The Etiquettes of Fasting in the Light of Ramadhan


Suhoor (The pre-dawn meal)

It is recommended to eat a pre-dawn meal and there is no sin upon one who does not do so. Anas may Allah be pleased with him reported that the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Eat a pre-dawn meal, for there are blessings in it.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The reason is that it strengthens the fasting person, makes him more energetic, and makes fasting easier for him.

i) The minimum amount to eat in the pre-dawn meal
Eating a small or large quantity of food, or even by drinking just a sip of water suffices the person and he is considered to have adhered to the Prophetic recommendation. Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “The pre-dawn meal is blessed, so do not neglect it even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray for those who have the pre-dawn meals.” [Ahmad]

ii) The time for the pre-dawn meal
The time for the pre-dawn meal is between the middle of the night and dawn. It is considered best to delay it (that is, as close to dawn as possible). Zayd Ibn Thabit, may Allah be pleased with him, reported: “We ate the pre-dawn meal with the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) and then we got up for the prayer. He may Allah be pleased with him was asked: ‘What was the amount of time between the two?’ He may Allah be pleased with him responded: ‘The time it would take to recite fifty verses.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

iii) Doubt concerning the time of Fajr (dawn)
If one is in doubt whether or not the time of Fajr has begun, he may continue to eat and drink until he is certain that it is Fajr. He should not base his action on doubt or suspicion. Allah has made the signs for beginning the fast very clear and unambiguous. Allah Says (what means): {…Eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomes distinct from the black thread [of the night]…} [Quran 2:187]

A man said to Ibn ‘Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him,: “I eat until I suspect that its time (i.e. Suhoor) has ended so I stop.” Ibn ‘Abbas may Allah be pleased with him observed: “Continue to eat until you are certain about the time.” Abu Dawood, may Allah have mercy upon him, reported that Ahmad Ibn Hanbal may Allah have mercy upon him said: “If you are not sure whether or not it is time for Fajr, then eat until you are sure dawn has come.”

Hastening in breaking the fast

It is preferred for the fasting person to hasten in breaking the fast when the sun has set. Sahl Ibn Sa’d, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “People will continue to be upon virtue so long as they hasten in breaking the fast.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

It is recommended to break the fast by eating an odd number of dates or, if that is not available, then by drinking some water. Anas may Allah be pleased with him reported: “The Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) would break his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were not available, he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he would drink some water.” [Abu Dawood, Al-Hakim and At-Tirmithi]

Sulayman Ibn ‘Amr, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “If one of you is fasting, let him break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, then with water, for water is purifying.” [Ahmad and At-Tirmithi]

The preceding narration also shows that it is preferred to break the fast in the above manner before praying. After the prayer, the person may continue to eat, but if the evening meal is ready, one may begin with that. Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “If the food is already presented, eat before praying the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

Supplications while breaking the fast and while fasting

It is confirmed that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) would say upon breaking his fast: “The thirst has gone, the glands are wet and, Allah willing, the reward is confirmed.” [Abu Dawood]

The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) also said: “Three people will not have their supplications rejected: a fasting person until he breaks his fast, a just ruler, and an oppressed person.” [At-Tirmithi]

Refraining from performing any actions that do not befit fasting

Fasting is an act of worship that draws one closer to Allah. Allah has prescribed it to purify the soul and to train it in good deeds. The fasting person must be on guard against any act that may cause him to lose the benefits of his fast. Thus, his fast will increase his Taqwa (God-consciousness), as Allah Says (what means): {O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you that you may attain God-consciousness.} [Quran 2:183]

This entails that fasting is not just refraining from eating and drinking, but it is also refraining from everything else that Allah has forbidden. Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Fasting is not abstaining from eating and drinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you is being cursed or annoyed, he should say: “I am fasting, I am fasting.” [Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibban and Al-Hakim]

To stress the importance of having one’s fast reflecting on his actions, the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech or acting according to his false speech.” [Al-Bukhari]

Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) said: “Perhaps a fasting person will get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands to pray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness.” [An-Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Al-Hakim]

Using Miswak (a tooth stick) or a brush

It is preferred for the fasting person to use a tooth stick or a brush. There is no difference if he uses it at the beginning or the ending of the day. It is confirmed that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) used tooth stick [Miswak] while fasting.

