Saum (Fasting)

  1. – Fasting (Saum) in Islam is the practice of abstaining from food, drink, smoking, and sexual activity between dawn and sunset of a day during the ninth month of Islamic Lunar Calendar Ramadan.
  2. Fasting is known as Saum (صَوْم) in Arabic and the plural is Siyām (صِيَام). In Persian and Urdu, it is known as Rōzah (روزه‎).
  3. Saum is the fourth pillar of Islam. The five pillars of Islam are the Profession of Faith (Shahadah), Prayer (Salaat), Zakat, Saum, and Pilgrimage (Hajj).
  4. It is obligatory for every able-bodied Muslim who has reached puberty to fast during Ramadan.

Purpose of Saum

  1. The Holy Qur’an says in this regard: “The object is that you may guard against evil…” (2:183)
  2. In other words, the main objective of fasting is to generate power in human body and mind which can control unruly passion just as a beast is brought under control by keeping it occasionally hungry and then by giving it food.
  3. The same principle has been expressed by the following Hadith of the Prophet (SAW), “Who is not able (to marry) keep fast, and verily it is (as it were) castration for him” (Nasai)

Quran on Saum

– The word “Saum” appears 10 times in 7 verses in the Quran.
– The Muslim fast of the month of Ramadan is a continuation of the long history of fasting in the Abrahamic faiths.
– **”O you who believe! Observing As-saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqun (the pious).”** (Al-Baqara [The Cow], Chapter #2, Verse #183)
– **[Observing saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. And as for those who can fast with difficulty, (e.g. an old man), they have (a choice either to fast or) to feed a Miskin (poor person) (for every day). But whoever does good of his own accord, it is better for him. And that you fast is better for you if only you know.** (Al-Baqara [The Cow], Chapter #2, Verse #184)
– **The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion (between right and wrong). So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days. Allah intends for you ease, and He does not want to make things difficult for you. (He wants that you) must complete the same number (of days), and that you must magnify Allah [i.e. to say Takbir (Allahu Akbar; Allah is the Most Great] for having guided you so that you may be grateful to Him.** (Al-Baqara [The Cow], Chapter #2, Verse #185)
– **”Indeed We have revealed it (Qur’an) in the night of Power. And what will explain to you what the night of Power is? The night of Power is better than a thousand months. Therein descends the Angels and the Spirit (Jibreel) by Allah’s permission, on every errand: (they say) “Peace” (continuously) till the rise of Morning!”** (Q 97:1-5)

Hadith on Saum

– “When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heaven are opened and the gates of Hell are closed and the devils are chained.” (Imam Bukhari)
– Narrated Abu Huraira(r.a): The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:”… whoever fasts during Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping to attain Allah’s rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven.” (Imam Bukhari).
– bu Said al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw), said: “No servant fasts on a day in the path of Allah except that Allah removes the hellfire seventy years further away from his face.” This is related by “the group,” except for Imam Abu Dawud.
– `Abdullah ibn `Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw), said: “The fast and the Qur’an are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: ‘O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.’ And their intercession will be accepted.” [Imam Ahmad]
– Abu Umamah reported: “I came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said: ‘Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.’ He said: ‘Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.’ Then I came to him again and he said: ‘Stick to fasting.”‘ [Imam Ahmad, Imam Nasa’i, and Imam Hakim].
– Sahl ibn Sa’d reported that the Messenger of Allah (saw): “There is a gate to Paradise that is called ar-Rayyan. On the Day of Resurrection it will say: ‘Where are those who fasted?’ When the last [one] has passed through the gate, it will be locked.” [Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim].
– Abu Umaamah r.a.a. said: I said: ‘O Messenger of Allah (saw), tell me of an action by which I may enter Paradise’. He said: ‘Take to Fasting, there is nothing like it.’ [Imam Nasai’, Ibn Hibbaan, Al-Haakim, Saheeh]
– Every action of the son of Adam is given manifold reward, each good deed receiving then times its like, up to seven hundred times. Allah the Most High said, ‘Except for fasting, for it is for Me and I will give recompense for it, he leaves off his desires and his food for Me.’ for the fasting person there are two times of joy; a time when he breaks his fast and a time of joy when he meets his Lord, and the smell coming from the mouth of the fasting person is better with Allah than the smell of musk.” [Imam Bukhari]
– “Fasting is a shield with which a servant protects himself from the Fire.” [Imam Ahmad, Saheeh]
– On the Day of Judgement, “Fasting will say: O My Lord I prevented him from food and desires so accept my intercession for him.” [Imam Ahmad, Imam Haakim and Abu Nu’aim, Hasan]
– There are in the month of Ramadhan in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim an supplication which he can make and will be granted.” [al-Bazzaar, Ahmad, Saheeh]
– The Messenger of Allah (saw) 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 persons reward.” [Ahmad, at-Tirmidhee, Ibn Maajah, Ibn Hibbaan, Saheeh].

