KITAABUS SAWM (The Book of fasting)

‘O People of Imaan! Siyam (fasting) has been ordained for you just as it was ordained for those before you so that you attain taqwa! (Quran)

Siyam is among the fundamental acts of Ibadat. It has been ordained by Allah Ta’ala for the development of taqwa (piety) in the Mu’mineen. Fasting is extremely efficacious for the acquisition of taqwa. A Muslim cannot acquire Divine Proximity without taqwa. Without taqwa, the Muslim must necessarily drift far off the straight Path (Siratul Mustaqeem) which leads to Allah Ta’ala and everlasting success In the Akhirah.

One who denies the fardhiyat (obligation) of Saum, no longer remains a Muslim and the one who does not fast during the month of Ramadhan is a fasiq (an immoral and flagrant transgressor) of the highest order. Such a fasiq totally destroys his spirituality and morality and exposes his Iman to the gravest onslaughts of kufr.

There are numerous benefits, both spiritual and physical, of fasting. The prime benefit in the pursuit of taqwa is the suppression of the inordinate desires and demands ofnafs-e-ammarah (man’s base carnal propensity). The nafs is perpetually in collusion with shaitan to spiritually and morally ruin the Mu’min. If the nafs is allowed unrestrained freedom, it will succeed to make man the slave of passion, lust and base emotions. His Iman will suffer. The Noor of his Iman will be extinguished. It is, therefore, essential that the nafs is put in fetters. Fasting greatly aids in this direction.

By fasting, the Muslim learns to restrain his lowly desires. The nafs is not allowed free expression. The nafs becomes accustomed to submit to the Shariah’s restrictions. Carnal desires are weakened and the ability of inculcating taqwa is created. Fasting produces purity in the rooh (soul). For such purity to come into the rooh, spiritual authorities (the Auliya) say, there is nothing that has greater efficacy than fasting. While fasting results in even physical health, it creates a feeling of palpable spiritual purity in the Mu’min. The Door of Roohaniyat (the spiritual domain) is opened up by fasting. Fasting creates pleasure in Ibadat. It also makes the heart more conducive for Ibadat. The bond with Allah Ta’ala is strengthened and the Mu’min acquires a greater awareness of his spiritual and moral goals for which he has been created.

By fasting, the Mu’min progressively draws nearer to Allah Ta’ala. Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) supplicated “O Rabbul Alameen! When does the servant become closest to You?”

The Divine Reply came: ‘When the servant is hungry and when he is in Sajdah”.

The development of lofty, angelic attributes are engendered in the Mu’min by fasting. In fasting, man brings about in him a resemblance with the angels since the latter do not eat. They are devoid of evil inclinations and all things base. Man by reducing his worldly relations and by increasingly stripping his nafs of emotional desires, moves closer to the angelic domain. Thikrullah is the nourishment of the angels. By increasing His Thikrullah, especially in the state of fasting, the Muslim enters the realm of Divine Proximity.Fasting engenders a feeling for the poor. Man becomes more conscious of his less fortunate brethren and their hardships. He thus learns the lesson of sacrificing some of his wealth, to aid others in need. He inculcates in him feeling for humanity.

The greatest and highest benefits of fasting are the acquisition of Allah’s Pleasure and lofty ranks in the Akhirah. In a Hadith-e-Qudsi, Allah Ta’ala says: “Sawm is _for Me. I shall (personally) apportion out the reward for it”. For the acquisition of the numerous benefits of Siyaam, there is, however, one vital condition, viz. abstention from sin and futility. Sin and futility negate the beneficial effects of fasting. It is therefore essential for the Saa-im (the fasting person) to exercise utmost care and abstain from sin and all things of futility. Should the saa-im not be heedful of this important condition, his mere abstention from food and water will be akin to a chained animal which is denied food. Spiritually such abstention from food and drink is of no value. The Muslim should therefore understand well the purpose of Saum and transform his abstention from food into a higher and spiritual act of Ibadat for the achievement of all the lofty benefits by abstaining from sin, futility and all such things, acts, attitudes and thoughts which neutralise and nullify the efficacy of Saum.

In addition to the adoption of the moral principles for gaining the spiritual and moral effects of Saum, it is essential to adopt all, the fiqhi (juristic) rules necessary for the validity of Saum. Without these rules the Saum is rendered utterly worthless and at times totally invalid. This book explains these important and necessary rules.


Saum (fasting) is abstention from eating, drinking and sexual intercourse during the day whilst having made niyyat (intention) of Saum. The fasting day commences with Subah 8Rdiq (Fajr Thani) and ends at sunset.


There are two categories of Saum,

1) Wajib (2) Nafl


The word ‘Wajib’ here means ‘essential’ or ‘necessary’. It does not refer to the technical meaning of the Fiqhi term, Wajib, the definition of which appears at the end of this book under the title: Necessary Technical Terms of Fiqh.

The category of Wajib Saum includes all forms of compulsory fasts – both Fardh and Wajib. The Wajib category is sub-divided into two classes of Saum, viz Saum related to time.

Saum which devolves upon one as an obligation.


This type of Saum comes into effect when the occasion or time for its observance arrives. This type of Saum comprises:

The Saum of Ramadhaan.

The Saum of Nathrul Mu-ayyan.

Nathrul Mu-ayyan refers to a vow in which it was stipulated that a particular day/s Will be fasted upon materialisation of one’s wish or dua.


It is preferable to make the Niyyat for this Wajib category of Saum during the night, i.e. prior to the entry of Subah Sadiq when the fast starts. If the Niyyat was not made during the night, the Saum will be valid if the Niyyat is made approximately one hour before Zawaal. One hour before Zawaal is an approximate time taken as a precautionary measure. The exact time limit for time validity of the Niyyat for Saum is before the time of Nisfun-Nahar, i.e. mid-day in terms of the Shariah.

Nisfun-Nahar is determined by dividing by two the time duration from Subah Sidiq to sunset, and adding the result to Subah Sadiq time.


Subah Sadiq: 5.30 a.m.

Sunset: 5.35 p.m.

Time duration from Subah Sadiq to Sunset.

