Fast of the Month of Ramadan: Philosophy and Ahkam

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Fast of the Month of Ramadan: Philosophy and Ahkam

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Author: Yasin T. al-Jibouri
Publisher: www.al-islam.org
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Fast of the Month of Ramadan: Philosophy and Ahkam

Fast of the Month of Ramadan: Philosophy and Ahkam

Author:
Publisher: www.al-islam.org
English

This book is corrected and edited by Al-Hassanain (p) Institue for Islamic Heritage and Thought

Fast of the Month of Ramadan: Philosophy and Ahkam

This text includes fasting in history, benefits of fasting, types of fasts, and the Prophet's preaching on Ramadan. Also includes other articles on the Night of Power, and Invocations for Ramadan.

Author(s): Yasin T. Al-Jibouri

Table of Contents

Dedication. 6

Introduction. 7

Fast in History. 12

Name and Derivation. 13

Fast of the Month of Ramadan. 14

References 17

The Niyyat (Intention) to Fast 18

Significance of the Month of Ramadan and its Fast 19

Reference 24

A Few Benefits of the Fast 25

What Breaks the Fast 27

Do not say “Ramadan” only. 28

Reference 28

History and Types of Fast 29

Reference 30

Forty Types of Fast 31

References 33

Optional Fast 35

1) Fast of Eid al-Ghadir 35

2) Fast of Eid Miladun-Nabi (S) 36

3) Fasting the First Days of Thul-Hijjah. 36

4) Fasting the Day When the Earth was Expanded. 36

5) Fasting the Day of Arafat 37

6) Siyam al-Dahr: How to Fast all Your Life 37

References 40

The Prophet (S) preaching about the Month of Ramadan. 41

Norms of Conduct related to the Fast 44

Breaking the Fast (Iftar) 46

Invocations at the time of Breaking of the Fast 47

The Month of Repetance 50

A Glance at Paradise and Hell 53

1) A Description of Paradise 53

2) A Description of Hell 59

References 63

When Fast is Prohibited. 65

It is the Month of the Holy Qur’an. 66

Reference 67

Rewards of Reciting Chapters from the Holy Qur’an. 68

The Basmala 69

Chapter 1 (al-Fatiha) 70

Chapter 2 (al-Baqarah) 72

Chapter 3 (Aali-’Imran) 72

Chapter 4 (al-Nisaa) 72

Chapter 5 (al-Maida) 72

Chapter 6 (al-An’am) 72

Chapter 7 (al-A’raf) 73

Chapter 8 (al-Anfal) 73

Chapter 9 (Bara'ah) 73

Chapter 10 (Younus) 74

Chapter 11 (Hud) 74

Chapter 12 (Yousuf) 74

Chapter 13 (al-Ra’d) 74

Chapter 14 (Ibrahim) 75

Chapter 15 (al-Hijr) 75

Chapter 16 (al-Nahl) 75

Chapter 17 (al-Isra') 75

Chapter 18 (al-Kahaf) 75

Chapter 19 (Maryam) 75

Chapter 20 (Ta-Ha) 76

Chapter 21 (al-Anbiya') 76

Chapter 22 (al-Hajj) 76

Chapter 23 (al-Muminun) 76

Chapter 24 (al-Nur) 76

Chapter 25 (al-Furqan) 76

Chapter 26 (al-Shu’ara') 77

Chapter 27 (al-Naml) 77

Chapter 28 (al-Qasas) 77

Chapter 29 (al-’Ankabut) 77

Chapter 30 (al-Rum) 77

Chapter 31 (Luqman) 77

Chapter 32 (al-Sajdah) 78

Chapter 33 (al-Ahzab) 78

Chapter 34 (Saba') 78

Chapter 35 (Fatir) 78

Chapter 36 (Ya-Sin) 78

Chapter 37 (al-Saffat) 78

Chapter 38 (Sad) 79

Chapter 39 (al-Zumar) 79

Chapter 40 (al-Mu'min) 79

