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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sawm (Fasting) Jurisprudence


Sawm (Fasting) is the fourth pillar of Islam; an act of worship that Allah ordained the Muslims to perform during the month of Ramadan. In this kind of worship, the servant draws closer to His Lord by abandoning the things that he loves and desires, such as food, drink and sexual intercourse.

Allah ordained fasting for Muslims and for previous nations for a great purpose, which Allah’s words show in a verse of the Noble Quran. Allah says,

(يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ)

“O you who believe, prescribed for you is the Fast, just as it was prescribed for those that were before you so that you might guard yourselves.” [2:183]

The purpose of Sawm is to train the believer to restrain and to avoid prohibitions. It also teaches the believer how to control and curb his needs and wishes, and frees him from the prison of bodily desires. 



Definition of Sawm (fasting)
Sawm (fasting) literally means abstinence.
In its religious sense, Sawm (fasting) is abstinence from all fast-invalidating matters (Mufattirat) from dawn till sunset, with the intention (Niyyah) of fasting and consciousness of being in a fast.



Pillars of Sawm
Fasting has two essential elements that must be fulfilled for it to be valid and acceptable. They are:
1)     The intention (Niyyah)
2)    Abstaining from those acts that break the fast (Imsaak)

The intention
As fast is invalid of whoever has not had fasting intention in the night.  Intention needs not be spoken out. To have an intention of fasting is simply to have that purpose in mind before dawn.

Abstinence
Abstaining from those acts that break the fast: rules out anything that cannot be abstained from, such as a fly happening to shoot into the throat, or dust reaching one's throat unwillingly; these don't invalidate the fast since they are unavoidable.

Fast-invalidating matters (Mufattirat):
These are:
1.   Admitting something into the body through an open passage. This involves food, drink, nasal drop, etc. If a person ate or drank while forgetting that he was fasting, his fast will remain valid. The Prophet B said, "If somebody eats or drinks forgetfully then he should complete his fast, for what he has eaten or drunk has been given to him by Allah." (A1-Bukhari, 3, # 154).
2.   Expelling something from the stomach deliberately, as by putting a finger in the throat to induce vomiting. However what is ejected naturally from the stomach by involuntary vomiting does not invalidate the fast.
3.   Sexual intercourse or deliberate emission of semen (as through masturbation).
4.   Committing sins. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, "No fast is valid without refraining from what Allah has prohibited." (A'Rabee # 92). The effect of moral sins on fasting is one of the points which distinguish the Ibadhi school in the matter of fasting. Ibadhis held that all grave sins cause breaking of the fast. This view is derived by analogical reasoning based on the tradition of the Prophet that slander (ghaibah) breaks both fasting and minor ritual ablution (wudu). Accordingly, telling lies, calumny (namimah), perjury and similar sins break the fast.

The time for beginning and ending the fast (Imsaak period): is from dawn (fajr) till sunset. It is derived from Allah's saying, Exalted is He, "Eat and drink until the white thread of dawn appears to you distinct from its black thread." [2:187], and the saying of the Prophet B: "When the night falls from this side and the day vanishes from this side and the sun sets, then the fasting person should break his fast." (Al-Bukhari, 3, # 175). 

However, there are two types of fajr: false fajr and true fajr. The false fajr is distinguished by a rising vertical column of whiteness which appears like the tail of a wolf, while the true fajr is distinguished by a white light coming across the horizon in the East. The false fajr does not make it unlawful to eat for the one intending to fast or make it permissible to pray al-fajr prayer, but the true fajr makes it unlawful to eat and permissible to pray. Thus one should stop all eating and drinking before the True fajr.


Conditions of Sawm
The conditions that make fasting in Ramadan obligatory for a person can be divided into two parts conditions of obligation and conditions of validity. 



They will be explained as follows:
     A)   Conditions of validity:
Sanity:
The person has to be mentally sane and this is the requirement for all acts of worship in Islam. And we get this from the saying of the Prophet B, "The pen has been lifted for three: the insane until he regains his sanity, the sleeper until he wakes up, and the child until he reaches puberty." [Sunan Abi Dawood #3823]The pen had been lifted meaning that he/she will not be accountable for his deeds if they fall into the three categories mentioned in Hadith.

Maturity:
One has to have reached the age of maturity (the age of physical puberty, this is adulthood) in order for fasting to be obligatory upon him/her. Upon attaining this age and fulfilling other conditions fasting becomes obligatory on him/her. He/she will be held accountable for this if he/she does not fast. Parents and guardians are commanded to teach and train their children to fast.