12 hrs. 5 mins divided by 2 = 6 hrs. 2 mins.

Add this result to Subah Sadiq: 5.30 + 6.02 = 11.32 a.m. = Nisfun Nahar

If Niyyat is made for the Saum before 11.32 a.m. (in this example), the Wajib Saum will be valid. It is not essential that any particular Niyyat formula be recited. Niyyat merely means to intend that one will be fasting, or is fasting. The Niyyat could also be made verbally in any language, e.g. one may say:

O Allah! Tomorrow I shall be fasting for You.

Or one may recite it in Arabic e.g.

I make Niyyat of tomorrow’s fast.

Remaining without food and drink the whole day will not, render such abstention a Saum if no Niyyat was made.

During the month of Ramadhaan only Niyyat of the existing Ramadhan’s Saum will be valid. Even if a Niyyat for any other Saum is made during Ramadhaan, then too only the Saum of the existing Ramadhaan will be discharged and not the Saum for which Niyyat was made.


This is the second category of Wajib Saum (stated earlier). Examples of Saum in this category are:

Qadha of Ramadhaan

Nathrul Mutlaq witch is a vow made to fast any number of days without stipulating any particular day or date in the vow.


Saum of Zihar


This type of fast will be valid only if Niyyat was made during the night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq.

If Niyyat for this type of Saum was made after Subah Sadiq, then the Wajib Saum of this category will not be discharged, and the Saum thus kept will be a Nafl fast.


All classes of Nafl Saum are valid with a Niyyat made prior to Nisfun-Nahaar. It is preferable to make the Niyyat at night; however, as said, it will be valid even if not made at night. The Sunnat fasts also fall in the Nafl category.

Thus, for Saum belonging to the first category of Wajib (see above) and for Nafl Saum, a Niyyat made prior to Nisfun-Nahar will suffice.

Once a Nafl Saum has been commenced, it is incumbent to complete it.

It is not permissible to nullify a Nafl fast without valid reason.

If a Nafl fast is broken, it is obligatory to make Qadha of it.

A mutlaq (i.e. without any descriptive condition) Niyyat suffices for the validity of Nafl Saum. Thus, the Niyyat: ‘I shall be fasting,’ suffices.

A Niyyat made for Nafl Saum during the night may be cancelled before Subah Sadiq, and Qadha for the intended Nafl Saum will not be obligatory.

A Niyyat made for Nafl Saum after Subal Sadiq, but before Nisfun-Nahar, makes the fast incumbent. If the fast is broken, Qadha becomes obligatory.

It is permissible to end a Nafl Saum to honour one’s guests by participating in meals with them. The Saum thus broken should be made Qadha.

When the husband is present, it is not permissible for the wife to engage in Nafl Saum without his consent. If she kept a Nafl Saum without his consent, It will be permissible for her to break it if he instructs her to do so. She has to make Qadhaa of the fast whenever her husband gives her the permission to do so.

The incidence of Haydh (menses) during a Nafl fast will necessitate Qadha. If during the day when a woman is keeping a Nafl fast she menstruates, the Saum will be broken. Qadha of the day is necessary.

A Qadhaa fast was commenced. However, Niyyat for the Qadha was not made during the night as is required by the Shariah. The Niyyat was made only after Subah Sadiq. The Qadha is not valid. However, this fast will be a Nafl one. The fast should not be broken. If it is broken Qadha will have to be made.


The Masnoon (Sunnat) fasts are all classified in the Nafl category (see above). The following are the Sunnat fasts for which the Shariah promises great thawaab (reward):

The 10th of Muharram – the Day of Ashura. Along with the 10th, either the 9th or the 11th should also be kept.

The 9th of Zil-hajj.

The 15th of Sha’ban.

Six days during the month of Shawwaal. These six Saum may be kept consecutively (in succession) or spread over the month.

The 13th, 14th and 15th of every Islamic month.

Every Monday and Thursday.

The first nine days of Zil-hajj.


Sahri is the act of arising from sleep during the course of the night to partake of some food or drink in anticipation of the next day’s fasting.

Sahri is Sunnat regardless of whether one feels like eating anything or not. One should rise and cat even a date or two or merely take a gulp of water.

It is of greater merit to delay Sahri. But it should not be delayed so much that Subah Sadiq has almost set in, causing doubt in the validity of the fast.

It Is not permissible to forgo a fast because of failure to wake up during the night for Sahri.

It is not permissible to eat after the expiry of Sahri time. Sahri time expires with the commencement of Subah Sadiq.

Some people continue eating even whole the Fajr Adhaan is being proclaimed. This act breaks the fast since the Adhaan is proclaimed after expiry of Sahri time.

While the best method of observing Sahri is in the later part of the night, after rising from sleep, the Sahri will be valid if for some reason one remained awake until late in the night and then partook of Sahri before going to sleep.

Eating by error after the ending of Sahri time necessitates Qadha of the fast. If one ate under the mistaken impression that it was still Sahri time, the fast of the following day will not be valid. However, It is Wajib (compulsory) to abstain from all acts which break Saum and to remain like a Saim (a fasting person). Qadha of the fast will have to be made after Ramadhaan.

A doubt in the ending of Sahri time will not invalidate the fast although it is Makrooh (a sinful act) to cat when there is a doubt as to the existence of Sahri time. But Qadha will not be compulsory. Nevertheless, in view of the doubt, it will be better to make Qadha of such a fast.

It is Mustahab to delay Sahri as late as possible, but not to the Makrooh time, i.e. when one starts doubting the validity of Sahri time.

Some Ramadhan time-tables indicate a recommended time for the cessation of eating, etc. at the time of Sahri. It is not obligatory to stop eating at such recommended times. One is allowed to eat right until the ending of Sahri time which coincides with Subah Sadiq although it is best to stop a couple of minutes before Subah Sadiq.

If Sahri was missed due to having overslept, one should not forgo fasting. It is not permissible to refrain from Saum because of having missed Sahri.


In abnormal time zones where the sun either does not rise or set for months, the times of the nearest normal region should be taken for beginning and ending the Saum.