Chapter 41 (al-Sajda or Fussilat) 79

Chapter 42 (al-Shura) 80

Chapter 43 (al-Zukhruf) 80

Chapter 44 (al-Dukhkhan) 80

Chapter 45 (al-Jathiya) 80

Chapter 46 (al-Ahqaf) 80

Chapter 47 (Muhammad) 80

Chapter 48 (al-Fath) 80

Chapter 49 (al-Hujurat) 81

Chapter 50 (Qaf) 81

Chapter 51 (al-Thariyat) 81

Chapter 52 (al-Tur) 81

Chapter 53 (al-Najm) 81

Chapter 54 (al-Qamar) 81

Chapter 55 (al-Rahman) 82

Chapter 56 (al-Waqi’a) 82

Chapter 57 (al-Hadeed) 82

Chapter 58 (al-Mujadila) 82

Chapter 59 (al-Hashr) 83

Chapter 60 (al-Mumtahana) 83

Chapter 61 (al-Saff) 83

Chapter 62 (al-Jum’a) 83

Chapter 63 (al-Munafiqun) 83

Chapter 64 (al-Taghabun) 83

Chapter 65 (al-Talaq) 84

Chapter 66 (al-Tahreem) 84

Chapter 67 (al-Mulk or Tabarak) 84

Chapter 68 (al-Qalam or Noon) 84

Chapter 69 (al-Haqqah) 84

Chapter 70 (al-Ma’arij) 84

Chapter 71 (Nuh) 85

Chapter 72 (al-Jinn) 85

Chapter 73 (al-Muzzammil) 85

Chapter 74 (al-Muddaththir) 85

Chapter 75 (al-Qiyama) 86

Chapter 76 (al-Dahr or Hal Ata) 86

Chapter 77 (al-Mursalat) 86

Chapter 78 (al-Naba') 86

Chapter 79 (al-Nazi’at) 86

Chapter 80 (Abasa) 86

Chapter 81 (al-Takweer) 86

Chapter 82 (al-Infitar) 86

Chapter 83 (al-Mutaffifeen) 87

Chapter 84 (al-Inshiqaq) 87

Chapter 85 (al-Buruj) 87

Chapter 86 (al-Tariq) 87

Chapter 87 (al-A’la) 87

Chapter 88 (al-Ghashiya) 87

Chapter 89 (al-Fajr) 87

Chapter 90 (al-Balad) 88

Chapter 91 (al-Shams) 88

Chapter 92 (al-Layl) 88

Chapter 93 (al-Duha) 88

Chapter 94 (al-Inshirah) 88

Chapter 95 (al-Teen) 88

Chapter 96 (al-’Alaq) 88

Chapter 97 (al-Qadr) 89

Chapter 98 (al-Bayyina) 89

Chapter 99 (al-Zilzal) 89

Chapter 100 (al-’Adiy­at) 89

Chapter 101 (al-Qari’a) 89

Chapter 102 (al-Takathur) 89

Chapter 103 (al-’Asr) 90

Chapter 104 (al-Humaza) 90

Chapter 105 (al-Feel) 90

Chapter 106 (Quraysh) 91

Chapter 107 (al-Ma’un or al-Deen) 91

Chapter 108 (al-Kawthar) 91

Chapter 109 (al-Kafirun) 92

Chapter 110 (al-Nasr) 92

Chapter 111 (al-Lahab) 92

Chapte 112 (al-Ikhlas) 93

Chapter 113 (al-Falaq) 94

Chapter 114 (al-Nas) 94

References 94

The Significance of the Fast will be realized only at the moment of Death. 95

What is al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem?. 97

Reference 101

Sharing Iftar with Others 102

The early meal of the Month of Ramadan (Suhoor) 103

References 104

Prayer during the Glorious month of Ramadan. 105

Ghusl 108

The Night of Destiny (Lailatul-Qadr) 109

Which Night is Lailatul-Qadr?. 116

Which Night is Lailatul-Qadr?. 118

Recommended Deeds for the Twenty-Third Night of the Month of Ramadan  120

Invocation for the Twenty-Third Night (of the Month of Ramadan) 122

What ought to be repeated every night of the last ten nights of the month. 123

Zakatul-Fitr (Fitra) 124

Who receives Fitra. 125

Eid al-Fitr and its Prayers 126

Reference 127

Conclusion. 129

Glossary. 132

Dedication

"O you who believe! Fast is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you so that you may ward off (evil). (Fast) a certain number of days..." (Qur'an Surah Baqarah 2:182-183)