Being generous and studying the Quran

Being generous and studying the Quran is recommended during any time, but it is especially stressed during the month of Ramadhan. Al-Bukhari, may Allah have mercy upon him, recorded that Ibn ‘Abbas may Allah be pleased with him said: “The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) was the most generous of people, but he would be most generous during Ramadhan when he would meet with Jibreel [the angel Gabriel]. He would meet with him every night and recite the Quran. When Jibreel met him, he sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) would be faster in spending charity than a fast wind.”

Striving to perform as many acts of worship as possible during the last ten days of Ramadhan

Al-Bukhari and Muslim, may Allah have mercy upon them, recorded from A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, that during the last ten days of Ramadhan, the Messenger of Allah sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam (may Allah exalt his mention) would awaken his wives during the night and then remain apart from them (refrain from sexual relations with his wives and concentrate on worship). A version in Muslim reads: “He sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ( may Allah exalt his mention ) would strive [to do acts of worship] during the last ten days of Ramadhan more than he would at any other time.”


*What do you think about this topic? Please tell me what you think in the comment section below.
*Hit the like button if you think this post is useful.
*Support this da’wah effort by following my blog.

A First Day Ramadan Life of a Muslim (We Do This for a Month!)

We are now into the month of Ramadan, so it is quite likely you are fasting now. You know, people seem to fill pity toward Muslims when they are fasting from dawn until sunset, especially in these longer days (12 hours) of the year. However, it is important to know that although Muslims love their tasty food, Ramadan is our favorite time of the year!

A healthy sahoor to take early in the morning

The typical day in Ramadan starts earlier than most are used to. Muslims are to wake before dawn (for me, that is about 5:00AM) to partake in a predawn meal called sahoor. The Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said, “Partake in the predawn meal, for truly in the predawn meal there is blessing” [Narrated by al-Bukhari]. It is a really early morning—or rather, the very end of the night. Although Muslims have running jokes about looking and feeling like zombies at this odd hour, they do their best to remove themselves from their beds to eat a super early breakfast. Not being able to consume a meal or sip a glass of water for another sixteen to seventeen hours is quite the motivation!

In all seriousness however, this time is the most precious of both the day and the night. Muslims believe God is closest to us during these last moments of the night before dawn. After eating their sahoor, many Muslims try to spend the time before dawn praying the Tahajjud prayer. The Prophet (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) said, “God descends every night to the lowest heaven when one-third of the night remains and says: ‘Who will call upon Me, that I may answer Him? Who will ask of Me, that I may give him? Who will seek My forgiveness, that I may forgive him?’”[Narrated by al-Bukhari]. This last third of the night is the perfect time to turn to God, pour our hearts out and ask Him for whatever we need.

At the time of dawn, the first of the five daily prayers called Fajr becomes obligatory to perform before sunrise. After praying this, depending on the individual’s schedule, they may sleep until they need to wake for school or work, or they may engage in Quran recitation. The remainder of the daylight hours consists of the regular activities one would experience outside of Ramadan (minus the food and drink), but with an added awareness that one is fasting for the sake of God. Muslims need to pass on the refreshments offered at meetings and skip their morning coffee. Lunch at school can be challenging with the aroma of food surrounding a person as well as the questions about the missing meal. But the hunger pangs and thirst due to dehydration are a lot more meaningful and a lot more worth it when keeping the reason for fasting in mind.

Normally we start break fast with dates (it’s a sunnah!)

Prior to sunset, Muslims scurry to get iftar ready. This is the meal eaten when breaking the fast. The Prophet Muhammad (may the blessings and peace of God be upon him) used to break his fast with dates, so many Muslims do the same. The last moments of the fasting day are another time when supplication is highly encouraged, for it is said to be a time of acceptance. When the sun sets, Muslims break their fast and feel a sense of satisfaction and gratefulness. They made it through a fasting day!

How taraweeh normally look like

At night, many Muslims opt to head to the mosque for the last obligatory prayer of the day as well as a special Ramadan prayer called Taraweeh. This worship can take up to two hours because many imams try to finish the entire recitation of the Quran over the course of the month during the prayer. Now replenished with their iftar, Muslims find the energy to stand in prayer and listen to the recitation of the holy Quran as well as meet fellow people in the community at the mosque.

Upon the completion of the prayer, it is time to head back home. Some may be able to squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep before the time of sahoor comes in again. Others may engage in more worship or eat an early sahoor and call it a night. Soon enough, another day of fasting will begin.

