Ramadân Series: Part 1 – As-Siyâm, Ruling of Fasting in Ramadân, On Whom Its Obligatory, The Medical Benefits Of Fasting

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

The meaning of As-Siyâm (fasting)

Shaykh Muhammad Al-Uthaymîn said:

As-Siyâm in the language means ‘to refrain from a thing’. In the Shari’ah (Islamic Legislation) it means ‘to refrain from food, drink and the rest of the nullifiers, from the appearance of the second Fajr till the setting of the sun, in worship of Allâh, The Mighty & Majestic’. (Sharh Umdat-ul Ahkâm, ch. The Book of Fasting)

As-Sayyid Sâbiq said:

[Explaining the linguistic meaning of Sawm].. For example, a verse in the Qur’ân says: “.. Verily, I have vowed a fast (Sawma) to Ar-Ramân (The Most-Merciful) so I shall not speak to any human being this day.” Sûrah Maryam 19:26) – [Maryam vowed to abstain] that is from speaking. (Fiqh As-Sunnah, ch. As-Siyâm)


The meaning of Ramadân

Shaykh Muhammad Al-Uthaymîn said:

Ramadân is the month between Sha’bân and Shawwâl. It is called (Ramadân) due to the severity of the heat therein when it was named. (Sharh Umdat-ul Ahkâm hadith 174)


The Kinds of Obligatory Fasts

Ibn Rushd said:

Obligatory fasting is of three kinds:

1) Obligatory fasting during a fixed time, and this is fasting during the month of Ramadân itself.

2) The second is prescribed due to a reason, and this is fasting for expiation (kaffâra).

3) Fasting that a person imposes on himself, this is fasting after a vow (nadhr). (Bidâyat al-Mujtahid 330)


The obligation to fast in Ramadân

Ibn Rushd said:

Fasting during the month of Ramadân is obligatory on the basis of the Qur’ân, the Sunnah, and the Ijma’ (Scholarly Consensus).

In the Qur’ân the basis are the words of Allâh :

يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيۡكُمُ ٱلصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى ٱلَّذِينَ مِن قَبۡلِكُمۡ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَتَّقُونَ ٣٨١

O you who believe! Observing As-Saum (the fasting) is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may become Al-Muttaqûn (the pious). (Sûrah Al-Baqarah 2:183)

In the Sunnah it is the saying of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم :

قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ بُنِيَ الإِسْلاَمُ عَلَى خَمْسٍ شَهَادَةِ أَنْ لاَ إِلَهَ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ وَأَنَّ مُحَمَّدًا عَبْدُهُ وَرَسُولُهُ وَإِقَامِ الصَّلاَةِ وَإِيتَاءِ الزَّكَاةِ وَحَجِّ الْبَيْتِ وَصَوْمِ رَمَضَانَ ‏”‏

Abdullâh son of ‘Umar said that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: The pillars of al-Islâm are five (pillars), testifying (the fact) that there is no one worthy of worship except Allâh, that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, and the establishment of prayer, payment of Zakâh, performing Pilgrimage to the House (Ka’bâ) and the fast of Ramadân. (Sahîh Muslim 16)

Consensus is found as there is no disagreement that has been attributed to any of the Imâms over this. (Bidâyat al-Mujtahid 331)

As-Sayyid Sâbiq said:

The whole Muslim nation agrees upon the obligation of fasting Ramadân, and that it is one of the pillars of Islâm which are known necessarily from the religion. The one who denies this is a disbeliever, an apostate from Islâm. (Fiqh As-Sunnah 2/109)


When this obligation was made

Shaykh Muhammad Al-Uthaymîn said:

Fasting was made obligatory upon this nation in the second year after the Hijrah. (Sharh Umdat-ul Ahkâm, ch. The Book of Fasting).


On whom fasting Ramadân is obligatory upon

As-Sayyid Sâbiq said :

The scholars agree that fasting is obligatory upon the [1] Muslim, who is of [2]sound mind, [3] adult, [4] healthy, and is a [5] resident.

