Tag Archives: Fasting

Fasting is a Shield

Fasting is a shield [Bukhari]

Fasting is a shield for a person which protects them from Shaytan, Allah’s punishment and Jahannam. However, one needs to make sure the shield is not damaged in any way. Otherwise it will not be effective in doing its job. The actions that damage this shield and render it useless are sins like Backbiting, Lying, Evil Glance, Swearing, Nonsensical Conversation, Arguments, Slander, Haram Sustenance, and every other evil.

Besides the compulsory fasting in the month of Ramadan, one should try to fast during those days for which Rasoolullah (صلي الله عليه و سلم) has mentioned many rewards, for example:

  • 6 days of Shawwal
  • Day of Aarafah
  • Ashoora (9th & 10th or 10th & 11th of Muharram)

Source: Riyadul Jannah Issue 2 Vol 13

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The Month of Silence

Anas bin Malik ﻰﺿر ﷲ ﻪﻨﻋ relates that Ramadhan arrived so the Prophet ﷲ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ ﻢﻠﺳو ﻰﻠﺻ said, ‘Indeed this month has come upon you, and therein is a night which is better than a thousand months. Whoever is deprived of it is deprived of all good, and none is deprived of it except one who is truly deprived’ [Reported by ibn Majah],

He who wastes his time in Ramadhan is truly deprived of the virtues and forgiveness of this month. The sahabah ﻰﺿر ﷲ ﻢﻬﻨﻋ ensured that not a moment passed in futility. They would complete their worldly tasks and free themselves two months prior to Ramadhan i.e. by Rajab.

Allah’s acceptance of a fast is not just conditional upon remaining hungry or thirsty but is also dependent upon the fasting of the other bodily organs i.e. the eyes, ears, heart, mind and especially the tongue.

Abu Hurayrah ﻰﺿر ﷲ ﻪﻨﻋ reports that Allah’s Messenger ﻰﻠﺻ ﷲ ﻪﻴﻠﻋ ﻢﻠﺳو said ‘Fasting is not merely abstaining from eating and drinking. Rather, fasting is to refrain from futility and indecency. So if someone abuses you or behaves ignorantly towards you, then say: “I am fasting” ’. [Reported by ibn Khuzaymah].

When fasting we should not even shout or raise our voices let alone argue. This is the month in which we should all remain silent as much as possible and not say or do anything which inconveniences others.

Source: Content Soul

Why Religious Fasting Could Be Good for Your Brain

By Andrea Useem | September 17, 2008

Ramadan is in its third week now, and the required dawn-to-dusk fasting often feels like a daily mini–marathon. By late afternoon, hunger and thirst have sucked me dry, leaving me sleepy, slow-minded, and sometimes short-tempered.

I know that the purpose of fasting is spiritual—God will reward us in the next life—but in this lifetime, fasting sometimes makes me an ineffective, irritable person. So I was excited to learn that Harvard psychiatrist John Ratey, MD, had spoken at a recent Renaissance Weekend event about how caloric restriction can improve brain function.

I emailed Dr. Ratey to find out if those benefits might extend to religious fasting, and he sent me a 2006 paper on the brain functioning of men during the Ramadan fast. The researchers studied a small group of healthy men during and after the holy month, looking at their brain activity via functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). They concluded that “all individual results showed consistent and significant increase of activity in the motor cortex during fasting.”

Other research shows similar results
That research builds on the work of other scientists, including Mark Mattson, PhD, who heads a neuroscience lab at the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. Mattson has done important research on how dietary restrictions can significantly protect the brain from degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.

In a 2003 article, Mattson and others reported that rats who were deprived of food every other day, or restricted to a diet at 30% to 50% of normal calorie levels, showed not only decreased heart rates and blood pressure, but also “younger” brains, with “numerous age-related changes in gene expression.”

