Ramadan comes with great blessings. The reports from the Qur’an and the Sunnah encourage us to increase good deeds in this blessed month to get a reward as we fast out of gratefulness to Allah.
There are a number of spiritual procedures that should be followed during Ramadan. These are observed in accordance with the instructions of Allah the Almighty and strongly recommended by the Prophet (ﷺ), his companions and Muslim scholars. Practicing and applying these principles, rules and procedures helps maximize the physical as well as spiritual benefits.
As we all know, performing deeds which are from the Sunnah carry with them extra blessings. And, when we combine these deeds with the uniqueness of the month of Ramadan, the rewards are unimaginable. It is strongly recommended by the noble Prophet to observe these general practices, especially during Ramadan.
#1: Intention – Very Important
Whether it is a voluntary fast or in the month of Ramadan, try as much as possible to declare your intention for fasting.
The place of intention resides in the heart. If one makes the intention at night, one should recite the following Dua (prayer):
Nawaytu an asooma ghadan lillaahi ta’aala min faradi ramadan
I intended that I fast tomorrow for Allah The Exalted from the obligatory Ramadan.
If one makes the intention during the day, one should recite the following Dua (prayer):
Nawaytu an asooma hadhal yauma lillaahi ta’aala min faradi ramadan
I intended that I fast today for Allah The Exalted from the obligatory Ramadan
If one made the intention on the first day of Ramadan or any other date in Ramadan for the entire month, the intention only counts for that one day and not for the entire month. It is important therefore to renew one’s intention every day for every fast in Ramadan.
For more about intentions, please watch this video:
#2: Suhoor – Having a Pre-Dawn meal
Suhoor is also a form of explicit intention, which involves eating and drinking at the end of the night with the intention of fasting. It is strongly emphasized and highly recommended by the Messenger of Allah. He ordered for one intending to fast, that he should partake of the Suhoor, to the extent that he forbade us to leave it, saying:
“The Suhoor is a blessed meal, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes drops of water, since Allah sends mercy and His Angels seek forgiveness for those who take the Suhoor”. (Ahmad)
What is the correct time for Suhoor/Sahri?
The time of Suhoor starts from midnight and ends a few minutes before Fajr. Zayd Ibn Thabit reported that:
“We took Suhoor with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and then we stood up for prayer. I said: How long was the interval between the azan and Suhoor? He replied: The time required for the recitation of fifty verses”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
In another narration, the noble Prophet also instructed by saying:
“Hasten the breaking of the fast and delay the Suhoor”. (Sahih Al-Jami’).
In relating to the above hadith, you should delay the Suhoor as close to Fajr as possible. Which means that it is recommended for you to delay the pre-fast meal to the latest possible time (about 20 minutes before the time for Fajr or pre-dawn prayer comes in).
The Values of Suhoor
As indicated by the noble Prophet, there are blessings and spiritual values in Suhoor. Anas narrated that Allah’s Messenger (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“Take Suhoor for there is a blessing in it”. (Bukhari and Muslim).
These blessings are religious, which includes obeying the noble Prophet and Opposing the people of the Book, and worldly, which includes enjoyment of pure food and drink in order to keep strong and healthy for fasting. These merits and values can be illustrated in the following hadith:
It is narrated from Abdullah Ibn Harith (may Allah be pleased with him) who reported from one of the Companions of the Prophet that:
“I entered upon the Prophet and he was taking the Suhoor and he said: ‘it is a blessing which Allah has given to you, so do not leave it’”. (Ahmad)
Similarly, it is reported in another narration that the Prophet (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) Said:
“The Suhoor is a meal of blessings, so do not leave it, even if one of you just takes a gulp of water, since Allah sends mercy and His angels seek forgiveness for those who take Suhoor. (Ahmad)
The above ahadith indicate that Suhoor is very important, and on top of that, it is a Sunnah of the Holy Prophet(ﷺ). This meal is blessed and maintains ones energy and vitality during fasting.
#3: IFTAAR – Breaking the fast.
Hastening in breaking the fast has been recommended by the Messenger of Allah. It is reported from Sahl Ibn Sad that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:
“My people will continue doing good deeds as long as they hasten in breaking the fast”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
The person who breaks the fast in its early time is best loved by Allah because he is a true follower of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet.