It is Mustahab to hasten with Iftar (breaking the fast) as soon as the sun has set.

Iftar should be made before the Maghrib Salat.

The Muadhin should make Iftar before proclaiming the Adhaan.

At the time of Iftar it is Sunnat to recite the following dua: “O Allah! I have fasted for You. I believe in You. I have trust in You and I make Iftar with the rizq (food) provided by You”.

Iftar should preferably be made with dates. In the absence of dates, water is best. Although this is best, it is permissible to break the fast with any lawful food or drink.

It is Makrooh to make iftar when in doubt regarding sunset. If it is overcast, Iftar should be delayed until there is absolute certainty that the sun has set.

If Iftar is made even a minute before sunset, Qadha of the fast is incumbent.

It is Makrooh to unnecessarily delay lftar.

The time of Iftar is very auspicious. Dua is readily accepted at the time when the fast is about to end.


The Saum of Ramadhan is Fardh. One who denies the fardhiyat (being Fardh) of the Saum of Ramadhan becomes a Kaafir while one who accepts its fardhiyat but neglects its observance is described as a Faasiq.

The Saum of Ramadhan commences when the sighting of the Ramadhan Hilal (crescent moon) has been confirmed in accordance with the rules of the Shariah. Niyyat for the Saum of Ramadhan should be renewed each day. A single Niyyat at the beginning of Ramadhan will not suffice for the Saum of the entire month. Partaking of the Sahri meal will be an adequate Niyyat for the validity of the Saum. While it is better to recite a verbal Niyyat as well, the mere act of rising from sleep to participate in Sahri with the intention of fasting constitutes the actual Niyyat.

The Saum of Ramadhan belongs to the first class of Wajib fasting (see above). Therefore, the niyyat for the Ramadhan fasting will be valid until Nisfun Nahar (see above ). However, there is greater merit in making the Niyyat at night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. A Mutlaq (i.e. without any descriptive condition) niyyat will suffice for the Saum of Ramadhan. Thus, it is not incumbent to say: ‘I am fasting the Saum of Ramadhan or Fardh Saum’. It will suffice to intend that one is just fasting.

During the month of Ramadhan only the Saum of the prevalent Ramadhan can be kept. No other Saum is valid in the month of Ramadhan. Thus, previous Qadha fasts, Kaffarah fasts, Nafl fasts, etc. are not discharged during the month of Ramadhan. Even if the Niyyat of other Saum is made during Ramadhan, such Niyyat will not be valid and only the Saum of the existing Ramadhan will be discharged. By the Niyyat not being valid here, means that in regard to other fasts the Niyyat will not operate. In terms of the Shariah this Niyyat, although made for other Saum will operate as valid for only the Saum of the existing Ramadhaan.

If on account of a reason accepted as valid by the Shariah, one does not fast during Ramadhan, one should not eat in the presence of others.

If one’s Saum is nullified by error, e.g. water slips down the throat while rinsing the mouth, one should remain the whole day as a fasting person although Qadha is incumbent. It will be sinful to indulge in eating once the fast is erroneously broken.

If Haydh begins during the course of the fasting day, the fast is not valid. It is not incumbent to abstain from eating during the remaining part of the day. However, she should not eat in the presence of others.

A woman whose Haydh ends during the course of the day (i.e. during Ramadhaan) should compulsorily abstain from eating, etc. Her fast on the particular day her haydh ended is not valid, hence she has to make Qadha inspite of having to refrain from eating etc. on that day.

A fast of Ramadhan broken deliberately without valid reason, after having made the Niyyat for fasting during the night, brings about the penalty of Kaffarah. (see below for Kaffarah).

A musafir is permitted to refrain from Saum although it is meritorious for him/her to fast. If the journey, is not a difficult one. However, the Shariah allows a Musafir to refrain from fasting during Ramadhaan even if he/she encounters no difficulty on the journey. The musaflr shall make Qadha of all Saum omitted during the journey.

A musaafir ceases to be a Musaafir on returning to his hometown or on forming a Niyyat of staying fifteen days or more at any place along the journey. The non-Musafir is termed a muqeem. When a musafir becomes a muqeem, he has to compulsorily abstain from eating, etc. If he becomes a muqeem prior to Nisfun Nahar (see above) and he has yet not committed, any act which nullifies Saum, then his Niyyat for the day’s fast will be valid. However, If he has already eaten, etc. prior to becoming a muqeem, then although his fast will now not be valid, nevertheless, he has to compulsorily abstain from eating, etc. for the rest of the day. In addition he has to make Qadha of that day.

A Muqeem (one who is not a Musaafir) who has started fasting and then goes on a journey, should continue with the fast. It is not permissible for this person who has become a musafir to break the fast.

A musaafir who returns home (becomes a muqeem) and dies before having obtained a sufficient number of days to make Qadhaa of the fasts which he/she missed while on the journey, is liable for the Qadhaa of only the number of days he/she remained alive and capable of fasting. Example: The musafir did not fast for 20 days. On returning home he/she died after 12 days, but did not make any Qadha inspite of having had the opportunity to do so, he/she is, therefore, liable for only 12 days of Qadha, not for 20 days which were missed while on the journey. He/she has thus to make wasiyyat (a bequest) for the payment of Fidyah for the Saum which could no longer be discharged. (This rule will be further discussed below).

The same rule, viz. 14, will apply to a sick person who regained health after Ramadhan, but did not live a sufficient number of days to discharge all the Salaat missed.

if a Musaafir dies along the journey or the sick person dies without having regained sufficient health to fast, the Sawm is waived. They are not required to make wasiyyat for payment of Fidyah (Fidyah is explained below).

When a pregnant woman has a genuine fear for either her own life or the life of the child she is bearing, it will be permissible for her to refrain from Sawm. She will have to make Qadhaa of the Saum she misses as a result. Should she break her Sawm during the course of the day i.e. after having started it, the penalty of Kaffarah does not apply to her. She is liable for only Qadha. She cannot compensate the missed fasts with Fidya as long as she has the ability to fast. Qadha is necessary.

