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Concerning Fasting
  The Rulings of Ramadaan
Author: Islamic Society of the University of Essex
Article ID : IBD090003  [31711]  
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Important Issues Dealing with the Month of Ramadhaan
The muslims must know that all the blessings for this noble month would never be achieved unless we understand its ruling from Allaah Azzawajall and the Messenger (S) and implement its ruling as it was practised by the Messenger (S) and the Righteous Salaf (Pious Predecessors). So in our explanation of the rulings we will try to restrict ourselves as much as possible to the two sources of Islaam, that is the Qur'aan and the Sunnah based upon the understanding of the first three generations of muslims and those who follow them. And may Allaah help us in doing justice to His Deen.

Counting the Days of the month of Sha'baan
It is imperative on the general body of muslims to take special care in counting the days of the month of Sha'baan in preparation for the month of Ramadhaan. This was the practise of the Messenger (S). This is of great importance because the Islamic Month consists of twenty-nine or thirty days. The month starts with the sighting of the crescent which indicates its beginning. If however it is so cloudy that the crescent cannot be seen, then the thirtieth day of Sha'baan is completed and the new month (Ramadhaan) begins from the following day.

Allaah has set up the moon for mankind as a means of keeping record of months and years. Based on this, therefore, the Islamic month does not exceed thirty days. This is also established in the Sunnah of the Messenger (S).

Abu Hurairah narrates that the Messenger (S) said: "Fast whenever it (the new crescent) is sighted and break the fast when it is seen. If it is hidden from you (due to cloudiness) then complete thirty days for Sha'baan" [Bukhaaree and Muslim]

Abdullaah bin Umar said that the Messenger of Allaah (S) said: "Do not fast until you see the crescent, and do not end (the month of) fasting until you see it. If it is covered from you (by clouds) then determine it (by counting thirty days)" [Bukhaaree and Muslim]

Adee ibn Haatim said that the Messenger (S) said: "When Ramadhaan comes along then fast for thirty days except if you see the hilaal (crescent) before it" [At-Tahaawee, Ahmad and Tabaraanee]

Whoever fasts on the day of doubt has disobeyed Abul-Qaasim (Muhammad)
For this reason it is not recommended for the Muslim to fast optional fasting on the last two days of Sha'baan as a measure of precaution except if these coincide with days which he regularly fasts.

Abu Hurairah said that the Messenger of Allaah (S) said: "Do not precede Ramadhaan by fasting a day or two days before it, except for a man whose regular fasting coincides with these days, then he can fast" [Agreed upon]

And know well, our brother and sister in Islaam, that fasting on the day of doubt is disobedience to the Messenger (S). Ammaar ibn Yassaar said that the Messenger (S) said: " Whoever fasts on the day of doubt (the 30th day of Sha'baan) has indeed disobeyed Abul-Qaasim (S)" Abul-Qaasim is Muhammad (S). [Nasaa'ee, Tirmidhee and Abu Daawood]

Witnesses needed to Establish the Month
The beginning and the end of the month is established if one just muslim testifies that he saw it. The sighting of the moon is established if two just muslims witness it. The Messenger of Allaah (S) said: "Fast when it is seen, and break the fast when it is seen. However if it is cloudy then complete thirty days. If two witnesses (see it) then fast and break the fast" [Nasaa'ee and Daarimee]

However, although the hadeeth above establishes that there is a need for two just witnesses, this does not mean that the witness of one person would not be accepted. The following hadeeth makes this clear. Ibn Umar said: "The people saw the moon,so I informed the Prophet (S) that I saw it. He (S) started to fast and commanded the people to fast also". [Abu Daawood and Daarimee]

Niyyah - the Intention
It is Waajib (compulsory) to establish the niyyah before the Fajr prayer for the compulsory fast (i.e. the fast of Ramadhaan).

The Messenger (S) said: "Whoever does not determine that he will fast before Fajr will have no fast (that is, it would not be accepted)" [Nasaa'ee, Tirmidhee and Abu Daawood]

He (S) also said: "Whoever does not carry the intention at night for fasting, will have no fast" [Nasaa'ee, Bayhaqee and Ibn Hazm]


1. The place of the intention is the heart and pronouncing it with the tongue is a Bid'ah (innovation), even though many consider it to be good.
2. Establishing of the intention in the heart before the time of Fajr is compulsory for the obligatory fasting only. However, for voluntary fasts the intention can be established at any time. Sometimes the Messenger (S) would come to Aa'isha other than in the month of Ramadhaan and would ask her: "Do you have any food? If not then I am fasting" [Muslim]

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