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Meaning and Types
Fasting, Siyaam, has two meanings.
Generally, siyaam or sawm is derived from the root word sama. Which means to restrain from
normal things such as
eating, drinking, and talking. If an individual refrains from these things,
he is considered saaim, the observer of fast.
The phrase "to remain silent" is the interpretation of the Arabic word,
"sawm." In Islamic law, Shari'ah, the word "sawm" implies to a
And that is, "to worship Allah by abstaining, with intention to please Him,
from food, drink, and sexual intercourse or an intentional and lustful discharge of semen
from the period between the break of dawn until sundown". Although the definition
indicates restraining the stomach and private parts, the tongue, eyes, ears and other
limbs should equally be restrained if the fasting person wants to gain the total rewards
of fasting. This is why the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) has been reported as saying in a
hadith by Abu Hurairah: "He who does not desist from obscene language and acting
obscenely (during the period of fasting), Allah has no need that he be hungry or
thirsty." (Bukhari Muslim)
In another hadith by Abu Hurairah (RAA), the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Fasting
is not only to restrain from food and drink, fasting is to refrain from obscene (acts). If
someone verbally abuses you or acts ignorantly towards you, say (to them) 'I am fasting; I
am fasting.'" (Ibn Khuzaimah) Indeed, these two reports imply that fasting will not
be completed until one observes three elements:
1. Restraining the private parts and the stomach from food and drink.
2. Restraining the jawarih, the other body parts, which may render the fast worthless
despite the main factors of hunger and thirst. The tongue, for instance, must avoid
backbiting, slander, and lies; the eyes should avoid looking into things considered by the
Lawgiver as unlawful; and the ears must stop from listening to conversations, words,
songs, and lyrics that spoil the spirit of fasting.
3. Restraining of the heart and mind from indulging themselves in other things besides
dhikir Allah (remembrance of Allah).
KINDS OF FASTING
Fasting is divided into two kinds: Fard, the obligatory fasting, and Tatau'u, any
non-obligatory fasting. The obligatory fasting is categorized as three kinds:
(1) Fasting the month of Ramadan.
(2) Fasting to expiate for religious offenses.
(3) Fasting to fulfill a vow.
Of the three, fasting the month of Ramadan is the most important.
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