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Fards in the Religion

Every Muslim must know thirty-three binding duties (fards) of Islam. These are:

Articles of belief: 6

Pillars of Islam: 5

Fards of salat: 12

Fards of wudu’: 4

Fards of ghusl: 3

Fards of tayammum: 3

Articles of Belief

The articles of belief are six:

1) Belief in Allah (swt), the One and Only

2) Belief in His angels

3) Belief in the books He sent

4) Belief in the prophets He sent

5) Belief in the Day of Judgment

6) Belief in destiny (that everything takes place according to His will).

Pillars of Islam

The five fundamental observances revealed in the Prophet’s (saas) hadith constitute the pillars of Islam. The Messenger of Allah (saas) said:

“The religion of Islam is based on five fundamental principles: attesting that there exists no deity but Allah, that Muhammad is His servant and His messenger, praying, fasting and pilgrimage.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

Prayer (Salat)

Our Prophet (saas) stated that the first act of worship that people will give an account of in the Hereafter is the prayer (salat) and the servant will be saved if he has fulfilled them and that he will be among the lost if he failed. (al-Tirmidhi)

In a hadith al-sharif related by Umar (ra), people asked Allah’s Messenger (saas) which act of worship was most pleasing to Allah (swt). The Prophet (saas) answered: “To offer prayer at the right time. Whoever abandons his prayer, he has no religion. The prayer is the pillar of the religion.” (al-Bayhaqi)

In one verse, Allah (swt) reveals the following:

Recite what has been revealed to you of the Book and establish salat. Salat precludes indecency and wrongdoing. And remembrance of Allah is greater still. Allah knows what you do. (Surat al-‘Ankabut, 45)

Prayer may be performed either alone or in congregation in the mosque led by an imam. However, the Friday and eid prayers are performed in congregation. Muslims relay their desires by praying alone to Almighty Allah (swt). They seek forgiveness of their sins directly from Allah (swt), for there is no intermediary between the believer and Him.

The Prophet (saas) was very conscientious about his prayers and continued to pray until he was so exhausted that he could no longer stand. One of the Companions asked him why he exhausted himself so much though he was given the good news of the Garden. He (saas) replied: “Should I not be a grateful servant?” (Ahmad)

Some of the hadiths of our Prophet (saas) about prayer are the following:

“The similitude of five prayers is like an overflowing river passing by the gate of one of you in which he washes five times daily.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1411)

“Between a man and disbelief there is only the giving up of prayer.” (Sahih Muslim)

“The distinguishing factor between them and us is the prayer. Therefore, the one abandoning the prayer has resembled an unbeliever.” (al-Tirmidhi)

“To offer prayers with the congregation is twenty-seven times more meritorious than to offer it alone.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

“If they were to know what excellence lies in the night prayer and morning prayer, they would have definitely come even if crawling (on their knees).” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 0877)

 “… when a servant goes to the mosque, after performing wudu properly, and there is no other object of his going except (offering) prayer, he is elevated by one rank at each step and one sin of his forgiven.” (Sahih Muslim)

“The most eminent among human beings (as a recipient of) reward (is one) who lives farthest away (from the mosque), and who has to walk the farthest distance. He who waits for the prayer, to observe it along with the Imam, his reward is greater than one who prays (alone) and then goes to sleep." (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1401)

“When you see that a person is attached to the mosque and looks after it (devotedly), give the testimony of faith for him.” (al-Tirmidhi and ibn Majah)

“A time will come when the conversation of the people in the mosques will center around their worldly affairs. You must not sit with such people. Allah has nothing to do with them.” (al-Bayhaqi)

After every fard prayer, Allah’s Messenger (saas) used to say: “There is no god but Allah. He is One and without a partner. Unto Him belongs Sovereignty and unto Him belongs all praise. In His Hand is all good and He has power over all things. O Allah! No one can withhold what You bestow, and no one can bestow what You decide to withhold, and the prosperity of no prosperous one can make him independent of You i.e., even the wealthiest and most powerful person is a beggar at the door of Your mercy.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