Fasting in Ramadan is definitely challenging, and Muslims learn to exhibit much self-control during the month. While it can be difficult, it is overflowing with opportunities for reward and the pleasure of God. It is in this month that lives are changed. It is in this month that charity is generously given. It is in this month that many Muslims finally find the strength and motivation do what they have been wanting to do all year—refocus their lives on their faith.

Ramadhan: The Month of Fasting

God says in the Quran, the holy book of Islam (which means):

“O you who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous”

Al-Quran, surah Al-Baqarah, verse 183

Islam teaches that Allah sent many prophets since the beginning of the human race, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (peace be upon all of them). Hence, Islam shares core values such as belief in God as well as a commitment to justice and virtue with Christianity and Judaism; similarly, fasting in one form or another is common to all three Abrahamic faiths and, indeed, to the vast majority of religions across the world.

In Islam, fasting is one of the major acts of worship and a means of attaining God-consciousness. Along with the physical aspects of fasting, its spiritual dimensions purify the soul, instill self-reflection and inspire virtuous living.

Fasting is a common form of worship among the various religions across the world. Its spiritual benefits are widely recognised even though its frequency, practice and duration may differ from faith to faith. Islam places great importance on the act of fasting, calling it one of the pillars of worship, along with prayer, charity and pilgrimage.

Ramadhan: An Annual Retreat

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, which begins with the sighting of the new moon. During this month, Muslims worldwide are obligated to abstain completely from food, drink and sexual relations from dawn to dusk, culminating in a release of restrictions at sunset. The fast, as per the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, is broken with dates followed by a meal which varies from culture to culture.

However, fasting is not mandatory on those for whom it would constitute a difficulty. For instance, people who are sick or travelling can postpone their fast until their illness or journey is over. The elderly, the weak, the mentally ill and those who have a chronic illness that prevents them from fasting, are all exempted during Ramadhan. They may feed a needy person for every missed day if they can afford to do so.

Fasting is observed as an act of obedience to God, one for which He has reserved special blessings. The fasting person is rewarded manifold for all good deeds. In addition, according to a saying of Prophet Muhammad, whoever fasts and prays during Ramadhan with pure intentions will have their past sins forgiven.

At the same time, Prophet Muhammad taught his followers to remain conscious of the deeper significance behind their fast, saying, “Whoever does not abandon falsehood in word and action, then God has no need that they should leave their food and drink.” Therefore, fasting is multidimensional – along with the physical aspects of fasting, one must nurture the social and spiritual elements as well in order to fully benefit from fasting.

In essence, fasting in the month of Ramadhan is a yearly opportunity for Muslims to physically and spiritually revive themselves. Fasting redirects the heart away from worldly affairs and towards the remembrance of God. During Ramadhan, Muslims focus on strengthening their relationship with their Creator. The self-restraint practised in Ramadhan makes the heart and mind accustomed to the remembrance of God and to the obedience of His commandments.

Fasting during Ramadhan is, therefore, a spiritual regimen and a reorientation for the body and mind. It is a time for spiritual reflection, prayer and good deeds. The spiritual cleansing during the month of Ramadhan results in renewed determination to worship God throughout the year.

Benefits of Fasting

Fasting is intended to instil self-discipline, empathy and compassion in the individual. Muslims are motivated to increase their generosity during this month. They are encouraged to share the blessings that God has provided them by giving generously in charity because wealth is regarded as a trust from God.

Indeed, fasting makes people more aware of the many bounties of God. Experiencing hunger and thirst allows us to feel the desperation of hunger and leads us to empathise with those who don’t know when they will eat their next meal.

“Fasting allows us to experience once a year what many throughout the world experience almost daily. Hunger, for them, is not a choice; it is simply a fact of life”

Says Hamza Yusuf, a renowned Muslim leader based in California.

Fasting also reminds us of the importance of appreciating what we have and minimising waste. From His generosity, God continuously graces us with His favours, and fasting reinforces the concept that wasting the Creator’s bounties is a sign of ingratitude to Him.

