Fasting in Ramadan

FASTING (1)

By G. A. Parwez

Translated by Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque

The Quran’s injunctions of fasting are explained briefly. These injunctions have been given in the surah Bakrah. The related verses are given below:

  1. “O believers, prescribed for you is fasting, as it was prescribed for those that were before you that you may safeguard the Divine Laws.”(2: 183)
  2. “Fasting is for a prescribed number of days.”(2:184)
  3. “If (during Ramadan) any of you is sick or on a journey, he must complete the prescribed number by fasting on other days.”(2:184)
  4. “And if those who cannot fast except with strain hard to bear, providing food for a person in need in lieu there-of is enough for them.”(2:184)
  5. “Whoso volunteers for good, it is good for him; that you fast is good for you provided you understand the rationale for fasting.”(2:184)
  6. “Fastings are of the month of Ramadan during which the Quran has been revealed.”(2:185)
  7. “Hence a person among you who is at home during this month should observe fasting of this month. If anyone of you is sick or is on a journey, he should complete the prescribed number of fasts by fasting on other days.”(2:185)
  8. “And eat and drink unit the white thread of the dawn becomes clear to you from the black thread, then complete the fast up to the night.”(2:187)
  9. “Permitted to you, on the night of fasting, is to cohabit with your wives.”(2:187)

With these verses, it became known that:

  • Fastings are of the month of Ramadan (neither of three days, nor of nine day, but of the complete month).
  • During fasting – right from the time the white thread of the dawn becomes clear till the end of day – eating, drinking and having sexual intercourse with one’s wife is prohibited.
  • Fastings are for a person who is at home during this month and is healthy. The patient, on recovering from illness, and the traveler, on returning from journey, may complete the prescribed number of fast by fasting on other days.
  • One condition remains unsettled now. It is for the person who (in so-called general meanings) is neither sick nor on journey. But due to one or the other reason, fasting for him is a strain hard to bear e.g. there is an old man residing at his residence and is not sick. But due to his old age, he has become so weak that he cannot fast except with great hardship. It is evident, he can not be said to complete the prescribed number of fasts by fasting on other days after the month of Ramadan. The decree for such persons has been described in verse 4: Those who can not fast except with great hardship, need not to entangle, in any hardship. They may provide food for a person in need in lieu there-of.

Pause to reflect. The above mentioned three kinds have contained the nature of every condition. That was the very requirement of the comprehensibility of the injunction. 

We have translated this verse “waAAala allatheena yuteeqoonahu” as “Those who may fast but with a strain hard to bear.” Though it is generally translated as “Those who have capability to fast.” This translation is not correct. It is because this translation would mean: Those-who-have-capability-to-fast may provide food to a person in need while those-who-no-capability-to-fast may observe fasting. It cannot be the will of the Quran. The crux of the matter is that the exposition of the word “TAQAT” acccepted to be understood in Urdu among us is different from its exposition in Arabic language. Consult Arabic Lexicons for it. At page 1304, Volume two of Moheel-ul-Moheet, it is written as: 

“The meaning of TAQAT is ‘to be able to’, ‘to have power over a thing’ – but ‘to be able to’ is such a quality of prowess which a person can hardly do. Actually this word is derived from ‘TAUQ’ which means to grab anything within its enclosure.” “That which we have no prowess” is not the meaning of this verse “rabbana wala tuhammilna ma la
taqata lana bihi” (2:286). Its meanings are “The compliance of which is hard for us.” 

Similarly in the famous Arabic Lexicon “Lisan-ul-Arab,” vol. 12, p. 103, it is written: 

TAQAT is the name of that quantity of prowess, which is possible with great hardship for a human. 

Muftee Muhammad Abduh, in his ‘Tafseer-ul-Manaar’ vol. II, at page 155, writes:

ITAA QATUN, in fact, is absolutely the lower nomenclature of MAKNAT and QUDRAT. For this reason, the Arabs use ATAQ-UL-SHAEY only at that time when its prowess is extremely weak, i.e. ‘it be hard to bear’. So UTEE QOONA HOO ‘old, weak and crippled people whose state of disrepair cannot be expected to be removed and that these are the people who like them are helpless. It means these are the working class people whose subsistence, God has placed in the jobs, which are hard to be accomplished. That is why Imam Raghib (on him be mercy) has written: TAQAT, is the name of that quantity of the prowess ‘the doing of which is with great hardship for the human.’ 

