Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3: The Manners of Fasting
All Muslims agree that it is preferred to eat a pre-dawn meal and that thereis no sin upon one who does not do so. Anas reported that the Messenger ofAllah said: "Eat a pre-dawn meal, for there are blessings in it."This is related by alBukhari and Muslim.
Al-Miqdam ibn Madyakrib reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:"You should eat this pre-dawn meal for it is a blessed nourishment."This is related by an-Nasa'i with a good chain. The reason why it is a blessingis that it strengthens the fasting person, makes him more energetic, and makesthe fast easier for him.
The sunnah would be fulfilled by eating a small or large quantity of food,or even just by drinking a sip of water. Abu Sa'id al-Khudri reported that theMessenger of Allah said: "The pre-dawn meal is blessed, so do not neglectit even if you only take a sip of water. Verily, Allah and the angels pray forthose who have pre-dawn meals." This is related by Ahmad.
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 a possible). Zaidibn Thabit reported: "We ate the pre-dawn meal with the Messenger of Allahand then we got up for the prayer. He was asked: 'What was the amount of timebetween the two?' He responded: '[The time it would take to recite] fiftyverses.' " This is recounted by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
'Amr ibn Maimun adds: "The companions of Muhammad, upon whom be peace,would be the first to break the fast and the last to eat their pre-dawnmeals." This is recorded by al-Baihaqi with a sahih chain.
Abu Zharr al-Ghafari related that the Prophet said: "My nation willalways retain some goodness as long as they hasten breaking the fast and delayeating the pre-dawn meal." This hadith has in its chain one Sulaim ibn AbuUthman who is unknown.
If one is in doubt whether or not the time of fajr has begun or not, he maycontinue to eat and drink until he is certain that it is fajr. He should notbase his action on doubt or suspicion. Allah has made the signs for beginningthe daily fast very clear and unambiguous. Allah enjoins (upon the believers)in the Qur'an: "Eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomesdistinct from the black thread [of the night]."
A man said to Ibn 'Abbas: "I eat until I suspect that its time hasended so I stop. Ibn 'Abbas observed: "Continue to eat until you arecertain about the time." Abu Dawud reported that Ahmad ibn Hanbal said:"If you have some doubt about fajr, eat until you are sure dawn hascome." This is the opinion of Ibn 'Abbas, 'Ata, al'Auza'i, and Ahmad.
An-Nawawi informs that: "The followers of ash-Shafai agree that one mayeat if he is uncertain whether dawn has come or not."
It is preferred for the fasting person to hasten in breaking the fast whenthe sun has set. Sahl ibn Sad reported that the Prophet said: "The peoplewill always be with the good as long as they hasten in breaking the fast."This is related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
The fast should be broken with an odd number of dates or, if that is notavailable, with some water. Anas reported: "The Messenger of Allah wouldbreak his fast with ripe dates before he would pray. If those were notavailable, he would eat dried dates. If those were not available, he woulddrink some water." This hadith is related by Abu Dawud and by al-Hakim,who called it sahih, and by at-Tirmizhi, who called it hassan.
Sulaiman ibn 'Amr reported that the Prophet said: "If one of you isfasting, he should break his fast with dates. If dates are not available, thenwith water, for water is purifying." This is related by Ahmad and byat-Tirmizhi, who called it hassan sahih.
The preceding hadith also shows that it is preferred to break the fast inthe above manner before praying. After the prayer, the person may continue toeat, but if the evening meal is ready, one may begin with that. Anas reportedthat the Messenger of Allah said: "If the food is already presented, eatbefore the sunset prayer and do not eat your meals in haste." This isrelated by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
Ibn Majah related from 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'Aas that the Prophet, uponwhom be peace, said: "A fasting person, upon breaking his fast, has asupplication that will not be rejected. When 'Abdullah broke his fast he wouldsay: "O Allah, I ask of You, by Your mercy that encompasses everything, toforgive me."
It is confirmed that the Prophet would say: The thirst has gone, the glandsare wet and, Allah willing, the reward is confirmed. In mursal form, it isreported that he would say: "O Allah, for You I have fasted and with Yourprovisions do I break my fast."
At-Tirmizhi recorded, with a good chain, that the Prophet said: "Threepeople will not have their supplications rejected: a fasting person until hebreaks his fast, a just ruler, and an oppressed person."
Fasting is a type of worship that draws one closer to Allah. Allah hasprescribed it to purify the soul and to train it in good deeds. The fastingperson must be on guard against any act that may cause him to lose the benefitsof his fast. Thus, his fast will increase his God-consciousness, and Allah saysin the Qur'an: "O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it wasprescribed for those before you so perchance you may attain Godconsciousness."
Fasting is not just refraining from eating and drinking, but it is alsorefraining from everything else that Allah has forbidden. Abu Hurairah reportedthat the Prophet said: "Fasting is not [abstaining] from eating anddrinking only, but also from vain speech and foul language. If one of you isbeing cursed or annoyed, he should say: "I am fasting, I am fasting."This is related by Ibn Khuzaimah, Ibn Hibban, and al-Hakim. The latter saidthat it is sahih according to Muslim's criterion.
Abu Hurairah also reported that the Prophet, upon whom be peace, said:"Allah does not need the fast of one who does not abandon false speech oracting according to his false speech." This is related by the group,except for Muslim.
Abu Hurairah narrated that the Prophet said: "Perhaps a fasting personwill get nothing from his fast save hunger, and perhaps the one who stands topray at night will get nothing from his standing except sleeplessness."This is related by an-Nasa'i, Ibn Majah, and al-Hakim. The latter said that itis sahih according to alBukhari's criterion.
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.At-Tirmizhi affirms that: "Ash-Shafhi did not see anything wrong withusing a tooth stick [brush] during the beginning or the ending of theday." The Prophet would use his tooth stick [brush] while fasting.
Being generous and studying the Qur'an is recommended during any time, butit is especially stressed during the month of Ramadan. Al-Bukhari recorded thatIbn 'Abbas said: "The Prophet was the most generous of people, but hewould be his most generous during Ramadan when he would meet with [the angel]Gabriel. He would meet with him every night and recite the Qur'an. When Gabrielmet him, he used to be more generous than a fast wind."
Al-Bukhari and Muslim record from 'Aishah that during the last ten days ofRamadan, the Messenger of Allah would wake his wives up during the night andthen remain apart from them (that is, being busy in acts of worship). A versionin Muslim states: "He would strive [to do acts of worship] during the lastten days of Ramadan more than he would at any other time." At-Tirmizhialso recorded this from 'Ali.