Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is considered to be the holiest month of the year. During this time, Muslims from all over the world fast from dawn to dusk. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an important act of worship. There are a few basic rules of fasting during Ramadan. These rules are designed to help Muslims focus on their spiritual growth and development. The following is a comprehensive guide to the fasting rules during Ramadan:
The Fundamental Ramadan Fasting Rules
RULE # 1: FASTING DURING RAMADAN IS COMPULSORY FOR EVERY ADULT MUSLIM
Muslims who have reached puberty must fast during Ramadan. Although fasting is obligatory, a few exceptions allow certain individuals to abstain from fasting.
Nevertheless, it’s expected to make up for missed fasting days either through Fidiya – feeding others for each missed fasting day by providing food or an equivalent amount typically determined by the state, or by fasting the exact number of missed days after Ramadan.
The following groups are exempted from fasting:
- Pregnant Women
- Individuals with medical conditions
- Individuals with mental conditions
- The elderly
- Women who are menstruating
- Women experiencing post-childbirth bleeding
- Women who are pregnant or nursing
- Individuals whose jobs may be compromised by a lack of energy, such as pilots
- Individuals traveling long distances (a minimum of 48 miles or 80 kilometers)
RULE # 2: FASTING SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED WITH THE INTENT OF WORSHIP
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is a form of worship; therefore, before observing it, Muslims have to make a Dua (affirmation), which signifies their intent and distinguishes it from regular fasting practice, even if someone refrains from the things prohibited during fasting without an intention to fast, their fast will not be counted.
RULE # 3: FASTING HAS TO OBSERVED FROM DUSK TILL DAWN
Observe fasting during the prescribed Ramadan fasting time, so unlike the false assumption by most non-Muslims, fasting in Ramadan doesn’t require Muslims to stay hungry for the whole 24 hours. In fact, in certain parts of the world, the fast is hardly for 12 hours.
Essentially, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and the Azaan (call to prayer) serves as an indicator of when it is time to commence fasting and when it is time to break the fast. Since Muslims worldwide observe fasting, the time difference becomes crucial; therefore, the Ramadan fasting time is not fixed; it depends on the sunrise and sunset of the specific country.
RULE # 4: PRACTICING OTHER TYPES OF WORSHIP IS A MUST
Islam is a holistic religion and doesn’t see anything in isolation, especially when it comes to the act of worship. Irrespective of what the month is, offering Salah (prayer), reading the whole Quran at least once, and doing charity (such as giving Zakat or Sadaqah) is expected of Muslims all year round.
Therefore, when it comes to Ramadan, all the acts of worship are expected to be practiced regardless of whether someone is fasting or not (except for women menstruating). The best part of this Ramadan fasting rule is that every type of worship practiced in this holy month is rewarded 70 times more than in the other months.
RULE # 5: REFRAINING ANYTHING ENTERING THE BODY WHILE FASTING
During fasting, Muslims must not consume anything, whether it is liquid or solid food, but unlike intermittent and other types of fasting, anything entering the body cavity is not allowed, whether it enters the body through the throat, open wounds, nose, private parts, intestine, or any other place.
However, if, in a specific instance, something enters the body through any canal/channel accidentally, they should repent and continue with the fast. But if done deliberately, the fast immediately discontinues.
RULE # 6: REFRAINING FROM IMMORAL AND UNETHICAL ACTS
One of the prominent rules of fasting for Muslims is the requirement to abstain from unethical, immoral, and unnecessary acts. It is advisable to refrain from these actions regardless of Ramadan. However, to honor the sacredness of the month, Muslims must adhere to these guidelines.
Muslims must avoid engaging in foul play, spreading false information, and participating in deeds such as quarreling (whether warranted or unwarranted), engaging in arguments, backbiting, using offensive language and names, watching indecent content, listening to music, dressing provocatively, passing judgment, and other similar behaviors.
The fasting rules also require Muslims not to talk too much or talk about how they are fasting or how thirsty and hungry they are. It can lessen the charm of their ibadah.
RULE # 7: REFRAINING FROM SEXUAL ACTS
By no means does Ramadan obligate Muslims (married couples or otherwise) to stay away from intimacy but to honor and respect the month; it is advised to refrain from it while fasting.
However, most Muslims often abstain from any sexual activity for the whole month. However, they can be intimate at night. During fasting, excretion of semen in any manner, whether through intercourse, masturbation, or wet thoughts, results in the fast being nullified.
RULE # 8: FOSTERING BROTHERHOOD AND ESTABLISHING HUMANITARIAN GROUND
Allah and the Prophet (P.B.U.H) have repeatedly emphasized the importance of Huqooq ul Ibad (being good to other humankind). During the month of Ramadan, there is a clear expectation to let go of any resentments and actively cater to the needs of fellow Muslim brothers.
Ramadan revolves around the principles of giving and self-control. Therefore, individuals should actively engage in practices such as distributing Iftaari (food served to break the fast), participating in charitable acts, joining in collective prayers at the mosque, and fostering overall communal activities to promote brotherhood. The fundamental objective is to create a harmonious community through these gestures, encouraging a humanitarian way of life. Consequently, during Ramadan, it is especially crucial to avoid actions that may cause hindrance or disturbance to others.
RULE # 9: GOING ON WITH DAY-TO-DAY WORK IS IMPORTANT
Most people assume that fasting is a tedious practice. Therefore, people should be granted some leniency to observe their fast smoothly. However, often, people fail to realize that following all the Ramadan fasting rules while continuing their regular day-to-day activities constitutes the essence of Ramadan and its intended lessons.
