Part IV: Fasting (As-Saum)
1- Month of Ramadhan
As state earlier the month of Ramadhan is the month of obligatory fasting for the Muslims. It is the nineth month of the Islamic lunar calendar also known as Hijrah calendar. Like other lunar months, it is sometimes a month of 29 days and sometimes of 30days. Its number of days depends upon the rising of new moon. Fasting is begun when the moon of Ramadhan is sighted and it is discontinued when the moon of Shawal is sighted.
Merits and Importance: The month of Ramadhan is regarded as month of Allah and hence chief of the months. The merits of this month have been described in the Qur’an. It says: Ramadhan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed which is guidance for mankind and clear proofs of guidance and a criterion (of right and wrong); therefore any of you who finds this month must fast therein…… (2 Al-Baqarah:185). In the Surah Al-Qadr, we are told that the Qur’an was revealed in Lailatul Qadr (The Night of Destiny) which is better than one thousand months. From these verses, three merits of the month of Ramadhan come into our knowledge: The Qur’an was revealed in this month, fasting for this month has been prescribed and Lailatul Qadr which is a holy night and is better than one thousand months falls in this month.
According to Traditions, the other revealed books mentioned in the Qur’an like Torah, Gospel, Psalms and Scrolls of Abraham were also revealed respectively to Prophet Moses, Jesus, David and Abraham in the month of Ramadhan.
The Prophet of Islam has also mentioned many merits of this month in his Ahadith. He is reported to have said that Ramadhan is a magnificent and a blessed month. It is the chief of the months. Its first part is (Allah’s) mercy, second part is His forgiveness and the last part is salvation and release from Hell. When Ramadhan comes the doors of heaven are opened, the doors of hell are closed and the devils are put in chains. There is a night in this month which is better than one thousand months. Fasting for this month has been made obligatory for a Muslim. If a person performs a Nafl (voluntary) act of virtue in this month he gets reward equal to a Fard (obligatory) act performed in other months, and if he performs a Fard act in this month he is entitled to get reward equal to 70 Fard acts performed in other months. The Prophet also said that during Ramadhan the provisions (articles of eating and drinking or sustenance) of a believer are increased (Mishkat).
In the history also there is much importance of this month. On the 27th night of Ramadhan (i.e. Lailatulqadr) the Prophet of Islam received first Wahi (call or revelation). The first war between Islam and polytheism was fought at Badr in this month and Allah made Islam victorious. In this month, Makkah was conquered and Islam got domination over the whole of Arabian Peninsula. The Country of Pakistan was established in this very month which is one of the big Muslim countries and is only Islamic atomic power.
What is to be done in this month? Following righteous deeds are recommended in this month: (1) Fasting for this month has been made obligatory, therefore, it should be observed with sincerity and devotion; (2) Although, prayer is obligatory five times a day during every month of the year, but in this month special attention be given to it and Nafl prayers like Taraweeh should also be observed in addition to obligatory prayers. (3) Remembrance of Allah and worship of Allah should especially be given much attention and time, and darud (blessings of Allah) should be sent on Prophet Muhammad; (4) Charity should be given as much as you can in this month. (5) Special time and attention should be given to the recitation of the Qur’an. (6) Itikaf should be observed in the last 9 or 10 days of this month. (7) Supplications for forgiveness should be specially made in Lialatulqadr.
2- The Qur’an
Allah, the Almighty God of the Universe says in verse 1 of Surah 97: “Verily, We have revealed it (i.e. the Qur’an) in Lailatul Qadr(The Night of Destiny).” He says in Verse 185 of Surah 2: “Ramadhan is the month in which was revealed the Qur’an ……….” From these Verses, we come to know that the Qur’an was revealed in LailatulQadr (the Night of Destiny or Power) which is a night of the month of Ramadhan.
From the above it is clear that the Qur’an and Ramadhan are very close. Therefore in the month of Ramadhan, you must spend as much time as you can in reading and reciting the Qur’an, in listening to it when it is recited in prayers, and in understanding and pondering over its meanings. Abdullah bin Amr has reported that the messenger of Allah said: The Fast and the Qur’an will intercede for a believer (on the Day of Judgment). The Fast will say: “My Lord! I stopped this person from eating and drinking and from sexual gratification during the day time, so accept my intercession for him”. And the Qur’an will say: “I stopped him from sleep and rest during night and he kept standing in Thy Presence reciting the Qur’an, so my Lord! Do accept my intercession for him”. So they would both intercede for him (Mishkat quoting Baihaqi).