Fear in this context will mean a genuine fear supported by either previous experience or by the advice of a pious Muslim physician. The word of a Kaafir doctor or of a Muslim fasiq doctor is not valid grounds for her to break her fast nor to abstain from fasting.

If a mother who breast-feeds her baby genuinely fears for her baby if she fasts – that the baby will suffer by her milk drying up during the fast, then it will be permissible for her to refrain from fasting. She has to make Qadha of the missed fasts. She too cannot compensate the omitted fasts by means of Fidyah.

A very old person who is truly unable to fast, is permitted to refrain from Sawm. He has to offer compensation by means of paying the Fidyah (see below).

When a child,(a na-baligh-one who has not attained the age of puberty) becomes Baaligh during the course of the day in Ramadhan, he/she has to compulsorily refrain from eating the rest of that day although there is no Qadha for that day.

When a non-Muslim embraces Islam during the course of the day in Ramadhan, he/she has to refrain from eating the rest of the day although there is no Qadha for that day.

If the child mentioned in mas’alah 20 and the Muslim mentioned in mas’alah 21 eats during that particular day, there will be no kaffarah on them although their action of eating is sinful.

The saum of a person who becomes unconscious after having commenced the fast remains valid as long as medicine was not administered to him via his/her mouth.

A person who lapsed into unconsciousness before having made Niyyat for Sawm during the night or before Nisfun-Nahar, shall make Qadha of that day, i.e. if he/she had no intention of fasting that day.

A person who lapsed into unconsciousness before commencement of Ramadhan and remained in this state the entire month. After regaining consciousness Qadha of the whole month is obligatory.

When a person lapses into unconsciousness on the first night of Ramadhaan and remained in this state the entire month or for a number of days, then Qadha of the first day is not obligatory. Qadha of all the subsequent days, viz. the days after the day when unconsciousness started, is compulsory.

If a person becomes insane prior to Ramadhan and, the insanity endures until after Ramadhan, the Sawm of the whole of Ramadhan is waived even if sanity is regained.

An insane person who regains sanity during Ramadhan has to make Qadha of the fasts missed during the duration of insanity.

if a non-Muslim embraces Islam during Ramadhan and learns of the obligation of fasting only after Ramadhaan, then Qadhaa is not compulsory on him.

When a child reaches the age of seven years, he/she should be ordered to observe Sawm. However, there is no Qadha if the child breaks the fast. By the age of ten, the child should be compelled to keep the Ramadhaan fasts. This is the normal rule. Parents should use their discretion and introduce their children to Sawm according to their health and strength.


Nathr is a vow or pledge made to Allah Ta’ala. Nathr Sawm is a pledge to fast. A person may make a vow that if a certain dua or wish is granted, a certain number of days will be fasted. On the materialisation of the dua/wish, fulfilment of the vow becomes Wajib (compulsory)

Nathr Sawm is of two kinds:

1) Nathr Muayyan and

(2) Nathr Ghair-muayyan or Nathr Mutlaq.

Nathr Muayyan is a vow in which the pledge is made to fast on specific days, e.g. it is pledged: ‘Oh Allah! if my dua is fulfilled, I shall fast next Thursday, Friday and Saturday.’

On fulfilment of the dua, it becomes Wajib to fast on the specific days mentioned in the vow.

Nathr Muayyan belongs to the first category of Saum, viz the wajib category (see above

Niyyat for Nathr Muayyan will be valid until Nisfun-Nahar

Nathr Ghair Muayyin or Nathr Mutlaq is a vow in which specific days are not set aside for Saum. The number of days to be fasted is declared, but the intention is not to fast on any particular days, e.g. a person vows “O Allah! If a certain dua of mine is fulfilled, I shall fast three days”. Or someone merely assumes the liability of fasting a number of days without conditioning the fast with fulfilment of a Dua, e.g. one says: “O Allah! I shall fast two days”.

The sawm of Nathr Mutlaq may be kept at any time. One is not required to keep such Saum immediately although it is best to discharge the obligation as soon as possible since no one knows whenn maut (death) will overtake one.

For the validity of the Saum of Nathr Mutlaq it is essential to make Niyyat before Subah Sadiq. If Niyyat for this type of fast in is made after Subah Sadiq, the Saum of the Nathr will not be discharged and the fast thus kept will be a Nafl one. The fast of the Nathr will have to be discharged on another day with a niyyat made before Subah Sadiq.

When the method of executing the fasts is not stipulated in the vow, it will be permissible to discharge the Saum of the Nathr in any way one pleases, whether consecutively or interspersingly. Example: A vow is made to keep 10 fasts. When the vow was made one did not have any intention of keeping the fasts one after the other (i.e. consecutively) nor of keeping the fasts spread over a period interspersingly). In this case one has the choice of executing the Saum consecutively or interspersingly.

When the intention is to keep the Saum of the Nathr consecutively then it will be obligatory to do so.

When failing to observe the consecutive order (as mentioned in masalah 8), the Saum will have to be kept all over again, e.g. the intention at the time of the vow was to fast three consecutive days. However, after fasting two days, one failed to observe fast on the third day or haidh started. The Saum will have to be started over again.

If on account of severe weather conditions, e.g. extreme heat, one is unable to execute the Saum of Nathr on its specific days, it will be permissible to postpone the fasting for the winter months. The Qadha will be valid.

If the Nathr of Saum is attached to a condition, the fast will be validly executed only after the coming into effect of the condition’ Example. “I shall fast three days if a certain event occurs.” Now, if one fasts before the event transpires, the Saum of the Nathr will not be discharged. After occurrence of the event, the fasts will have to be repeated.

Unfulfilled Saum of Nathr must be compensated by Fidyah, i.e. when death overtakes one. Wasiyyat to pay Fidyah has to be compulsorily made. Example: A man vows to fast one month. Before being able to complete the month’s fasting, he is overtaken by severe illness and he loses hope in life. It now becomes obligatory on him to make a bequest (Wasiyyat) to enable his heirs to pay the Fidyah of the unfulfilled number of days of his Nathr.