This has, too, been corroborated with the ‘Tafseer Kashaaf,’ where it has been written that: 

The exposition of TAQATUN includes those jobs the performance of which is with strain hard to bear. And the words “waAAala allatheena yuteeqoonahu” mean those old men and old women for whom there is the decree of redemption for not fasting. It is for this reason that this verse is confirmed and not repealed. 

In the exegesis ‘Rooh-ul-Ma’ani,’ there is written that 

In Arabic language, the word al-was’a is the name of that prowess “which is with ease” and the word taqa tun is the name of that power “which is with severity and hardship.” Hence the meaning (of this verse) would be “And these persons, who can fast with severity and hardship, have to give food to a person in need.”

(Rooh-ul-ma’ani, vol. II, p. 59) 

From the aforementioned elaborations, you have understood the exposition of the word taqa tun    in the Arabic language and hence on the same basis, the translation of this verse “waAAala allatheena yuteeqoonahu” like the following translation is not correct: “And those who have the power to observe fasting.” Its correct translation is this: Those who can observe fasting with strain hard to bear. 

As you know, the style of the Quran is that it puts forth a principle, and then it leaves to the collective system of the Ummah to stem its detail on its own. Hence this very comprehensive style has been used for this verse: “waAAala allatheena yuteeqoonahu” 

A principle has been stated here and its detail has not been given on its own (as to whom are those people who can fast with strain hard to bear). Its detail has already been defined and can even now be reconsidered. Nevertheless, in Allama Qartabee’s book ‘Jaama-e-Ahkaam-ul-Quran’ (vol, II, pp. 368-369), it has been written that: 

All the scholars agree on this contention that old men and old women, who do not even have power to fast, or can fast with severe hard labor, not to observe fasting is legitimate for them. But there is disagreement on this point: What is the charge that such people have to undertake? Hence Imam Rabee and Imam Malik (on them be mercy) have said: There is no charge that they have to undertake. But Imam Malik, has, also, said if these people give food to a person in need every day, it is desirable in my opinion. Hazrat Uns, Ibn-e-Abbas, Qais bin Assaa-eb and Abu Huraira (on them be mercy) have said: The charge they have to undertake is redemption and not the making up for the omission (the delayed fasting).

Muftee Syed Muhammad Abduh has further added to it, and has said: 

The verse alla zeena utee qoona is intended to mean such old, weak and crippled people whose removal of their state of disrepair is not expected. In the same way those people will also be included in their category who are laborers, whose subsistence God has laced in the jobs very hard to accomplish, i.e. labor of the coal mining, and those criminals who are in rigorous imprisonment and those for whom fasting is with strain-hard-to-bear. The third category is of those people for whom fasting is with strain hard to bear due to some factors which are not expected to be removed. For example old age, congenital weakness, employment in the jobs demanding hard labor and chronic disease the recovery of which is not expected. And similarly those people whose cause of strain is a normal routine, for example pregnant woman and lactating woman. It is legitimate for all these people that in lieu of fasting they may give food to a person in need. The quality of the food may be equal to the average food of a normal person to fill up his/her belly.

(Tafseer-ul-Manaar, vol. II, pp. 155-157) 

These elaborations enable to compile the following list: 

  • Old man and old woman
  • Pregnant woman
  • Lactating Woman
  • Crippled and Invalids
  • Those suffering from chronic diseases – who may not be expected to recover and may, with this state of disrepair, fast with strain hard to bear
  • The weak – who are constitutionally born weak
  • The labor whose subsistence is always through the jobs demanding severe hard labor, for example those working in the mines, in the factories or rickshaw-drivers
  • The criminal who are taken in rigorous work in the prisons 

This is not the only comprehensive list. Additions according to the existing as well as individual circumstances can be made to it. But the principle is this alone: whosoever can fast with strain hard to bear, may not fast. 

