- As-Siyam generally means "to abstain from something." For example, a verse in the Qur'an says: "I have vowed to the Merciful to abstain--that is, from speaking.
- What is meant here is abstaining from food, drink, and sexual intercourse from dawn until sunset with the explicit intention of doing so (for the sake of Allah).
The Virtue of Fasting
- Abu Hurairah (r.a.) reported: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) said, "Allah the Exalted and Majestic said: 'Every act of the son of Adam is for him except As-Siyam (the fasting) which is (exclusively) for Me and I will reward him for it.‘ Fasting is a shield. If one is fasting, he should not use foul language, raise his voice, or behave foolishly. If someone reviles him or fights with him he should say, 'I am fasting,' twice. By Him in Whose Hand the soul of Muhammad is, the breath of one who is fasting is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts, experiences 2 joys: he feel pleasure when he breaks the fast, and when he meets his Lord he will be happy that he has fasted." This is related by Ahmad, Muslim, and an-Nasa'i. A similar version was recorded by al-Bukhari and Abu Dawud, but with the following addition: “He leaves his food, drink, and desires for My sake. His fasting is for Me... I will give the reward for it, and for every good deed, he will receive ten similar to it."
- 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr reported that the Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, 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." Ahmad related this hadith with a sahih chain.
- Abu Umamah reported: "I came to the Messenger of Allah 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."' This hadith is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, and al-Hakim who classified it as sahih.
- Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that the Messenger of Allah 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 Abu Dawud.
- Sahl ibn Sa'd reported that the Prophet said: "There is a gate to
Paradisethat 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." This is related by alBukhari and Muslim.
Types of Fasting
- There are two types of fasting: obligatory and voluntary.
- Obligatory can be further subdivided into:-
a) the fast of Ramadan,
b) the fast of expiation, and
c) the fast of fulfilling a vow
The Fast of Ramadhan
- “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). [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 the day missed). 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. 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-Baqarah: 183 - 185]
- From the sunnah we have the following statements of the Prophet: "Islam is built upon [the following] five pillars: testifying that there is no God except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, the establishment of the prayer, the giving of zakah, the fast of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Makkah." Talhah ibn 'Ubaidullah reported that a man came to the Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, tell me what Allah requires of me as regards fasting." He answered, "The month of Ramadan." The man asked: "Is there any other [fast]?" The Prophet answered: "No, unless you do so voluntarily."
- The Muslims have unanimously agreed on the obligation of fasting in Ramadhan. So whoever rejects the obligation of fasting during Ramadhan, the he is an apostate, disbeliever, who must seek repentance. So if he repents and agrees to its obligation, he is to be pardoned, but if not, he is to be executed as a disbeliever.
- Abu Hurairah (r.a.) reported: The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “He who observes fasting during the month of Ramadhan with Faith while seeking its reward from Allah, will have his pasts sins forgiven.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
- Abu Hurairah (r.a.) reported: The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said, “When Ramadhan begins the gates of Jannah are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
- Fasting is mandatory on every adult Muslim (i.e. he has reached the age of puberty). Therefore, fasting is not obligatory upon a disbeliever, nor will it be accepted from him until he accepts Islam. Neither is it obligatory for a youth to fast until he reaches the age of puberty.
- However, children (i.e. under age of puberty) should be ordered to fast, if they are able to and it won’t cause harm to them, so that they may grow accustomed and attached to it.`
- The fast has two essential elements (literally, "pillars") that must be fulfilled for it to be valid and acceptable. They are:
i) abstaining from acts that break the fast
ii) the intention
- Allah instructs in the Qur'an: "And they are ordained nothing else than to serve Allah, keeping religion pure for Him." The Prophet, upon whom be peace, said: "Actions are judged according to the intention behind them, and for everyone is what he intended."
- The intention must be made before fajr and during every night of Ramadan. This point is based on the hadith of Hafsah which reported that the Prophet said: "Whoever does not determine to fast before fajr will have no fast" (that is, it won't be accepted). This is related by Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, at-Tirmizhi, Abu Dawud, and Ibn Majah. Ibn Khuzaimah and Ibn Hibban have classified it as sahih.
- The intention is valid during any part of the night. It need not be spoken, as it is in reality an act of the heart which does not involve the tongue. It will be fulfilled by one's intention to fast out of obedience to Allah and for seeking His pleasure.
- All scholars agree that fasting is obligatory upon every sane, adult, healthy Muslim male who is not traveling at that time. As for a woman, she must not be menstruating or having post-childbirth bleeding. People who are insane, minors, and those who are traveling, menstruating, or going through post-childbirth bleeding, and the elderly and breast-feeding or pregnant women do not need to observe the fast.
- For some, the fast is not obligatory at all, for example, the insane. In the case of young people, their parents or guardians should order them to fast. Some are to break the fast and make up the missed days of fasting at a later date, while others are to break the fast and pay a "ransom" (in which case, they are not obliged to make up the days they missed).
Sources: Fiqh us-sunnah by Imam Syed Sabiq, and
Lessons on Fasting, Taraweeh & Zakat by Imam Muhammad b Salih Al 'Uthaimeen.