Fasting in Ramadan is not complicated. Unlike some other acts of worship (such as the five obligatory prayers), it doesn’t require memorizing anything, learning new steps, etc. It’s quite intuitive.
When do we start fasting?
Typically, the first day of Ramadan is signified when the new moon is seen by a righteous witness of the community. If the new moon is witnessed, then Muslims begin fasting the next day.
What Does Fasting Entail?
According to Islamic Law, fasting is:
- Refraining from engaging in (sexual) intercourse and
- Refraining from entering anything into the body cavity.
(Either deliberately or accidentally doing the above will nullify the fast.)
- From true dawn to the time the sun sets.
One must also have the intention to fast. Moreover, fasting is not required of everyone; rather, it is only mandatory for certain individuals (we’ll get into this later).
Who has to fast?
Fasting is required for every Muslim, man or woman, who is above the age of maturity (i.e., puberty) and is sane. Moreover, one must be physically able to fast. This means that people who are extremely ill (i.e., they reasonably believe that fasting will make their sickness worse or will slow the recovery process) or are undergoing strenuous conditions (such as traveling) are not required to fast. Travelers are not required to fast only if they start traveling prior to sunrise.
The same applies for a woman who is breastfeeding or pregnant and reasonably feels that fasting will harm her or her baby. These are exceptional cases, however. Most sick people and pregnant and breastfeeding women are required to fast. If someone in this category opts not to fast, they have to make up Ramadan fasts when they get better or they have stopped traveling.
Unlike the exceptional categories, women who are on their period (i.e., menstruating) or have post-natal bleeding are not permitted to fast until they have stopped bleeding or they have exceeded the number of days that these phases (i.e., menstruation and post-natal bleeding) usually take.
Conditions of fasting?
There are three conditions of fasting:
- A valid intention
- Being free from menstrual bleeding or post-natal bleeding
- Being free from anything else that would break the fast
What is the Intention?
An intention is needed to fast every day of Ramadan. In the Hanafi madhab, an intention is the determination or will someone has to do something. It does not need to be spoken out loud or verbalized. It’s just a strong resolve. The way to imagine it is if someone was to ask you what you were doing, you would respond: “I am fasting.”
On the contrary, if you didn’t get a chance to eat or drink anything all day, it doesn’t mean you’re fasting. You have to consciously decide that you are fasting anywhere between Maghrib and the (next) Islamic midday.
Recommended (Sunna) Acts While Fasting
While fulfilling the obligation of fasting is east (as mentioned above), there are certainly some extra bonus things you can do that will make your fast even better in the Sight of Allah ﷻ and will lead to greater reward. These are:
- Eating the pre-dawn meal (suhoor) before Fajr enters
- Delaying the pre-dawn meal until closer to the time of Fajr (this doesn’t mean start eating 5 minutes before the adhan is called; rather, it means not eating suhoor at midnight—after taraweeh, for instance—but waiting until about an hour before Fajr to eat).
- To hasten to break one’s fast at the entering of Maghrib (this also doesn’t mean start gobbling as soon as the adhan is called; it just means not waiting an hour or two before putting something into your mouth).
There are more rules and information related to fasting, but we wanted to keep this post short. If you’d like more information, please read THIS.