Mattson and his colleagues also shared data from research on humans, which shows that populations with higher caloric intakes—such as the United States and Europe—have a greater prevalence of Alzheimer’s than do populations that eat less—such as China and Japan. The authors speculate that humans may have adapted to conditions of feast and famine; the stress of having little food, they write, “may induce changes in gene expression that result in adaptive changes in cellular metabolism and the increased ability of the organism to reduce stress.”

Although this research is relatively new, with many questions left unanswered, the authors conclude that “it seems a safe bet that if people would incorporate a spartan approach to food intake into their lifestyles, this would greatly reduce the incidence of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke.” (Of course, how this recommendation translates for individual people remains almost a complete unknown; consult with your own doctor before restricting your diet in dramatic ways.)

But here’s the hard part: Although we know eating too much leads to all sorts of health problems, “it has proven very difficult to successfully implement prolonged dietary-restriction regimens,” reports Mattson and his team. Information and doctor’s orders are rarely enough motivation.

This last observation gave me hope, because it seemed the authors were overlooking the role of religion; it can inspire people in ways information or experts don’t. Would I be undergoing this rigorous month of fasting unless I believed strongly it was the right thing for me to do? Probably not. And the same goes for millions of Muslims around the world.

And many other religions include fasting or dietary restrictions as part of their religious observances. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or Mormons, for example, fast one Sunday a month. The Orthodox Church in America notes five separate fasting seasons on its website, in addition to individual fast days; during some of these fasts, all food is restricted, and during other fasts, only certain foods are off-limits. Some Roman Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays, and all do during Lent. Many types of Buddhist monks abide by a code that prohibits eating after noon each day.

Science may only now be discovering that some of these religious practices, both ancient and modern, offer nourishment not just for the soul, but for the body as well.

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Ibaadat of Iftaar

A very important act related to Saum (Fasting) is Iftaar or to break the fast at its appropriate time. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) emphasised the importance and the virtues of correct observance of Iftaar. Correct observance of Iftaar means to observe it in the Sunnat way. Although Iftaar is ostensibly a mundane act of eating some food, it is an ibaadat of much thawaab (reward) as well. However, Iftaar will be bereft of its spirituality and ibaadat dimension if it is not observed in the Masnoon manner.


It should be well understood that Iftaar is not feasting. It is not an act to discharge gluttonously or with impatience. It is a spiritually pleasurable act or should be so. Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that the Saa-im (the fasting person) experiences two moments of happiness or pleasure. The one moment is when he makes Iftaar and the other moment will be the occasion when he meets his Rabb (in the Aakhirah).

This pleasurable exercise should not be contaminated and ruined with greed and impatience when it is time to end the fast. The Masnoon method of breaking the fast is to eat some dates or to drink some water. It should not be transformed in a veritable feast with heavy foods as has become the norm in most places. Instead of the light Iftaar which was the practice of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) and his Sahaabah, people have developed the greedy and impatient habit of stuffing their bellies with food of a variety of kinds while the Athaan is in progress. They are consequently deprived of the thawaab of responding to the Athaan. They suffer the loss of the Sunnat acts of responding to the Athaan and of the Masnoon light Iftaar which is not only spiritually beneficial but which is physically beneficial as well. The sudden avalanche of food which descends into the stomach which has become contracted as a result of the day-long abstention from food and water, leads to disorders in the body. The repercussion of such disorders can be severe and very harmful for even the physical health.

The excessive feasting at the time of Iftaar leads to spiritual lethargy, indigestion and delay in beginning of the Maghrib Salaat. To gain the best rewards of Iftaar, spiritual and physical, it is necessary to break the fast with only some dates or water. The Maghrib Salaat should then commence almost immediately after the Athaan, perhaps three or four minutes after the Athaan, not 10, 15 and even 20 minutes after the Athaan as has been observed in some places where people feast like gluttons. In this way, they detract from the benefits of the Saum. The best results of ibaadat can be acquired only if the proper Masnoon method is adopted.

