Benefits of Fasting
The main reason behind fasting is to attain taqwaa, or piety, as the Quran says:
“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become pious”
Fasting provides protection and strength for both the soul and the body. It is a sure cure for many illnesses and a wonderful tool for strengthening the soul in the love of Allah and His obedience.
Fasting also provides an exacting exercise in discipline. Allah’s Messenger said, “Fasting is a shield: so when one of you is fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say, am fasting, I am fasting” (Al-Bukhaaee and Muslim)
Pregnant and Nursing Women
A pregnant woman is allowed to break the fast if fasting is likely to harm her health or that of her unborn baby.
A nursing mother is also allowed to break the fast if fasting is likely to harm her health or prevent her from having enough milk for her baby.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers must, however, make up for the missed days.
The Pillars of Fasting
This means one has to have the intention to fast to fulfil Allah’s Command and to get closer to Him. If the fast is obligatory, one must have the intention to fast at any time during the preceding night. The Prophet (pbuh) said. “Those who do not intend to fast during the (preceding) night will have no fast at all.” (At-Trimidhee)
However, if the fast is voluntary, one can intend to fast at any time even during the day, provided one has not eaten, drunk or done anything that breaks the fast.
It is worth mentioning here that the intention should not be verbal.
This means to abstain from those things which break the fast, such as eating and drinking.
Fasting starts at dawn and ends at sunset.
The Sunan (Recommended Acts) of Fasting
As-Sahoor: The Pre-Dawn Meal
As-Sahoor is the meal a Muslim takes before dawn with the intention of fasting. The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Eat sahoor, for indeed there is a blessing in sahoor.” (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)
Delaying the Sahoor and Hastening to Break the Fast
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “My followers will remain upon goodness as long as they hasten to break the fast (at sunset) and delay eating the sahoor.” (Muslim)
Breaking the Fast with Dates or water
Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) used to break his fast with fresh dates before offering the Maghrib prayer. If there were no fresh dates, he would break it with dry dates. If there were no such dates, he would take some sips of water.
Invoking Allah upon Breaking the Fast
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Three supplications are accepted: The supplication of the fasting person, that of the oppressed and that of the traveller.” Al-Bukhaaree)
Things that Break the Fast
The following are some of the things that spoil the fast. Anyone who does any one of them is required to make up for the fast:
- Intentional eating and drinking
- Intentional vomiting
- Swallowing water because of exaggerating while rinsing the mouth or nose during wudhu. This type includes allowing food to reach the stomach by any means, such as taking injections that nourish the body.
- Intending to break the fast even if one has not eaten or drunk..
If someone vomits against his will, his fast is still valid. Likewise, if he eats and drinks out of forgetfulness his fast is valid but he has to stop eating or drinking as soon as he remembers.
Supplication When Breaking the Fast
One of the supplications the Prophet (pbuh) would make upon breaking the fast was:
Dhahabadh-dhama’u, wabtallatil-‘uroogu, wa thabatal-ajru inshaa-Allaah
(The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened and the reward is confirmed, if Allah wills.)