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Why Ramadan is not a burden

In the name of Allah most beneficent most merciful. Assalamu Alaikum!

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This week, we shall, insha Allah, discuss some of the reasons that make Ramadan not to become a burden on believers, as Allah (SW) has provided windows of relief for a fasting person as follows:

When the day breaks while a person is still in a state of janaba (impurity following sexual intercourse), the person’s fasting is not affected.

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If a person that is fasting has a wet dream while asleep, the person’s fasting is not affected. According to scholarly consensus (ijimaa), he/she must complete his/her fast.

It is permissible for one to kiss, hug, embrace, touch, or repeatedly look at his wife or concubine provided he controls himself. Bukhari and Muslim reported A’isha (wife of the Prophet, pbuh) in a hadith as saying that the Prophet (pbuh) used to kiss and embrace his wives whilst he was fasting, but firmly controlled his desire. Therefore, a person that easily gets aroused and cannot control himself or herself is forbidden to kiss or embrace the opposite sex while fasting, as that may lead him/her to break the fast and attract punishment.

The emission of wadiy (a thick and sticky substance emitted after urination with sense of physical pleasure) does not break the fast.

According to a hadith reported by Tirmidhi, the Prophet (pbuh) said that, “whoever vomits unintentionally does not have to make up for the fast later on; but whoever vomits on purpose does have to make up for it.”

If a person spits out water after rinsing his/her mouth, the fasting is not affected by any moisture or wetness that is left because he cannot help that.

Nose bleed does not break fasting because it is beyond one’s control.

It is permissible to use siwaak (toothbrush) and is even Sunnah for the fasting person at all times of the day. If a person who is fasting uses siwaak, detecting and swallowing some taste from it does not break the fast.

Smelling pleasant fragrances, using perfume or applying scented creams and the like is permissible during fasting.

It is permissible for a fasting person to immerse himself or herself in water, wrap wet cloth over the body to cool down, or pour water over the head to obtain relief from heat. Swimming is to be avoided however because it might cause one to break the fast by swallowing water.

If a person eats, drinks, or has intercourse thinking that it was still night but later realises that dawn had broken, no harm is done because such acts are permissible during the night. It would be an offence to carry out such acts deliberately however, as explained earlier.

If a person breaks his/her fast thinking that the sun had set when it had not, the person must refrain from eating until the sun sets but it would not be necessary to make up for the fast.

Fasting is only obligatory for every sane and settled (i.e non-travelling) adult.

If non-Muslim converts to Islam or a child reaches puberty or an insane person comes to his senses during Ramadan, they are obliged to fast but do not have to make up for the days they have missed while they were not obliged to fast.

A person that is sometimes insane and sometimes sane would only fast during his sanity period.

If someone dies during Ramadan, he is not “indebted” and his heirs and relatives are not obliged to “pay” for the remaining days of the month on his behalf.

Travellers who are a reasonable distance (some say 50km) from their normal places of residence are not obliged to fast unless they so wish (Qur’an 2:185), but will make up for the days missed.

Only those of sound mental and physical health are obliged to fast. The basis for this is in chapter 2 verse 185 of the Holy Qur’an. Those whose mental and/or physical health is impaired during Ramadan and fail to fast for that reason must however make up for the lost days upon their recovery. 

A sickness that could be worsened by fasting, in a doctor’s opinion, or a chronic disease would exonerate one from the obligation to fast. People so affected should feed the needy everyday at iftar (breaking of the fast), but do not have to make up for the day(s) they did not fast. Feeding of a needy in this case depends on the means of the person concerned otherwise it is forgiven, just as the fast.

A person that feels extreme hunger or thirst and has rational ground – especially doctor’s opinion – for believing that he may die or that some of his faculties may be irreparably damaged by fasting is allowed to break the fast and make up for it after Ramadan because saving one’s life is obligatory. 

Workers in physically demanding jobs such as working with fumes and smelting metals should try to change their hours of duty to night or take their holidays during Ramadan. If that is not possible and if the work is their only means of livelihood, they are not obliged to fast if it could damage them but should try their utmost best to change their jobs to where they are better able to combine their religious and mundane duties. Whoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out from every difficulty. He will provide for him from sources he could never imagine. (Qur’an chapter 65 verses 2-3)

Elderly person who has lost strength and gets weaker everyday as death approached does not have to fast, if he finds it difficult to do so. Regarding Qur’an 2:184, Bn Abbas, a companion of the Prophet (pbuh) said: “and as for those who can only fast with difficulty, they have a choice either to fast or to feed a poor person everyday if they have the means; otherwise Allah has forgiven them – both the feeding and the fasting.

Muslims on Jihad (holy war) are not obliged to fast. The Prophet (pbuh), as reported by Muslim, once said to his companions before a battle: “In the morning you are going to meet your enemies and not fasting will make you stronger, so do not fast.”

The aforementioned points are in Sifatu-Soumun-Nabiy, authored by Salem Hilali and Abdulhamid, among other books. The above list is by no means exhaustive.

For observations, corrections, suggestions and any other contribution, please contact 0803-8608418 or liman.isa@gmail.com

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