FASTING TIPS FOR NEW MUSLIMS – Book Sample
Introduction – FASTING TIPS FOR NEW MUSLIMS
Upon becoming Muslim, one must fast the month Ramadan, the second act of worship that Allah enjoins upon us, every year.
One must abstain from anything that breaks the fast; eating, drinking and sexual intercourse, from the time of Fajr (dawn) until maghrib (sunset) as an act of obedience to Allah.
Like the Prayer, this act of worship has been part of the Sharia’s given by all the Prophets. Their followers fasted as we do. Allah (Exalted be He) says:
O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become from the pious. (Al-Baqarah 2:183)
However, the rules, the number of days, and the periods prescribed for fasting have varied from one Shari`ah to another. Today, although fasting remains a part of most religions in some form or other, people have often changed its original form by accretions of their own. In this e-book, we will try to help you to make this Ramadan your best Ramadan ever.
Why We Fast
The objective of fasting is not that one merely abstains from the material and physical things which break one’s fast, but rather, one must also refrain from those intangible things which wipe (the reward) of one’s fast, such as lying, backbiting, tale-bearing, cheating, deception, false talk, and other offensive behavior.
He should keep in mind that it is obligatory upon him to abstain from these offensive acts outside of Ramadan, but more so in this month, due to the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
“Whoever does not refrain from false speech and deeds, Allah had no need for him to leave his food and drink.” (Al-Bukhari)
There are many reasons and great wisdoms why the siyam has been prescribed. From them may be the following:
1- It is spiritual exercise for the believer, for his soul is making jihad –here means striving- against his wants and desires.
2- Keeping the Muslim’s soul above all offensive speech and deeds. The Prophet said:
“When one of you is fasting, he should not speak evil, nor should he yell and shout, and if someone were to curse or fight him, let him say, ‘Indeed I am a fasting person.’” (Al-Bukhari)
3- Through fasting, one realizes how his needy brothers feel, and this encourages him to fulfill their rights.
Conditions of a Valid Fast
Fasting is a requirement after puberty for all able-bodied Muslims of sound mind and good health, but there are concessions for those who are on a journey or who are ill, as well as for women during menstruation, pregnancy or breastfeeding.
In the whole year there is only one month of obligatory fasting. If you are travelling or ill you can omit it and observe it at some other convenient time of the year.
Women are exempted from fasting when they are pregnant and during their menstrual or suckling periods. Therefore, it is not allowed for a woman experiencing menstruation or postpartum bleeding to fast until her bleeding stops. Once it does, she must perform a complete bath (ghusl) and make up the fasts she missed.
The fast should end at the appointed time and any delay is disapproved of.
Permission is given to eat and drink from sunset to dawn.
If one is ill or traveling, it is permissible for him not to fast, but those days should be made up at a later time. One must make up the fasts before the arrival of the following Ramadan.
A charitable contribution as compensation can serve as an alternative to keeping the fast later.
True Spirit of Worship
The Prophet (peace and blessings be on him) has in various ways pointed out the real spirit of fasting and has explained that to go hungry and thirsty while ignoring the spirit carries no value in the sight of God.
Abstention from Falsehood
Once, he said:
“If one does not give up speaking falsehood and acting by it, God does not require him to give up eating and drinking.” (Al-Bukhari)
On another occasion, he said:
“Many are the people who fast but who gain nothing from their fast except hunger and thirst; and many are those who stand praying all night but gain nothing except sleeplessness.” (Ad Darimi)
The lessons are clear and unequivocal: merely being hungry and thirsty is not by itself worship, but a means for performing real worship.
Real worship means desisting from violating the law of God out of this fear and this love of God, pursuing activities that please Him, and refraining from the indiscriminate satisfaction of physical desires. If you fast while ignoring this essence of the fasting, you are simply causing unnecessary inconvenience to your stomachs.
Fasting & Faith
What prayers seek to do five times a day, fasting in the month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the lunar year) does once a year. During this period, we eat not a grain of food nor drink a drop of water from dawn to dusk, no matter how delicious the dish or how hungry or thirsty we feel.
What is it that makes us voluntarily undergo such rigors? It is nothing but faith in God and the fear of Him and the Day of Judgment. Each and every moment during our fast we suppress our passions and desires and proclaim, by so doing, the supremacy of the law of God.
This consciousness of duty and spirit of patience that incessant fasting for a whole month inculcates in us help us strengthen our faith. Rigor and discipline during this month bring us face to face with the realities of life and help us make our life, during the rest of the year, a life of true subservience to His Will.
Fasting & Society
From yet another point of view fasting has an immense impact on society, for all the Muslims irrespective of their status must fast during the same month. This emphasizes the essential equality of men and thus goes a long way towards creating in them sentiments of love and brotherhood. During Ramadan evil conceals itself while good comes to the fore and the whole atmosphere is filled with piety and purity.
This discipline has been imposed on us for our own advantage. Those who do not fulfill this primary duty cannot be relied on to discharge their other duties. But the worst are those who during this holy month do not hesitate to eat or drink in public. They show by their conduct that they care nothing for the commands of Allah in Whom they profess their belief as Creator and Sustainer.
Not only this, they also show that they are not loyal members of the Muslim community – rather, they have nothing to do with it. Only the worst can be expected of such hypocrites.
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