Source: www.themajlis.net

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Muharram and Ashura

MUHARRAM is the first month of the Islamic calendar. Muharram means “Forbidden.” Even before Islam, this month was always known as a scared month in which all unlawful acts were forbidden, prominently the shedding of blood. It is one of the four sanctified months about which Allah Ta’ala says: “The number of months in the sight of Allah are twelve, so ordained by Allah, the day He created the heavens and the earth; Of them four are sacred. That is the correct religion, so wrong not yourselves therein.” (Surah Tawbah – verse 36)

The four sanctified months according to authentic Ahaadeeth are the months of Zul- Qa’dah, Zul-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab. The sanctity of these months was observed in the shariah of all the previous Prophets. “Allah Ta’ala made them (i.e. the four months) sacred and increased their sanctity. Hence He declared a sin therein more severe and increased the virtue of good deeds and the reward thereof.” (Ibn Katheer Vol.2)

The best of fasts besides the month of Ramadhaan is the fast during Allah’s month of Muharram and the best of Salaah besides the Faraaidh (obligatory salaah) is the Tahajjud Salaah (performed after midnight). (Muslim,Vol. 1)

The Tenth of Muharram, known as the day of Aashura, is a very significant day in the Islamic Calendar. Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has exhorted the Ummah to fast on this day. Hadhrat Aaisha(rahiyallahu anha) reports that Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) ordered the observance of
the fast of Aashura.

However, when the fast of Ramadhaan became compulsory, Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) left the fast of Aashura (i.e. it’s compulsion). Thereafter, whoever desired, kept the fast of Aashura and whoever desired not to keep the fast did not observe it. (Bukhari, Vol. 1)

Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas(radhiyallahu anhu) says: “I did not see Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) anxiously await the fast of any day, which he gave preference to (over other days), except this day of Aashura and the month of Ramadhaan. ” (Bukhari, Vol. 1)

The Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has said: “The best fasts after the fasts of Ramadhan are those of the month of Muharram.”
Although the fasts of the month of Muharram are not obligatory, yet, the one who fasts in these days out of his own will and choice is entitled to a great reward by Allah Almighty. The Hadith cited above signifies that the fasts of the month of Muharram are most rewardable ones among the Nafl fasts i.e. the fasts one observes out of his own choice without being obligatory on him.

The hadith does not mean that the award promised for fasts of Muharram can be achieved only by fasting for the whole month. On the contrary, each fast during this month has merit. Therefore, one should avail of this opportunity as much as he can.

Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was asked with regard to the blessings of this fast, he replied:” It is a compensation for the sins of the past year.” i.e. Allah will forgive the sins of the past year.”
(Muslim, Vol 1). Abu Qataada (radhiyallahu anhu) has related that the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) has reported to have said, ” It is my thought that by fasting on the 10th of Muharram Allah Ta’ala will pardon the sins of the past year.” (Tirmizi). Note: For the forgiveness of major sins Taubah and Istighfaar is a pre-requisite.

Hadhrat Ibn Abbaas(radhiyallahu anhu) narrates that when Nabi(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) came to Madinah and found the Jews fasting on the day of Aashura he inquired, ” What is the significance of this day on which you fast? ” They replied, ” This is the day Allah saved Nabi Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) and his followers and drowned Fir’oun and his army. Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) fasted on this day as a token of thanks – giving, thus we too fast on this day.” Nabi (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) said: ” We are more worthy of Moosa(alaiyhis salaam) than you and we are more closer to him than you are.” Thereafter he fasted on this day and ordered the Sahaabah to do the same”. (Muslim, Vol 1)

According to another hadith, it is more advisable that the fast of ‘Ashurah should either be prefixed or suffixed by another fast. It means that one should fast two days: the 9th an 10th of Muharram or the 10th and 11th of it. The reason of this additional fast as mentioned by the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) is that the Jews used to fast on the day of Aashurah alone, and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wassallam) wanted to distinguish the Islamic-way of fasting from that of Jews. Therefore, he advised the Muslims to add another fast to that of Aashurah.

