rayyaan is a gate of Jannah reserved specially for those who fast
  • Fasting is a form of expiation for minor sins.
  • Hadith Qudsi: Fasting is for Me, and I give the reward for it. (A man) gives up his sexual desires, his food and his drink for My Sake. Fasting is like a shield, and he who fasts has two joys: joy when he breaks his fast, and joy when he meets his Lord. The change in the breath of the mouth of he who fasts is better in Allah’s estimation than the smell of musk.
  • Metaphor for ajr of siyaam: Investing $1 and receiving $100 in return.

Do You Know This? I Didn’t!

  • (Fast) a certain number of days; and (for) him who is sick among you, or on a journey, (the same) number of other days; and for those who can afford it there is a ransom: the feeding of a man in need – but whoso doeth good of his own accord, it is better for him: and that ye fast is better for you if ye did but know.
  • The month of Ramadhaan is that in which the Qur’aan was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction. And whoever of you is present, then let him fast the month, and whoever is sick or on a journey (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desires ease for you, and He does desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks. (Surah al-Baqarah, verses 184- 185)
  • Siyaam was ordained in three phases:

    1. Fasting was not made obligatory, though it was prescribed; and those who wished were allowed to take the option of feeding a poor person instead. (See vs. 184, and Tafseer Ibn Kathir for more details)
    2. Fasting was made obligatory, and very strict: after eating iftaar, if someone fell asleep, they were not allowed to eat anything until the iftaar of the next day. (Imam ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, from his book Zaad al-Ma’aad)
    3. Finally, the command came to fast in the way that we all fast today: from sunrise until sunset, and with permission to eat anything we want between Maghrib and Fajr regardless of whether we sleep between those times or not.

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    Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women's issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She holds a diploma in Islamic Studies from Arees University, a diploma in History of Female Scholarship from Cambridge Islamic College, and has spent the last fifteen years involved in grassroots da'wah. She was also an original founder of MuslimMatters.org.

    15 Comments

    15 Comments

    1. Avatar

      Umm Layth

      September 7, 2007 at 1:30 AM

      There is definitely more than three groups of people. The third group has many groups within it.

      Isn’t making goals in this month just so encouraging? Gotta love it!
      May Allah forgive us and bring us close to Him, ameen.

    2. Avatar

      Didi

      September 7, 2007 at 5:53 AM

      I try to learn about many cultural traditions, but some of this stuff is a bit beyond my skill to understand. Why is it that you can’t use astronomical calculations? If we’re thinking about the same calculations here, (I’m thinking about the ones that allow us to accurately predict lunar eclipses, send rovers to mars, use cell phones, watch TV, etc.), surely there can’t be anything wrong with them. They’re just calculations. Complicated calculations, yes. But how is simply manipulating numbers wrong in any way?

      Also: What is this fascination religious people have with the idea that they are ‘sinning’? You say that you “commit sins on a daily basis”. Why? What sins have you all committed today? Unless you guys have really overzealous definitions of ‘sinning’, I really can’t see why any reasonably determined individual can’t just avoid it altogether. If I was convinced that I was doing horrible nasty evil things every day, it wouldn’t be long before I was diagnosed with a self esteem problem.

      Anyone care to help the confused secular humanist?

    3. Avatar

      AnonyMouse

      September 7, 2007 at 2:15 PM

      Re:astronomical calculations – we just don’t use the calculations in deciding the beginning/ end of the month (we go by the lunar calendar).
      The calculations in and of themselves aren’t wrong at all; instead, it’s about actually seeing the moon with our own eyes.
      For example, something that happens amongst Muslims is that they’ll say “Oh, the calculations say that the moon will be impossible to see that evening, so there’s no point in going out to look for it, and we’ll just say the month ends the day after tomorrow instead of tomorrow.”

      Re:sinning
      We consider ‘sins’ to be anything at all that God dislikes. This includes arguing with our parents, beating up our siblings (or anyone else), lying, cheating, etc.
      The point of being aware of what wrong things we’re doing is so that we can learn to overcome those faults and improve our character, become better people (thus getting closer to God, making Him happy, and raising our chances of getting into Heaven).