To the best man who ever walked on earth or ascended to heaven... To the one for whom the whole world was created... To the one whom I never saw yet in whom I firmly believe and whom I passionately love, in whose footsteps I try my best to follow, and who I very much hope to see in the life to come, though I know I am not worthy of it... To the master of mankind and jinns...

To the one who perfected the code of ethics and who was sent as a mercy for all creation: to Muhammad

The prophet and messenger of Allah, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him and his pure and sinless progeny, peace and blessings that shall keep multiplying so long as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west...

Hoping he will accept this humble book as a gift and intercede on my behalf on the day of judgment with the judge of judges and lord of lords to forgive my sins, faults, shortcoming, and transgressions, to permit me to meet his prophet and messenger Muhammad and his pure and sinless progeny, to help me stay on the path of righteousness, and to help me guide through the medium of this book as many of my Muslim brethren as he pleases thereto...

Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar! Allahu akbar!

Introduction

In the Name of Allh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

There are, no doubt, many books written in English that deal with fast and the month of Ramadan; however, most of them, from my viewpoint, do not do justice to the institution of fast, to the month of Ramadan, the greatest of all months, nor to Lailatul-Qadr, the Night of Destiny.

Most available books seem to concentrate on the undeniable individual and social benefits of the fast, providing very little detail of what bliss awaits those who properly observe the fast.

This book emphasizes the rewards such persons may receive as soon as their souls depart from their bodies at the moment of "death." Also, an entire chapter in this book detailing the rewards of reciting each of the 114 Qur'anic chapters is included in order to encourage the believers to recite the Holy Qur'an more often.

One may wonder why heaven, hell, al-Sirat al-Mustaqeem (the Straight Path) are discussed in a book dealing with the fast. Islam emphasizes the significance of regarding this life as no more nor less than a golden and unique opportunity to prepare for the real life to come, the eternal one. Death is briefly discussed in this book because it is an issue which concerns all of us; it is the inevitable end of the existence of our present frail and fragile form and shape; it is the beginning of a new existence the significance of which is not realized by most people.

This is something which we must not forget even for a moment. The grave of a good believer, one who observes the fast and all other obligations, will be a miniature Paradise, whereas that of a disbeliever, or of a believer who did not honor Allah's commandments as he should have, will be a piece snatched out of hell, a place filled with various means of torture; all of this will take place even prior to the Day of Resurrection. This is why there is so much emphasis in this book on the life hereafter.

It is important to inform the discreet reader, especially one who likes to research and verify the contents of this book, that the vast majority of its text is a direct translation into English of excerpts from books written in Arabic. The authors of these books are held in very high esteem by scholars of Islamic studies. Those authors took pains to compile and verify their information before recording it.

The primary source for this book is the edition of Bihar al-Anwar al-Jami’a li Durar Akhbar al-A'immah al-Athar (oceans of inclusive light of precious tales relevant to the righteous Imams) of the great mentor, author, translator, compiler, and philosopher Shaykh Muhammad Baqir al-Majlisi (1037 - 1111 A.H.) published in 1403 A.H. (1983 A.D.) by Al-Wafa Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon) in 110 volumes, not counting Vol. 0 (zero) which deals in its entirety with the book itself and with its author. Misbah al-Kaf’ami (al-Kaf’ami's lantern), another major reference, is authored by Shaykh Taqi al-Deen ibn Ibrahim ibn Ali ibn al-Hassan ibn Muhammad ibn Salih-al-’Amili al-Kaf’ami and published in 1412 A.H. (1992 A.D.) by Al-Nu’man Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon).