A vow of fasting made during the state of Illness will become binding only if one gains sufficient health to fast. Thus, if a man during his illness vows to fast for a number Of days, but dies before recovering from that illness, he is under no obligation to make wasiyyat for the payment of Fidyah for the Saum he was unable to execute. Fidyah is not Wajib on him.

However, if he recovers from his illness for even one day, the full number of days of his vow becomes obligatory on him. If he thereafter again lapses into sickness and loses hope in life, he has to make wasiyyat for the payment of Fidyah.


Kaffarah is the penalty which is imposed by the Shariah for the deliberate and flagrant nullification of the Saum of Ramadhaan.

Kaffarah applies to only the Saum of Ramadhaan.

Kaffarah comes into force only if the Niyyat for fasting was made at night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. Thus, if Niyyat was made during the night to fast the following day, and then the fast is broken without valid reason, the Kaffarah penalty comes into effect.

Kaffaarah for flagrantly breaking a fast of Ramadhaan is to fast 60 consecutive days – sixty days, one after the other, without missing any day in between.

Since Kaffarah Saum belongs to the second class of the Wajib category of Saum (see above), it is essential to make Niyyat for this type of fasting from the night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq. If the Niyyat is not made before Subah Sadiq the Kaffarah will not be valid.

The Kaffarah will be rendered invalid if for any reason – be it a valid reason – even a single day is omitted during the 60 day Kaffarah course. Thus if a person fasted for 59 days and failed to fast on the sixtieth day due to illness, he will have to start the Kaffarah all over again. The only interruption which will not invalidate the Kaffarah is Haydh (the monthly menses of women)

A Kaffaarah interrupted by the intervention of Nifaas will be rendered invalid.

A person who is unable to discharge the Kaffarah because of ill-health or very old age, will have to feed 60 poor persons. Each miskeen (poor) should be given two full meals for the day or the amount in cash which is given as Sadaqah Fitr. This amount is the price of approximately 2 kilograms bread flour. Instead of the cash, the flour may also be given.

If the grain, food or cash of 60 persons is given to one man on a single day the Kaffarah will not be discharged. It will be regarded as an amount/quantity given to only one person. If the entire Kaffarah amount/quantity is distributed on a single day to only two persons, the Kaffarah will not be discharged thereby. Another 58 persons will have to be given each the Sadaqah Fitr amount.

The Kaffarah option of feeding 60 Masakeen (poor persons) may be discharged on a single day by feeding 60 persons or giving the cash or grain to sixty persons.

The Kaffarah may also be spread over a period of 60 days. Daily, one Miskeen may be fed or given the grain/cash until 60 days.

If after having paid the Kaffarah one recovers from the illness and is able to execute the 60 day fast, then fasting 60 days becomes obligatory. The money, etc. previously given to the poor will become a Nafl charity.

If any miskeen among the sixty is a small child, the Kaffarah will not be discharged. If small children were fed, an equal number of adults will have to be fed in lieu. However, if the full Sadaqah Fitr amount was given in cash to a poor child, the Kaffarah will be fulfilled.

Where the Kaffarah option of feeding or payment is valid, another person may pay it on the instruction of the one who is liable for the Kaffarah. Without such instruction it will not be valid.

Where the Kaffarah option of feeding or payment is valid, an interruption during the course of feeding or paying will not invalidate the Kaffarah. Thus, if a person who is unable to fast the 60 days, undertakes to feed one Miskeen for 60 days, but does not feed the Miskeen for 60 consecutive days, the Kaffarah will be valid. As long as the miskeen is fed for 60 days, the Kaffaah will be valid even if the 60 days are spread over a long period.

A single Ramadhan makes Wajib only one Kaffarah irrespective of the number of fasts flagrantly broken during that Ramadhaan.

If fasts were flagrantly nullified in more than one Ramadhaan, the number of kaffarah will be equal to the number of Ramadhan. Thus, if fasts were flagrantly broken in three different Ramadhaans, three different Kaffarah will be obligatory.

When the Kaffarah is commenced on the 1st day of the Islamic month, then fasting two full Islamic months will suffice for the Kaffarah even if the total number of days in the two months are 58 days (29 day months). If, however, the Kaffarah is started during the course of the month, then it will be necessary to fast a full 60 days.


Eating or drinking breaks the Saum.

Sexual intercourse even if there is no emergence of semen.


Inhaling smoke by one’s own action, e.g. inhaling the smoke of incence, etc.

Application of medication into the anus.

Swallowing any substance or object which is not normally consumed as food or medicine, e.g. pebbles, paper, a coin, etc.

Pouring oil into the ears.

Saliva mingled with blood will break the fast if the taste of blood is discernable when swallowing it.

Eating deliberately after having eaten mistakenly. (Eating by mistake does not break the fast).

Water slipping down the throat with making wudhu even if not done deliberately.

Deliberately inducing oneself to vomit will break the fast if the vomit is a mouthful. If the emergence of the vomit cannot be restrained, the vomit will be said to be a mouthful. Vomiting less than a mouthful will not break the fast even if deliberately induced.

A food particle the size of a chana (about the size of half a pea) becoming unstuck from the teeth and slipping down the throat.

Applying drops of medicine into the nostrils.

Masturbation. In addition to it nullifying the Saum, it is an immoral and a sinful act. The perpetrator has been cursed by Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam).

Medical tests undertaken by women in which any instrument, etc. is internally inserted.

Ejaculation as a result of caressing and fondling the wife even if there was no sexual intercourse.


Some things, while not breaking the fast, are nevertheless Makrooh to do during fasting. Makrooh means detestable and in this context Makrooh things are sinful. Makrooh things bring about a decrease in the thawab of the Saum. It is, therefore, essential to abstain from committing Makrooh acts. The following acts are Makrooh during fasting.

Tasting. Tasting food, etc. is Makrooh if done unnecessarily. If an ill-tempered husband shows his unjustified wrath when food has not been prepared to satisfy his taste, it will be permissible for the wife to taste the food while she is preparing it. As long as nothing goes down her throat, her fast will be valid and her act of tasting will not be makrooh.

Using powder or paste to clean the teeth. If anything of these substances slips down the throat, the Saum is nullified.