The ability to fast:
Allah says in the Quran:
لاَ يُكَلِّفُ اللّهُ نَفْساً إِلاَّ وُسْعَهَا))
"Allah charges no soul save to its capacity" [2:286],
He also says"
وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ) )
"and for those who are able to do it, a redemption: the feeding of a poor man." [2:184] 
The person has to have the physical ability to fast. Those who are permanently unable to fast, such as older people and chronic patients are not required to fast during the month of Ramadan. As Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) interpreted it, it refers to the old man and old woman who are not able to fast, so they should feed a needy person, for every missed day of fast in Ramadan.

B)   Conditions of  obligation:
Islam:
Islam is a requirement for all acts of worship to be accepted by Allah.
It is a condition for the validity of all acts of worship but is not a condition for its obligation. Therefore, Sawm is obligatory on all those who are accountable for their acts (Mukallaf), either Muslims or non-Muslims, but is not valid unless one is a Muslim. Allah says:
 (وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الإِسْلاَمِ دِيناً فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ)
"Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted from him and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers." [3:85]

Purity of Janabah (post-sex ritual impurity)
Ibadhis held that major ritual purity is necessary for fasting as it is for praying. Their attitude is based on the Traditions reported from both Abu Hurairah and al-Fadl b. Abbas that the Prophet said, "Whosoever gets up in the morning in the state of major ritual impurity (janabah) has broken his fasting." (A'Rabee # 315). Ibadhis reported that their predecessors in this attitude were Abu Hurairah, Tawus, Urwah b. al-Zubair, and Ibrahim al-Nakha'i. All other Islamic schools held that avoidance of major ritual impurity is not necessary in the case of fasting, and to neglect it until morning does not affect the fasting. Their attitude is based on Traditions reported from A'ishah and Umm Salamah that the Prophet got up in the morning in a state of major ritual impurity caused by sexual intercourse and not by a dream, and he fasted. Accordingly, they held that the neglect of the performance of major ritual ablution during Ramadan up to midday prayer (zuhr) does not affect fasting, for it is necessary only for prayers and not for fasting. Ibadhis argued in support of their view that the sayings of the Prophet overruled his actions. With regard to the traditions reported from A’ishah and Umm Salamah concerning his action in this case, it is possible that it was a special act for the Prophet, or he had forgotten, or been asleep. But the traditions reported from him, through Abu Hurairah and al-Fadl b. Abbas, show a clear decision and do not leave room for any speculation.

Purity of Menstruation and Postnatal Bleeding:
Fasting of women who are menstruating or bleeding following childbirth is forbidden. Therefore, they have to break off their fast until they recover and then they have to make up the days missed. A’ishah narrated: "We would menstruate during the time of the Messenger of Allah, then when we became pure we were ordered to make up the fasts but we were not ordered to make up the Prayer." [At-Tirmidhi #717]. 





Kinds of Sawm 
Fast (Sawm) may be classified into four kinds:





A) Obligatory Fast
1- Fast of the whole month of Ramadan: 
It is the fast that Allah the Exalted has made mandatory for the adult Muslims every year, and has made it one of the pillars of Islam.

2- Fast due to a vow: 
It is a fast observed by a person because he has imposed it on himself through a vow he has made to Allah in case his wish was fulfilled; for instance by saying: if such-and-such happens, then, for Allah's sake, I am to fast for a month, or for the whole of such-and-such a month, or for such-and-such days. Hence if the thing meant happens he will have to fulfill his vow.

3- Tamattu‘ Fast: 
Allah the Exalted has made it compulsory for any pilgrim who enjoys performing 'Umrah before Hajj (Tamattu' Hajj) if he is not a resident of Mecca, to make a sacrifice of an easily afforded animal among the grazing livestock. If he cannot afford this he shall fast for ten days: three during Hajj and seven when he goes back to his country.

4- Atonement Fast: 
It is a fast observed by the Muslim in atonement (kaffarah) for:
-         Unintentional homicide (manslaughter), if he cannot free a slave.
-         Repudiating his wife (Zihaar), if he cannot free a slave.
-         Breaking an oath and being unable to feed ten needy people or clothe them or free a slave.
-         Spoiling his fast.