Rasulullah(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) is reported to have said: ” Observe the fast of Aashura and oppose (the ways of) the Jews. Fast a day before it (also) or a day after.” Hence, it is better to fast on the 9th and 10th or on the 10th and 11th.

Some traditions signify another feature of the day of ”Ashurah. According to these traditions one should be more generous to his family by providing more food to them on this day as compared to other days. These traditions are not very authentic according to the science of hadith. Yet, some Scholars like Baihaqi and Ibn Hibban have accepted them as reliable.

It is mentioned in a Hadeeth: ” He who will be generous to his family on the day of Aashura, Allah will be generous to him for the entire year.”

1.Sayyidina Hussain (R.A.), the grandson of Rasullullah(sallahu alaiyhi wassallam) was martyred in this month in Karbala.
2.Shaykhain Tirmizi and Haakim has narrated from Anas(radhiyallahu anhu) that the following verse: “Allah may forgive thee of thy sins that which is past and that which is to come.” (Al-Fath) was revealed on the 10th of Muharram.
3.Prophet Muhammed(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam) went to defeat Bani Muhaarin and Bani Tha’laba (Tribes of Bani Gatfan) in the month of Muharram in the year 4 A.H. (Asahhus-siyar)
Prepared by Al-Islaah Publications from Islamic Months & Nurul Huda Pamphlet on Muharram.
Courtesy: www.everymuslim.com

Eighteen Reasons For Fasting

O ye who believe! Fasting is ordained for you, even as it was ordained for those before you, that ye may guard yourself (against evil)” Qur’an: Chapter 2, Verse 183).

Ramadan is a month of fasting and prayers for the Muslims. The fast consists of total abstinence from food and drink from dawn to dusk. There is, however, a greater significance to fasts than mere abstinence from eating and drinking. The real objective of fasts is to inculcate in man the spirit of abstinence from sins and of cultivation of virtue. Thus the Qur’an declares that the fasts have been prescrib�ed with a view to developing piety in man, as is clear from the verse quoted at the top of this page.

How are the many facets of piety sought to be cultivated through the fasts?