“If anyone extols Allah (recites Subhan Allah) after every prayer thirty-three times, and praises Allah (recites Al-hamdu lillaah) thirty-three times, and declares His Greatness (recites Allah-u-Akbar) thirty-three times, ninety-nine times in all, and says to complete a hundred: ‘La ilaha illa Allah wahdahu la sharikah lahu, lahu al-mulk wa lahu al-hamd, wa huwa ‘ala kulli shay'in qadir’ (There is no god but Allah, having no partner with Him, to Him belongs sovereignty and to Him is praise due, and He is Potent over everything), his sins will be forgiven even if these are as abundant as the foam of the sea.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 004, Number 1243)

The most important element in performing the prayer is to be in a spirit of fear filled with respect. In order to be in this spirit, the Prophet (saas) advised us: “When you pray, pray like the one who says farewell to his lower self, his desires and his life, and turns to his Lord.” (Ibn Majah)

Aisha (ra) relates how meticulous the Prophet (saas) was about prayers:

“Allah’s Messenger (saas) talked to us and we talked to him, we laughed and conversed. But when the time for prayer came, presumably out of Divine majesty, he became as if he did not know us and we did not know him.”

Timings of the prayer

Prayer is performed at five specific times of day. In addition to the daily ones, prayer is also performed in congregation once each Friday and twice a year on the Islamic eids (feasts).

1. Salat al-fajr (morning prayer): a sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rak‘ahs and a fard prayer consisting of 2 rak‘ahs

2. Salat al-zuhr (noon prayer): a sunnah prayer consisting of 4 rak‘ahs, a fard prayer consisting of 4 rak‘ahs, and a final sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rak‘ahs

3. Salat al-‘asr (afternoon prayer): a sunnah prayer consisting of 4 rak‘ahs and a fard prayer consisting of 4 rak‘ahs

4. Salat al-maghrib (evening prayer): a fard prayer consisting of 3 rak‘ahs and a sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rak‘ahs

5. Salat al-‘isha’ (night prayer): a sunnah prayer consisting of 4 rak‘ahs, a fard prayer consisting of 4 rak‘ahs, and a final sunnah prayer consisting of 2 rak‘ahs (a witr prayer*)

* The witr prayer consists of three rak‘ahs and is performed after the night prayer’s final sunnah. Its time ends with the end of the night prayer’s time and the beginning of the morning prayer’s time.

The witr prayer commences with the statement of intention: “I intend to offer today’s witr prayer for the sake of Allah.” It is normally performed in two rak‘ahs. After the pause in a sitting position at the end of the two rak‘ahs and reciting the tahiyyat, one rises for a third rak‘ah. After reciting the basmalah, Surat al-Fatiha, and several Qur’anic verses, the takbir position is assumed, “Allahu akbar” is said with the hands folded together, and then the du‘ah qunut are offered. The words “Allahu akbar” are spoken while moving on to the ruku‘ and sajdah positions. One then sits down, recites the tahiyyat, salli-barik, and rabbana du‘ahs, and then turns his or her head to the right and then to the left. (Ibn Abidin, Radd al-Mukhtar, [Egypt: 1966], 2:5)

The witr prayer is not mentioned in the Qur’an; however, it does appear in various hadiths, some of which are as follows: “Allah is single and loves what is single, so observe the witr, O you who follow the Qur'an.” (Sahih al-Bukhari; Sahih Muslim; al-Tirmidhi; and Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 8, Number 1411)

“Allah the Exalted has given you an extra prayer that is better for you then the red camels (i.e., high breed camels). This is the witr, which Allah has appointed for you between the night prayer and the daybreak.” (Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 8, Number 1413)

The fards of the prayer

Prayer has twelve fards, some of which must be observed before beginning the prayer. They are known as the conditions or prerequisites of prayer. Others, known as the “pillars of prayer,” are observed while praying.

The prerequisites of prayer

1. Purity from hadath: Cleansing oneself of invisible impurities by performing wudu’ or ghusl, as appropriate, or tayammum (when it is impossible to perform the former two).