B) Recommendable Fast
It is a fast done by the Muslim voluntarily and not under any obligation so that he may draw closer to Allah.
Among the days in which the Muslim is recommended to fast:
1-    Full moon days (Ayyam Albeed), which are 13th, 14th, and 15th of each lunar month, except for the month of Dhul-Hijjah.
2-     The day of Ashara, which is the 10th of the month of Muharam.
3-     The day of Arafah, which is the 9th of the month of Dhul-Hijjah.
4-      The first nine days of the month of Dhul Hijjah.
5-    Six days of the month of Shawwal. These can be consecutive or separate, at the beginning of the month or at the end.

C) Forbidden Fast
1- Fast of the two Muslim Feasts, which are the Feast of Breaking the Fast ( Eid Al-Fifr) i.e. the 1st of Shawwal and the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid Al-Ad'ha) i.e. the 10th of Dhul-Hijjah.
2- Fast of the Doubtful Day, i.e. the 30th of the month of Sha'ban, (in anticipation of Ramadan despite absence of new moon sighting).
3- Fast of a woman during her period or post-natal bleeding.


D) Objectionable Fast
1- Fast of Friday alone.
2- Fast of the day of 'Arafah for the pilgrim.
3- Fast of the days of Tashreeq, which are the 11th, 12th and the 13th of the month of Dhul-Hijjah.



The virtues of Fasting and Ramadan
The virtues of Fasting are not confined to the month of Ramadan, as fasting is purely a physical worship whose benefits are obtainable whether in Ramadan or any other month. There are many Hadiths (Prophet's sayings) that illustrate the virtues of fasting. Sahl bin Sa'd narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
"There is a gate in Paradise called A'Rayyan, and those who observe fasts will enter through it in the Day of Resurrection and none except them will enter through it." (Al-Bukhari, 3, # 120).

Owing to the magnitude of the virtues of fasting and its great position in relation to other forms of worship, Allah Himself has assumed the responsibility of establishing its genuineness and determining its reward. Abu Huraira (may Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) as saying,
"Every (good) deed of the son of Adam will be multiplied, a good deed being receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, has said: 'With the exception of fasting, for it is done for Me and will give a reward for it; for one abandons his passion and food for My sake.' There are two occasions of joy for the one who fasts: joy when he breaks his fast, and joy when he meets his Lord. And the breath of an observer of fast is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk." (Muslim, 2, # 2567). And in A'Rabee's narration:
"My slave abandons his passion and food for My sake; fasting is done for Me, and I will give a reward for it." (A'Rabee # 328).

In addition, fasting naturally moulds the human soul and curbs its lust, preventing it from sin. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
"Fasting is a shelter, so when anyone of you is fisting he should neither use obscene language nor behave ignorantly; and if anyone quarrels with him or insults him he should say: I am fasting." (A'Rabee‘ # 330).

The virtues of fasting are too many to be listed here. Those mentioned above are just a few examples.
Allah the Exalted created His creatures and ordained that some of them should have preference over the rest. Thus He gave preference to the human beings over the rest of the creatures, and among the human beings He gave preference to the prophets, and among the prophets He gave preference to the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). As regards places He gave preference to the mosques over the rest of the land, and among the mosques He gave preference to the Two Holy Mosques (of Mecca and Medina) as well as to Al-Aqsa Holy Mosque (in Palestine). Similarly with regard to times, He gave preference to the month of Ramadan over the rest of the months and favoured it with many peculiarities that made it the greatest of all months. Stated in an authentic Hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him):
"When the month of Ramadan starts, the gates of the heavens are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the evils are chained." (Al-Bukhari, 3, # 123).
And in some of its narrations:
"…the gates of Paradise are opened, and the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained."
The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said also,
"Whoever fasts in the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." (A'Rabee‘ #327, Al-Bukhari, 3, # 125).

Allah the Exalted has distinguished the month of Ramadan with a great night, i.e. Lilat Al-Qadr (the Night of Power), and has made forgiveness of the previous sins the reward of whoever spends this night in prayer faithfully and anticipating Allah's reward. The prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said,
"Whoever stood for the prayers in the night of Qadr out of sincere faith and hoping for a reward from Allah, then all his previous sins will be forgiven." (Al-Bukhari, 3, # 231).

Rewards and blessings are generally multiplied during the month of Ramadan. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) said to Um Sinan,
"Perform 'Umrah when Ramadan comes, for 'Umrah in Ramadan is equal to Hajj in reward." (Al-Bukhari, 3, # 10).

We needn't elaborate any further on the merits of this month; suffice it to say that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said in this connection, "If you knew what (merit) is in Ramadan you will wish it were a whole year." (A'Rabee # 327).