  1. The prime consideration in undertaking fast, as in any act of devotion, is to seek NEARNESS TO GOD and beseech HIS PLEASURE and FORGIVENESS. This itself generates a spirit of piety in man.
  2. The wilful creation of the stringent conditions of hunger and thirst for one’s own self, simply in obedience to the Divine Order, measures the FAITH of man in God and helps to strengthen it by putting it to a severe test.
  3. Fasting enhances through creation of artificial non-availability, the value of the bounties of God, which man is apt to take for granted in the midst of plentiful availability, and thus inculcates in man a spirit of GRATITUDE and consequent DEVOTION to GOD. Nothing else can bring home to man the worth of God’s bounties than a glass of water and a square meal after a day‑long fast. This also reminds man that the real joy in enjoying God’s bounties lies in MODERATION and RESTRAINT and not in OVER INDULGENCE.
  4. Fasting makes us deeply conscious of the pangs of hunger and discomfort suffered by the less fortunate among our brethren, who may have to put up with such stringent conditions all through their lives ‑ it thus enkindles in man a spirit of SACRIFICE leading to CHARITY towards his suffering brethren.
  5. Fasting affords man an unfailing training in ENDURANCE ‑ i.e. a SPIRIT OF. ACCEPTANCE of the inevitable, which could well prepare him to put up with the unchangeable situations in life in the same spirit of RESIGNATION as cultivated during the fasts.
  6. Fasting develops COURAGE, FORTITUDE and a FIGHTING SPIRIT IN man to surmount the heavy odds in life with a cool and tranquil mind. It sharpens his, power of CONCENTRATION to overcome obstacles, through a vigorous exercise all through the month, leading to a steeling of his WILL POWER and RESOLVE, which could help him in trying situations in actual life. It is seen that many an undesirable habit which is found hard to leave, is more easily left off during the days of fasting.
  7. Fasting teaches man RELIANCE on God and CONFIDENCE in HIM in facing the bitter situations in life with the comforting thought that these too, ordained by Him, could well be surmounted through His assistance alone, even as the rigorous state of fasting for a complete month. For, fasting develops the quality of PATIENCE in man, with the realisation that, as the days of fasting, though seeming unending do have a successful and, so are all the bitter situations in life. It therefore infuses a spirit of GOOD CHEER, (driving away BITTERNESS and DESPAIR) in his attitude towards life and in his demeanour towards others.
  8. Through quick alternation of the state of plenty and of scarcity, fasting seeks to inculcate in man the right type of attitude in different situations in life‑ of GRATITUDE and THANKSGIVING in plenty and of PATIENCE and FORBEARANCE in difficulty.
  9. Fasting is meant to CONQUER ANGER, not to augment it, and to develop SELF‑CONTROL in man; for the vigorous effort of wilfully putting up with a continued state of hunger and thirst can well be extended to conquer other infirmities of human character that lead man into error and sin.
  10. Fasting inculcates a spirit of TOLERANCE in man to face unpleasant conditions and situations without making his fellow-being the victim of his wrath on account of his adverse conditions, such as deprivation of his basic needs of life, which constitutes the common cause of dissension among men.
  11. Fasting MELLOWS a man and enhances his character, giving jolt to the human instincts of ‘PRIDE, HAUGHTINESS, ENVY and AMBITION, for when fasting, a man’s energies are too sapped to follow these instincts which are the chief causes of discord and conflict among men.
  12. Fasting exposes the weakness of man in the event of his being deprived of but two of the bounties of God ‑ those of food and drink; it thus infuses in him a spirit of MEEKNESS and SUBMISSION, generating HUMILITY and PRAYER in an otherwise arrogant man.
  13. Fasting breathes the spirit of FORGIVENESS in man towards his subordinates, as he himself seeks God’s FORGIVENESS through fasts and prayers.
  14. Fasting affords lessons in PUNCTUALITY through man’s strict adherence to various time‑schedules in the observance of fasts and offering of prayers.
  15. Fasting can be made to effect ECONOMY in an individual’s life, which can be extended to wider spheres.
  16. Fasting enforces in man rigid DISCIPLINE ‑ mental, spiritual and physical ‑ a trait of character which forms an essential ingredient to success in human life.
  17. Fasting provides LEISURE, that could he gainfully employed in devotional or intellectual pursuits. The month‑long duration of fasts creates a proper climate for the SPIRITUAL REFORMATION in man, infusing in him a spirit pf enthusiasm and zest to turn over a new leaf ‑ an opportunity provided every year.
  18. On the physical side, fasting cleanses the human system of the accumulated impurities of uninterrupted eating throughout the year. It prepares the body for toughness and hardihood to face disease or conditions of scarcity. The rigid abstinence that the fast provides, regulates man’s HEALTH, sharpens has INTELLECT, gives spurt to his SPIRITUALLY and enhances the qualities of his HEART. With the cleansing of the human body, it paves the way for its easy and effective rebuilding through meals at the end of the day or after the month is over.

Source: Jamiatul Ulama South Africa

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Prepare for Ramadan

Prepare for Ramadan

Many of us have been counting the days remaining up to the holy month of Ramadan. Five days, four, three, two and the next thing you know here it is. For a believer the name of this month “Ramadan” gives the thought of joy, rewards and a feeling of Allah’s mercy. Truly, this is a season that should be awaited for. Anticipations and emotions for this month are not sufficient. This holy month requires action and activity. It is about altering our timetables and schedules, it demands us to train ourselves to attain Taqwa (fear of Allah or devotion to Him) which in turn, is the element to carry us successfully through the ongoing journey towards the hereafter (akhirah).