2. Purity from najasat: Cleansing oneself of visible impurities on one’s body or clothing before praying.

3. Covering of satar: Covering what needs to be covered. For men, this consists of everything between the navel and the knee; for women, it is the whole body, excluding the hands, face, and feet. If one-quarter of what must be covered becomes uncovered while praying for as long as it takes one to perform one pillar of salat, the prayer is invalid.

4. Facing the qiblah: Facing toward the Ka`bah while praying. If the one praying turns his or her chest away from the qiblah (approximately 45 degrees), the prayer is invalid.

5. Prescribed time: There is a specific time for each fard and wajib prayer. Prayers must be performed within the times set out for them. The prayer cannot be performed beforehand. It is also a sin to leave it for later without a legitimate justification.

6. Making the niyyah: Calling to mind the prayer to be performed. The imam must intend to fulfill his role, and the congregation must intend to follow the imam.

The pillars of prayer

1. Takbir Tahrimah: After preparing one’s intention, one says “Allahu akbar,” raises his or her hands, and recites the takbir.

2. Qiyam: Standing while praying. If one has a valid excuse not to stand, he or she may pray while seated.

3. Qira’at: Reciting at least three short Qur’anic verses during qiyam.

4. Ruku`: Bending so that one’s hands will touch one’s knees.

5. Sujud (sajdah): Placing one’s forehead and nose, along with one’s toes, knees, and hands on the ground. It is not sufficient for the forehead and nose to merely touch the ground; the forehead must feel the ground’s hardness. In large crowds, those in the back rows may rest their foreheads on the backs of those in the front rows.

6. Qa’dah Akhirah: Sitting at the end of the prayer long enough to recite the tahiyyat.

The mustahabbat of the prayer

Things that the Prophet (saas) did only once or twice are referred to as mandub or mustahabb. For example, saying tasbih more than three times in ruku` and sajdah or reciting, during the qira’at, more verses than the Sunnah requires. Mustahabbat have been legitimized as complementing the sunnahs.

According to the Hanafis, the following mustahabbat are mandub (recommended):

1) Men, while saying the takbir tahrimah, should take both hands out of their outer garment, for this is closer to modesty. If it is cold, however, they do not have to do so. Women have to raise their hands under their outer garment so that their arms will not be exposed.

2) During the qiyam, one should look at where the forehead will rest during sajdah, at the feet’s upper surface during ruku`, at the nostril flaps during sajdah, at the lap during the qa’dah, and at the shoulders when turning one’s head. The individual must strive to perform an excellent prayer with khushu` (humility). The Messenger of Allah (saas) has described excellence (ihsan) as:

“That you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him, for although you don’t see Him, He, verily, sees you.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 001, Number 0001)

3) Try to keep the mouth closed when yawning. If this is not possible, one should cover it with the back of one’s hand.

4) Try not to cough.

5) During iqamah, when the muezzin says “Hayya ‘ala al-falah,” the imam and congregation should stand. If the imam is not near the mihrab, each row through which he’ll pass must stand. (See al-Bukhari, Salat, 9; Abu Dawud, 106-107)

When the words “qad qamat as-salat” (prayer has been established) are spoken, the imam begins the prayer, thereby confirming the muezzin’s words. However, there is nothing wrong with beginning the prayer after the iqamah’s end. Indeed, in the view of the Shafi`i, Malaki, and Hanbali, as well as Abu Yusuf, this is actually what is best. (Prof. Hamdi Donduren, Delilleriyle Islam Ilmihali [Islamic Catechism with Proofs] [Erkam Publishing])

The friday prayer

Muslims gather together in places of worship on the blessed day of Friday so that they listen to and benefit from the imam’s sermon. After they pray the Friday prayer together, they go about their daily affairs. In the hadith al-sharif we are told:

“Of all the seven days on which the Sun rises, the best and most superior is Friday. It was on a Friday that Adam was admitted to Paradise and a Friday on which he was taken out of Paradise and sent down to world, and the Hour will also be on a Friday.” (al-Tirmidhi)