Breaking the fast with fresh/dry dates or water
It is desirable for the fasting person to break the fast with a few dates or, if that is not obtainable, with plain water right after sunset. Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that!
“The Messenger of Allah used to break his fast before offering prayers with some fresh dates, but if there were no fresh dates, he would take a few dry dates and if there were no dry dates he would take a few drops of water”. (At-Tirmidhi)
Again, Salman Ibn Aamer (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) Said:
“When one of you break your fast, he should do so with dates, but if he cannot find any; he should break his fast with water for its pure”. (Abu Dawood)
Supplication at the time of breaking the fast
The person who observes fasting should make use of this important time and call upon Allah with supplications for anything good, and hopefully, the good of this life and the Hereafter will be attained. The Messenger of Allah used to say the following recommended Dua at the time of breaking the fast:
“Allah humma laka sumna, wa ‘ala rizqika aftarna” – “O Allah for you we have fasted And on Your provision we have broken the fast”. (Abu Dawud)
Using the Siwak (tooth stick)
It is recommended for the fasting person to make use of the Siwak while fasting, at the beginning or the ending of the day.
Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) reported that: the Prophet (peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) Said:
“It (i.e. Siwak) is a purification for the mouth and it is a way of seeking Allah s pleasures’’ (Bukhari).
In another narration by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), the Prophet (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) said:
‘But for my fear that it would be hard for my followers, I would have ordered them to clean their teeth with Siwak on every performance of ablution.
#4: Etiquette of a fasting person
- Patience in obeying Allah: A person, who observes fast, should try to increase his obedience to Allah during his fast and avoid His disobedience. He/she should exert the utmost in patience and humbleness.
- Safeguarding the fast (i.e. guarding the limbs from what Allah has forbidden): Fasting, as prescribed, does not merely refer to withholding from food, drink, and desires. There are additional spiritual actions a person observing fast should implement in order not to cause its reward to diminish and to attain the benefits of fasting. A person, who observes fast, should perform his obligations and abstain from the prohibitions.
- A person should be extra cautious in using senses, mind and, especially, the tongue; to abstain from careless gossip and avoid all suspicious motions. A person who observes fast must abstain from speaking lies, backbiting, deceiving anyone or indulging in anything prohibited – be it verbal or physical. It is related from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) Said: Allah said:
“Every act of the son of Adam is for him except As-Siyam (fasting) which is for Me and I Alone mil reward for it. Fasting is a shield; when any one is fasting he should neither indulge in bad language nor he should raise his voice. If anyone reviles him or tries to quarrel with him, he should say: I am fasting. By Him in whose hand is the life of Muhammad, the breath of a man who is fasting is sweeter with Allah on the Day of Judgement than the fragrance of musk. The one who fasts experiences two joys: a joy when he breaks his fast and a joy when he meets his Lord”. (Bukhari and Muslim)
The above hadith highlights not only the etiquettes of fasting but also brings into focus the true implication of it. Fasting is not thus mere abstention from food, drink, and sex, but also keeping away all evils and ills and implementing virtues.
- Abstaining from falsehood and indecent actions: The Prophet (ﷺ) Said: “If one does not abandon falsehood and indecent actions Allah has no need that he should abstain from his food and his drink”. (Al-Bukhari). Hence, a person observing fast should say that which will not harm his fast or do actions that would not spoil their fast. The truthful and trusted Messenger (Peace and Blessing of Allah be upon him) said: “It may be that a fasting person attains nothing but hunger and thirst from his fasting”. (Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Bayhaqee).
- Lowering the gaze and guarding the private parts against sexual intercourse. Allah the Almighty says:
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze and protect their private parts. That is pure for them…” (Quran: surah An-Nur, verse: 30)
Again Allah, in the same surah, says:
“Tell the believing women to lower their gaze and protect their private parts …” (Quran: Surah An-Nur, verse: 31)
- Not being excessive in food and drink during Ramadan: The person should eat what is enough for him because too much eating and drinking produces too much tiredness and thus the purpose of fasting is lost. Allah the Almighty says: “Eat and drink and do not be excessive. Verily Allah does not love those who are excessive (Quran: Surah Al-A’araf, verse: 31)
Basically, these are the general rules and procedures that govern the way we should take our fast in Ramadan. But there are a lot more virtuous deeds that come with great reward especially when it’s in Ramadan. Here are some of them.
May Allah accept our Ibadah!