It has been reported in Ahadith that the Prophet of Islam himself used to recite the Qur’an before Angel Gabriel during every Ramadhan, but in the year he passed away he recited it twice before him. The Prophet has also enjoined his followers to keep up this practice. So the believers should pay special attention to reciting the Qur’an, listening to it and pondering over its meanings.
Reading and Recitation of the Qur’an: As stated above, one should give as much time to the recitation and reading of the Qur’an as he can. To recite and read the Qur’an is an act of Ibadah (worship). The Qur’an is a balm for the hearts and a guidance and mercy for the believers (Surah 10 verse 57). According to a Hadith, to remove rust from the hearts of Children of Adam, the best way is to remember death and recite the Qur’an. There are many rewards for a reader or reciter of the Qur’an. The Prophet is reported to have said: Whoso reads a letter from the Book of Allah, gets one virtue in its place, and one virtue has got ten rewards like it. I do not say that Alif, Lam and Mim is a letter, but Alif is a letter, Lam is a letter and Mim is a letter (Tirmizi). Ibn Umar has reported that the Messenger of Allah said: There is no envy except for two: A man whom Allah has given the Qur’an and who stands by it throughout the night and throughout the day, and a man whom Allah has given wealth and who spends therefrom throughout the night and throughout the day (Bukhari, Muslim). The recitation of the Qur’an at dawn is witnessed (by the Angels) as Allah says in verse 78 of Surah 17.
You should manage your time and at least read the whole of the Quran once during the month of Ramadhan, and if possible you can read it more than once as you would earn more reward from Allah. The manners of Qur’an reading prescribed by the Ulema include: (1) The reader should perform ablution or take bath if necessary to purify himself as only they can touch the Qur’an who are purified (Surah 56, Verse 79). (2) He should seek refuge of Allah from Satan the outcast and start with the Name of Allah. (3) He should sit keeping his face toward direction of Qiblah. (4) He should read it with correct pronunciation. (5) He should not read it in hurry, rather he should read it slowly. The Prophet has said: The person who finished the recital of the Qur’an (hurriedly) in less than three days has drawn no benefit from it. (Tirmizi); (6) He should chant it with sweet and melodious voice. The Prophet has reportedly enjoined: Read the Qur’an with your sweet and excellent voices, because an excellent voice adds beauty to the Qur’an (Darimi). According to another version, one who does not recite the Qur’an in a sweet voice does not belong to us.
Listening to the Qur’an: Listening to the Qur’an also carries lot of rewards. According to Hadhrat Khalid bin Ma’adan, listening to the Qur’an with keenness and full attention carries double the reward of reciting it (Darimi) So those who cannot read the Qur’an or who cannot touch it due to some disability (e.g. women in menses or nifass), must hear the Qur’an recited by others.
The Prophet himself used to hear the Qur’an sometimes recited by his companions like Abdullah bin Masud, Ubbey bin Kaab, Abu Musa al-Ashaari who had excellent voices. Once he said to Abdullah bin Masud to recite the Qur’an for him. At this Abdullah said: O Messenger of Allah! How can I recite it to you when it has been revealed to you? The Prophet replied: Yes. Recite it to me as I love to hear it recited by others. So Abdullah recited it to him. When Abdullah recited verse 41 of Surah 4; “How it will be when We bring from each nation a witness, and We bring you a witness against these people”, Prophet asked him to stop as tears were rolling down from his eyes.
So proper arrangements in the mosque should be made in the month of Ramadhan for recitation of the Qur’an in prayers especially in Taraveeh. A competent Hafiz (person who has committed the Qur’an to memory) should be appointed who should recite the whole of Qur’an at least once in this month in the Taraveeh prayers, so that people saying their prayers in the mosque should have opportunity to listen to it and get rewards from Allah. When the Qur’an is recited in prayers or out of prayers, one should keep silent and listen to it with zeal and full attention. It has been enjoined by Allah in verse 204 of Surah 7: “And when the Qur’an is recited, give ear to it and keep silent, that you may receive mercy.”
Understanding the Qur’an and pondering over its meanings: In addition to reciting or hearing the Qur’an, one should try to understand its meaning. The Book of Allah is not difficult to understand. Allah says in verse 97 of Surah 19 of the Qur’an: And “We have made it (the Qur’an) easy in your tongue (O Muhammad)”. In verses 17, 22, 32 and 40 of chapter 54 of the Qur’an, Allah says. “And We have made the Qur’an easy to remember (and understand) Then is there anyone who would remember?”