When individuals fast and carry on with their daily activities, it fosters empathy, self-control, and discipline within them. Therefore, it is advisable not to overexert oneself and not to use fasting as an excuse to avoid work.
RULE # 10: Discouraging Eating in Front of Those Who Are Fasting
There are certain instances where Muslims are exempted from fasting or someone who intentionally doesn’t fast. Still, in either circumstance, it doesn’t give them agency to eat in front of fasting people; this is unethical and may create issues with abstinence for some people.
Eating in front of someone fasting is frowned upon by Allah, and it results in the accumulation of bad deeds. People who are not fasting should avoid eating during fasting hours to honor the month. If they need to consume food, they should do so in private out of respect for fasting individuals.
Sunnah Rules of Fasting for Muslims
Sunnah may not be farz (obligation), but it is something that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) practiced, and as a Muslim, following his footsteps is a guideline to the path of righteousness. There are many sunnahs for various aspects, but essentially two for Ramadan and indeed beneficial ones.
SUNNAH RULE # 1: HAVING SAHUR (PRE-DAWN MEAL)
Having sahur is beneficial for Muslims in many ways; having sahur gets you a great reward because waking up usually when the sleep is sound to prepare yourself for the fast is an admirable act.
Typically, the best time for sahur is about half an hour before the Fajr prayer, but it can also be done earlier. Having sahur provides the body with the necessary energy to continue daily activities on an empty stomach without interruptions or obstacles.
SUNNAH RULE # 2: DOING IFTAAR (BREAKING THE FAST)
Muslims are required to break their fast as soon as they hear the Azaan (Call of Prayer), or the sun disappears below the horizon. Every sect in Islam has its specific timing, but globally, Muslims ideally break their fast right after sunset.
Individuals should ideally break their fast with water or Kajoor (Date) or anything sent for Iftaar. Despite the variety and abundance of items commonly served in modern times for Iftaar, you should consume a moderate amount of food. This practice honors the principles of Ramadan, teaching humbleness and self-control.
What Is Permissible and Prohibited During Ramadan?
The dos and don’ts are essential in staying true to the teaching of Ramadan and its essence. The above section has provided a general rundown of Ramadan fasting rules. However, to further clarify, the following are some things that are permissible and prohibited, which will further assist in following the rules adequately.
- Rinsing the mouth and nose, if done correctly, like practice during Wadu (ablution)
- Taking a shower,
- Using eyeliner, kohl, and even eye drops in the eyes.
- Accidental swallowing of saliva, water, dust, or any other such substance does not break the fast.
- Showing affection through hugs and pecks is permissible.
- The permissibility of taking injections during Ramadan is a subject of debate. However,you can undergo a blood test.
- Using perfumes.
- You can break the fast if menstruation starts, but you should keep going with it for the particular day if it happens after noon
- Using Miswak or toothbrush, even with toothpaste, it is better to do it before fasting.
- Having wet dreams does not nullify the fast, but you must take a bath as soon as you realize it.
- Similarly, you can have intercourse at night but must take a bath before fasting.
- Not observing fasting without a valid reason.
- Consuming substances of any sort, whether liquid, solid, or smoke, invalids the fast.
- Smoking during the month of Ramadan
- Intentionally causing vomiting nullifies the fast
- Orgasms, ejaculation, and any sexual contact during fasting
- Being in the state of Janaba (impure due to seminal discharge)
- Eating or drinking in public even if you are not fasting.
- Talking about food is tempting oneself with food.
- Using mouthwashes during fasting.
We must seek advice from the Islamic Scholars if we do not understand anything related to fasting and Ramadan.
Recommended Acts during the month of Ramadan
Ramadan is not just a holy month with rules of fasting for Muslims; in fact, it’s a month to get numerous benefits and rewards from Allah through practicing simple acts such as:
- Having suhur (pre-dawn meal), which is a sunnah, and delaying it until the fajir time arises.
- Breaking the fast as early as possible upon hearing the adhan (Call of Prayer) to see the sunset.
- Breaking the fast with the odd number of fresh or dry dates or in case of unavailability of the item having water
- Supplicating after breaking the fast with Dhahabadh-dhama-oo wabtallatil-‘urooqu, wa thabatal-ajru insha’Allah. Which roughly translates to, “The thirst has gone, the veins are moistened, and Allah willing, the reward is guaranteed.”
- Muslims should also offer Namazve Taraweeh; many Muslims assume it as fardh (obligation), and while it is not, it holds great value.
- Recitation of the Quran and finishing it at least once during the month helps to gain more rewards.
- Using Miswaak is a simple and easy way to ensure cleanliness and rewards.
- Ramadan is a month that brings people together, so inviting people over for Iftaar is not only a part of celebrating the month but also paying homage to the basic ideology of Islam serving people (after all, after worship, providing food to people holds the highest value and reward).
- We should also encourage children to fast even for half a day and bring their Ramadan spirit up.
- And many more.
For an outsider, Ramadan and its rules might seem extensive, but these fasting rules have proven to bring physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental benefits. They help Muslims develop moral discipline, preparing them for the challenges of the coming year. Ramadan fosters a strong community marked by acceptance and empathy as Muslims experience the hardships of poverty. The focus on good deeds during this month provides Muslims with opportunities to earn rewards through acts of kindness and seek repentance for their past sins. Ramadan isn’t merely a holy month; it serves as a guide for understanding life’s trials, promoting self-reflection and empathy. Let’s uphold these fasting rules for a prosperous Ramadan.