What Makes Beginning & Ending the Fast Obligatory
Sighting of the new moon: owing to his saying (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): "Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadan), and give up fasting on seeing the crescent (of Shawwal)." (A1-Bukhari, 3, # 133).

The time agreed upon for the sighting of the new moon of the month of Ramadan is after the sunset on the 29th of the month of Sha'ban. Anyone who sights the new moon at that time must begin to fast the following day even if all the others have not seen it. Similarly anyone who sights the new moon of the month of Shawwal must end his fast even if all the others have not seen it. However, he shall end his fast secretly in order not to give a repulsive impression or make the common people follow suit.

Testimony: The scholars have agreed that if two honest good Muslims testify to their sighting of the new moon of the month of Ramadan, beginning the fast becomes compulsory for all Muslims in the country. Similarly, if they testify to their sighting of the new moon of the month of Shawwal, ending the fast becomes compulsory for all Muslims in the country.

Completion of the month of Sha'ban: owing to his saying (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), "Start fasting on seeing the crescent (of Ramadan), and give up fasting on seeing the crescent (of Shawwal). If the sky is overcast (and you cannot see it), complete thirty days of Sha'ban." (Al-Bukhari, 3, # 133).
This is because the lunar months do not exceed thirty days. Therefore, if the new moon is not sighted until thirty days of the month have passed; then the month has ended and another month is in.

Widespread reliable reports: If reliable reports come in from everywhere in the country that the new moon has been sighted, then beginning or ending the fast, as the case may be, becomes compulsory.




Sunans of Sawm (Desirable Deeds in Fasting)
Striving in worship and doing as many good deeds as possible: in a bid to follow the lead of the Prophet B, who used to strive in worship and good deeds more during Ramadan than any other month, especially during the last ten nights.

• Hastening the breakfast and delaying the pre-dawn meal (sahur): Imam A'Rabee' bin Habeeb narrated through Ibn Abbas of the Prophet B that he said, "My nation will continue to prosper as long as they hasten the breaking of the fast and delay the sahur." (A'Rabee' #320).

Having sahur (Pre-dawn meal), which is the last meal for the fasting taken shortly before dawn. The Prophet B encouraged Muslims to have sahur. He said, "Take meal a little before dawn, for there is a blessing in taking meal at that time." (Muslim, 2, # 2412).

Breaking the fast by taking uncooked food (such as dates and fruits).

• Feeding a fasting person is one of the great deeds that is preferred to be performed in the blessed month of Ramadan. The Messenger of Allah B said, “Whoever feeds a fasting person will have a reward like that of the fasting person, without any reduction in his reward.”  (At-Tirmidhi, #735)

• Use of the siwak: which is the name given to the tool us[d for cleaning the mouth and teeth. The siwak is a stick or twig used for this purpose. It is repeatedly encouraged, as in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him), who reported that the Prophet B said: "Were it not for the fact that I did not want to make things too hard for my Ummah (nation), I would have commanded them to use the siwak at every time of prayer and every time of making wudoo'(ablution)." (A'Rabee' # 86). there is nothing wrong with using siwak early in the day or later on. 

Reciting the Noble Qur'an: Muslims should be keen to recite the Noble Qur'an during Ramadan so as to model themselves on the Prophet B, who used to read back the Qur'an to the Angel Gabriel (peace be upon him) in every night of Ramadan.

Standing for night prayer during Ramadan (i.e. praying Night Prayer during Ramadan (Taraweeh) and Midnight Prayer (Tahajud): It is narrated on the authority of Abu Hurayra (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Messenger of Allah said: “Whoever watches the night in prayer in Ramadan with faith and expectancy, will be forgiven all his previous wrong actions.” [Agreed upon: 1779 & 37].

Increasing acts of worship in the last ten nights of Ramadan: in the hope of encountering Lilat Al-Qadr (the night of power).

Saying prayers to Allah (Du'a'): It is narrated that the prayer of the fasting person is among the prayers that are never refused. It is also narrated that the Prophet B used to pray when he broke his fast saying, "May the thirst be gone, may the arteries be wet, and may the reward be sure, if Allah wills." (Abu Dawud, 13, # 2350). He will also pray for any with whom he broke his fast by saying, "May the fasting break their fast with you! May the righteous eat of your food! May the angles pray for you!" (Abu Dawud, 26, # 3854). Hence, it is preferable for the fasting person to pray as much as possible for himself, for the righteous among his family and for the Islamic nation at large to be given strength, victory, and power.

