A1. More than 1 billion Muslims worldwide celebrate Ramadan, including more than 6 million in the United States. Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, with Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Turkey following. Islam is the fastest-growing religion in America.
A2. Ramadan starts at the beginning of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Because Islam observes a lunar calendar, the official beginning occurs at different times around the globe, based on when the crescent moon is first seen. The lunar calendar is about 11 days shorter than the solar calendar.
A3. Ramadan is derived from the Arabic word ar-ramad, meaning “parched thirst,” and is also the name of the ninth month of the lunar calendar.
A4. In approximately 610 A.D., a caravan trader named Muhammad (pbuh) began wandering the desert near Mecca (in today’s Saudi Arabia). The angel Gabriel appeared to him and told him he had been chosen to receive the world of Allah. In the days that followed, Muhammad began speaking and transcribing the words to the Quran (also spelled “Koran”), the sacred book of Islam.
Muslims consider the Quran to be God’s literal speech, recorded in the Arabic language, and transmitted through humanity via Muhammad, who is considered the last of a chain of prophets that included Adam, Abraham, Moses, David and Jesus.
A5. Ramadan is a month of heightened devotion, a time that the doors of heaven are kept open, and the doors of hell are closed, and Satan is kept in chains. Muslims go through a period of intense reflection and devotion, seeking guidance and forgiveness.
Muslims practice sawm, or fasting, during the entire month. This means they may eat or drink nothing, including water, while the sun shines. Married adults also refrain from marital relations during the hours of fasting (i.e. the daylight hours).
Other duties include five daily prayers and the recitation of the Taraweeh prayer, or Night prayer. At mosques during Ramadan, about one-thirtieth of the Quran is recited in prayers called tarawih. By the end of Ramadan, the entire Quran has been recited.
A6. Fasting is one of the Five Pillars (duties) of Islam. The Quran says that the main reason behind fasting is to attain taqwa, or God-consciousness. While they are hungry and thirsty, Muslims are reminded of the suffering of the poor. Fasting is also an opportunity to practice self-control and to cleanse the body and mind.
In the Muslim world, most restaurants are closed during the daylight hours during Ramadan. Families get up early for suhoor, a meal eaten before the sun rises. After the sun sets, the fast is broken with a meal known as iftar which usually includes dates, fresh fruits, appetizers, beverages and dinner.
All Muslims partake in the customs and celebration of Ramadan, starting at approximately age 12. Exceptions include men and women who are too old to fast, those who are too ill, women in the advanced stages of pregnancy, and women who are menstruating.
A7. “The month of Ramadan is the one in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for mankind, clear proofs for the guidance, the Criterion; so whoever amongst you witnesses this month, let him fast it.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:185)
The hadith, a collection of the sayings of Muhammad, recommends the following:
* Study the Quran.
* Come together for this purpose.
* Check your memory of the Quran.
* Increase your recitation of the Quran.
A8. Ramadan ends with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which in 2004 will occur on Nov. 13. Literally the “Festival of Breaking the Fast,” Eid al-Fitr is one of the two most important Islamic celebrations (the other occurs after the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca). At Eid al-Fitr people dress in their finest clothes, adorn their homes with lights and decorations, give treats to children, and enjoy visits with friends and family. At the end of Ramadan, Muslims give Zakat al Fitr, a monetary contribution to the poor or their mosques.
A9. Fasting is a Fardh (must) and is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is made Fardh in the Qur’an and Hadith.
A10. We fast because Allah (s.w.t.) told us to fast to have more piety (Taqwa). Also fasting makes us healthier as the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Fast and you will be healthier”. Fasting strengthens our self discipline and help us control our desires and actions. When we fast, we see the food, wish to eat it but can’t, and hence can relate to the poor and needy who see the food and cannot buy it, which will motivate us to help the poor and needy. Fasting also makes us appreciate the food and sustenance given to us by Allah (s.w.t.). In non-fasting days, many people get bored by seeing the same menu of food and forget to thank Allah (s.w.t.). During fasting, however, any food looks delicious and we get to appreciate all the food at sunset. The month of Ramadan is also a very important unifying factor among Muslims. It brings the Muslims together until each community becomes like a family when eating together and praying together a great deal on daily basis.