But let us ask ourselves have we really prepared for this month? Are we ready to dedicate more time for our spiritual revival ? During the month of Ramadan the holy Prophet (p.b.u.h.) would stay awake in the nights worshipping Allah, awaken his household and increase in worship. (Bukhari, Muslim). Even though we may have experienced many a Ramadans but every Ramadan must be treated as a once in a lifetime opportunity since we have no idea whether we will live till the next Ramadan. Let us look at a few ahadith concerning this holy period.

Increased Rewards & Forgiveness

What are the rewards of good deeds in the month of Ramadan? The reward of every Fardh (compulsory) act is multiplied seventy times while every Nafl (optional) act earns the reward of one Fardh out of Ramadan. (Ibn Khuzaymah). It is important to understand the latter aspect in its proper perspective. Tahajjud (Nafl Salah in the last third of the night) is an extremely great ibadah (worship). Great virtues have been narrated for this Salah. However, a lifetime of tahajjud cannot equal one Fardh of Fajr Salah! Yet in the month of Ramadan Almighty Allah grants us the reward of a Fardh action for every Nafl performed.

The fish in the sea seek forgiveness for those fasting until they break their fast . Allah decorates His Jannah (Paradise) every day and then says, “The time is near when My pious servants shall cast aside the great trials and come to me.” (Musnad Ahmed)

When Ramadan arrives, the gates of Paradise are flung open, the doors of the Hellfire are closed and the Shayateen are imprisoned. (Bukhari)


All good deeds are for the one who renders them, but fasting. Fasting is exclusively for me (Allah). (Bukhari)
The odour of the mouth of a fasting person is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk.(Bukhari)
Fasting is a shield, as long as the fasting person does not tear it up (by disobedience) (Nasaee).


Not a single prayer made by a fasting person at the time of breaking the fast is rejected. (Ibn Majah)

The Nights of Ramadan
Whoever stands in prayer and worship in (the nights of) Ramadan, with Iman and with sincere hope of gaining reward , all his previous sins are forgiven. (Bukhari, Muslim)

Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power)

Whoever stands in prayer and worship in the night of power with Iman and with sincere hope of gaining reward , all his previous sins are forgiven. ( Muslim)
Look for the night of power among the odd numbered nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. (Mishkat)


The Prophet (p.b.u.h.) observed I’etikaf for ten days every year in the month of Ramadan. In the year he passed away he observed it for twenty days. (Bukhari)

The Last Night Of Ramadan

On the last night of Ramadan the fasting Muslims are forgiven. (Musnad Ahmed)


It can be well comprehended from the above that during this month of Ramadan, Almighty Allah makes it easy for us to acquire His blessings, mercy and forgiveness. There can be no better time to attain this than this blessed month. All that is required on our part is to create in our hearts the desire, ambition, devotion, zeal, eagerness and that we exert increased efforts to acquire the pleasure of Almighty Allah.

While one should engage to the maximum in good deeds, the purpose of Ramadan must be kept foremost in mind, which is to acquire Taqwa. Thus together with the maximum amount of righteous actions one must totally refrain from all sins. We should ensure that no act of disobedience is committed. This abstinence in itself is a worship. One month of strictly conducting oneself in this manner will Insha-Allah have the effect of enabling one to live the next eleven months in a similar manner in the complete obedience of Allah. Thus, can we afford to waste this time? Can we still have time for “loafing?” Is it possible for a person who values Ramadan to spend hours eating? or loitering around after taraweeh feasts and gatherings?, or have time for any other idle pursuits? Can we afford to spend valuable time glued to the airwaves listening to the opinions and views of one and all, whereas that time could have been used to at least recite the Holy Quran or send Durood upon our beloved Prophet (p.b.u.h.)? And entertainment? How can it be possible? The last thing that any Muslim who values Ramadan should be bothered about is, who somewhere in the world is whacking a little red ball all over a field or who is kicking a ball between two posts! Let alone comedy or other shows!