Fasting builds endurance. As the lunar year continually shifts, Muslims encounter Ramadhan in varying seasons – from the sluggishly long summer days to the short, crisp wintry weeks. Muslims of all walks of life manage their work duties irrespective of the weather and the fast, although often on a shortened schedule; this includes professionals as well as manual workers such as paddlers and day labourers. In countries where Muslims are a minority, they maintain a full workload on empty stomachs, balancing their added worship in the early mornings, evenings and weekends along with their normal work routines.

When the month of Ramadhan arrives, it brings a heightened sense of community with it. Muslim families often wake up together before sunrise for an early breakfast. They also invite one another to break their fast together, which creates friendship and stronger ties among neighbours, families and friends. Many people also bring meals to mosques to share with the community, especially the poor, the needy, the travellers and those who do not have families. Together, they also make it a point to go to the mosque for the nightly Ramadhan prayers.

The Month of Quran

God began revealing the Quran to Prophet Muhammad during Ramadhan in the year 610 C.E. The Quran, the final revelation from God, is often read and memorised in its original Arabic language, preserving the divine order and structure of this book. In Ramadhan, Muslims are encouraged to focus as much time as possible on reading, listening and understanding the Quran as a means of coming closer to God.

One of the ways Muslims become nearer to the Quran during Ramadhan is through extended congregational prayers offered in the late evening after the breaking of the fast. Over the course of the month, the entire Quran is commonly recited in these night prayers. This is an opportunity for Muslims to become spiritually connected to God and reflect on His words of guidance.

As Abdul Wahid Hamid explains in his book, Islam, the Natural Way:

Ramadhan is a month of heightened devotion. In it, prayer is performed with greater intensity. There are extra prayers on Ramadhan nights… In the last ten days of Ramadhan, some retreat to the mosque to perform Itikaf (seclusion) at the local mosque, a period of intense reflection and devotion, seeking guidance and forgiveness, and reading the Quran. Ramadhan is a great opportunity to get closer to the blessed guidance of the Quran which was revealed in this month. Ramadhan is also called the month of the Quran.

Muslims believe that the last ten nights of Ramadhan are the holiest of all, and strive to increase their worship during that time even more. The most sacred night of all, the Night of Power, falls on one of the odd-numbered nights in the last third of Ramadhan. God mentions in the Quran that the Night of Power is better than one thousand months (97:3). In other words, the worship of this one night is worth more than the worship of a thousand months. As a result, Muslims seek this special night by staying awake in worship during the odd-numbered nights from the last ten days of Ramadhan.

Although fasting may seem severe and difficult, it is truly a gratifying time for Muslims. Every year, Muslims experience a unique excitement and jubilation as Ramadhan approaches. Homes are cleaned, groceries are stocked, children are prepped – and, above all, many resolutions are made.

Even as the day’s routine of work and home continue, Muslims make extra time for spiritual nourishment and self-introspection. Commitments ranging from the recitation and study of the Quran to increased charity to nightly attendance of additional prayers are commonly made to reap the rewards of the fasting month.

And, as the month draws to a close, a sense of sadness overcomes the worshippers, wistful at the departure of the blessed month which seemed to have flown by.

Eid-ul-Fitr Celebration

The end of Ramadhan is marked by the sighting of the new moon, which is followed by a day of celebration known as Eid-ul-Fitr. Families wake up early in the morning, put on their best clothes and go to the mosque for a brief Eid sermon and congregational prayer. They thank God for giving them the opportunity to experience the holy month of Ramadhan. The day is filled with celebration, socializing, festive meals and modest gift-giving, especially to children.

Before attending the Eid prayer, the head of the household or guardian gives a special charity on behalf of each dependent family member called Zakat-ul-Fitr. This is the giving of a meal to a needy person to make sure that none are excluded from this happy occasion and to encourage people to continue the spirit of generosity after Ramadhan as well.

The Eid celebration is not merely about feasting and socializing. There is a deep significance for those who truly observed the holy month with their fasting, abstaining from all bad habits and striving hard to earn the pleasure of God. Muslims feel a sense of happiness and a renewed energy to face the rest of the year with faith and determination – until next Ramadhan!

“The month of Ramadhan [is that] in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for the people and clear proofs of guidance and criterion. So whoever sights [the new moon of] the month, let him fast it; and whoever is ill or on a journey – then an equal number of other days. Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship and [wants] for you to complete the period and to glorify Allah for that [to] which He has guided you; and perhaps you will be grateful.”