Increasing charitable deeds: since rewards are multiplied during the month of Ramadan for the fasting.



Rules Pertaining to Major Ritual Impurity (Al-Hadath Al-Akbar) 
• Fasting during menstruation and post natal bleeding is forbidden. Therefore, women in such cases have to break off their fast until they recover and then make up for the break days later on by fasting for the same number of days consecutively.

• If a woman gets a period during the daytime of Ramadan, her fast of that day becomes invalid, and, being a non-fasting, she is allowed to eat and drink.

• If a woman recovers from her period in the daytime of Ramadan, she has to have a ritual wash (Ghusl) and resume prayers, but she cannot legally fast on this day, and therefore will not be required to abstain from food and drink. Rather, she will have to make up for the fast of this day along with the rest of the missed days.

• A person who intentionally gets into dawn in the state of post-sex ritual impurity (janabah) must ask Allah for forgiveness and then refast this day after Ramadan. For he was required not to get into dawn without being ritually purified, owing to his saying B, "Whoever gets into dawn in the state of Janabah gets into dawn as a non-fasting." (A'Rabee', #315). However, he shall abstain from food and drink as if in fast.

• A fasting person who gets up at dawn in the state of janabah unintentionally, as, for example, he usually gets up before dawn, or had asked someone to wake him up before dawn, or had taken other measures to make sure he got up except that he didn't, shall hasten to have a ritual wash and nothing else is required of him, except that he is recommended as a precaution to refast this day so as to be out of the issue of opinion difference.

• A person who is befallen by Janabah through wet dream by daytime in Ramadan is required to hasten to take a ritual bath and will not have to refast this day if he doesn't delay bathing.

• A person who is befallen by Janabah through wet dream at night and does not discover it until daytime is required to hasten to take a ritual bath and continue to fast. However, if he discovers it after midday he is recommended, as a precaution, to refast this day.

• A person who caresses his wife until he ejaculates has to repent and ask Allah's forgiveness, to refast this day and to atone for spoiling his fast. The atonement (kaffarah) for that is to free a slave; if he cannot afford this, then he will have to fast for two consecutive months; if he is unable to do this, then he will have to feed sixty needy people by giving them two meals or 1.025 kg of rice each. The same ruling applies to the one who deliberately has sexual intercourse with his wife, or who masturbates to ejaculation. As for the wife, if she consented to her husband doing that with her and didn't resist him, she will be obliged to do the same, i.e. to refast the day, to repent and ask Allah's forgiveness and to atone for the offence.

• If a woman recovers from her period during the daytime of Ramadan and her husband  happens to return home from a journey in which he broke off fasting, it is permissible for them to have sexual intercourse, because both of them are not fasting on legal justification.

• Kissing of the wife for the fasting: Scholars have different views on this issue. A number of them have ruled it to be undesirable for the young man but not for the elderly, because the young man's lust is stronger and likely to overcome him. Another opinion has ruled it to be permissible for anyone who can control his desire and curb his lust; and the evidence for this is his practice (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), as he used to kiss his wives by daytime in Ramadan. Nonetheless, one will be well advised to abstain from this matter for the sake of caution and to be out of the issue of opinion difference.



Issues Related to Fast Validity
• It is permissible for the fasting person to taste the food with his tongue in order to know the good food from the bad one and then spit it out, since the forbidden thing is to swallow the stuff.

• Anyone who eats or drinks assuming that it is still night, then discovers that it was already daybreak, has to refast his day according to one opinion, whereas according to another opinion, no refasting is required of him, and this is the one mostly in use.

• Anyone who eats or drinks assuming that the sun has set, then discovers that it has not, will have to refast that day.

• Those who take a break in the fast of Ramadan with reason, like for being sick or having a period or childbirth, are obliged to make up for the number of days in which they broke off consecutively even though the break days were separate.

• Anyone who delays making up for the days in which he broke off fast until the next Ramadan has come round, has to fast the present Ramadan and make up for the delayed break days later. According to some scholars, he is also required to feed a needy person for each delayed day, if the delay was not for good reason.

• Having medicine by the anal injection invalidates the fast.

• Non-anal injections do not invalidate the fast unless they are nutritious.

• Eye-drop invalidates the fast if it reaches the throat, in contrast with eardrop, which doesn't.

• Using an ointment or kohl in the eyes does not affect the validity of the fast due to their non-liquidity, since a non-liquid does not get to the throat through the eye.