If Arabic is not your language, you should try to learn it and understand the Qur’an directly. If it is not possible you should understand it with the help of a translation and a commentary of the Qur’an in your language. At least in the month of Ramadhan you should spare time and read the whole Qur’an once with a good translation and commentary.
You should also meditate and reflect on its verses. Allah in verse 29 of Surah 38 of the Qur’an says: This is a Book which We have revealed to you (O Muhammad) full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses and that men of wisdom may remember (its lessons). If you are sitting in Itikaf, you have enough time, some of which must be given to meditation and reflection on the verses of the Qur’an.
Lailah means night and Qadr means power or glory or destiny or to measure. So Lailat-ul-Qadr means Night of Destiny or Power or Glory.
The Qur’an in its Surah Number 97 called Surah Al-Qadr says: “Verily, We have revealed it (the Qur’an) in the Night of Destiny. And what will make you know what the night of Destiny is? The Night of Destiny is better than a thousand months. The angels and the Spirit (Gabriel) descend in it by the permission of their Lord with all decrees. This night is peace until the break of dawn.” In its Surah Number 44 called Surah Ad-Dukhan the Qur’an says: “We have verily revealed it (i.e. the Qur’an) in a Blessed Night, for We are ever warning. In that (Night) every matter of importance is decreed as a command from Our self. Verily We have been ever sending the messengers” (44:3-5). About this night the Prophet of Islam is also reported to have said: Whoso fasts Ramadhan out of faith and hopeful of reward all his past sins will be forgiven; and whoso stands up (in prayer) in Ramadhan out of faith and hopeful of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven, and whoso stands up (in prayer) at the Blessed Night out of faith and hopeful of reward, all his past sins will be forgiven.” – (Bukhari, Muslim)
Keeping in view the Verses and Ahadith the scholars of Islam have highlighted the following value and merits of this Blessed Night:
1) The Qur’an which is God’s greatest book for guidance of the whole of humanity uptil the Day of Judgment was revealed in this night.
2) This night is better than one thousand months, According to the scholars it means that acts of Ibadah (worship) or other righteous acts done in this night alone would be equal to all the acts of Ibadah and all the righteous acts done in one thousand months (83 years and 4 months) in terms of blessings and rewards and earning pleasure of Allah.
3) In this night Allah decrees many things and determines destiny of His creations. Gabriel and the other angels descend with Allah’s commandments.
4) This night is security and peace uptil dawn for all the creations of Allah including human beings.
5) Whoso stands in prayer during this night or whoso invokes Allah for forgiveness, Allah forgives all of his sins.
6) This is a night of the month of Ramadhan which is Allah’s month and is regarded as the chief of all the months, and is the holiest one.
The Prophet of Islam in his following Ahadith has enjoined his followers to do acts of worship, offer prayers and nawafil, read Qur’an, send Darud on him, ask for forgiveness of sins as much as they can. He has also given them clear hints how to identify this night.
1) Abu Hurairah has reported that the messenger of Allah said: Whoso stands up in prayer with full faith and hopeful of reward during this night, all his past sins will be forgiven. – (Bukhari, Nisai)
2) Abadah bin Samit has reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Lailat-ul-Qadr is among last ten nights of Ramadhan; whoso stands up in prayer in this night hoping rewards, Allah will forgive his past and future sins – (Masnad Ahmad)
3) Ayesha reported that the Messenger of Allah used to strive hard (for remembrance and worship of Allah) in the last ten nights (of Ramadhan) besides which he was not accustomed to strive so hard – (Muslim).
4) The Prophet said: When Lailatul Qadr approaches, Angel Gabriel descends to the earth along with a host of other angles and they all pray for the forgiveness of every person whom they find busy in the remembrance of Allah, standing or sitting – (Baihaqi)
5) The Messenger of Allah said: O people! There comes to you a month (Ramadhan) in which there is a night which is better than one thousand months. The one who is deprived of the blessings of this night (by not offering prayers and remembering Allah) is deprived of all good. – (Ibn Majah).
6) Ayesha reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Search for the Blessed Night in an odd (night) from the last ten (nights) of Ramadhan – (Bukhari).
7) Abu Hurairah reported that the Messenger of Allah said: Lailatul Qadr is Ramadhan’s 27th or 29th Night.