Omer Nasuhi Bilmen said this about the Friday prayer:

“The time of the Friday prayer is that of the noon prayer. The adhan is read in minarets for the Friday prayer. On going to the mosque, the first sunnah of the Friday prayer is performed with four rak`ahs, just like the sunnah of the noon prayer. Then another adhan is read out in the mosque. The congregation listens to a sermon delivered from the minbar. Qamat is then performed, and the congregation prays two fard rak`ahs of the Friday prayer all together. After one fard, the final sunnah, consisting of four rak`ahs, are performed, just like the first four sunnah rak`ahs of the noon prayer. The Zuhr Akhir consisting of four rak`ahs is then performed … Two more rak`ahs are then performed, just like the sunnah of the morning prayer, with the intention of offering ‘the sunnah of the time.’ Two rak`ahs are fard ayn for those in whom the prerequisites of the Friday prayer are found. There are twelve other prerequisites for the Friday prayer, in distinction from the other prayers. Six are prerequisites of its being wajib, and the other six involve its performance.” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, The Great Islamic Catechism, p. 153)

Our Prophet’s (saas) recommendations regarding Friday

Invoking blessings on the Prophet (saas):

Allah’s Messenger (saas) said: “Invoke blessings much and often on me on a Friday.” (al-Bayhaqi)

Whatever bliss and good our Prophet’s (saas) people had in this world and will have in the Hereafter they attain by the agency of the Prophet (saas). Allah (swt) granted them bliss both in this world and the Hereafter due to the Prophet’s (saas) sake. Because this is undoubtedly the case, Muslims should send blessings and salutation to the Prophet (saas) on Friday and night in abundance.

The Friday prayer and gathering of Muslims:

The Friday prayer is obligatory upon all free, healthy adult men who are able to walk and see. In the time of our Prophet (saas) and the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, Friday was the congregational days of the Muslims. Yet, this excellent tradition of gathering together on Friday to pray together faded over time. Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi related in a hadith: “Whoever will omit three Fridays without a valid reason because of heedlessness, Allah shall set a seal on his heart.”

Performing the major ablution on Friday:

Our Prophet (saas) advised the Muslims to perform the major ablutionbefore arriving at the mosque for Friday prayers.

Smelling good on Friday:

Especially on Fridays, Allah’s Messenger (saas) made sure that the smell which he chose to wear upon his person was a beautiful one. Smelling good on that day is more virtuous than on the other days of the week.

The Prophet (saas) said:

“Anyone who takes a bath on Friday and cleans himself as much as he can and puts oil (on his hair) or scents himself; and then proceeds for the prayer and does not force his way between two persons (assembled in the mosque for the Friday prayer), and prays as much as is written for him and remains quiet when the Imam delivers the sermon, all his sins in between the present and the last Friday will be forgiven.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Book 13, Number 33)

Coming early for the Friday prayer:

During our Prophet’s (saas) time, believers came to the Friday prayer as early as possible. They sought to know why those who could not come were absent. If anyone who attended the prayer had any trouble, his problems were solved.

Listening to the Friday sermon:

Omer Nasuhi Bilmen writes:

“When the preacher ascends to the minbar, the congregation must listen and be silent, not greet one another, and not perform the supererogatory prayer. So much so, that when the blessed names of our Prophet (saas) are recited during the sermon, it is more virtuous for them to invoke blessings and peace upon him and make do with listening. According to a report from Imam Abu Yusuf, invoking blessings and peace [on the Prophet (saas)] should be performed silently.” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, The Great Islamic Catechism, p. 153)