(Additionally] for the woman, she must not be [6] menstruating or [7]having post-natal bleeding. (Fiqh As-Sunnah 2/114)

Evidence:

[1] Muslim :

مَا كَانَ لِلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ أَن يَعۡمُرُواْ مَسَٰجِدَ ٱللَّهِ شَٰهِدِينَ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِهِم بِٱلۡكُفۡرِۚ أُوْلَٰٓئِكَ حَبِطَتۡ أَعۡمَٰلُهُمۡ وَفِي ٱلنَّارِ هُمۡ خَٰلِدُونَ ٧١

It is not for the Mushrikûn (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allâh), to maintain the Mosques of Allâh (i.e. to pray and worship Allâh therein, to look after their cleanliness and their building, etc.), while they witness against their ownselves of disbelief. The works of such are in vain and in Fire shall they abide. (Sûrah At-Tawbah 9:17)

[2] Sanity & [3] Adult:

عَنْ عَلِيٍّ، رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ رُفِعَ الْقَلَمُ عَنْ ثَلَاثَةٍ عَنْ الصَّغِيرِ حَتَّى يَبْلُغَ وَعَنْ النَّائِمِ حَتَّى يَسْتَيْقِظَ وَعَنْ الْمُصَابِ حَتَّى يُكْشَفَ عَنْهُ‏.

It was narrated from ‘Alî (رضي الله عنه):I heard the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ) say: `The Pen has been lifted from three: from the child until he reaches puberty, from the sleeper until he wakes up and from the insane until he regains his sanity.” (Musnad Imam Ahmad 940. Declared Sahîh by Ahmad Shâkir)

[4] Healthy & [5] Resident:

أَيَّامٗا مَّعۡدُودَٰتٖۚ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٖ فَعِدَّةٞ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَۚ

Observing Saum (fasts)] for a fixed number of days, but if any of you is ill or on a journey, the same number (should be made up) from other days. (Sûrah Al-Baqarah 2:184)

[6] Menstruating & [7] Post-natal bleeding :

أَلَيْسَ إِذَا حَاضَتْ لَمْ تُصَلِّ وَلَمْ تَصُمْ ‏”‏‏.‏ قُلْنَ بَلَى‏.‏ قَالَ ‏”‏ فَذَلِكَ مِنْ نُقْصَانِ دِينِهَا ‏

The prophet said:… Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?” The women replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her religion.” (Sahîh Bukhârî 304)

Shaykh Muhammad Al-Uthaymîn said:

The laws of Nifâs (post-natal bleeding) are the same as the laws governing menses [i.e not being able to pray or fast etc…]. (Natural Blood of Women pg.35)


From the wisdoms of fasting

Shaykh Muhammad Al-Uthaymîn said:

Allâh has obligated it upon all nations because it is a magnificent act of worship in which the truthfulness of the servants love for his Lord is displayed. As is his honoring of Him and the desire for His Pleasure, by way of that which he endures from patience upon the pains of hunger and thirst, and the curbing of the lustful urges giving precedence to that which Allâh loves and is pleased with over that which it contains from training the soul to have patience and firm strength upon the obedience of Allâh; reminding the servant of that which Allâh has blessed him from food, drink, and other than it from that which the soul desires.

Moreover, he is reminded about the state of his indigent or deprived brothers who do not have the blessing of food, drink, and the like from the desires of the soul, either perpetually or sometimes. Thus, he sympathises with them and has compassion for them. Besides this there are other benefits of fasting which are geberal and specific. (Sharh Umdat-ul Ahkâm, ch. The Book of Fasting)


The medical, spiritual and physical benefits of fasting

Fasting brings a wholesome physiological rest for the digestive tract and central nervous system, and normalises metabolism. (Allan Cott, Fasting As A Way Of Life)

1) As compared to other diet plans, Fasting during Ramadân contains no malnutrition or inadequate calorie intake since there is no restriction on the type or amount of food intake during iftâr or suhûr.

2) Fasting in Ramadân is voluntarily undertaken. It is not a prescribed imposition from a physician. In the hypothalamus part of the brain there is a centre called ‘lipostat’ which controls body mass. When sever and rapid weight loss is achieved by a starvation diet, the centre does not recognise this as normal and, therefore re-programs itself to cause weight gain rapidly once the person goes off the starvation diet. So the only effective way of losing weight is slow, self-controlled, and gradual weight loss by modifying our behaviour, and the attitude about eating while eliminating excess food. Ramadân is a month of self-regulation and self-training in terms of food intake thereby causing hopefully a permanent change in lipostat reading.