Caressing, fondling or kissing the wife. If ejaculation does not occur, the Saum will be valid.

To put water in the nose at times other than when making Wudhu.

To rinse the mouth at times other than when making Wudhu

To take ghusl merely for cooling.

To swim

To unnecessarily apply ointment to the lips. If, however, due to pain caused by cracked lips, ointment is applied, care should be taken to prevent licking the ointment.

To unnecessarily chew when in doubt as regards the existence of Sahri time. If later it transpires that Sahri time had in fact expired, Qadhaa will be obligatory.

To eat when in doubt as regards the existence of Sahri time. If later it transpires that Sahri time had in fact expired, Qadha will be obligatory.

To make Iftar (i.e. to break the fast) when in doubt as to the time of sunset. If it transpires that the time when Iftar was made the sun had not yet set, Qadha will be obligatory.

Participating in un-Islamic activities such as watching television and playing games such as chess, draughts, monopoly, etc. The thawab of the Saum is destroyed by indulgence in such unlawful activities.

Gheebat or back-biting

To gargle the mouth when making Wudhu.


Qadha means to fulfil or to compensate fasts which were not executed when they were due.

It is necessary to make Qadha of Saum as soon as possible since one does not know when death will overtake one. While it is not Wajib to make the Qadha immediately after Ramadhan or on any other specific day/s, Qadha should not be unnecessarily delayed

Qadha Saum belongs to the second class of Wajib fasting (see above ). For the validity of Qadha Saum it is essential to make Niyyat during the night, i.e. before Subah Sadiq.

Saum omitted on account of Haydh and Nifaas has to be made Qadha.

It is not necessary to specify in one’s niyyat for Qadha the particular day/s which were omitted. It will suffice to merely intend that: “I am keeping Qadha fast’. However, if the Saum missed belongs to more than one Ramadhan, then it will be essential to specify in one’s niyyat for Qadha the year, e.g. ‘I am making Qadha of the Saum of Ramadhan of the year 1409’, etc.

It is not obligatory to keep the Qadha Saum all at once (consecutively). The Qadha Saum may be spread over a period or they may be kept consecutively.

Saum which is broken in any way whatsoever, deliberately or erroneously, voluntarily or under compulsion, has to be made Qadha.

Qadha has also to be made of Nathr Muayyan fasts (See above) which were not executed on their specified days.

Qadha has also to be made of Nafl fasts which were broken

If by the time death approaches, the Qadha has not yet been discharged, it will then be obligatory to make a wasiyyat (bequest) for payment of Fidyah (see below).

Similarly, if due to old age or sickness one is unable to fast and the Qadha has not yet been executed, wasiyyat to pay Fidyah will be wajib (obligatory).


Breaking Saum becomes permissible only in case of a real need, emergency or danger. When a fast is broken on account of a valid reason qadh;N of the fast is obligatory. In such cases only Qadha is necessary, not Kaffarah.

The following are valid reasons which make permissible the breaking of Saum:

Sudden sickness which endangers one’s life or which will cause great deterioration of the health if the fast is not broken.

When it becomes necessary to take medicine due to having been bitten by a poisonous animal.

Extreme thirst which endangers one’s life.

A pregnant woman having genuine fear for either her own safety or the safety of the child she is bearing, may break the fast.

A woman fearing for the life of the baby she is breast-feeding may break the fast. If her milk dries up as a result of the fast and the baby is dependant on breast-feeding, breaking the Saum is permissible.

A Nafl fast may be broken to honour one’s guests. Qadhaa of the fast has to be made of.


Fidyah is the compensation which has to be paid for the Saum which has not been executed on account of permanent disability, etc.

The Fidyah amount for each compulsory fast not kept is the same as Sadaqah Fitr, viz. 2kg bread flour or its cash equivalent or feeding a Miskeen (poor person) two full meals for a day.

Unlike Kaffarah, it is permissible to distribute the Fidyah amount among several masakeen (poor persons).

Fidyah (as well as Kaffarah) monies/food can be given to only such Muslims who are allowed to accept Zakat.

If by the time maut (death) approaches, one has not yet paid the Fidyah, it will be waajib to make a wasiyyat (bequest) for the Fidyah to be paid.

A person who is allowed to pay Fidyah for undischarged Saum, on recovering his health after having paid the Fidyah, is obliged to fast the number of days he had missed. The Fidyah thus paid will become a Nafl charity.


Wasiyyat is a bequest which a person has to make with regard to undischarged Saum.

If by the time of the approach of maut (death) a person has not executed his obligation of Qadha Saum or Fidyah, it will be wajib (obligatory) on him/her to make a wasiyyat, declaring that Fidyah for the undischarged Saum obligation be paid on his/her behalf.

Once the mayyit (deceased) has made a wasiyyat, it will be waajib on the executors/heirs of the mayyit’s estate to pay the Fidyah from the estate of the deceased, i.e. from one third of the estate.

If the Fidyah amount exceeds one third of the estate, payment of the excess from the mayyit’s estate is not permissible. However, if all the adult heirs willingly consent to the payment of the full Fidyah (i.e. including the excess), it will be permissible. The consent of minors is not valid, hence the excess (i.e. more than one third the value of the estate) cannot be paid from the shares of the minor heirs.


The following things permit one to refrain from fasting:

  • Extreme old age which renders a person decrepit.
  • Sickness. If there is danger to life or if the fast will cause the sickness to deteriorate, it will be permissible to abstain from Saum.
  • Pregnancy, if the health or life of the mother or child is threatened.
  • Breast-feeding, if the baby is dependent thereon and if the Saum causes the milk to dry out.
  • Journey. A musaafir (one who has undertaken a journey of 48 Islamic miles or more) is permitted to abstain from fasting. Forty eight Islamic miles equal 88 kilometres.
  • Haydh (menses). The Saum of a woman in the state of Haydh is not valid. She has to make Qadha after Ramadaan.
  • Nifaas (post-natal blood). The Saum of a woman in the state of Nifas is not valid. She has to make Qadhaa after having attained tahaarah (purification – when Nifaas ends).