A sermon by Allah’s Messenger (saas) about the Friday prayer

“O people, return to Allah in penitence before you die, and hasten to perform righteous deeds before you are made to engage (yourselves in worldly pursuits); weld (the relation) between you and your Lord with your abundant mention of Him; make frequent sadaqah openly and secretly, for you will be provided with sustenance and be granted succor, and your condition will be ameliorated. Bear in mind that Allah has made the Friday prayer compulsory for you at this place of mine, on this day of mine and during this month of mine and in this year of mine until the Day of Resurrection. He who abandons it during my lifetime or after I (have died), while he has a just or tyrant ruler, making little of it (prayer) or denying it, Allah will neither unite his gathering nor bless his affairs. Be aware, his prayer will not be valid and his zakat or hajj will not be accepted. As long as he does not repent, neither his fasting nor his virtue will be accepted. So, he who repents, Allah will restore for him His Grace (and forgive him).” (Ibn Majah)

The Tarawih prayer

This prayer is a sunnah mu’akkad for men and women, because the Prophet (saas) performed it and his Companions (Ashab al-Kiram) and the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs continued to do so after his death. It is sunnah to pray this prayer in congregation. (Zaylai, Nasbur Raya, 2:152; al-Shawqani, Nayl al-Awtar, 3:50; al-Zuhayli, Al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh [1405/1985], 2:43)

Tarawih is performed only during the month of Ramadan after the night prayer and before the witr prayer. It is mustahabb (recommended) to pray it after midnight or after one-third of the night has passed. Although it can be performed alone, it is more virtuous to pray it in congregation.

According to the Hanafi school and based on Umar’s (ra) actions, this prayer consists of twenty rak‘ahs. Toward the end of his caliphate, he performed this prayer as twenty rak‘ahs as head of state at al-Masjid al-Nabawi. None of the Companions opposed him. The Prophet (saas) said:

“You must then follow my sunnah and that of the rightly guided caliphs. Hold to it and stick fast to it.” (Sunan Abu Dawud, Book 40, Number 4590)

Prayer surahs

Surat al-Fatiha

Surat al-Fil

Surah Quraysh

Surat al-Ma‘un

Surat al-Kawthar

Surat al-Kafirun

Surat an-Nasr

Surat al-Masad

Surat al-Ikhlas

Surat al-Falaq

Surat an-Nas

Supplications

Subhanaka

“Subhanaka allahumma wa bi hamdika wa tabaraka ismuka wa ta`ala jadduka (wa jalla sanauka*) wa la ilaha ghairuka.”

* The words “wa jalla sanauka” are recited only in funeral prayers.

“O Allah, how perfect You are and praise be to You. Blessed is Your name and exalted is Your majesty. There is no deity but You.”

At-Tahiyyatu

“At-tahiyyatu lillahi was-salawatu wat-tayyibatu. As-salamu ` alayka ayyuha al-nabiyyu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu. As-salamu `alayna wa `ala `ibad il-Lahis-Salihin ash hadu an la ilaha ila Allah wa ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluhu.”

“Greetings, prayers, and goodness belong to Allah. Peace be on you, O Prophet, and the mercy of Allah and His blessings. Peace be on us and on the righteous servants of Allah. I bear witness that there is no deity but Allah and bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger.”

Allahumma salli “Allahumma salli `ala Muhammadin wa `ala ali Muhammadin kama sallayta `ala Ibrahima wa `ala ali Ibrahima. Innaka hamidun majid.”

“O Allah, let Your mercy come upon Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You let it come upon Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Truly You are Praiseworthy and Glorious.”

Allahumma barik

“Allahumma barik `ala Muhammadin wa `ala ali Muhammadin kama barakta ` ala Ibrahima wa `ala ali Ibrahima. Innaka hamidun majid.”

“O Allah, bless Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You blessed Ibrahim and the family of Ibrahim. Truly You are Praiseworthy and Glorious.”

Rabbana atina

“Rabbana` atina fid-dunya hasanatan wa fi al-akhirati hasanatan waqina `adhab an-nar.”

“Our Lord, grant us good in this world and good in the Hereafter and save us from the chastisement of the Fire.”

Rabbana aghfirli

“Rabbana aghfirli wa li walidayya wa li al-mu’minina yawma yaqum al-hisab.”

“O our Lord, cover (us) with Your Forgiveness - me, my parents, and (all) believers, on the Day that the Reckoning will be established.”

