Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ahlan Wasahlan Ya Ramadhan Al-Mubarak

Bismillah. Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarokatuh

Fasting is the fourth of the 5 Pillars of Islam and involves fasting during Ramadhan, which is probably the most notable time for fasting among Muslims.

In Islam, fasting for a month is an obligatory practice during the holy month of Ramadhan, from fajr (dawn), until the maghrib (dusk). Muslims are prohibited from eating, drinking (including water), engaging in sexual activity, becoming angry, and smoking while fasting. Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the Pillars of Islam, and thus one of the most important acts of Islamic worship. By fasting, whether during Ramadan or other times, a Muslim draws closer to Allah by abandoning body pleasures, such as food and drink. This makes the sincerity of their faith and their devotion to God (Arabic: Allah) all the more evident.

The Quran states that fasting was prescribed for those before them (i.e., the Jews and Christians) and that by fasting a Muslim gains taqwa, which can be described in one word as 'Godconsciousness' or 'Godwariness'. Fasting helps promote chastity and humility and prevent sin, the outburst of uncontrolled lusts and desires and far-fetched hopes. It acts as a shield with which the Muslim protects him/herself from hell.

Muslims believe that fasting is more than abstaining from food and drink. It also includes abstaining from any falsehood in speech and action, from any ignorant and indecent speech, and from arguing and fighting, and lustful thoughts. Therefore, fasting strengthens control of impulses and helps develop good behavior. During the sacred month of Ramadan, believers strive to purify body and soul and increase their taqwa (good deeds and God-consciousness). This purification of body and soul harmonizes the inner and outer spheres of an individual. Muslims aim to improve their body by reducing food intake and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. Overindulgence in food is discouraged and eating enough to silence the pain of hunger is encouraged. Muslims should be active, tending to all their commitments and never falling short of any duty. On a moral level, believers strive to attain the most virtuous characteristics and apply them to their daily situations. They try to show compassion, generosity and mercy to others, exercise patience, and control their anger. In essence, Muslims are trying to improve their moral character and cultivate good habits.

Fasting also inculcates a sense of fraternity and solidarity, as Muslims feel and experience what their needy and hungry brothers and sisters feel. Those who are already poor and hungry are often considered exempt from fasting, as their condition renders them effectively fasting all the time; however, many participate in not eating during the day. Moreover, Ramadan is a month of giving charity and sharing meals to break the fast together.

The Siyam is intended to teach Muslims patience and self-control, and to remind them of the less fortunate in the world. The fast is also seen as a debt owed by the Muslim to God. Faithful observance of the Siyam is believed to atone for personal faults and misdeeds, at least in part, and to help earn a place in paradise. It is also believed to be beneficial for personal conduct, that is, to help control impulses, passions and temper. The fast is also meant to provide time for meditation and to strengthen one's faith.

While fasting in the month of Ramadan is considered Fard (obligatory), Islam also prescribes certain days for non-obligatory, voluntary fasting, such as:

  • the 13th, 14th, and 15th of every lunar month
  • each Monday and Thursday of a week
  • six days in the month of Shawwal (the month following Ramadan)
  • the Day of Ashura (10th of Muharram in the Hijri calendar), together with either the 9th or the 11th, in commemoration of the Exodus (The Sunni Muslims observe a fast on this day. The Shi'ah Muslims believe this fast is an innovation in Islam and consider it a makruh (discouraged) act.)
  • every other day, also known as the fast of the prophet

Fasting is forbidden on these days:

  • Eid Fitr (1st Shawwal) and Eid Adha (10th Dhulhijjah) - According to all Muslims.
  • Tashriq (11th, 12th, 13th Dhulhijjah) - According to the Sunnis only.
  • the Day of Arafat (9th of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Hijri (Islamic Calendar). (Again, according to Sunnis only - Only pilgrims to Mecca are forbidden to fast.)

Although fasting is fard (obligatory), exceptions are made for persons in particular circumstances:

  • Prepubescent children; though some parents will encourage their children to fast earlier for shorter periods, so the children get used to fasting.
  • Serious illness; the days lost to illness will have to be made up after recovery.
  • If one is traveling but one must make up any days missed upon arriving at one's destination.
  • Women who are pregnant or nursing.
  • A woman during her menstrual period; although she must count the days she missed and make them up at the end of Ramadan.
  • An ill person or old person who is not physically able to fast. They should donate the amount of a normal person's diet for each day missed if they are financially capable.
  • A mentally ill person.

Penalty of purposefully breaking fast at Ramadan:(not necessarily true, please provide references)

  • For elders who will not be able to fast, a lunch meal (or an equivalent amount of money) is to be donated to the poor or needy for each day of missed fasting.
  • If an adult who is sane, man or woman, breaks his/her fast intentionally and without any excuse, he or she must fast (60) consecutive days for each Ramadan in which he or she broke the fast, as well as make up the missing day(s).

Maksudnya: "Wahai orang-orang yang beriman, kamu diwajibkan berpuasa sebagaimana diwajibkan kepada orang-orang yang terdahulu daripada kamu supaya kamu bertaqwa. Puasa itu diwajibkan dalam beberapa hari tertentu. Maka sesiapa di antara kamu yang sakit atau dalam musafir (bolehlah ia berbuka) maka hendaklah ia digantikan dengan hari-hari lain."

1the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) has been reported as saying in a hadith by Abu Hurairah: "He who does not desist from obscene language and acting obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has no need that he be hungry or thirsty." (Bukhari Muslim)
In another hadith by Abu Hurairah (RAA), the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Fasting
is not only to restrain from food and drink, fasting is to refrain from obscene (acts). If someone verbally abuses you or acts ignorantly towards you, say (to them) 'I am fasting; I am fasting.'" (Ibn Khuzaimah)

Bulan Islam

Indeed, these two reports imply that fasting will not be completed until one observes three elements:
1. Restraining the private parts and the stomach from food and drink.
2. Restraining the jawarih, the other body parts, which may render the fast worthless despite the main factors of hunger and thirst. The tongue, for instance, must avoid backbiting, slander, and lies; the eyes should avoid looking into things considered by the Lawgiver as unlawful; and the ears must stop from listening to conversations, words, songs, and lyrics that spoil the spirit of fasting.
3. Restraining of the heart and mind from indulging themselves in other things besides dhikir Allah (remembrance of Allah)

سبحانك اللهم وبحمدك اشهد ان لااله إلاانت وأستغفرك وأتوب إليك