Al-Quran, surah Al-Baqarah, verse 185

Prepare Your Ramadan

Have you ever wondered why it is difficult to concentrate on your prayer? Or why your faith throughout the year is not on a high like it is during Ramadan or through Hajj? Maybe it is because we usually jump straight from a phone conversation into Takbir or because we just go with the flow in Ramadan and are influenced by the environment around us and not our own ‘real’ feelings.

A lot of us usually live life and have our faith dependent on an upcoming major event i.e. “I’m going to start reading a page of Quran a day as soon as Ramadan starts; I’m going to start praying Qiyam every night when I come back from hajj; or, I’m going to stop smoking when my child is born.”  And because of this way of thinking we usually end up with an anticlimax; we don’t end up giving up smoking, we don’t end up praying Qiyam and we start reading Quran but then get back to our normal old self after a few days or weeks.

This is because these ‘statements’ or ‘feelings’ are based on impulse and not a real thought out plan. We usually don’t prepare for Ramadan or Hajj or have a plan for our faith to stay at the increase; we just go with the flow and expect it all to happen. Well, it doesn’t!

Wouldn’t you love to enter the month of Ramadan on a real high and have the effects of this beautiful month be a permanent impact on your life thereafter? How can this be done? Below are the 8 steps for a Legacy of a Ramadan.

Step 1 – Create a Ramadan Count Down (7 days left!)

Counting down for Ramadan (whether it is done mentally or by keeping physical signs around the home or office) will help create hype and buzz in your mind and amongst the people around you. When you and others are counting down to the same event, it becomes part of regular conversation and excitement spreads.

Step 2 – Seek knowledge about Ramadan (Read books!)

This will help you ensure you will do things correctly and perfectly for Ramadan, it will create a hype as there are many motivational aspects and events in the month to look forward to and finally it is a reward reaper.  The more you know about Ramadan the more you can apply, hence multiplying your rewards.

Step 3 – Make a Ramadan plan (Use an Islamic calendar)

Be it reading the entire Quran, ensuring you pray Taraweeh every night or inviting families over for iftaar; make a list of things you would like to achieve in the month and then how you plan on achieving these goals. It is important that goals are realistic and it is better that your life doesn’t need to entirely take a different road in this month (i.e. take the month off work or change work hours etc.) so that you may continue to do these deeds after Ramadan. Knowing what you want to achieve in the month will help you stay focused. Ensure you plan your day every night before you sleep when Ramadan starts (try to continue this even after Ramadan).

Step 4 – Know your life (by thinking deeply)

Be aware if Ramadan affects anything that is happening in the month or shortly after. Do you have exams during Ramadan? Or is there a major family wedding after Ramadan by a short time? Moving house? If so, plan for these events from now. Study now so that you are prepared for the exams before the month starts. Be packed and ready to go before Ramadan or plan that you do it after so that it doesn’t take time away from your worship. The last thing you want to do is spend Ramadan at the shopping centers. Buy any Eid presents and prepare for any wedding before the month starts.

Step 5 – Prepare spiritually

We all know that Ramadan is about Fasting, Praying, Reading Quran and giving in charity. Start these worships early; don’t expect to just click into it as soon as the first day of Ramadan starts. Start doing extra prayers from now, start revising and regularly reading the Quran now, get used to being generous and follow the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad and fast during Sha’baan.

Step 6 – Prepare your mind

Fasting is to refrain from more than just what we consume in our mouth. Start working on your patience; be extra vigilant with your conversations: ensure you are not backbiting, slandering or talking about useless things.

Step 7 – Say ‘goodbye’ to bad habits (make it stop!)

Know what bad habits you have and stop them from now, don’t wait until Ramadan begins. If you sleep late, start sleeping early, if you are a Facebook junky start cutting down, have a coffee craze, slow it down, etc. It might sound much easier said than done, but once you’ve committed yourself, purified your intentions – make sincere dua for guidance.  Insha’Allah, these bad habits will be easier done with than you ever expected.

Step 8 – Plan your life around your worship (and you will see the results!)

For instance; instead of working through your prayer or setting up a meeting, etc., at prayer times, plan that you have a break at prayer time. Don’t take your phone with you to the place you pray and forget the world as you stand between the hands of the Almighty Allah.

How about you?  What are you doing to prepare for Ramadan?  Let us know in the comments section!

Taken with slight changes from