Individual Benefits of Saum

– Fasting for Muslims is a method of annual spiritual purification, renewal, and reflection.
– By self-denial of worldly comforts, a fasting person comes to understand what it feels like to be hungry, thereby enabling them to empathize with the poor and needy in society by sharing their suffering.
– Fasting instills patience, teaches self-control and discipline.
– Fasting increases compassion for the less fortunate.
– Fasting builds focus on spirituality and diminishes the focus on materialism.
– Fasting has many health benefits.
– Fasting can be atonement for sin and can earn a great reward.
– Fasting is part of a strong spiritual and physical renewal plan.
– Fasting commemorates important sacred religious events.
– Fasting encourages self-discipline and helps to forge a stronger bond of obedience to Allah by the endeavor to become spiritually stronger.
– Muslims believe that sawm helps to train them not to become slaves to their material needs and desires, and heightens their awareness of Allah.
– Closeness to and consciousness of Allah
– Fasting teaches man the principle of sincere love; because when he observes the fasting he doses it out of deep love for Allah. And the man who loves Allah truly is a man who really knows what love is.
– It equips man with a creative sense of hope and an optimistic outlook on life; because when he fast he is hoping to please Allah and is seeking His Grace.
– It imbues man with a genuine virtue of effective Devotion, honest and Dedication and closeness to Allah because when he fasts he does so for Allah alone.
– It cultivates in man a vigilant and sound conscience; because the fasting person keeps his fast in secret as well as in public. In Fasting, especially, there is no mundane authority to check man’s behavior or compel him to observe the fasting, he keeps it to please Allah and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public. There is no better way to cultivate a sound conscience in man.
– It is an effective lesson in applied moderation and willpower. The person who observer his Fasting properly is certainly a man who can discipline his passionate desires and place his self above physical temptation. Such is the man of personality and character, the man of willpower and determination.
– It provides man with a transparent soul to transcend a clear mind to think and a light body to move and act. All this is the never-failing result of carrying a light stomach. Medical instructions, biological rules and intellectual experience attest to this fact.
– It shows man a new way of wise savings and sound Budgeting; because normally when he eats less quantities or less meals he spends less money and effort. And this is a spiritual semester of home economics and budgeting.
– It enables man to master the art of mature Adaptability. Fasting makes man change the entire course of his daily life.
– It grounds man in discipline and Healthy survival. When a person observes the regular course of fasting in consecutive days of the Holy Month and in the holy months of the consecutive years, he is certainly applying himself to a high form of discipline and a superb sense of order.