      In the end, we recognize that we’re not perfect, but we make an effort to improve ourselves on a daily basis and right the wrongs we do.

    4. Avatar

      iMuslim

      September 10, 2007 at 1:12 PM

      Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullah

      Jazakallah for the 101 Mousey. :)

      Now, i apologise in advance for hijacking your thread (funny how it’s always your thread, isn’t it? hehe):

      An Appeal for Ramadan Appeals at Ijtema
      If you know of any special Ramadan projects that need advertising, please feel free to use the comments section of the above entry. Jazakallah for your time.

      Ok, you can carry on as normal, now. :D

      Just one teeny point:

      thus getting closer to God, making Him happy, and raising our chances of getting into Heaven

      I think something we forget is doing good deeds, and avoiding sin, is part of our gratitude to Allah, for the all the blessings, tiny and great, that He has granted us – whether we realize them or not. You hate to displease the one you love, and God is most worthy of our love. None of us can earn Paradise, but we hope to enter it by the same mercy and generosity that God has shown us, in every moment of our existence. So we must try to obey Him out of gratitude, love, and a fear of displeasing Him.

      Plus, God is only displeased by that which harms us – sins are harmful acts, things that make our lives, and the lives of those around us, harder, as they are inherently unjust, and no human being can tolerate injustice, whatever their belief.

      So, if you want to know what a sin is, contemplate your actions, and try to evaluate the injustice that may result from them, even the tiniest injustice, and you will then know what is displeasing to God.

      Hope that makes sense, God-willing.

    5. Avatar

      iMuslim

      September 10, 2007 at 1:13 PM

      Aww, great, i got spammed… sob. Someone rescue my comment, pwease. Jazakallah. :)

    6. AnonyMouse

      AnonyMouse

      September 10, 2007 at 1:32 PM

      Your comment has been rescued! :)

    7. Pingback: Ramadhaan Kareem!! « Bariis Iyo Basto

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    10. Avatar

      basit

      September 13, 2007 at 3:40 PM

      Assalam Alaikum,

      I want to know whether it is permissible for the person who is praying behind the imam in Taraweeh prayers to hold the Mushaf with the intention of being able to focus more; AND if yes, can the person read both the Arabic and English translation, or should only read the Arabic.

      I found conflicting rulings on the web ( http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ln=eng&ds=qa&QR=10067; http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=52876&ln=eng&txt=holding%20mushaf; http://www.askimam.org/search/keywordSearch.php?keyw=mushaf ), and it would be great if someone of knowledge could answer it.

      Jazak Allah

    11. Avatar

      Adil Khan

      September 13, 2007 at 4:02 PM

      Salafees method of welcoming Ramadhan is by letting us all know which sites are legit and which ones are deviant. Sadly, Muslim Matters didn’t make it to either of them :( . Here’s the link to it which is quite exahustive:

      http://deen-ul-majeed.blogspot.com/

      sigh

    12. Avatar

      AnonyMouse

      September 13, 2007 at 4:11 PM

      Brother Adil, we try to stay away from labels such as Salafi, etc. here… so we’d appreciate it if you would refrain from that, insha’Allah. JazakAllahu khairan.

      Besides which, I like Sheikh Bilal Philips – he’s got quite a bit of beneficial material out there, masha’Allah.

    13. ibnabeeomar

      ibnabeeomar

      September 13, 2007 at 4:17 PM

      adil..jazakallahu khayr for the link.. that article is somewhat old (april) when MM was first getting started :) also we’d probably fall under a ‘blog’ instead of one of those websites, despite the fact that we have free multimedia, and scholarly articles from our shuyookh :)

    14. Avatar

      SisterZ

      August 26, 2008 at 3:36 PM

      Where are your proofs that its permissible to use a telescope?

    15. Pingback: 2008 August 26 » The Official Muslim Blog

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