Briefly saying these are the very injunctions of the Quran about fasting. Consult these verses in the Quran on your own as well. (i.e. Surah Baqr, verse 183 to 188) (1963)

FASTING (2)

By G. A. Parwez

Translated by Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque

TARAWEEH 

A person from Lakhnow (India) writes:

The Hanafees say there are twenty rak’ahs of Taraweeh to be offered daily as compulsory Sunnah in Ramadan; but Ahl-i-Hadith and Shias are not convinced with it. To the Ahl-i-Hadith Taraweeh and Tahajjud are one and the same thing; the number of rak’ahs in both is eight; they talk of the twenty rak’ahs of Taraweeh as schism – an innovation. There have remained and are continuous happenings of bickering over this issue among the Hanfees and the Ahl-i-Hadith. What is your research about Tarweeh? . . . The Hanafees confess this fact that there was no practice of offering Taraweeh before the saga of Hazrat Umar, even then they consider the renouncers of Taraweeh as sinful. What is its genuineness? 

TOLU-E-ISLAM 

There is no mention of Taraweeh in the Quran. These were initiated at the times of Allah’s Messenger or of Hazrat Umar’s. This is a question of history. The Shias and Sunnees have disagreement over it. Everyone is aware of these discussions and controversies. On the question whether the number of rak’ahs in Taraweeh is eight or twenty, there is disagreement within the Sunnees itself. And no one is unaware of these debates. Tolu-e-Islam does not revel in such debates. Its precept in the matters not mentioned in the Quran is self-explanatory. 

Islam is the name of the life of preservation of the self within the boundary walls of the Quran. For this purpose, it is necessary that the human (Muslim) must know as to what are the boundary walls of the Quran and along with it, he must also get himself up for self-control. The month of Ramadan is the specific instrument for inculcating and substantiating each of these two matters. In the modern terminology, call it a Training Camp or a Refresher Course. The fasting makes the human get himself up for leading striven-life through self-control. And its fixing is in this month, wherein the beginning of revelation of the Quran was initiated. It brings this stark fact to the fore-front that special arrangements during this Training Course should be made for gushing forth the entire Quran to the striven-people (Mijahideen) so that they may fully comprehend as to what the connexion of “the sword and the Quran” is with each other and how these two come to be the instrument for safeguarding each other. It appears that the Islamic system of the First Era, in order to bring the Quran to the mind of the people all at the lame time, devised this method – and method is now being performed only to acquire the reward of a virtuous act (Sawaab). It is because the way the Quran is recited now, during the Taraweeh, is neither understood by the Quran-conner who cause others to hear it as to what he had recited, nor do their disciples in the congregation comprehend it as to what they have listened. And it is obvious that the way the words of the Quran are repeated and heard without being understood cannot make the exposition of the Quran understandable. And neither it can be known which design of life it carves for us. When the system of caliphate based on the precept of Nabuvva is established, its job will be to oversee where the revamping is essential in our traditional mores and cores. It will then be the time, whence-fore the correct concept of “Sin and Sawaab” comes to the fore-view. (1956)

FASTING (3)

By G. A. Parwez

Translated by Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque

ETEKAAF 

A person from Karachi writes:

Some days back I had a chance of hearing a sermon of a big Maulvi Sahib in Jumm’a prayer. He proved the order of Etekaaf from the Quran and told that to sit in Etekaaf during the last ten days of Ramadan is a very important worship. He elaborated the orders of Etekaaf in such a way that I sensed pure monasticism glistening vividly in it. (He was saying) a man confines in a mosque for sometimes, far away from the hurly-burly of life; where he remains busy in the prayer (worship) of Allah all the time. – I could not understand as to how Islam and the Quran impart such type of teaching of monasticism. But I was amazed when he refered the Quran for what he had said; he recited the verse of Surah Baqr of the Quran and put on the pan of the Quran what he had said. Will you please explain as to what the factual position of Etekaaf is and what the correct meaning of the referred verse is? 

TOLU-E-ISLAM 

You have correctly understood. In such a type of Etekaaf in vogue among us, the person sitting for Etekaaf by stretching out a coverlet remains occupied in a corner of a mosque. And he does nothing except repeating the words of the Quran day and night or remains sleeping. It is absolutely non-Quranic and negation of the true essence of Islam. Islam does never impart the teaching of such a type of monasticism or worship. There is no mention of such kind of Etekaaf in the Quran. The words – Aakefoon and Aakefeen – have come at many a place in the Quran, where the meanings are: “continuously and steadfastly go on doing a work.” About K’ab’a, it has been said that it is for “Taa-i-feen” (2: 125). Here “Aak-i-feen” means such a group of people who does not keep the humanity unkempt and tossed but keeps its environ set in order by tying it up in a relation and continuously remains busy in this very noble cause – with this bliss enjoyed, its members take their way on. (You will find the meanings of these words in the Lughaat-ul-Quran – Lexicon of the Quran). 