Collective Benefits of Saum

– Sympathy with the poor and hungry
– Unity, Brotherhood and Charity
– Concept of one Ummah is strengthened as the entire Muslim world observe the month of Ramadan.
– Fasting in Ramadan helps in closeness to and consciousness of Allah Almighty.
– Fasting Muslims experience great satisfaction as they demonstrate their deep love for Allah Almighty by obeying His orders.
– Fasting ensures the harmony and unity of society. The sense of empathy that invokes due to fasting helps the faster understand other people better and makes it easier for them to make friends and socialize.
– Fasting raises awareness of the situation of poor people who live in our society. Fasting teaches the rich, who eat good, nutritious food and never suffer from hunger, what hunger is. When they stay hungry and thirsty for a specific period they begin to think about the poor and feel empathy for them.
– This holy month of Ramadan brings discipline in our lives. While we wake up at Sahar time, we manage to do so because we care for fast. We offer Nimaz of Fajar at a proper time to close the fast properly, thus we give ourselves a chance to care for the things that need preference.
– Thus we learn to give preference to important matters and manage our lives in Ramadan by the rating of preferences.
– Fasting teaches Muslim the principle of sincere love; because when he observes the fasting he does it out of deep love for Allah (SWT).
– It cultivates in Muslims a vigilant and sound conscience. The fasting person keeps his fast in secret as well as in public. In Fasting, especially, there is no normal authority to check man’s behavior or compel him to observe the fasting, he keeps it to please Allah and satisfy his own conscience by being faithful in secret and in public.
– Fasting brings the sense of hope and optimism in Allah’s grace and forgiveness.
– Patience and unselfishness comes due to fasting because they deprive themselves of essential commodities and pleasures.
– Fasting Muslims experience self-control. As Muslims fast, they should control own temper, they should remain calm and refrain from harming others, verbally or physically.
– Due to fasting Muslim experience unity, charity and brotherhood. In the month of Ramadan brotherhood can be seen. The fasting in Ramadan helps the Muslims to be aware of their unity. From the moment the new moon is seen, the whole Muslim world enters into the spiritual discipline of fasting.
– Fasting enables Muslims to master the art of mature Adaptability.
– Due to fasting Muslims experience the sincere sense of social belongings. Those who are fasting should respect and adhere to the acceptable social norms. They should refrain from backbiting, stealing, cheating or any act that might harm others.
– Fasting develops dignity as people who have stand firm against hardships, such as hunger and thirst, and have thus trained their body and soul, can challenge and overcome every difficulty they may encounter in life. So fasting helps to develop the dignity for those who are suffering from these hardships.
– A family system is encouraged by fasting which otherwise is not possible in the normal routine.
– Taraweeh which is mostly offered in congregation in Mosques is also a collective program of the Muslims in the Holy month of Ramadan. Muslims listen to the Quran together in Mosques; meet each other there and their social interaction increases.
– Ramadan makes the societies purer because, most people abstain from wrong acts in this holy month.

Fiqah / Procedure of Saum

– Fasting commences at dawn and ends at sunset. Before dawn, the suhur meal is eaten.
– The next meal, Iftar, is eaten immediately after sunset. Iftar is also referred to as breaking the fast, traditionally done with dates and water followed by a meal, as per the example set by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

Sunnah (Way of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) for Saum

– To have a suhoor meal even if it consists of a few dates or a few drops of water.
– To have the intention of fast before going to bed at night.
– To eat suhoor shortly before dawn and to break the fast just after sunset.
– To break the fast with dates or water.
– To abstain from backbiting, losing temper, lying, etc.

Valid Reasons for not Observing the Saum

– Being on a journey
– Sickness
– Risk of life
– Jihad
– Unconsciousness
– Insanity
– People who are unable to observe the fasts of Ramadan due to some reason should abstain from eating and drinking openly but should show due reverence for the sacred month.
– A person who fulfills the conditions which make observance of the fast incumbent upon them, and then their fast is invalidated due to some reasons, are required to conduct themselves like the ones observing the fast.
– The fasts of Ramadan which have been missed due to some reasons, must not be deferred indefinitely but observed as soon as possible.
– It is not necessary to fix the day for observing the missed fast.
– A person has to be mindful in his intention of the year of the missed fast of which he intends to observe on a particular day.
– For observing the missed fast, one has to have the intention during the night. To have the intention after the break of dawn would be useless for such a fast would be considered only as a voluntary fast (Nafl).
– If a person has missed some Ramadan fasts, but before he could observe them on other days, the next Ramadan has approached, he has to observe the Ramadan fasts and defer the missed fasts of the previous Ramadan to a later time.