• The atomizer used for relieving asthma, if the sick person needs it during the daytime of Ramadan, he may use it and then refast this day later on though he will still have to abstain from food the whole day. This is true if he doesn't have to use it daily, otherwise if it is impossible for him to fast without using it daily, then he is just required to feed a needy person for each day and be exempt from fasting.

• A kidney-diseased person who is undergoing Renal Dialysis is allowed to break off fast if he finds it very difficult to fast through the process and should make up for the break day later.

• Pregnant and nursing women can leave fasting in Ramadan if they fear either for themselves or their children or if a reliable physician decided that fasting will harm the foetus, or the nursing child, or the mother herself. In this case she has to leave fasting in Ramadan.

• Having blood test or donating blood does not affect the validity of the fast.

• Shaving the pubic hair, plucking the armpit and other clean-up actions in the daytime of Ramadan do not invalidate the fast.

• No objection to use of perfume for the fasting; though women are subject to certain restrictions in terms of what kind to use in what circumstances.

• Application of nasal drop or any other fluid through the nose is considered among the fast-invalidating matters. Hence the fasting person should avoid it during the daytime in Ramadan unless there is extreme necessity for it, whereupon the same ruling will apply to him as that mentioned above in connection with the use of the atomizer.

• Bleeding of the fasting person in the mouth due to tooth extraction or anything else does not invalidate his fast unless he swallows the blood. However if he swallows some of it involuntarily he won't be in the wrong and his fast will still hold.

• If the fasting person has to look after a disabled person and therefore has to uncover his private parts to clean and change him then there is nothing wrong with that and his fast won't be affected.

• There is nothing wrong with the swallowing of the phlegm involuntarily. But if one swallows it deliberately his fast becomes invalid.

• Use of incense has no effect on the fast; though the fasting person has to be careful not to swallow it, otherwise it will spoil his fast.

• Anyone who happens to swallow some water during ablution involuntarily, his fast will not be affected.

• There is no objection to brushing the teeth by daytime in Ramadan. Rather, it is recommendable; though the fasting person ought not to use toothpaste for fear of some of it getting into his throat.

• The woman may not use menstruation-preventing pills in order to be able to fast through the whole month of Ramadan, for that is not considered a necessity since Allah has given her a substitute for her missed days, namely making up for those days after Ramadan.

• Swallowing of inedible or non-food things intentionally will also invalidate the fast.





I'tikaf (Going into Retreat)
Definition of I'tikaf:
-    I'tikaf literally means to remain uninterruptedly engaged in something.

-         In its religious sense, 'Itikaf is remaining in a mosque uninterruptedly and being in retreat therein of a mature, sane Muslim in a specific manner so as to seek for closeness to Allah, avoiding all that is incompatible with that manner.
-         I'tikaf was legalized in the previous Divine Laws. Allah the Exalted said,
((وَعَهِدْنَا إِلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْمَاعِيلَ أَن طَهِّرَا بَيْتِيَ لِلطَّائِفِينَ وَالْعَاكِفِينَ وَالرُّكَّعِ السُّجُودِ
"We covenanted with Abraham and Isma'il, that they should sanctify My House for those who compass it round, or use it as a retreat, or bow and prostrate themselves (therein in prayer)."[2:125].

Legal Ruling on I'tikaf
Basically, I'tikaf is ruled to be recommendable especially during the last ten days of Ramadan on account of the fact that the Prophet B used to go into I'tikaf in that time every year. It is a kind of worship for which the reward is undoubtedly great. It could however be compulsory if it is in fulfillment of a vow made to Allah.


Place of I'tikaf
It is preferable to go into I'tikaf in the mosque that holds the Friday congregation lest one should have to go out of his retreat for Friday prayer. If that is not possible, it can be done in any other mosque where the congregational prayer is regularly held. As for the woman, by an opinion, she may go into I'tikaf in her home praying place i.e. the spot that she specified in her home for her regular prayers. However, basically, she is allowed to be in I'tikaf in the mosque with her husband provided she remains in the area reserved for women.


Validity Conditions of I'tikaf
1-  Intention (Niyyah): One should intend by his being in I'tikaf to seek for closeness to Allah, to follow the lead of the Prophet B and to seek for the expected reward.
2-     Fasting (Sawm): as I'tikaf is not correct without fasting.
3-   Staying in the mosque: because the Prophet B used not to enter his house while he was in I'tikaf in the mosque except for answering a call of nature.