8) When Abu Zar Ghaffari was asked about it (Lailatul Qadr), he mentioned names of some companions of the Prophet and said that they had no doubt that this night was Ramadhan’s 27th night – (Ibn Abi Thaibah).
9) Ayesha reported: I asked: O Prophet of Allah! Inform me that if I can recognize any night as blessed night, what I should say therein. He said: say:
O Allah! Thou are Most Forgiving and Most Gracious! Thou love to forgive, so forgive my sins. – (Ibn Majah)
In view of the above Ahadith of the Prophet, 27th night of Ramadhan is popularly known as Lailatul Qadr.
4- Itikaf (Seclusion)
Meaning and Importance
Literally Itikaf means isolation, seclusion, retreat, to remain confined or restricted to a place. As a term of Islamic Shariah, it implies secluding oneself from all worldly activities and staying in a mosque during the last nine or ten days of the month of Ramadhan for whole time devotion and remembrance of Allah. During the days of Itikaf the believers who are engaged in it are not allowed to have sex with their wives even in the nights of fasts to which they are otherwise allowed in normal fasting (verse 187 of Surah 2). They are also not allowed to leave their place of ‘Itikaf (mosque) except for a short period and that too for very urgent necessities like call of nature, Wudu or bath. In addition to fast and usual five daily prayers they devote their full time to worship and service of Allah, meditation over religious matters, and reading of the Holy Qur’an. Itikaf is a sort of moral and spiritual training in which a believer isolates himself from worldly affairs and entirely devotes his time and energy to remembrance of God. Thus he gets peace of mind and contentment of heart and strengthens his relationship with God.
Itikaf, according to jurists, is a Sunnat Muakaadah as the Prophet practiced it throughout his life at Madinah and enjoined his followers to do so to earn rewards from Allah. However it is Sunnat Kafayah which means that although it is not compulsory yet it must be performed at least by some believers of a locality in the mosque in order to absolve the other believers of that locality from sin. Otherwise all of them would be guilty.
The women are directed to perform this act of devotion in their homes. Itikaf begins from the Maghrib prayer of the 20th of Ramadhan and terminates with the sighting of new moon of the month of Shawal and thus it may comprise a period of nine or ten days.
Verses and Traditions
Before proceeding with the discussion on this subject it would be fair if we present relevant Verses and some of Ahadith:
1) And remember when We made the House (Kaabah) a centre and sanctuary for mankind. (saying): Take the place of Abraham as place of prayer. And We commended Abraham and Ismail that they should cleanse My house for those who go around it and who meditate in it and who bow down and who prostrate in it. – (2:125).
2) …… And do not have sex with them when you are at secluded devotion (Itikaf) in the mosques…… (2:187).
3) Ayesha reported that the Messenger of Allah used to seclude himself for the last ten (nights) of Ramadhan till Allah took away his life. Afterwards his wives secluded themselves after him. – (Bukhari, Muslim)
4) Ayesha reported: When the Apostle of Allah secluded himself, he extended his head towards me while he was in the mosque and then I combed it, and he used not to enter the house except for human needs. – (Bukhari, Muslim)
5) Ayesha reported that when the Apostle of Allah intended to seclude himself, he said the Fajr prayer and then he entered into his place of seclusion. – (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)
6) Ayesha reported: It is Sunnat upon the men of seclusion that he shall not visit the sick, nor shall he be present at funeral prayer., nor shall he touch a woman, nor cohabit with her, nor he shall come out for a necessity except for a thing from which there is no escape, and there is no seclusion without fast, and no seclusion except in congregational mosque. – (Abu Daud)
7) Ibn Abbas reported that the Messenger of Allah said about the man in seclusion: He isolates himself from sins, and good deeds bring their rewards for him like those of one who acts all the good deeds. – (Ibn Majah)
From verse at serial No. 1 above we come to know that Itikaf was observed by the religious communities before Islam. That is why Prophet Ibrahim and Ismail were directed to keep up the House of Allah clean for those who perform Tawaf, who perform Itikaf, who perform Ruku and who perform Sajjud. Verse at No.2 forbids those believers to go to their spouses who are engaged in Itikaf. Ahadith tell us about the practice of the Prophet regarding Itikaf and also tell us about some of its rules and regulations.
1) Purpose of Itikaf: The main purpose of performing Itikaf is to devote one’s full time and energy to Allah’s remembrance and His worship which one cannot do while absorbed in day to day affairs of the world. This exercise or a sort of training course provides one contentment of heart and makes him near to Allah. It promotes one spiritually and advances his piety. It inculcates self control, moral discipline, abstinence from evils and good habit of offering prayers sincerely and devotedly.