Expiation (Kaffarah)

– Expiation is obligatory only in the case of the Ramadan fasts when they are rendered void intentionally without any genuine reason. Fasting for two months continuously.
– If a break occurs, one has to start afresh and fast for full 60 days continuously regardless the number of fasts observed earlier.
– If more than one fasts are rendered void during the same month of Ramadan, one will be required to make only one expiation.
– If a person cannot observe the fast due to some reasons, it is obligatory upon him to feed 60 indigent persons in the morning and evening, if possible, on the same day.
– While feeding the poor it has to be seen that they are grown up and one should be moderate, the food should neither be very cheap nor expensive.
– Expiation will not be valid if one and the same needy person is fed in the morning and evening.

===Atonement (Fidyah)===
– A person who is extremely weak due to old age or disease cannot fast and has no hope of early recovery has been allowed by Shari’ah not to fast, but to feed a needy person.
– Quantity of fidyah for one fast is same as that of Sadaqatul Fitr. It may be given in the shape of corn, cooked food, its price, or by feeding a poor person twice a day in the morning and the evening. If a person, after paying of fidyah, regains health, he should observe the missed fasts.
– If a dying person, who has to observe some missed fasts makes a will, that fidyah should be paid for his missed fasts out of his property, it is incumbent upon his heirs to pay off the required fidyah.
– If the dying person has made no will, the heirs themselves may pay off fidyah for his missed fasts, hoping from Allah that He will accept it.

===Voluntary Fasting===

– After commencement, a voluntary fast becomes obligatory; if it breaks or is rendered void due to some reason, it has to observe again on another day.
– It is not permissible to break even a voluntary fast without a genuine reason; however, it can be broken on a comparatively lesser ground as against an imperative fast.
– If a person observing a voluntary fast is invited to a feast and he feels that his refusal to partake of food will displease the host, or the host will not touch food without his participation, the faster may break the fast and observe it on another day.
– It is highly undesirable for a woman to observe a fast other than the Ramadan fasts without leave of the husband. If she has commenced a fast, she will have to break it if the husband so desires; then in case she has to observe the fast in another day, she will do so by the husband’s consent.
– If a person observing a voluntary fast receives a guest and fears that the guest would mind if he does not take food with him, he is allowed to break the fast.
– It has not been approved to start fasting a day or two before the commencement of Ramadan. The Holy Prophet (PBUH), said: “Nobody is to commence fasting, a day or two before Ramadan; however if a person has been fasting on a particular day, he may.” (Bukhari)

===Conditions of Saum===
– Whilst fasting, no food or drink is consumed.
– Abstinence from sexual relations, nourishment, and comforts such as chewing gum or smoking is also obligatory during the hours of fasting.
– It is expected that one tries to control their tongue and temper whilst fasting.

===Types of Saum===
– There are six types of saum.
– 1. Fard: Fast of Ramadan. If the fastings of Ramadan are missed due to a genuine reason, it is imperative to observe them later.
– 2. Wajib: If one has made a vow to observe some fast it is wajib to do so.
– 3. Sunnah: The fast which the Holy Prophet, Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, himself observed or urged his followers to observe. Ashura fast on the ninth and tenth of Muharram, fast of the day of Arafah on ninth of Dhulhijjah, and fast of the Ayam Baid (thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth of every lunar month).
– 4. Nafl: Six fasts of the month of Shawwal, fast of every Monday and Thursday, fast of the fifteenth of Sha’ban, and eight fasts during the first ten days of Dhulhijjah.
– 5. Makrooh: Fasts observed only on Saturday or Sunday, only on the tenth day of Muharram, fast of women without her husband’s permission, fasting without a break.
– 6. Haram: Fasts on the day of Eid-ul-Fitr, on the day of Eid-ul-Adha, and during the tashreeq days (eleventh to thirteenth of Dhulhijjah).