3) Ramadân fasting is actually an exercise in self-discipline. For those who are chain smokers, nibble food constantly, or drink coffee every hour; it is a good way to break the habit, hoping that the effect will continue after the month is over.

4) Psychological effect of Ramadân fasting are also well observed by the description of people who fast. They describe a feeling of inner peace and tranquility. The prophet advised them : “if one slanders you or wants to fight you, tell him I am fasting”. Thus, personal hostility during the month is minimal.

6) Dr. Shahid Athar said: Within the first few days of Ramadân, I begin to feel better even before losing a single pound. I work more and pray more; physical stamina and mental alertness improve. I check my blood, glucose, cholesterol, triglyceride before the commencement of Ramadân and at its end. I note marked improvement at the end.

7) Dr. Hammudah Abd Al-Ati said: Ramadân is a test and training lesson for our conscious mind and our willpower, our self-respect and moral dignity. Ramadân fasting improves economic skills, teaching us adaptability, patience and forbearance.

8) By emptying the stomach, we relax the whole body, which of course helps to clear the mind and invigorates the soul. Abstaining from eating when one is hungry is not easy, but practising it frees the mind and aids in developing concentration and wisdom, by providing time to focus on spiritual matters.

9) Fasting gives the digestive system a rest and makes the body feel lighter. The energy usually consumed in digestion and good metabolism will be directed towards body detoxification, tissue repair and system healing.

Fasting gives a chance for the stomach and intestines to regenerate their mucous cell lining, as digestive secretions are reduced during the day. Fasting boosts the detoxification powers of the hepatic liver cells, cleans the kidneys and colon, and purifies the blood. It also helps overcome obesity, aids in ridding the body of any excess water, and clears the blood from extra fats, which in turn frees the tissues from stored fat-soluble toxins such as pesticides or drug metabolites.

10) Leon Chaitow recommended fasting in his book Natural Alternatives to Antibiotics as an effective way to supercharge the immune system. He states that fasting boosts the activity of the essential parts of the body’s natural defence mechanisms. During fasting the ability of the lymphocytes and other blood cells to encounter any bacterial attack is greatly improved, and since the level of free radicals in the body is reduced by reducing food intake, the activity of antioxidants is retained for better cell protection.

11) Dr. Hamed Muhammad said explaining the natural changes which occur in the body to accommodate the daily fasting in Ramadân : These changes include reduction in the activity of the thyroxin hormone, thus the energy needed by the fasting Muslim to perform his or her daily functions is reduced, making him or her less susceptible to fatigue. Additionally, the blood sugar levels has been found to remain constant during the fasting hours and insulin secretion is kept under control, which is crucial to keeping the brain supplied with glucose for mental concentration and optimal brain performance.

12) Sami Mosuli said whilst explaining the role of autosuggestion in reducing the fasting Muslim from thirst and hunger: This autosuggestion can be even more powerful than the neurotransmitter messages sent by the hypothalamus in the brain to the stomach for it to feel hunger and start asking for food. Instead, the body refers to its stored glycogen and fat deposits for energy supply.

(Abridged & Paraphrased from Fast According To The Qur’ân & Sunnah, Professor Muhammad Zulfiqar. Pg 242-249)

13) Studies reported that total cholesterol (TC), low-density lipoprotein (LDL), high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and blood glucose have been improved after Ramadân compared to before Ramadân.

[Mirzaei B, Rahmani-Nia F, Moghadam MG, Ziyaolhagh SJ, Rezaei A. The effect of ramadan fasting on biochemical and performance parameters in collegiate wrestlers. Iran J Basic Med Sci. 2012;15:1215–20.]

14) As smoking is forbidden in Islâm & during fasting of Ramadân, studies revealed a significant reduction in second-hand smoke levels in public places.

[Ramahi I, Seidenberg AB, Kennedy RD, Rees VW. Secondhand smoke emission levels in enclosed public places during Ramadan. Eur J Public Health. 2013;23:789–91.]

Published by أبو زكريا عيسى الألباني

BSc (Hons) Microbiology | Qur'ān | Sunnah |

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