2) Itikaf is a sunnat for every Muslim: As discussed above Itikaf is an important sunnat for a Muslim being a regular practice of the Prophet. However if every one cannot do it, then some of the Muslims should observe it so that the community is absolved from the sin of not doing it.
3) Pre-requisites or conditions of Itikaf: Following are the conditions of Itikaf of Ramadhan:
a) That one should make intention of doing it as in other acts of Ibadah intention is made.
b) Itikaf is to be observed in a mosque as ordained in verse 187 of Surah 2. However, women may stay in their homes and observe Itikaf.
For the purpose of reward, Itikaf in the House of God (Kaabah) is the best, then in Mosque of the Prophet, then in Masjid Al-Aqsa, then in Jama’a mosque and then in every mosque where congregation prayers are held regularly.
c) The fasting is essential for Itikaf.
d) Itikaf starts from the Maghrib prayer of the 20th Ramadhan and terminates with the sighting of new moon of the month of Shawal and thus its duration may be of nine or ten days.
e) At the time of starting Itikaf one must be in pure state i.e. free from sexual impurity (and in case of a woman free from haidh and nifaas).
4) Things prohibited during Itikaf: (a) One must abstain from indulging in sexual intercourse as prohibited by verse 187 of Surah 2; (b) One must not engage himself in worldly affairs like business, trade, etc. (c) One must abstain from backbiting, lying, quarreling, frivolous talk, etc. (d) One must abstain from meeting the people unnecessarily and from having social connections with them. (e) One must avoid leaving the place of Itikaf except for call of nature, Wudu or bath or in some emergency. (f) One must not sit totally idle in Itikaf, rather engage himself in worship, the remembrance of Allah, or recitation of the Qur’an.
5) Things permitted during Itikaf: (a) One can leave place of Itikaf for call of nature but must go to the nearest place for this and come back immediately; (b) One can leave the place for purification bath or Wudu or for joining prayer, etc. If there is no arrangement for bath in the mosque then one can even leave the mosque for this purpose; (c) If there is no body to bring one’s meals, he can go home for meals. (d) If there are no arrangements for Friday prayer in the mosque, one can go to the nearest mosque where there is such arrangement. (e) One can join a funeral prayer if it is being held in the mosque. (f) One can go to house of relative who has died for his condolence provided he lives in the same village or town. (g) If Nikah of a near relative or a friend is in the mosque, one can join it; (h) If some near relative or a member of the house comes to meet for some important affair, one can meet him and come out of the place to see him off; (i) One can take rest or sleep. (j) One can come out of the place to pronounce Adhaan; (k) One is allowed to give medical advice or religious instructions to someone else.
6) Commendable acts or things: (a) To engage oneself in worship and the remembrance of Allah, Glorifying Allah, mentioning His attributes and names, etc. (b) To recite and learn the Qur’an and its meanings etc. (c) To reflect and meditate on religious and spiritual matters. (d) To study Hadith and Fiqh. (e) To offer nawafil. (f) To send Darud on the Prophet. (g) To offer supplications to Allah for one’s betterment in the world as well as in the Hereafter and for forgiveness of sins. (h) To engage oneself in research and writings on the Qur’an or Hadith or on Islam if one happens to be writer or scholar. (i) To join a Dars of Qur’an and Hadith or some sermon if held in the mosque.
5- Taraveeh Prayer
1) What does Taraveeh mean? Taraveeh is from Tarveehah which means to sit a while for rest (during prayer). Since in this prayer a little rest is taken after performing every four Rakaah, therefore, it is called taraveeh. This prayer is offered during the nights of the month of Ramadhan and hence it is also called Qayyam-e-Ramadhan (standing for prayer in Ramadhan).
According to Abu Hurairah, the Prophet used to persuade the believers to offer prayer in the nights of Ramadhan saying: He who awakes with prayer in the nights of Ramadhan (or observes Qayyam of Ramadhan) with faith and to please Allah only, his former and later sins would be forgiven (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad). Hadhrat Salman Farsi says: “Once the Prophet delivered a very good sermon at the commencement of the month of Ramadhan and said: One night of this month is Lailatul Qadr (the night of Destiny) which is better than one thousand months. Allah has made Taraveeh prayer Nafl (voluntary) in the nights of this month. Whoso performs a Nafl action is this month gets reward of Fard deed performed in other months” (Mishkat). Keeping in view the importance given by the Prophet to this prayer, some jurists rule that this prayer is Sunnat-e-Muakkadah for both Muslim men and women, but according to many it is a Sunnah or Nafl prayer.