In the very verse you have referred, there has neither been any order given to the Muslims for sitting in Etekaaf, nor has any aspect of its honor been described. In the aforementioned verse, nothing more has been given except that there is a direction for those “Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid” And nothing else. The meanings of “Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid” are – those taking up their abode punctually in the mosque, those harboring in the mosques, those having a firm footing in the mosques. Who are these “Aak-i-feen Fil-Masaajid” whose mention has, by the way, been made in the injunctions of fasting? In order to understand it – without getting bogged down in its detail – keep this point in mind that fasting is, in fact, a Training Course for developing self-control and endurance in the Muslims. And the mosques are the locus standi in the national life of the Muslims. In connection with fasting, the mosques here mean the Training Centers or the Training Camps. Then understand this point that in this annual training course there may necessarily be some people, who may be detained in the training centers or training camps during the night hours for the accomplishment of some argent matters. As has already been described in detail in the verses given under the injunctions of fasting that those (i.e. the general fasting persons), taking part in this Training Course, have been ordered not to eat and drink and not to cohabit with their wives for the whole day. They have been permitted therein that they can go to their wives during night hours (when there is no fasting at night). But contrary to the general fasting persons, those who have been assigned certain duties and have been detained in Training Centers or Training Camps, during night hours, should remain away from their wives during night hours. This is neither limited to ten days, nor to the last days of Ramadan. It depends upon the System to observe as to how many days or how long this System detains a person in the Training Centers or Camps during the night hours. Any way, as long as these persons remain in the Training Centers or Camps, they will have to avoid the sexual intercourse with their wives. It is this – the exposition and the perspective of this verse of the Quran. Since this System has eluded our observations, and all maters are being carried out just as traditional worship, hence is this vestige of Etekaaf being acted upon – just a ritual convention in vogue among us. (1956)

FASTING (4)

By G. A. Parwez

Translated by Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque

 LAILAT-UL-QADAR, THE NIGHT OF MANIFESTATION OF A NEW WORLD 

What are the problems before the living nations for the solutions of which their days and nights become the primary swamp of their struggle and action? And which problems are confronting the Muslim community for which the Muslims get increasingly worried about the solutions? And the solutions the priests of their religion have suggested out of their sheer benefaction are given below with the help of the two examples just for you to estimate as to what the quality of their solutions is.

The following questions and their answers have been published in Sadaq (Lacknow) vide its issue of July 15:

What is thing known as “Shah-i-Qadar”?

What is intended to search it out?

What is its state and how does it look to be?

How to seek it out? 

These are the very questions, which continue emerging in the mind. Some one says it is the light which looks manifested during the condition of pray and austerity. While other says it is some thing else. As many are the preachers, so many are the contradictory sermons. These, instead of settling the issue, pay to increase the miasma of mental agony. After consulting the exegesis of the Sura Inna an zal na by Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani and the annotations of Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani given in the Quran, it became known that an specific commotion comes to prevail upon imbuing adequate inclination, motivation and interest during prayers and invocation. Even the consulting of Tafseer Biyaan-ul-Quran for the meaning and exegesis of this Sura could not solve this knot any more. 

From the Bukhari’s Ahadith of the Messenger(s), it became known that “Shab Qadr” comes to effectuate at one night i.e. the night which falls in one of the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan. What does come to effectuate in these nights? It is hoped you will unveil the covering so that the long-standing confusion is settled. Hope you will very kindly guide on this issue. 

SADAQ 

“Shab Qadr” belongs to the transcendental world. Its complete detail has not even occurred in Hadith. And what so ever it is – we have only this thing beneficial at our disposal – and it is that what we ought to do during those nights. It is the most virtuous and the most reverend night of the year (as is the Friday, the most virtuous day of the week and Ramadan, the most reverend month of the year). In Hadith, it has been identified that it falls in the odd nights of the last ten days of Ramadan: 21, 23, 25, 27, 29, the five nights. The mind of great many religious scholars goes to the 27th night. Keeping it ambiguous, unfolded the open expediency of Sharia, the religious code, that all the five nights (and when it becomes a habit: all the ten nights) be lived busy in striving for the Divine prayer, the invocation and the revamping of one’s self. Surely there would have been shower of special lightning and sparkling and a few of the pious men (Ahl-i-Dil) would have had the visibility of something through their material eyes. The real, the genuine, phenomenon is that maximum preparations be made for the awakening of the soul and the purification of the self – and no opportunity for supplication and benediction be lost.