Terminology of Saum

– **Bab Al-Raiyan** – The name of one of the gates of Heavens (Jannah) through which the people who often observe fasting will enter on the Day of Judgement.
– **Eid ul-Fitr** – The month of Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid ul-Fitr. This is marked by dressing up and visiting the mosque for prayer, and with visits to family and friends for celebratory meals.
– **Eid Mubarak** – A greeting on Eid Al-Fitr meaning “Blessed Festival”.
– **Fidya** is the compensation for missing a fast. If you are unable to fast, or if you commit certain mistakes while fasting, you need to offer Fidya, which can be in form of donating money or foodstuff, or sacrificing an animal. This is very different from Kaffara.
– **Hilal** is the new moon or crescent that confirms the start of a new Islamic month. The Islamic calendar is based on lunar months, with each month lasting either 29 or 30 days. Special sighting committees are set up in most Muslim countries to catch a glimpse of the Hilal.
– **Iftar** or Iftari is the sunset meal to ends the day’s fast. Iftar is a time for family and friends to come together to break the fast and usually consists of a spread traditional treats.
– **Imsak** refers to the start of a fast and begins when the first light of dawn becomes visible, shortly before the dawn call to prayer (Fajr).
– **Itikaaf** is the practice of spiritual retreat or isolation that some Muslims carry out during the last 10 days of Ramadan. It can be completed in a mosque or at home and requires a person to dedicate their time solely to prayer, reflection and recitation of the Quran.
– **Kaffara** is a penalty or expiation offered when one deliberately breaks his or her fast. To complete Kaffara, a Muslim must fast for sixty continuous days, or if unable to do so, should feed sixty needy persons or donate an amount equal to feeding sixty persons to charity. If one chooses to fast sixty days and the continuity is interrupted for any reason, except menstruation, one has to start the sixty-day cycle all over again.
– **Lailatul Qadr**, or the Night of Power, is the night that the Quran was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad. The exact date is unknown, but it may fall on any of the odd nights in the last 10 days of Ramadan (21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th day of the month of Ramadan). Special late night prayers known as Qiyam-ul-Lail are held in mosques as Muslims ‘seek’ this glorious night. As revealed in the Quran, praying on this night equates prayers of a thousand months.
– **Qada** is an Arabic term meaning fulfilling. In Ramadan, it refers to making up missed fasts due to travelling, sickness etc. This can be done on any day of the year except on the days of Eid Al Fitr and Eid Al Adha.
– **Ramadan** – the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; the month of fasting; the holiest period for the Islamic faith.
– **Ramadan Kareem**, which literally means ‘Generous Ramadan’. Since the fasting period is an opportunity for Muslims to receive many blessings and be thankful, the month is considered generous.
– **Ramadan ul Mubarak**
– **Saum** (fasting) is one of the Five Pillars of Islam; it is a form of worship that is mandatory for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. The fast requires Muslims to abstain from food, drink, sexual intimacy and any negative behaviour from dawn until dusk, devoting their time to worship and remembrance of Allah (God).
– **Suhoor** or Sahri is the meal consumed at dawn before the start of the fast.
– **Tarawih** – During the month of Ramadan, special congregational prayers known as Tarawih are held every evening. These voluntary prayers consist of eight to 20 rakats or units, depending on which Islamic school of thought you follow. People are encouraged to offer Tarawih in mosques.
– **Zakat Al Fitr** is a special form of charity that Muslims are required to offer before the end of Ramadan. It is meant to give the poor and needy a means to celebrate Eid Al Fitr, the festival that marks the end of Ramadan.