Let us really make this Ramadan a profitable one that brings change in our life. We leave you with a quotation of the honorable Mufti Zubair Bayat:
All the “T’s” of Ramadan must be kept in mind so that when Ramadan comes, “everything is to the T!”. These “T’s” are: Tilawah, Tahajjud, Taraweeh, Tasbeehat, Tadharru’ (fervent Dua), Tatawwu’ (Nafl Ibadah), Tasahhur (eating Sehri/Suhoor), Taubah (repentance), Tawadhu (humility) and Tafakkur (contemplation). May Almighty Allah make this Ramadan a turning point in the life of the long-suffering Ummah. Aameen.

Jami’yyatul Ulama Canada

Virtues of Iftari

Hadhrat Sahal (Radhiallaahu Anhu) narrates that the holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “The people will remain prosperous so long as they hasten in breaking their fast (at the time of Iftaar).” [Bukhari]

Hadhrat Abu Hurayra (Radhiallaahu Anhu) narrates that the holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Allah Ta’ala said, ‘The most beloved of my servants in my sight are those who hasten when breaking fast’.” [Tirmidhi]

Hadhrat Salman bin Amir (Radhiallaahu Anhu) narrates that the holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “When one of you breaks his fast he should do so with dates for they provide blessing, but if he cannot get any he should break his fast with water for it is purifying.” [Mishkat]

Hadhrat Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) narrates that the holy Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said: “Not a single prayer made by a fasting person at the time of breaking fast (iftaar) is rejected.” [Ibn Majah]

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Virtues of Sehri

by Sheikhul Hadith Maulana Muhammad Zakariyya

HADITH NO. 7 Ibn Umar (Radhi Allaho anho) relates: Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) said: ‘Verily Allah and His Malaa’ikah send Mercy upon those who eat ‘Sehri’ (sower-Suhoor).”

COMMENTARY How great is Allah’s favour upon us that even the partaking of food before dawn for fasting is so greatly rewarded. There are many Ahaadith in which the virtues of “Sehri” are expounded and the rewards mentioned. Allaamah Ain – Commentator on Bukhari – has quoted the virtues of “Sehri” from seventeen different ‘Sahaabah’ and all the “Ulama” are agreed on its being “Mustahab” (desirable). Many people are deprived of this great reward because of their own laziness. Some even go so far as to finish ‘Taraweeh’, eat (what they suppose to be “Sehri’!) and go to bed. What great blessings do they lose! “Sehri” actually means partaking of food shortly before dawn. Some authorities say that the time for “Sehri” commences after half the night has passed (Mirquat). The author of Kash-shaff (Zamakhshari) divided the night into six portions, stating that the last one of these is the time of “Sehri”; so that, when the night (from sunset till dawn) extends over twelve hours, the last two hours would be the correct time for “Sehri”. Then it must also be remembered that to eat at the latest possible time is better and greater in reward than eating earlier, subject to the condition that no doubt remains as to whether “Sehri” had been eaten before the time of dawn. The Ahaadith are full of virtues of “Sehri”.