There are five days during the year on which it is forbidden to fast. These five days are: The two days of Eid and the three days of Tashreek, viz. 11th, 12th and 13th Zil-Hajj. (The 3 days following Eid-ul-Adhaa)

Fasting on these days is not valid.

YAUMUSH – SHAKK (THE DOUBTFUL DAY): The day after the 29th of Sha’ban is termed Yaumush Shakk or the Doubtful Day because of the possibility of that day being the 30th Sha’baan or the 1st Ramadhan. It is Makrooh to fast on Yaumush Shakk whether it is a Nafil Qadha or Nathr Saum.

If one’s usual day of Nafl fasting coincides with Yaumush Shakk, it will then not be Makrooh to fast on that day, e.g. it is one’s usual practice to fast on Mondays and Thursdays. Should Yaumush Shakk coincide with Monday or Thursday and one makes the firm intention of Nafl fast, then it will not be Makrooh. Should it be confirmed later that the day is in fact the first day of Ramadhaan, the fast thus kept will be regarded as the Fardh Saum of Ramadhaan even though the Niyyat was for Nafl.

It is Makrooh Tahrimi (which is a forbidden and sinful act) to fast on this day (Yaumush Shakk) with the Niyyat of Ramadhan or some other compulsory Saum such as Qadha or Nathr. Nevertheless, if it transpires that the day is in fact the first day of Ramadhaan, then this fast will be regarded as the Saum of Ramadhaan.

It will be afdhal (best) for a person whose usual day of Nafl Saum coincides with Yaumush Shakk to fast on that day (viz. Yaumush Shakk).

On the Day of Doubt people should abstain from eating until Nisfun-Nahar (about one hour before Zawaal). If by this time news confirming the sighting of the moon is received, they should make the niyyat for Ramadhan Saum. If by Nisfun-Nahar such confirmation is not received, they should eat, for then it is not Ramadhaan.


Saumul-Wisal is Makrooh. Saumul Wisal is to fast the whole year including the forbidden days.

Saumul Wisal according to another authoritative version also means fasting continuously – day after day – throughout the year excepting the forbidden days.

The best method of Nafl fasting is to fast every alternate day. However, due to the physical weakness of most people in this age, Auliya advise, abstention from abundance of Nafl Saum.

When fasting on the Day of Ashura (10th Muharram), it is Sunnat to add another day. Therefore, one should fast on either the 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th Muharram.

Saumus Samt is Makrooh. Saumus Samt means a fast in which abstention is not only from eating, drinking and sexual relations, but also from speaking. Saumus Samt literally means a fast of silence.

If the husband himself is fasting, he is not entitled to prevent his wife from Nafl fasting. Thus, when he is fasting she does not require his consent for Nafl fasting.

If fasting interferes with the diligence of a worker, it will be makrooh for him to engage in Nafl Saum without the consent of his employer.

When one is permitted to abstain from a Saum during Ramadhan due to a valid reason, one should not eat publicly.

If it is seen that an aged or a feeble person eats forgetfully during Ramadhan, it is permissible to refrain from reminding him of the fast. However, if he is strong enough to complete the fast without difficulty, then it will be incumbent to remind him of the Saum.


Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “He who fasts solely for the sake of Allah Ta’ala, his previous sins are all forgiven”.

“The odour of the mouth of a Sa-im (fasting person) is sweeter to Allah than thefragrance of musk”.

It is narrated in the Hadith that on the Day of Qiyamah, even before Reckoning has taken place, the fasting people will be sumptuously fed under the shade of Allah’s Arsh (Throne) while others will be still embroiled in the hardships of Reckoning.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “The sleep of a Sa-im is Ibadat and his silence is Tasbeeh (recitation of Subhanallah); (the thawab of) his deeds is considerably increased; his dua is accepted and his sins are forgiven”.

“Saum is a shield and a powerful fort to save one from Jahannam.”

According to the Hadith fasting is a shield as long as the Sa-im does not rupture it with lies and back-biting (gheebat). Although the fast will be discharged, the thawab and efficacy of the Saum are destroyed by the commission of sin.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said that the Sa-im has been promised by Allah Ta’ala that at the time of Iftar (at least) one of his duas will most certainly be accepted.

The person who gives a Sa-im something with which to break his fast, will receive the thawab of the fast while nothing will be reduced of the Sa-im’s fast. This thawab will apply even if some water is presented with which to break fast. (Hadith).

On the first night of Ramadhan the Doors of Heaven are opened up and all Doors remain open until the end of Ramadhan. (Hadith).

Every raka’t of Salat performed during the nights of Ramadhan gains for the Saim the thawaab of one and half thousand good deeds. In addition, special mansions will be constructed in Jannat for this person. (Hadith)

On the first night of Ramadhan the sins committed since the previous Ramadhan until now are forgiven. (Hadith).

During Ramadhan, 70,000 Mala-ikah daily make Dua of Maghfirah (forgiveness) on behalf of the Saim, from the time of Subah Salat until sunset. (Hadith).

Whoever engages in gheebat (back-biting) or consumes liquor during the month of Ramadhan, Allah Ta’ala will erase the good deeds which he had rendered throughout the year. (Hadith).

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said “Every good deed of the son of Aadam is increased (in reward) from ten times to seven hundred times – and Allah Ta’ala said: ‘Except Saum, for verily, it (Saum) is for Me and I, Myself will reward it. The Saim abstains from desire and food for My sake.’

For the Saim there are two (occasions of) pleasure – pleasure at the time of breaking fast and pleasure at the time of meeting his Rabb”.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said: “Saum and the Qur’an will intercede on behalf of the servant (of Allah). Saum will say ‘My Rabb! I forbade him from sleep at night and desires during the day, therefore, accept my intercession on his behalf.’ The Qur’an will say: ‘I forbade him from sleep at night, therefore accept my intercession on his behalf.’ Thus, their intercession will be accepted”.


The Islamic months, being lunar months, commence with the sighting (rooyat) of the crescent moon (hilal). The principle is the sighting of the Hilaal, not the birth of the moon.

