Fasting - Rulings
by Shaykh Ahmed Abdul Mujeeb Qasmi Nadvi (translated by Muhammad Owais Jafrey)
Today I would like to discuss some basics about Fasting.
Intention: The first pre-requisite is intention and there are two things which go along with it. First is the time and the second is the state of intention.
Intention for all the three fasts: Fasting of Ramadan, vowing a fast for an intended reason, and fasting as nafil (supererogatory). Intention should be made from the preceding night to the mid-day (Zawaal) before Zuhr prayers. However making intention before dawn or right at the sunrise is preferable. (Bada’. Vol. 2 page 84). In case some one intended to fast the next day and went to sleep and woke up after sun set, his fast wouldn’t be acceptable (Durr-e-Mukhtar. Vol. 2, page 377).
There are very clear traditions of Prophet (SAW) with regards to nafil (supererogatory) fast. One of them is related by Ummul Mumineen Aa’isha (RAnha). She said that once Prophet (SAW) came and asked her if she had something to eat. She replied in the negative. Prophet (SAW) then said that he was observing fast. There are many other traditions related by companions of Prophet (SAW) like Hazraat Abu Darda, Abu Talha, Abu Hurairah, Ibn-e-Abbas, Sayyidina Ali and Ibn-e-Masood (RAAjma’een). (Bukhari). Imam Nawawi has also mentioned it as a popular practice.
As far as the fasting of Ramadan is concerned, Allah (SWT) says in Ayah 187 of Surah Al-Baqarah “…eat and drink until the white thread of dawn becomes distinct from black. Then fast until nightfall.” Explaining it Allama Zail’ee (RehmA) said that Allah (SWT) has allowed eating and drinking till true dawn as likeable. The letter “Thuma” indicates that the intention for sure is applicable for after the true dawn.
The author of “Hidayah” writes that a villager once came to Prophet (SAW) as a witness of the Ramadan’s crescent. Prophet (SAW) said that be aware who has eaten shouldn’t eat further, and he who has not eaten should observe fast. Similarly Salam bin Aku (RA) relates that Prophet (SAW) sent a man from the tribe of Banu Aslamon the Day of Ashurah to announce that whoever hasn’t observed fast should observe, and he who has eaten should abstain from food and drink till sun set. [Muslim]. It should be remembered that the Ashurah fast was obligatory then and making an intention during the day was considered right. That proves that the fast that has a determined time, whether is obligatory or necessary (Fardh or Waajib), will be governed by the same rule. (Al-Behrul Raa’iq. Vol. 2 page 260).
Most jurists opine that it is necessary to make intention of each fast (Al-Mughni). It is not required to verbally announce the intention, as the intention is made by heart. However, a verbal expression is better. Some jurists think that eating at Sahur/Sehar is an enough intention for the fast. It is alright to make an intention after sun rise, but not after it sets. In that case one has to make a Qada, i.e. make up for the missed fast.
Suhur/Sehar: It is fine to have a little extra than stomach full food for extra energy needed for worship, but not for the sake of enjoyment as it is not liked. Eating much to get an upset stomach is forbidden as Allah (SWT) as mentioned in Aayah 141 of Surah A-An’am: “…do not be wasteful, Allah does not like wasteful people.” The fast will be alright, but not ideally correct. To eat at Sahur is a worship, and it differentiates between us and the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), who fast without eating at Sahur. We are commanded to eat at Sahur. Anas bin Malik relates that Prophet (SAW) said to eat at Sahur because it gives Barakah. (Bukhari). Umro bin Al-Aaas quotes Prophet (SAW) to have said that the difference between us the People of the Books is that of the eating at Sahur. (Muslim).
Rules relating to the breaking of the fast. Any thing that enters the body from the mouth or back breaks the fast. Ummul Momineen Aa’yesh (RAnha) relates that Prophet (SAW) said that the fast breaks when something enters the body, and not by something that comes out of the body.
By applying colyrium (surmah) to the eyes doesn’t break the fast. Aa’ysha (RAnha) said that Prophet (SAW) applied colyrium during fast. (Ibne-Majah). Anas (RA) also said that Prophet (SAW) had permitted it. (Tirmidhi).
Jurists have opined that the applications of powdered or liquid medicine to eyes don’t break the fast, though its taste can be felt in the throat as per Khulasat-ul-Fatawaaand Fatawaa-e-Alamgiri.
It is fine to Miswaak teeth irrespective of it being wet or dry and whether it is in the morning or evening and even before breaking the fast. Since it is good to get rid of the bad smell, it is recommended (Bada’. Volume 2, page 106). Aamir bin Rabi quotes his father who had seen Prophet (SAW) using Miswaak at numerous times while fasting. (Tirmidhi & Bukhari).
Tooth powder and tooth paste are different to Miswaak as one can feel their taste, hence their use in place of Miswaak unless necessary and unavoidable is Makrooh, detestable.
There are certain medicines which are to be smelled and tasted, and that doesn’t break the fast, unless the ingredients of the things tasted go inside through the throat. To taste without need is detestable (Makrooh). As far as the smelling goes, it is simply the air which one breathes, and it is fine unless something solid goes along into the system.
There are some liquid Homeopathic medicines which treat through smelling. It is like perfume (Itr), which is alright. However if smelled to effect the thirst or hunger, then it becomes detestable. Some liquid Homeopathic medicines are dropped on the tongue in a very small quantity and they evaporate like spirit. They are fine too, unless the spittle is swallowed to break the fast. Same rule applies to Oxygen which is inhaled through a tube by patients and it is like breathing. Insha Allah I will address some more questions with regards to fasting in future sermons. Please protect your fast as best you can.