A11. Ramadan is the best of the months of the years. The Qur’an was revealed in it as stated in the Qur’an. Also the rewards are greatly multiplied in Ramadan if the intention is sincere. The gates of Paradise (Jannah) are open, the gates of Hell (Jahannam) are closed, and the Shayatin are tied up as the Prophet (s.a.w.) told us. Also the fasting of Ramadan can wipe out all the wrong doings committed before if we avoid the great ones (Kaba’ir) that need repentance (Tawbah). Qiam (praying at night) in the month of Ramadan can also wipe out all the wrong doings committed before if the great ones are avoided. This does not mean than we cannot do wrong in Ramadan because Shaitan is tied up; people can make the job of Shaitan much easier by coming to him rather than he comes to them. There are so many Hadiths that talk about reward in Ramadan; just to quote some, the Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Whoever fasted Ramadan out of belief in it and sincerely seeking the reward from Allah, all his past wrong doings will be forgiven”. He also said: “Whoever prayed Qiam throughout Ramadan, all his past wrong doings will be forgiven”. It is a good idea to pay Zakah of assets during this month since the reward will be multiplied In Sha’ Allah. Agricultural products Zakah is paid during the harvest time.
A12. Technically, there fasting is corrected but won’t get them any reward. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Whoever does not leave evil talk and working according to it, then Allah does not need him to leave his food and drink”. He also said: “So many fasting people get only hunger and thirst from there fasting, and so many praying at night people get only staying up from their prayer”. Abu-Hamid Al-Ghazali says that abstaining from food, drinks, and intercourse is the fasting of the masses; abstaining from wrong doings is the fasting of the special Muslims; and abstaining from worrying about material life is the fasting of the special of the special (the elite) of the Muslims.
A13. Yes, you can take a bath or a shower and you can dip in water during fasting so long as you do not swallow the water.
A14. No, it does not; the Prophet (s.a.w.) told us that Allah (s.w.t.) feeds and gives drink to the person by making him forget.
A15. No, it does not. However, intentional vomiting voids the fasting.
A16. Yes, you can since they are not food or drink and they do not enter the body from an open entrance that fulfill the desires. Some schools of Fiqh differ on this but the majority say it is okay.
A17. This is a controversial issue in Fiqh; according to Imam Shafi`i, it does void fasting since he considers the ear an open entrance of the body. Other scholars say it does not void the fasting, which I believe is the stronger opinion.
A18. Yes, you can, since it is not entering from the mouth or the nose to the body.
A19. Yes, you cam, but without exaggeration that makes you swallow water. If you do your best to avoid getting water into your throat and some particles do get there unintentionally, your fasting is still valid. So, make sure to sniff out and spit out the water from your nose and mouth after washing them.
A20. No, it does not if you wash your mouth and do not swallow the blood, the water mixed with the blood, or the saliva mixed with the blood. If you take precaution and some tiny particles still get to your throat then your fasting is still valid.
A21. Yes, you can, and it is a Sunnah. The Prophet (s.a.w.) used it very often during the day of fasting. Of course, you should not swallow any pieces that come off the Miswak.
A22. Technically, it does not void your fasting if you are cautious and if you make sure not to swallow the paste or the saliva mixed with it. However, it is much safer to brush with toothpaste after Suhur and before Fajr time and then use the dry brush without paste during the day.
A23. Yes you can as long as it is only saliva.
A24. No, you cannot if you can feel the food pieces. If you swallow them intentionally, your fasting will be void. However, if you could not feel the tiny pieces in your saliva and you swallowed them, or you swallowed the pieces that you can feel by a mistake, then your fasting is not void.
A25. Nursing babies does not void the fasting.
A26. Your fasting would still be valid since it is something out of your control.