Du`ah Qunut

“Allahumma inna nasta`inuka wa nastaghfiruka, wa nu’minu bika, wa natawwakkalu `alayka, wa nusni `alayika al-khayrah, wa nashkuruka wa la nakfuruka wa nakhla`u wa natruku man yafjuruka.”

“O Allah, we seek Your assistance and ask for Your guidance. We beseech Your forgiveness and return to You in repentance. We cherish faith in You and place our trust in You. We attribute all goodness to You. We are grateful to You and refuse to be ungrateful to You. We abandon and forsake all those who reject You.”

“Allahumma iyyaka na`budu wa laka nusalli wa nasjudu wa ilayka nasa`a wa nahfidu, wa narju rahmataka wa nakhsha `adhabaka; inna adhabaka al-jidda bi al-kuffari mulhiq.”

“O Allah, You alone do we worship, unto You alone do we pray; unto You alone do we prostrate, and for You alone do we strive. Unto You alone do we flee for refuge. We cherish hope in Your mercy and we fear Your retribution. Verily, Your punishment is bound to catch up with those who reject the truth.”

Wudu’ (Ritual Ablution)

Before praying, one’s face, hands, arms, elbows, and feet must be washed, and one’s head must be wiped. This is known as wudu’ (ritual ablution). In addition, it is essential that one’s body and clothes, as well as the place where the prayer is to be performed, be clean.

Fards

1. Washing the hands and the arms together with the elbows.

2. Washing the face.

3. Wiping one quarter of the head.

4. Washing the feet and heels.

Sunnahs

1. Making the intention.

2. Starting the ablution by reciting the basmalah.

3. Washing the hands to the wrists prior to ablution.

4. Cleaning the teeth using a miswak or a toothbrush. If these are not available, one can use one’s fingers.

5. Washing the relevant parts of the body consecutively and without pause.

6. Rubbing thoroughly when washing.

7. Taking water into mouth three times.

8. Gargling if one is not fasting.

9. Putting water into the nostrils three times and blowing it out with the left hand.

10. Washing each relevant part of the body three times.

11. Washing pairs (e.g., feet, arms, hands) beginning with the right one.

12. Beginning with the tips of the fingers and toes when washing the hands and feet.

13. Rubbing the beard (if one has one).

14. Turning any rings one is wearing so that water runs underneath them.

15. Wiping the ears.

16. Wiping the neck.

17. Wiping the whole head.

18. Washing between the fingers and toes.

Ghusl (Full Ablution)

The Arabic word ghasl means washing; ghusl means to wash the whole body: taharat al-kubra (the major cleaning). Ghusl must be performed to cleanse a major impurity (janabah) and at the end of menstruation and lochia.

It consists of three fards:

1. Taking water into the mouth and rinsing it as far as the throat.

2. Placing water inside the nostrils and washing the nose.

3. Washing the whole body from top to bottom.

Tayammum (Dry Ablution)

Tayammum is to be performed when no water is available or one is unable to use it due to illness or a similar condition. It consists of using clean earth or a similar clean substance to remove any hadas (a state that requires wudu’ or ghusl).

“Tayammum is set out in the Book and the Sunnah. The verse, “If you cannot find any water, then do tayammum with pure earth” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 6), ordains tayammum if a person cannot find water. The hadith “Earth has been made for me purifying and as a mosque (place for prayer)” (Ahmad ibn Hanbal) also shows that tayammum using something like earth is acceptable.” (Ahmed Davudoğlu, Selamet Yollari [Ways to Safety], 1:154)

Fards

1) Make one’s intention.

2) Rub hands on clean ground.

3) Wipe the face and arms.

Sunnahs

1) Recite the basmalah.

2) Wipe the limbs in succession.

3) Wipe the limbs without pause.

4) After rubbing the hands on clean ground, move them first forwards and then backwards.

5) Keep the fingers open.

6) Shake the hands, after removing them from the clean ground, to remove any debris.