What One is to do in I'tikaf
Since the person who is in I'tikaf has dedicated himself to seeking closeness to Allah, he ought to keep on doing various specific forms of worship like praying, reciting the Qur'an, learning useful knowledge, magnifying Allah, praying to Him and asking His forgiveness. He is also allowed to speak to people about matters which are not sinful, owing to what was narrated of Lady Safiyyah - the Prophet's wife - that she visited him B in the mosque while he was in I'tikaf and spoke with him for a while, and then when she rose to her feet to go back home he accompanied her up to the door of the mosque.

Entry and Exit Time for I'tikaf
Whoever wants to be in I'tikaf for a night and a day shall enter the place of I'tikaf before sunset; and the same applies to the one who wants to be in I'tikaf for several days or for a month. As for those who want to be in I'tikaf for the daytime only, they shall enter the mosque before dawn, and the end of their I'tikaf will be at sunset; hence they should not come out of the place of I'tikaf before sunset.
And whoever wants to be in I'tikaf for the last ten days of the Noble month of Ramadan, his entry will be before sunset on the eve of the 21st of Ramadan, and his exit will be after sunset on the last day of Ramadan.
I'tikaf is not allowed on the days in which fasting is forbidden, namely, on the Feast of Breaking the Fast, on the Feast of Sacrifice, and on the Doubtful day (30th of the month of Sha'ban); because fasting is one of the validity conditions of I'tikaf as mentioned earlier.


I'tikaf -invalidating matters 
1-     Having sexual intercourse: even at night, owing to His saying, Exalted is He, "Do not associate with your wives while you are in retreat in the mosques" [2:187],
The same is applicable by analogy to masturbation, and so whoever induces semen emission spoils his I'tikaf
2-     Spoiling the Fast: whether by eating or drinking or by any of the other fast invalidating matters such as applying eye-drop, deliberate vomiting, committing a sin, etc.
3-     Leaving the mosque without an excuse: Whoever does this spoils his I'tikaf; however some jurists are of the opinion that such a person may return and continue his I'tikaf provided he makes up for the time spent outside by staying in the mosque after his term for the same period of time that he spent outside.
4-     Leaving the mosque with reason and without returning afterwards.

Issues related to I'tikaf Validity
1-     If a woman gets a period while in I'tikaf her I'tikaf for that day becomes invalid and she should leave the mosque. When she recovers she shall come back to continue her I'tikaf.
2-     If the person going into I'tikaf makes it a condition that he should be able to do something not allowed in such as going out for work or spending the night at home, his condition will be null and void according to most scholars; and so if he actually does the thing his I'tikaf becomes invalid.
3-     It is allowed for the person who is in I'tikaf to ask someone else to attend to his needs and matters of his living. He is also allowed to perform marriage ceremony for others, to use perfume and to clean up.

Zakat al-Fitr (Alms-giving upon Completion of the Fast)
The term Zakat al-Fitr refers to alms giving of a specified form and quantity by the person who can afford, it from his own money on the eve of the Feast of Breaking the Fast or on the morning of the Feast.



Legal Ruling on Zakat al-Fitr
It is obligatory according to the majority of the scholars on the evidence of Ibn Omar's narration in which he said, "Allah's Apostle B enjoined the payment of one saa' of dates, or one saa' of barley as Zakat al-Fitr on every Muslim: slave or free, male or female, young or old." (AI Bukhari, 3, # 579).
According to another opinion, it is a recommendable prophetic tradition on the evidence of Imam A'Rabee''s narration the wording of which is: "The Apostle of Allah B introduce the tradition of giving Zakat al-Fitr " (A'Rabee' # 333).


Virtues of Zakat al-Fitr
Allah the Exalted says, "But those will prosper who purify themselves, and glorify the name of their Guardian Lord, and (lift their hearts) in Prayer." [87:14-15]. Some commentators said: the prayer referred to here is the Feast Prayer, and the purification is the alms giving related to fast breaking. For it is narrated of Ibn Abbas that he said, "The Apostle of Allah B prescribed the alms-giving relating to the breaking of the fast as a purification of the fasting person from empty and obscene talk and as food for the poor." (Abu Dawud, 9, # 1605).

Thus, in addition to purifying the soul of the fasting person from the sin of nonsense talking and obscene language, this alms-giving is a means of feeding the poor and meeting their needs especially on the Feast day, which is a day of joy for all the Muslims, and hence the expression attributed to the Prophet B in some narrations: "Satisfy them so that they don't beg around on this day" (Al-Bayhaqi, vol. 4, pg. 175).


