A few years ago I read Hilali’s book Fasting in Ramadan (which I highly recommend) and took a load of notes. Over the following years, I’ve just read through those notes as a reminder of the rulings concerning Ramadan and to refresh my memory. It’s worked well for me, so I thought I’d share them with my Aqeedah class (which I teach once a week in English)and it was a success with them, so I thought I’d share it here too. Here goes:

Ramadan was only made obligatory in the year 2H, 15 years after the start of the revelation, as Allah Ta’la said:

شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَىٰ وَالْفُرْقَانِ ۚ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ ۖ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ ۗ يُرِيدُ اللَّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلَا يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُوا الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُوا اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.

(Surah Al-Baqarah: 185)

I broke down the rulings regarding fasting into three groups: before fasting, while fasting and after fasting, because it just makes it easier to keep track of.

Before fasting:

1)     It’s important to have the intention to fast before fajr. You don’t say it out loud, and basically if you plan on fasting the whole month, your intention is already sorted.

2)     Suhoor (aka: breakfast / brekkie / nom-nom am / etc):

This is a meal that is recommended for fasting people to eat just before fajr prayer. The reason for it’s importance is that it distinguishes us from the people of the book, as the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) : “The distinction between our fasting and the fasting of the People of the Book is the taking of the pre-dawn meal (suhoor).” (Muslim)

Also, the reward of this meal is pretty great, the Messenger (pbuh) said: “The suhor is a meal of blessings, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes a (gulp) of water, since Allah sends mercy and His angels seek forgiveness for those who take suhoor.” (Ahmad). So basically that means: Blessings + Mercy + Forgiveness = Suhoor. I like that equation.

While fasting:

1)     Things that nullify your fast:

These are the things that if you do, you eat and drink the rest of the day and make up the fast after Ramadan. They are:

a)    Eating & drinking (duh!)

b)    Periods / post-natal bleeding.

c)    Intercourse.

d)    Injections that provide nourishment (note: anaesthetic doesn’t nourish, so dental work is ok!)

e)    Making yourself vomit. This is gross, I know, but if you vomit unintentionally and you swallow some of it back down, then that also breaks your fast. Throwing up unintentionally and not swallowing any of it doesn’t break the fast.

2)     Things that are allowed while fasting:

Basically, everything is allowed except that which the evidence dictates is not allowed. Common causes of confusion (could I get anymore C’s in? lol) that are A-ok, include:

a)    Starting fasting before doing Ghusl for Jannabah / after a period.

b)    Having showers.

c)    Using a siwak.

d)    Washing your mouth and nose out – but do it gently. No industrial gargling. Heck, no gargling at all: you run the risk of accidentally swallowing it.

e)    Tasting food – just be sure to spit it out afterwards.

f)       Using Kohl, and putting anything in the eye, providing it doesn’t leave a taste in the throat.

g)    Toothpaste, provided you don’t swallow it and you spit it out very thoroughly.

3)     Things we’re not allowed to do, but don’t require us to make up the days:

a)    Lying

b)    Ignorant / indecent speech, which includes swearing, gossiping, etc.

Obligatory acts of worship are done for two reasons: obligation and reward. Someone who does either of the things above loses the reward for fasting, but has still fulfilled their obligation. This is the person of whom the Messenger (pbuh) said: “It may be that a fasting person attains nothing but hunger and thirst from his fasting.” (Ibn Majah & Ahmad)

After fasting:

It is sunnah to break the fast before praying Maghrib, but after the Adhan obviously. It’s also sunnah to rush to break the fast because, like Suhoor this distinguishes us from the people of the book, as well as being a sign that we’re still following the Sunnah and doing good. As the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “The people will not cease to be upon good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

While it’s ok to break the fast with anything (my brothers have been known to pick a few chips to break their fast with, the gits), Anas said: “The Prophet (pbuh) used to break the fast with fresh dates before praying, and if not with fresh dates then with older dates, and if not with dates then with some mouthfuls of water.” (Ahmad & Abu Dawud)

The dua for breaking the fast is:

ذهب الظمأ، وابتلت العروق، وثبت الأجر إن شاء الله.

Thahabadhdhama’u wabtallatil-‘urooqu, wa thabatal-‘ajru ‘inshaa’Allaah.

The thirst is gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah wills. (Abu Dawud – no 176 in the Fortress of the Believer)

And don’t forget that this is a great time to make Dua generally, as the Prophet (pbuh) said: “There are three whose supplications are not rejected: the fasting person when he breaks his fast, the just ruler and the supplication of the oppressed.” (Tirmidhi). This means that while you’re breaking the fast you can ask for anything – just don’t make it too long, remember you still have to pray Maghrib.

In addition to this, I just want to include a note about the hadith that states that the first ten days of Ramadan are for mercy, the second for forgiveness, and the last for salvation from the fire. You see, this hadith is, at best, weak. But more accurately, it’s a fabrication. It ain’t true people! When I first found this out, it really shook me – I’d heard it for so long, subhanallah! And then it’s like duh! Allah’s mercy and forgiveness are timeless, and people are saved from the fire throughout Ramadan.

May Allah make this a blessed Ramadan, in which all our sins are wiped clean, many good deeds are written for us and we come closer to Allah.