2) Taraveeh and Fasting: Although Taraveeh prayer is observed in the month of Ramadhan which is the month of fasting, yet Taraveeh and fasting do not depend on each other. They both are two independent and separate acts of Ibadah (worship). So it is not obligatory or essential that one who is fasting must offer Taraveeh Prayer or one who offers Taraveeh Prayer must fast, as considered by some believers.
3) Its duration and time: When the moon of the month of Ramadhan is sighted, the performance of Taraveeh prayer starts from that very night and when the moon of the month of Shawal is sighted it ends. Thus Taraveeh prayers is performed for a period of 29 or 30 days. Its daily time starts after the end of Isha Prayer and continues uptill Fajr Prayer. Although its best time is in the last part of night, However, Prophet permitted the believers and also himself performed it just after Isha Prayer, so that large number of people should perform it in this month.
4) Rakaahs of Taraveeh Prayer: According to a Hadith reported by Jabar, the Prophet led Taraveeh Prayer in congregation for the believers for three nights of Ramadhan and offered eleven Rakaah including three Rakaah of Witr. Thu people waited for him the next night, but he did not turn up as he feared, watching the zeal of the believers, that it might not be made an obligatory prayer. According to Hadhrat Ayesha, the Prophet used not to pray more than eleven Rakaahs (during night) may it be Ramadhan or not Ramadhan (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmizi, Nisai). So the number of Rakaah of this prayer is eight (excluding Witr). The argument of some jurists to support eight Rakaah is that this prayer is actually Tahajjud Prayer which the Prophet allowed the believers to observe it just after Isha Prayer in the month of Ramadhan for their convenience. However, majority of the Muslims offer this prayer with twenty Rakaah.
5) Congregation: As stated above the Prophet offered this prayer leading the congregation of believers for three nights only but at the fourth night he did not turn for the fear that it might not be made compulsory. Since there was no such fear after the demise of the Prophet, Hadhrat Umar ordered for its performance in congregation during his caliphate. So he asked Ubbey bin Kaab to establish congregation of this prayer. However, one can offer it singally at home if one cannot join congregation in the mosque.
6) Recitation of the Qur’an: There is no reliable tradition to prove as to how much of the Qur’an was recited by the Prophet and his companions in the Taraveeh prayer. During the reign of Umar, the Imams used to recite even hundred or more verses in one Rakaah so that the weaker persons had to lean on sticks or other things and the prayer continued up to dawn. However, there was no practice of reciting the whole of the Qur’an in Taraveeh prayers of the month among the companions. This practice came in vogue later on. This practice may be considered good as it encourages young people to memorize Quran and get considerable wages by reciting the Qur’an to the believers, and the believers also benefit from it.
7) Rest after every four Rakaah: After every four Rakaah, some rest is provided during Taraveeh Prayer. Some people recite some Dua during rest time and some observe silence. There is no fixed Dua which must be recited during rest time. However, some Ulema recommend the following Dua which is called Tasbeeh Taraveeh:
Subhana dhil mulki wal malakuti, subhana dhil izzati wal azmati wal haibati wal qudrati wal kibriyai wal jabaruti, subhana al maleki al hayyil lazi la yanamu wa la yamutu subbihun Quddusun, Rabbuna wa Rabuul malaikati war ruh, Allahumma aajirna minaan nar ya mujeeru ya mujeeru ya mujeeru.
Glorified is the Owner of Kingdom of the earth and the heavens. Glorified is the possessor of Honour and Magnificence and Awe, and power and Greatness and Omnipotence. Glorified is the Sovereign, the Living who neither sleeps nor dies. He is the most praised and the most holy, Our Lord and the Lord of the Angels and the Spirit. O Allah! Protect us from the Fire, O Protector, O Protector, O Protector.
6- Sadaqah Fitr
Meanings and Purpose
Sadaqah means to spends in Allah’s way with a view to earn Allah’s pleasure. It implies to give financial aid to the poor and the needy Muslims. Fitr is from Iftar which means breaking the fast. So Sadaqah Fitr means charity which is given at the conclusion of the fasting of the month of Ramadhan. There is no mention of this charity in the Holy Qur’an. But the Prophet of Islam enjoined it on the Muslims in the year 2 A.H. at Madinah when the fasting for the month of Ramadhan was made obligatory. Two days before Eidul Fitr in that year, the Prophet directed the well-to-do Muslims to give this Sadaqah to the poor and the needy so that they could purchase provisions for themselves and for their families and join Eid celebrations with their well-to-do brothers and sisters. Since then it is paid by every well-to-do Muslim male or female for the help of the poor and the needy.