For whom is Zakat al-Fitr obligatory
It is exclusively a duty of the rich in the opinion of some scholars, whereas in the opinion of some other scholars, it is a duty of everyone who can afford it without having to borrow from others or causing discomfort for his family.


In what kind and form is Zakat al-Fitr given
It was related in the Hadith reported by Imam A'Rabee' of Lady Aisha that she said, "The Apostle of Allah B introduced the tradition of giving Zakat al-Fitr on every individual whether free or slave, male or female, young or old: one saa' of dates, or  one saa' of raisins or of wheat or of barley or of dried milk." (A'Rabee' # 333).

Those were the kinds of food mostly available in that time; whereas in these times, due to widespread prosperity, there are new kinds of foodstuff such as rice and the like; therefore one should give the aims in the kind on which his family mostly live.


The quantity to be given
One saa' of foodstuff should be given on behalf of every individual, most suitably in the very form of foodstuff as specified in the Hadith; though some scholars have allowed giving the value of the food, in which case the amount of money to be given should be no less than the value of one saa' of the foodstuff. One saa' of rice is approximately equal to 2.05 kg.


On behalf of whom is Zakat al-Fitr to be given
As mentioned earlier in the Hadith, the specified quantity is to be given on behalf of every individual regardless of being young or old, free or slave, male or female. Hence the father of the family should give it on behalf of himself and on behalf of every member he is legally bound to feed, like his children, his parents and any other relative for whom he has to provide.


Its due time
The best time to give Zakat al-Fitr is on the morning of the 'Feast of Breaking the Fast' before the 'Prayer of the Feast'. However it is permissible to give the alms on the eve of the Feast i.e. on the night before the morning of the Feast day, owing to the Hadith narrated through Ibn Omar, "That the Apostle of Allah B commanded that Zakat al-Fitr be executed before the people come out for the Prayer of the Feast." (Abu Dawud, 9, # 1605). Moreover, in the Hadith narrated through Ibn Abbas: "If anyone pays it before the prayer (of Eid), it will be accepted as proper zakat. If anyone pays it after the prayer, it will be merely a kind of charity." (Abu Dawud, 9, # 1605).

Therefore it ought not to be delayed until after the prayer, though it is permissible for anyone who has missed its due time to make up for it afterwards.


Its due Recipients
Zakat al-Fitr should be given to the needy; and these are the ones whose income is not sufficient enough to provide them with their basic necessities. Noteworthy in this regard is that one should be careful not to give his alms to any who are not due for alms; as some people will thoughtlessly exchange their alms with their neighbours even though none of them is in need.
It will suffice for one to give his alms to a single needy person, as these alms do not have to be distributed among a number of needy people.


Issues related to Zakat al-Fitr
1-     Zakat al-Fitr is not imposed on behalf of the unborn baby (fetus).
2-    Zakat al-Fitr is given on behalf of every dependent member of the family, even the new baby if it was born anytime prior to the night before the Feast of Breaking the Fast.
3-  The wife is obliged to give these alms herself according to one opinion, whereas in another opinion the husband is obliged to give them on her behalf. Anyhow, if her husband gives the alms on her behalf it will be sufficient for her.
4-  The traveler shall give the alms where he happens to be, but he may alternatively ask his family to give them on his behalf in his homeland.
5-    One is not bound to give the alms for his housemaids or servants; because they are not among his dependents, but if he does them a favour and gives the alms for them it suffice for them and he will be rewarded for that.
6-     The orphan's proxy or guardian is required to carry out Zakat al-Fitr for the orphan out of the orphan's money if this has got money, except if the proxy or guardian does him a favour and gives the alms out of his own money.
7-    If one's sons and daughters are grown up and lead their lives independently of him he may give them his alms if they are among the needy as long as he is not legally bound to provide for them. Otherwise it is incorrect to give your alms to anyone one's relatives with the exception of the father and the mother; for if these two are in need, their son will be legally obliged to supply their needs irrespective of whether they live with him or not, and therefore in no circumstances should he give them his alms.



References:

1-     This is Sawm (Fasting), by Scientific Research Division
2-     Studies in Ibadhism, al-ibadiyah, by Amr Ennami
3-     The Approved in the Jurisprudence of Zakat and Sawm, by Al-Mu'tasam Al-Ma'awali



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