Excellence of fasting in Ramadan
by Shaikh Saleem al-Hilaalee and Shaikh Alee Hasan Alee Abdul-Hameed
* Forgiveness of sins
THE Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) urged that one fasts in Ramadan,
explaining its excellence and high station, such that if the fasting
person had sins as many as the foam upon the sea, then they would be
forgiven for him through this pure and blessed act of worship. From Abu
Hurairah, radiyallaahu anhu, from the Prophet who said: He who fasts
Ramadan, due to eemaan and hoping for reward (from Allah) then his
previous sins are forgiven.
From Abu Hurairah, radiyallaahu anhu, that the Prophet climbed upon the
mimbar (pulpit) and said: Aameen [O Allah grant it], aameen, aameen. So it
was said, O Messenger of Allah, you climbed upon the mimbar and said,
aameen, aameen, aameen? So he said: Indeed Jibraaeel, alayhis salaam, came
to me and said, Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have
[his sins] forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him,
say aameen So I said: aameen …
* That supplication (duaa) is answered and freedom from the Fire is
He (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) said: There are in the month of Ramadan
in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire,
and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be
* He will be amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs
From Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhanee, radiyallaahu anhu, who said: A man came to
the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah what if I testify that none has
the right to be worshipped but Allah and that you are the Messenger of
Allah, and I observe the five daily prayers, and I pay the Zakat, and I
fast and stand in prayer in Ramadan, then amongst whom shall I be? He
said: Amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs.
* Warning Against Failing to Fast in Ramadan
Abu Umaamah al-Baahilee, radiyallaahu anhu, said: I heard Allahs Messenger
say: Whilst I was sleeping two men came to me and took hold of my arms and
brought me to a steep mountain and said: climb so I said: I am not able
to. So they said: We will make it easy for you. So I climbed until came to
the summit of the mountain where I heard terrible cries, so I said: what
are these cries? They said: That is the howling of the people of the Fire.
Then they took me further on until came to a people who were strung up by
their hamstrings, with their jawbones torn and flowing with blood, so I
said: who are these. He said: Those who break their fast before the time
at which they may do so.
As for what is reported that the Prophet said: He who deliberately fails
to fast a day of Ramadan even if he were to fast forever it would not
make up for it.
[This hadith is weak (daeef), not authentic.]
* The Intention (An-Niyyah)
The obligation to have intention for the obligatory fast before the
appearance of the true dawn
When it is confirmed that the month of Ramadan has commenced, then it is
obligatory upon every Muslim upon whom the Shariah rulings are binding to
intend to fast until the night, as the Prophet said: He who does not
resolve to fast before it is Fajr, then there is no fast for him.
He also said: He who does not intend during the night to fast, then there
is no fast for him.
The place for the intention is the heart, to pronounce it upon the tongue
is an innovation (bidah) and misguidance – even if the people think it to
be good. The necessity of having intention from the night is particular to
obligatory fasts since the Messenger used to come to Aaisha, radiyallaahu
anhaa, at times other than Ramadan and say, Do you have any food? If not,
then I am fasting.
The like of this is reported from the practice of the Companion:
Abud-Dardaa, Abu Talhah, Abu Hurairah, Ibn Abbaas and Hudaifah ibn
al-Yamaan, radiyallaahu anhum, and may Allah raise us up amongst them
beneath the flag of the nobles of the children of Aadam.
So this refers to the optional fast and shows that the obligation of
having intention before the appearance of the true drawn is for the
obligatory fast – and Allah the Most High knows best.
TIME FOR BEGINNING AND ENDING THE FAST
When the Companions of the unlettered Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhe
wa sallam) fasted and the time for breaking the fast came, then they would
eat, drink and cohabit with their wives as long as they didnt fall asleep.
If one of them fell asleep before eating the evening meal then it was not
permissible to do any of that until the next evening. Then the Mercy of
their Lord, the All-Powerful, the Bestower, enveloped them and allowance
was made for them, and they were overjoyed this is explained in the
From al-Baraa, radiyallaahu anhu, who said: When the companions of the
Prophet fasted and it became time to break the fast, if one of them slept
before eating, then he would not eat that night, nor the next day until
evening. Once Qays ibn Sirmah al-Ansaaree was fasting, so when it was time
to break the fast he came to his wife and said to her, Do you have any
food? She said: No, but I will go and seek some for you. He used to work
during the day so sleep overtook him, then his wife came and when she saw
him she said, You have missed it. Then in the middle of the next day he
fainted, and that was mentioned to the Prophet, so this Aayah was sent
down (which means):
It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the
night of the fasts.
So they were overjoyed, and,
And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you
distinct from the black thread (darkness of night).
was also sent down.
This is the cherishing mercy which the Most Kind and Most Merciful gives
abundantly to His humble servants who say: We hear and we obey, we ask for
Your forgiveness our Lord, and to you we return.
The fast has a specified time – with specified beginning and end and is
from the appearance of Fajr until the daytime ends, the night begins and
the suns disc is hidden by the horizon.
* The white thread and the black thread
When the aforementioned Aayah was sent down, some of the Companions of the
Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) took black camel tethers and white
ones and placed them beneath their pillows, or (one) tied them to his foot
and would continue eating and drinking until he could distinguish them.
From Adiyy ibn Haatim, radiyallaahu anhu, who said: When,
Until the white thread appears to you distinct from the black thread.
was sent down I took a black and a white camel tether and placed them
beneath my pillow, and during the night I would look to see but they didnt
appear any different to each other, so in the morning I went to the
Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) and informed him, so he said: Rather
it is the blackness of night and the whiteness of dawn.
[Reported by al-Bukhaaree (4/113) and Muslim (no 1090). The narration
apparently shows that Adiyy was present when this Aayah was sent down,
which means that he was a Muslim at the time. However, this is not the
case, since fasting was made obligatory in the second year after the
Hijrah, and Adiyy accepted Islam in the ninth or tenth year as occurs in
al-Isaabah (2/468). So either we say that the Aayah was sent down very
much later on and this is very unlikely, or that explain the saying of
Adiyy: When it was sent down, to mean When I accepted Islam and this Aayah
was recited to me. And this is what is correct due to the narration of
Ahmad in his Musnad (4/377): Allahs Messenger taught me the prayer and
fasting, he said: Pray such and such, and fast and when the sun sets then
eat and drink until the white thread is clear to you from the black
thread, and fast for 30 days unless you see the new moon before that so I
took two threads of wool, one black and one white … (the hadith).
abridged from Fathul-Baaree (4/132-133).]
(*Taken from Fasting in Ramadan as observed by the Prophet, by Shaikh
Saleem al-Hilaalee and Shaikh Alee Hasan Alee Abdul-Hameed)