Following are some of the Ahadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) which help us to know the wisdom, the purpose and the rules of Sadaqah Fitr:-
1) Hadhrat Abdullah-bin-Abbas has reported that the Prophet enjoined Sadaqah Fitr so that the fasters are purified from the indecent matters and irregularities committed by them (during fasting) and the poor and the needy ones are enabled to get their food and provisions. So he who pays it before Eid Prayer it will be an acceptable charity of Fitr, but he who pays it after Eid Prayer then it is just like another (ordinary) charity. – (Abu Daud, Ibn Majah)
2) Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar has reported that the Prophet enjoined Sadaqah Fitr as an obligatory duty and instructed that every Muslim male or female, free or slave, minor or major will give one sa’a of dates or barley before going to Eidgah for prayer. – (Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Tirmizi)
3) Hadrat Ibn Umar has reported that the Prophet prescribed Sadaqah Fitr as obligatory duty and said: Make the needy and the poor Ghani (self-sufficient) on Eid day – (Baihaqi)
Thus the wisdom and purpose of Sadaqah Fitr is that the faster should stand purified of errors or irregularities done by him during fasting by paying it and the poor should make arrangement for their provisions by getting it and join Eid celebrations. Thus this Sadaqah serves the dual purpose i.e. both of the wealthy and of the poor.
Keeping in view the above Ahadith, some jurists consider Sadaqah Fitr as obligatory, but some consider it as sunnat, and some say that its commandment stands repealed after Zakat was made obligatory.
Rules and Regulations
Following are some of the rules and regulations of Sadaqah Fitr:
1) Persons who are required to pay it? According to most of the jurists, every Muslim is obliged to pay it whether male or female, free or slave, adult or minor, sane or insane, rich or poor, master or servant and whether he has observed fasting or not. For minor or insane, guardian would pay it and for slave or servant, master would pay it. Their view is that this is common injunction and it applies to everyone there being no condition of wealth or property. However, others believe that this Sadaqah is obligatory only on those who possess Nisab of Zakat and are liable to pay Zakat.
2) How much is to be paid? Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has prescribed that everyone should pay one Sa’a of dates or barley as Sadaqah Fitr. The companions of the Prophet used to pay one sa’a in respect of cheese or grapes also. In the times of Hadrat Umar people started paying it in wheat also. Muawiyyah once came to Madinah during his caliphate and gave the opinion that half Sa’a of Syrian wheat is equal to one Sa’a of dates. Some people adopted his view and started giving half Sa’a of wheat, but all the Imams except Abu Hanifa say that Sadaqah in terms of wheat is also one Sa’a.
About the weight of one sa’a in terms of kilogram, there is big difference of opinion. Some say it is equal to 4.5kg, some say it is equal to 3.5, some say it is equal to 2.5kg, while according to some it is equal to 2 kg and 6 chchatank.
3) In which genus or kind? The companions used to pay it in barley or wheat or dates or grapes or cheese. So you can pay it in either of these things. According to some jurists, to pay Sadaqah in the form of dates is the best, according to others the most precious of all of these things is the best for its payment. You can pay it in kind or in cash at your convenience.
4) Time when this Sadaqah becomes obligatory? It becomes due in the morning of first Shawal i.e. Eid day. So whosoever is alive at that time and possesses certain amount of wealth will pay it. There is no Sadaqah on a person who has been somehow deprived of his wealth before that. It will be paid for the baby who is born before dawn but not for one who is born afterwards. Sadaqah will also be paid by one who embraces Islam before dawn of the Eid day.
5) Time when it should be paid? Although it becomes due on the morning of the Eid day, yet it should be paid well before time so that those who receive it should purchase provisions for their families in order to celebrate Eid. It is reported in Bukhari that some of the companions used to pay it a couple of days before Eid. If one cannot pay it before Eid, he should definitely pay it before Eid prayer so that it should be regarded as Sadaqah Fitr and not an ordinary charity.