A27. Yes, it does void your fasting, and you will have to make up for the day. If the mistake was in eating Sahur after Fajr, you still should fast and then make up for the day.
A28. No, it would not void your fasting since it is out of your control.
A29. No, they do not have to. They can take it after Fajr time enters so that they can pray Fajr.
A30. No, it would not so long as one can control himself/herself. Also the same is for holding hands and similar things between the married couple.
A31. The Sunnah is to eat as soon as the sun sets. It is against the Sunnah to wait late until it is dark or until seeing the stars. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “My Ummah (nation) is still on the right path as long as they eat Iftar soon”.
A32. It is Sunnah to eat Sahur and it is Sunnah to delay it until before Fajr. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “Eat Sahur since there is Barakah (blessing) in Sahur”. Once Fajr starts, one should quit eating and drinking right away. The Prophet (s.a.w.) said: “My Ummah (nation) is still on the right path as long as they eat Iftar soon and eat Sahur late”.
A33. Sahur is the food you eat while Suhur is the process getting up and eating Sahur.
A34. It is recommended to do what the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to do; he used to start with soft dates; if he could not find, then dry dates; if he could not find, then water. Then, he used to pray and come back and eat his meal. He also said that if the food is already served, start with the food. People, however, should not make it a habit to serve food before Maghrib prayer since the time is short for Maghrib.
A35. You say what the Prophet (s.a.w.) used to say: “Allahumma Inni Laka Sumt, Wa `Ala Rizqika Aftart. Zahabaz-Zama, Wabtallatil-`uruq, Wa Thabatal Ajru In Sha’ Allah”, which means: “Oh Allah, I fasted for you, and I broke my fast on your sustenance; thirst is gone, the blood vessels are wet, and the reward is granted In Sha’ Allah”. Then say what you usually say before any meal: “Allahumma Barik Lana Fima Razaqtana, Wa Qina `Azaban-Nar, Bismillah”, which means: “Oh, Allah, bless what you have provided us with, and protect us from the punishment of the fire, in the name of Allah”.
A36. It does not void your fasting to taste with the tip of your tongue and then to spit out what is left on your tongue or in your mouth.
A37. Yes, she can without voiding her fasting if she makes sure not to swallow any food. This, however, may not be needed at all in most places these days since there are machines to do that, and it is better not to do it when there is an alternative.
A38. If the gum has sweets in it then it voids your fasting since it will mix with the saliva. However, if it is a natural gum with no pieces falling off such as the one from the terbinth tree the it does not void the fasting; however, it is Makruh since it is not consonant with fasting and is similar to eating and drinking since it fulfills some desires.
A39. No, she cannot. It would be Haram to fast during those two times since the worship of Allah (s.w.t.) should be by obeying Allah’s commands.
A40. Niyyah (intention) is a pillar in the fasting and it should made any time before Fajr and does not have to be said since it is in the heart. Getting up for Suhur actually fulfills the Niyyah; also going to sleep at night intending to fast the next day fulfills the Niyyah. So, if you intended not to fast and then fasted, you will have to make up for that day. This is not the case in voluntary fasting where you can fast with a Niyyah made during the daytime.
A41. No, it would not be void.
A42. You are allowed to break your fast if you are traveling but you do not have to. It is better to do what is more convenient for you; if fasting is easy on you and making up later is hard, then fast; however, if fasting is too hard for you or you can easily make up later, then do not fast.
A43. The distance is 84 KM or about 52.5 miles according to most Muslim scholars. Traveling can be by any means, whether it is an airplane or a camel.
A44. No, she does not have to fast if she fears for her health, her baby’s health, or both. If she does not fast, then she should make up for the days she did not fast. However, if she is having a lot of children, and it is inconvenient for her to make up since she is one year pregnant and one year or more nursing, then she can feed a poor person for every day that she did not fast instead of making up.
A45. No, it does not void the fast according to Dr. Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi, whether it is gaseous or compressed gas in a liquid form. It it is a strong Asthma, the perspon is not required to fast anyway, but if he/she fasts and uses the inhaler, the fast will count.