Rasulullah (Sallallahu alaihe wasallam) said: ‘The difference between our fasting and that of the Ahlul-Kitaab (Jews and Christians) lies in our partaking of food at “Sehri” which they do not.” The Prophet has said, “Eat Sehri, because in it lie great blessings; and again. “In three things, are the great blessings: in “Jama’ah” (company), in eating “Thareed” and in “Sehri”. In this Hadith, the use of the word “Jama’ah” is general, wherefrom we deduce that it includes “Salaat” with “Jamaa’ah” and all those righteous deeds done in company, as thus Allah’s help comes to them. “Thareed” is a tasty preparation, in which baked bread is cooked with meat. The third thing mentioned in this Hadith is “Sehri”. When Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) used to invite any of the companions to eat “Sehri” with him, he used to say: “Come and partake of blessed food with me.” One Hadith says: “Eat ‘Sehri’ and strengthen yourself for the fast. And sleep in the afternoon (Siesta), so as to gain assistance in waking up in the latter portion of the night (for “Ibaadah”).” Abdullah bin Haarith (Radhiallahu Anhu) reports that one of the Sahaaba said: “I once visited Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihi wasallam) at a time when he was busy in partaking of ‘Sehri’. Rasulullah then said: “This is a thing full of blessings, which Allah has granted you. Do not give it up.” Rasulullah (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam) in urging us repeatedly for ‘Sehri’ has said: “Even though there be no food, then one date should be eaten or a drink of water taken.” Thus, when there are definitely great advantages and reward in ‘Sehri’, Muslims should endeavour to observe this practice as much as possible. However, in all things moderation is important, and going beyond the bounds of moderation is harmful: neither should so little be eaten that one feels weak throughout the period of fasting, nor should so much be eaten that it causes discomfort. Repeatedly, we have been prohibited from filling the stomach excessively.

In his commentary on “Sahih Bukhari”, Ibne Hajar has mentioned various reasons for the blessedness of “Sehri”:

  • Because in it, the ‘Sunnah’ is followed.
  • Through “Sehri”, we differentiate ourselves from the ways of Ahlul-Kitaab, which we are at all times called upon to do.
  • It provides strength for “Ibaadah”
  • It promotes greater sincerity in “Ibaadah”
  • It aids in elimination of bad temper, which normally comes about as result of hunger.
  • ‘Sehri’ is the time when prayers are accepted.
  • At the time of ‘Sehri’, one gets the opportunity to remember Allah, makes Dhikr and lifts up the hand to Him in prayer.

These are a few of the major reasons; there are many others as well. Some ‘Sufis’ are in doubt as to whether the eating of ‘Sehri’ conflicts with the object of fasting or not. They maintain that the object of fasting is to stay away from food, drink and sexual desires, therefore ‘Sehri’ is against the object of fasting. In my opinion the amount to be eaten varies according to different persons and their activities. Foe example, for those students who are busy seeking knowledge of ‘Deen’, too little food at ‘Sehri’ as well as ‘Iftaar’ will be harmful; for them it is better not to have too little, because they seek ‘Deeni’ knowledge, which is very important (for the preservation and spread of Islam). similar is the case of those who are busy with ‘Dhikr’ and other ‘Deeni’ activities. Other people who have no such hard work to do should eat little at ‘Sehri’.

Once Rasulullah (Sallallaahu alayhi Wasallam) announced to those proceeding for ‘Jihaad’: ‘There is no virtue in fasting while travelling.’ That was in the month of Ramadhaan, when some Sahaaba were fasting. Allamah Sha’raani mentions in Sharh Iqna: ‘A covenant was made with us that we shall not fill our stomachs (completely) when eating, especially in the nights of Ramadhaan.’ It is better that one should eat less in the nights of Ramadhaan than on other nights. After all, what is the utility of fasting after having filled oneself at ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’? the religious divines have said, ‘Whoever remains hungry in Ramadhaan shall remain safe from the evil of ‘Shaytaan’ throughout the year, until the next Ramadhaan.’

Sharah Ihya Ulumuddin mentions the experiences of some saints, such as Sahl bin Abdullah Tastari, who used to eat only once every fifteen days, while in Ramadhaan he ate only one morsel; but in order to follow the Sunnah, he used to have a drink of water daily for ‘Sehri’ and ‘Iftaar’. Shaykh Junayd always used to fast throughout the year. However, when his noble friends would visit him occasionally, he used to break his fast and eat with them, saying, ‘The virtue of breaking fast and eating with (such noble) friends is not less than that of ‘Nafl’ fasting.

Similarly, we can mention the experiences of numerous saints who through eating less used to discipline their inner-selves, but let us bear in mind that it should not be carried to such extremes that the’religious’ activities and responsibilities are neglected, as a result of weakness of the body.
Virtues of Ramadhaan

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