It is Wajib (obligatory) for the people to search for the Hilal at the end of the 29th day of Sha’ban, i.e. at sunset.

If the hilal is not sighted nor is reliable news of the sighting of another place received, the month of Sha’ban should then be completed with 30 days. This is the clear, straight forward and simple instruction of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). If this instruction is adhered to, all controversy usually associated with moon-sightings nowadays, will be eliminated.

There are many masail (rules) related to the sighting of the Hilaal and its confirmation. However, since these rules are necessary for only those in positions of Islamic leadership (the Mufti, Imam, etc.), these will be omitted from this book.

In the present time people indulge in needless controversy regarding Ramadhan and Eid. In some countries such as England, where the Hilal cannot be sighted at the end of the 29th day due to perpetual overcast conditions, the desire is almost always to ignore the simple and clear instruction of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) viz. if the Hilaal is not sighted, the month should be completed with 30 days. The attitude adopted by people of such places conveys the impression that it is wrong to follow the example of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), hence attempts are made to obtain news of moon sightings from nearby or even distant countries. In the process of receiving and accepting news and information of this kind, irregularities are committed. Many a time, the news is not regarded reliable in Shar’i terms.

The inhabitants of such countries will render themselves a favour should they opt for following Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)’s advice in matters of sightings of the Hilaal. It does not matter at all if every Islamic month is a thirty day month on account of the Hilaal not being sighted at the end of the 29th day.

There is no need for the institution of elaborate, expensive and time-consuming measures for the purposes of confirming the sighting of the Hilaal. Simple Islamic practices of the Sunnah are inexpensive and do not give rise to controversy. The Sunnah method is simply to regard the month as a 30 day month if the Hilaal is not sighted at the end of the 29th day.

Another act of deviation in regard to moon-sighting is the introduction of the baseless principle of ‘Eid in conjunction with Makkah’. Some deviated people have of recent come up with this idea. However, in the Shariah there is no such principle as ‘Eid in conjunction with Makkah’. If the sighting is not confirmed according to Shar’i rules, the month will not commence regardless of the month having been started in Makkah Muazzamah. The Shariah does not require all regions of the world to follow Makkah Muazzamah in regard to moon-sighting.


Besides the Saum of Ramadhaan, there are other compulsory Saum as well. These are briefly discussed hereunder.

Saum as Kaffarah for Qasam

When a Qasam (oath) has been violated, one of the options of expiation is to fast three consecutive days. On having fasted three days – one after the other – one is absolved of the sin of having violated the oath.

Saum as Kaffarah for Killing

When a person has been accidentally killed, the killer has to fast sixty consecutive days in addition to the Diyat which he has to pay to the heirs of the killed person. (This will, Insha Allah be explained in Kitabul Jinaayat, should Allah Ta’ala grant us the taufeeq to complete this series of books).

Saum of Zihaar

When a person utters to his wife: ‘You are for me like the back of my mother’ or any other similar statement, the wife becomes unlawful to her husband until he has executed the Saum of Zihar which consists of fasting sixty consecutive days. (This subject will, Insha’Allah, be explained in detail when our series reaches Kitabun Nikah).

Saum of Hajj-e-Tamattu

When the Mutamatti’ is not by the means to sacrifice his/her Dam-e-Tamattu (the animal which a Mutamatti’ has to compulsorily sacrifice), ten fasts become obligatory in lieu. Three fasts are to be observed in Makkah Muazzamah, the last of the three being on the Day of Arafah, and seven fasts are to be observed after returning home. It is not obligatory to keep these fasts in consecutive order.

There are also some other obligatory fasts which have to be kept as penalties for certain violations of Ihram. These will. Insha Allah be explained in Kitabul Hajj.


The thawab and spiritual benefits of Saum are eliminated by commission of sin during the state of fasting.

Fasting acts as a protecting shield for the Saim (fasting person) as long as he does not destroy his Saum with sin.

Among the sins which destroy the benefits of Saum, the worst is gheebat (to speak ill of others in their absence). Gheebat also produces physical weakness during Saum. The fast thus becomes very difficult to observe.

Indulgence in futile acts, nonsensical and idle conversation are also negatory of the benefits of Saum.

While it is necessary to remember Allah Ta’ala at all times, the need for Thikrullah is greater during the fast. This greatly improves the spirituality of the fasting person and is very efficacious in bringing one closer to Allah Ta’ala.

The dua of the fasting person is readily accepted by Allah Ta’ala, especially his dua at the time of Iftaar. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Everything has a gateway. The gateway of Ibaadat is fasting”. Explaining the benefits of fasting, Imam Ghazali (rahmatullah alayh) says: “Fasting overpowers shaytan, the enemy of Allah because the base of all carnal desires is the stomach. By filling the stomach, lust exhibits its actions. Shaitan, by manipulating these carnal desires, targets man as his prey. When the Muslim adopts hunger by fasting and the lustful desires weaken in consequence, shaitan is beaten into defeat and despondency”.

“Ensure that the food with which you make iftar is Halaal without the slightest vestige of doubt. Do not eat so much that the body feels heavy. The aim of the fast is defeated in so doing”


In his Kitaab, Tableeghud Deen, Imaam Ghazaali (rahmatullah alayh) says:

“Fasting, with regard to quality, are of three kinds:

The Saum of the Awam (general public-the masses). Their fast consists of only abstention from the physical acts which nullify the fast. While they abstain from eating, etc., they involve their bodies in sin. Such saum is merely fasting in name. (Only the Fardh obligation is discharged thereby).

In addition to abstaining from food, etc., the Saim (fasting person) restrains the body from acting in violation of the Shariah. He withholds his tongue from gheebat and eyes from casting gazes at ghair mahareem. This is the middle category of fasting.

The third category of fasting is the Saum of the elite servants of Allah Ta’ala, viz. the Muttaqeen. In addition to their limbs abstaining from transgression, their hearts and minds are perpetually engrossed in thikrullah. At all times, in their hearts there is nothing but the remembrance of Allah Ta’ala. This is fasting in the state of kamaal (perfection)’.

Courtesy : Al Islaah Publications

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