6) To Whom it should be paid? According to most of the jurists, those persons who are eligible to receive Zakat they are also eligible to receive sadaqah Fitr. But according to the jurists who say that it is a physical sadaqah and is obligatory on every Muslim without regard to his wealth, the poorest of the poor are eligible to receive it. Of course to pay it to the eligible relatives or neighbor is better. Like Zakat, it cannot be paid to non-Muslims
7) How to pay it? In the morning of the Eid day, you should count all the persons available in your house including all the members of your family, your servants, even your guests and compute sadaqah for all of them in the kind of the thing in which you want to pay it. Then compute its value at market price if you want to pay it in cash. And then make the payment before Eid Prayer after deducting the amount which you have already paid on account of it. Following examples would help you:-
a) Aziz Ahmad is a middle class person having one wife and four children including a baby born one hour before morning prayer of Eid day. He wants to pay Sadaqah in wheat. His Sadaqah would work out 6 x 3.5 = 21 kilogram of wheat or Rs. 620 at the rate of Rs. 30 per K.G.
b) Zahoor ul Hasan is a rich business man. In the morning of Eid day, there are 20 persons present in his house including his two wives, four sons, three daughters, five servants and five guests. He wants to pay Sadaqah in terms of Ajwa dates of good quality. He has already paid an amount of Rupees 40 thousand on account of Sadaqah. Please compute his Sadaqah liability which he should pay before going to Eid Prayer.
Quantity of Ajwa dates payable by him would work out to 20 x 3.5 = 70 KG. Its price would work out to Rs. 1,40,000 at the rate of Rs. 2000 per KG. He has already paid 40,000. Now he will have to pay Rs. 1 lac before going to Eid Prayer.
Note: It is not compulsory for Mr. Zahoor to pay Sadaqah Fitr for all. Any of the members of the family or any of the servants, or any of the guests who can pay his own Sadaqah should pay it.
Its importance and significance
It has been reported by Anas when the Prophet migrated to Madinah he saw that the people of the town had fixed two days in a year for sport and merry making. He asked how these days are, the people told him that since the Period of Ignorance they are given to making fun and sport and enjoy in these days. He said: Allah has appointed two better days than these for you to celebrate in the year and they are: Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha. – (Abu Daud).
Since then the Muslims all over the world celebrate these two Eids in a lunar year. Eidul Fitr is celebrated on first of the month of Shawal and Eidul Azha is celebrated on tenth of the month of Zil-Hajj, which are respectively the tenth and the twelfth months of Islamic lunar or Hijrah calendar.
Eid means a thing which returns, or an event of celebration or happiness, and Fitr means breaking of the fast. Since this day returns every year and is a day of celebration after conclusion of fasting, it is called Eidul Fitr. Eidul Fitr in fact is an expression of thanks to God for His kindness that He enabled the believers to observe fasting for the month of Ramadhan with all its rigours and made them successful in performing other acts of worship like Taraveeh prayers, and in giving voluntary charity and Sadaqah Fitr in this month.
Preparations for Eid
Preparations for Eid start during the last few days of the month of Ramadhan. People purchase article of food, new clothes and shoes, etc. for themselves and for the members of their families or at least for their children. It is Mustahib (preferable) for a wealthy Muslim to purchase and provide articles of food, clothes and other things of use to their servants and the needy persons for their families in order to enable them to celebrate this festival. It is also Mustahib if Sadaqah Fitr or voluntary charity is paid well before Eid so that poor may be able to arrange provisions and new clothes for Eid celebrations.
Permitted things and activities on Eid Day
1) Rise early in the morning, brush the teeth, take bath, offer Fajr Prayer, wear the best available dress, use perfume and be ready for Eid Prayer.
2) Before going to Eid Prayer, pay Sadaqah Fitr if you have not paid it already, and eat something sweet.
3) Go to Eidgah or the mosque and offer Eid Prayer with congregation.
4) After returning from Eid Prayer you are allowed to celebrate the Eid in whatever way you want provided it is legally and morally justified. You may have fun or play some game. You may eat and drink and enjoy and make merry within limits. You may give money or gifts called Eidi to your spouse, to your children, to your relatives and to your servants and their children. You can exchange gifts or provisions with your relatives and friends. You can visit your relatives and friends. If your relatives and friends visit you, you must entertain them. But you are not allowed to eat or drink Harm (prohibited) things e.g., wine, pork; or indulge in Haram things like illcit sex, singing, dancing, etc.
Eid PrayerKindly refer to chapter 16 where Eid Prayer of both Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Azha has been discussed.
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