Fasting

Fasting is one of the five core obligatory acts of worship, and its rewards are great. Fasting, making the intention to refrain (and then actually doing so) from sexual intercourse, eating, and drinking from sunup until sunset, has a number of religious, moral, social, and health benefits.

For example, people who fast acquire patience; are able to resist difficulty, thirst, and hunger; can control their lower self; and obtain a better understanding of the meaning of want and poverty. As a result, they acquire such great virtues as compassion, affection, helping others, and being a useful member of society. They understand the true worth of the blessings they enjoy and learn to avoid waste.

Fasting also leads to spiritual elevation, strengthens the individual’s will power, and encourages the development of feelings of love, compassion, and an eagerness to help others.

Fasting, a mandatory duty for every sane and healthy Muslim adult, lasts for the entire month of Ramadan.

Almighty Allah (swt) reveals:

O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you, [just] as it was prescribed for those before you – so that, hopefully, you will have taqwa ... (Surat al-Baqara, 183)

This moral and behavioral training cleanses one’s soul of evil and develops such emotions as love, affection, and compassion. It is also highly beneficial to human health, as modern medicine has proven.

The Messenger of Allah (saas) said:

“Fast (the month of Ramadan) to heal your bodies from diseases.”

Suhur

The Prophet (saas) used to eat suhur (the pre-dawn meal during Ramadan) but, as opposed to his practice of eating iftar (breaking the fast at sunset), would eat suhur at a late hour.

According to a hadith al-sharif narrated by Anas bin Malik (ra), the Messenger of Allah (saas) said: “Take suhur as there is a blessing in it” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 146). Rising before dawn and eating suhur is done with the intention of fasting. Indeed, Al-Fatawa al-Hindiyyah reports that:

“To get up for suhur in Ramadan is an intention. Najm al-Din Nasa’i agrees. However, rising for suhur applies solely as the intention to fast for that day. It does not apply to the intention to fast on other days.” (I:195)

The Preconditions for Fasting

According to Omer Nasuhi Bilmen:

1) Being Muslim, of sound mind, and an adult are essential for being responsible for fasting. Those who do not meet these criteria are exempt. However, a rational Muslim child who has reached the age of discretion can fast as supererogatory.

2) Being healthy and in a permanent abode are essential for offering fast. Therefore, those who are sick or travelling do not have to fast. However, they must make up the days missed.

The Prophet’s (saas) sayings on fasting

Our Prophet (saas) stressed the virtue of fasting and explained its subtleties. In our Prophet’s (saas) hadiths related to fasting he said:

“The reward on every virtuous deed is increased from ten to seven hundred times, but the standing Command of Allah (about fasting) is that the fast is an exception. There are two moments of special joy for the man who fasts. One is when he breaks the fast, and this he experiences in his earthly existence, and the other will be in the Hereafter when he will be presented before the Lord.” (Sahih Muslim)

The most distinctive feature of fasting is that, it’s unlikely that one will perform it for display. Therefore, it does not have the risk of drifting a believer into hypocrisy. It is obligatory upon all adult Muslims who have no excuse. Our Prophet (saas) said:

“When the month of Ramadan comes, the gates of the Garden are thrown open, and the gates of Hell are shut; and the devils are put behind the bars.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

“In Paradise there is a gate which is called Rayyan through which only the observers of fast would enter on the Day of Resurrection. None else would enter along with them. It would be proclaimed: ‘Where are the observers of fast that they should be admitted into it?’ And when the last of them would enter, it would be closed and no one would enter it.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 006, Number 2569)

“The fast is a shield; and when anyone of you keeps a fast, he must not utter indecent word nor engage in a noisy scene, and were anyone to quarrel with him and call him names he should simply say ‘I am keeping fast.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim)

“(Allah says about the fasting person), ‘He has left his food, drink and desires for My sake. The fast is for Me. So I will reward (the fasting person) for it.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 31, Number 118)

Other matters related to fasting

Intentionally breaking the fast in Ramadan, which is obligatory, is a monumental sin. Indeed Allah’s Messenger (saas) said:

“The expiation for spoiling a fast in Ramadan is like the expiation for zihar.” (Fath al-Qadir)

