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Legal Statutes of Ramadan
(The observation of Ramadan is mandated by
two Islamic sources: The Holy Qur'an and the Sunnah, along with Ijmaa, the consensus of
the scholars. The Qur'an states: "O, you who believe fasting is prescribed to you, as
it was prescribed to those before you that you may acquire self-restraint."
The proof in this citing is very obvious, for whenever Allah (SWT) uses the word Kutiba,
which means, among other things, prescribed or written, it indicates the action that
follows it becomes mandatory upon the believers, men and women. After establishing Sawm,
the verse emphasizes that this is not the first time the obligation of fasting has been
established. It states
that previous nations received the same mandate. We are not certain about the time, date,
and amount. Many scholars state the introductory clause Kamaa implies and refers to the
analogy between our fasting today and the fasting of previous people. There are
similarities in the time and amount, but what happened to Ramadan is that the high
priests, before the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) added more days than were prescribed
for them. It became difficult and they could not
do it, so they moved the date to spring until they neglected it altogether. In a hadith it
is reported by Daghfal Imam Hanzalah (RAA) that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:
"The Christians used to fast one month. So when a man fell ill amongst them, they
vowed if Allah cured him, they would increase ten more days to their fasting. He was
cured, and the fast became forty days. Then another man ate meat; his mouth pained him.
They vowed again if Allah cured him, they would add seven more days. He was cured and the
increased to forty-seven days. Then a king fell ill. They vowed again if Allah cured him,
they would complete seven to ten days and move their fast to the spring. The king was
cured and the fast increased to fifty days." (Tafseer Al-Qurtabi)
This is how the pillar of religion was neglected. Even some Christian writer complained,
"For nearly a century and a half, fasting has been out of vogue, at least in the
churches of the West. The very idea of someone actually fasting today seems strange to
most twentieth century Christians. They associate it with medieval Christianity."
(Fasting a Neglected Discipline)
Some said the analogy is referring to the manner of fasting - restraint from food and
drink and marital relations. The verse ends with a strong hint to the spiritual benefit of
fasting: "That ye may acquire self-restraint." The word used is Tattaqoon. It is
originally from waqa, to protect, the same base word used for fear of Allah, taqwa; for
when you fear Allah, you protect yourself against His wrath and against things that will
Taqwa (fear of Allah) is easily achieved with fasting for the simple reason that, when you
fast, you become weak for the lack of nourishment, which means your cravings are
diminished. With diminished cravings, the sins are greatly lessened, because there is no
energy to fuel them, praise be to Allah. When sin is lessened, the barometer for taqwah
rises. Elsewhere Allah (SWT) States: "Ramadan is the month in which was sent down the
Qur'an as a guide to humanity and as a clear sign for guidance and judgment (between right
and wrong). So anyone of you who witnesses the month should spend it in fasting..."
(Al-Qur'an, 2:185). This verse contains important rules and reasons for fasting that will
be explained later. However, what concerns us here is the statement, "So anyone of
you who witnesses the month should spend it in fasting." There are exceptions, like
when traveling, which will be explained later.
The above examples have been the proof from the Holy Qur'an. As for the proof from hadith,
there are many. Amongst them a hadith reported by Bukhari and Muslim in which the
Messenger (PBUH) states: "Islam is built on five (pillars), testimony that there is
no deity worthy of worship but Allah, and testimony that Muhammad is His messenger,
establishing Salaat, giving
Zakaat, observing the fast of Ramadan, and pilgrimage to the House of Allah."
The hadith established fasting during the month of Ramadan as one of the pillars on which
this religion is built. This hadith reinforces the obligation of fasting as stated in the
Holy Qur'an. We will see later that there are other Hadiths that explain in detail how to
observe the 'Ebadah, the worship of fasting.
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