TOLU-E-ISLAM 

The Quran has simply said that Lailat-ul-Qadr is that night in which the revelation of the Quran was initiated. And the Quran’s revelation was started in the month of Ramadan. Since through the Quran’s revelation the world got new values, so the night in which its revelation burgeoned was surely the Laila-tul-Qadr, the night of VALUES. The Quran does say nothing more than that. (1955)

FASTING (5)

By G. A. Parwez

Translated by Dr. Manzoor-ul-Haque

EID-UL-FITR 

Inquiries from numerous places have been initiated to know as to the honor of which ceremony, the Eid-ul-fitr is celebrated and that what the purpose of this festival is. The answer tendered to this question is that at the eve of Ramadan – and that of its ending – Eid-ul-Fitr is, in deed, a sacred function of the annual celebration of the Quran’s revelation. Usually the festivals of jubilation and rejoicing are celebrated in the world for the change of the seasons or for establishing the monument of any person or for preserving any prominent event of history. But what Islam declares is this: The change of season takes place according to the Law of Allah; the human’s monuments can perish and the world’s events can be made to forget. But the message of Allah preserved in the Quran can never vanish – the charge of its preservation He got unto himself; He who is alive and can never die; is so lasting that He has neither any decadence, nor is destined to decay. This rejoicing Festival of Eid is the monument of the revelation of living and lasting Book of Allah, the Allah who is the Living and the Everlasting. Preparations were made all over the month for the celebration of this festival (those preparations were, in deed, the integral part of this Festival as well). Islam is the name of obedience to the Divine Laws – not the obedience by compulsion but the obedience from the core of the heart. It is the accomplishment of the Laws in such a way that a true sub-ordinate to these Laws can not even touch a thing, unlawful and unrecognized. It is he, in whose hands, no illegitimate loss can be rendered to the property, life, honor and chastity of any human. For the consolidation of this very passion of obedience, it has been ordered that in compliance to this Law, even the thing lawful and pleasing be left for some time so that there be never any casting of the eye to the thing unlawful and unrecognized. They were made habitual to bear the intense pangs of hunger and thirst all the day over so that they are addicted to pass smilingly and steadfastly through the extremely difficult stages of their life struggle. It was, as if, an Annual Training Camp in which provisions were made to revitalize the new inspirations in life; it was a refresher course, a memoria technica, to reinvigorate the memorandum, – that in which the direct link between Allah and man was refreshed. It was stock taking through which we had to evaluate the sum total of our deeds and consequences spread over the whole year to oversee as to what extent we have marched ahead on this scale in one year. When, after the labor of hard work and during the obedience of a complete month, growth in the tender feelings of heart, vision in eyes, sharpening in minds and invigoration in psyche were inculcated, they were ordered to assemble at a place so that they may sit jointly and contemplate as to what they have to do to achieve and perpetuate the life which is the characteristic feature of the party of those who follows the Laws of Allah (Party of Momineen); and that the contracts of which are vividly glistening, like the true diamonds, in every page of the Quran. As a result of this contemplation they may develop such a program, which their selected leader (Imam) may announce in his address. After that, their representatives with this decisive program may start going to the concrete capital of the Islamic Ummah (i.e. the House of Allah at Mecca) where, in the light of these various local programs, a common system is devised for the all Ummah. It is these – the various integers of this mirthful festival and the brief outline of its integral parts. Keep these in view and then reflect how these festivals on the basis of which there were living hopes bouncing on every facet of its vastness, and the fresh thrilling invigorating the psyche of human have gradually transformed into the icons of rituals. According to Allama Iqbal (R):

 That Blood no longer remain in thy veins

That heart, that craving no more in thy life

Thou hast the prayer, the fasting, the sacrifice, the Hajj

All in rituals alive in thee But thou hast lost thyself.

(1955)

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