Our Prophet (saas) ate his iftar before performing his regular prayer in the evening. He hastened his iftar and advised his relatives to do likewise. He broke his fast with dates and water. While doing this he said: “O Allah! For Your sake have I fasted, and now I break the fast with the food that comes from You. Accept our fasts. No doubt You hear everything and know everything.” (Abu Dawud)

Zakat

Zakat is a duty upon those Muslims whose annual wealth has reached a certain point, and who are sane and adults. It consists of giving poor Muslims a specific amount from their assets, generally 2.5 percent, each year. Islam does not consider this charity; rather, it is the right of poor people to a portion of the goods bestowed upon better-off people by Allah (swt).

This system of social solidarity, which brings with it peace and mutual aid, reduces the people’s excessive passion for money and prevents feuding over wealth by reinforcing mutual love and respect. Thus, it plays an important role in establishing social peace and security.

Paying zakat gains one the good pleasure of Allah (swt), prevents goods from becoming the individual’s main objective rather than just a means, develops excellent feelings (e.g., thinking about others, compassion, and benevolence), and imparts social peace.

Omer Nasuhi Bilmen writes:

“The linguistic meaning of zakat implies ‘cleanliness, abundance, multiplication, and fine praise,’ whereas its religious significance is ‘giving a specific amount of goods, at a specific time, to those Muslims who have a right to it for the sake of Allah.’

Zakat demonstrates the servants’ devotion to their role as servants. This is why it is also referred to as sadaqah. Sadaqah, however, is wider-ranging than zakat, for it contains both obligatory and non-obligatory connotations. Paying zakat is known as tazkiyah, and the giver of zakat as muzakki. The praise uttered regarding witnesses is also known as tazkiyah.

Paying zakat is compulsory (fard). It was made compulsory before fasting, during the second year of our Prophet’s (saas) hijrah. It is one of Islam’s core pillars. Zakat, in the form of a specific amount of cash and commercial goods, must be paid once a full year has passed and without delay, for these are the right of the poor. Any delaying in paying this right without a valid reason is unacceptable…

It is more virtuous to pay zakat openly, for this sets an example for others and serves as an encouragement. Any doubts as to whether that person has paid zakat are thus done away with. Since zakat is compulsory, there can be no showing off in doing so. This does not apply to supererogatory sadaqah, however. It is more virtuous to do this in secret and to avoid any element of show.” (Omer Nasuhi Bilmen, The Great Islamic Catechism, 5:311)

Our Prophet (saas) was the one who expended the most from what Allah (swt) gave to him. If anyone wanted anything from the Messenger (saas), he would certainly give, whether it was much or whether it was little; he always gave whatever he could. The pleasure he took from giving was more than the happiness of the person who received. Our Prophet (saas) specified four types of possessions from which to give alms (zakat):

1) Agricultural products and fruits,

2) Animals (camel, cattle),

3) Gold and silver,

4) All sorts of commercial goods.

The Hajj

All adult Muslims who have enough money and are in good health must perform the waqfah (the ritual of standing) at Arafat and visit the Ka`bah at a specific time once in their life.

The hajj brings together millions of Muslims of different languages, colors, nationalities, and cultures. However, each one of them has the same objective: to turn to Allah (swt) by performing the same observance together and to draw closer to each other. It also allows Muslims to discuss their problems and find common solutions to them.

Everyone who performs this duty wears the same ritual garment (ihram), which serves as a strong reminder of the day when, after death, they will appear in His presence to account for themselves. It permits believers to turn to Allah (swt) in a sincere manner, and thus is a means whereby their repentance is accepted and their sins are forgiven. Seeing the holy sites also strengthens their religious feelings by bestowing a spiritual enthusiasm upon them.

The prohibitions imposed on those in ihram bring with them love and compassion for all creation, prevent any harm (even to insects), and bestow patience in the face of troubles. People who perform this compulsory duty demonstrate their duties as servants of Allah (swt) and become more useful to those around them. At the very least, they learn not to harm others.

 

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