THE FAST (SIYAAM) OF RAMADAN
Upon becoming Muslim, one must fast the month of Ramadan, every year. One must abstain from anything that breaks the fast; most specifically: food, drink, and sexual intercourse, from dawn until dusk as an act of obedience to Allah. Allah (y) says: O you who believe! Fasting has been prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become from the pious. [2:183]
The objective of fasting is not that one merely abstains from the material and physical things which break one’s fast, but rather, one must also refrain from those intangible things which diminish [the reward] of one’s fast; such as lying, backbiting, tale-bearing, cheating, deception, false talk, and other offensive behavior. He should keep in mind that it is obligatory upon him to abstain from these offensive things outside of Ramadan, but more so in this month, due to the saying of the Prophet (s): “Whoever does not refrain from false speech and deeds, Allah has no need for him to leave his food and drink.” (Bukhari #1804)
There are many reasons and great wisdoms why Siyaam has been prescribed. From them are the following:
- It is spiritual exercise for the believer, for his soul is making Jihad against his wants and desires.
- Keeping the Muslim’s soul above all offensive speech and deeds. The Prophet (s) said: “When one of you is fasting, he should not speak evil, nor should he yell or shout, and if someone were to curse or fight him, let him say, ‘I am a fasting person.” (Bukhari #1805 & Muslim #1151)
- Through fasting, one realizes how his needy brothers feel, and this encourages him to fulfill their rights, ask about their welfare, and look into their needs.
It is not allowed for a woman in her menstrual period or postpartum bleeding to fast until her bleeding stops. Once it does stop, she must have a complete bath (ghusl) and make up the fasts she missed. If one is ill or traveling, it is permissible for him not to fast, but he must make up those days at a later time.