Another very important reference utilized is Usool al-Kafi (basics of what suffices) by Thiqatul-Islam Muhammad Ya’qoob al-Kulayni (reviewed

and verified by Muhammad Ja’far Shams ad-Deen) and published by Dar al-Ta’aruf (Beirut, Lebanon) in 1411 A.H. (1990 A.D.). Two other references consulted are Al-Amali aw al-Majalis and Man la Yahduruhu al-Faqih ([a book written for] whoever has no access to a jurist) by the great mentor Shaykh Abu Ja’far Muhammad ibn Ali ibn al-Husayn ibn Babawayh al-Qummi al-Saduq (306 - 381 A.H.).

Both are published by al-A’lami Foundation (Beirut, Lebanon) in 1410 A.H. (1990 A.D.) and in 1406 A.H. (1986 A.D.) respectively. Al-Mizan fi Tafsir al-Qur'an (the balance in the exegesis of the Qur'an) by Sayyid Muhammad Husayn al-Tabatabai, who was born in 1321 A.H. (1892 A.D.) and died in 1401 A.H. (1991 A.D.), has also been utilized, and so have scores of other books.

Regaring the Qur'anic verses cited in this book, their English translation employed is the one undertaken by M.H. Shakir, but I have not adhered to such a translation to the letter; rather, I have often edited it wherever I deemed necessary. As a matter of fact, Tahrike-Tarsile-Qur'an (Distribution of Holy Qur'an, Inc.) of New York had commissioned me to edit the sixth U.S. edition (1990) of the said translation, a task which I, Alhamdu-Lillah, accomplished (including typesetting the entire text) in the winter of 1993. Before then, I had finished editing (for the same publisher) the English translations of the Holy Qur'an by Mir Ahmed Ali and by Abdullah Yousuf Ali. Unfortunately, all of these three editions are yet to be printed.

It truly amazes me, as an Arab, to see that all existing translations of the Holy Qur'an were undertaken by non-Arabs. With reference to the three I have edited, M.H. Shakir is Iranian, Mir Ahmed Ali is Pakistani, and Abdullah Yousuf Ali is Indian! Does this mean that Arabs are incapable of translating the book of Allah, which was revealed in their own tongue, into English?! I don't think so.

To the best of my knowledge, the latest such translation, which at the same time is the first done by an American, is Dr. T.B. Irving's (who adopted the Muslim name al-Hajj Ta’lim ‘Ali) and is titled The Qur'an: The Noble Reading. It was published in 1993 by The Mother Mosque Foundation of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and I will always cherish the copy the translator autographed for my family.

The Mother Mosque is supposed to be the very first mosque built in the United States (in 1934), but Gutbi Mahdi Ahmed suggests in The Muslims of America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991) that the "earliest mosque in America" was in Ross, North Carolina, a mosque which was demolished (due to aging and improper maintenance) in 1979, that the mosque in Michigan City, Indiana, was built in 1932, and that Moors in America built their mosques as early as 1919. Speaking of mosques, there are now more than a thousand mosques in the U.S. where an estimated eight million Muslims live.

It may not be out of place here to take a look at the history of various English translations of the Holy Qur'an; so, please allow me to state the following, and please help me find one native speaker of Arabic among these translators:

It was in 1649 when Alexander Ross produced the first English version of the Holy Qur'an, but he did not translate it from Arabic; rather, he relied on Du Ryer's French translation of the Holy Qur'an. In 1734, George Sale's became the very first English translation of the Holy Qur'an from the Arabic, a translation which remained in circulation for 127 years during which it was reprinted at least seventeen times till, in 1861, J.M. Rodwell rendered his own English translation of the Holy Qur'an into poetic prose. In 1880, E.H. Palmer published his own translation.

The year 1905 made history: it witnessed the very first English translation of the Holy Qur'an done by a Muslim. All these translations did not include the original Arabic text till in 1910 when Mirza Abul-Fazl became the first Muslim to include his translation of the Holy Qur'an with the original Arabic text. Abul-Fazl's translation spurred a succession of such translations: twelve in six decades (one translation every five years).

These translators, chronologically arranged, with the year of their works' publication enclosed in parentheses, are as follows: Muhammad Ali (1917), Ghulam Sarwar (1929), Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall (1930), Abdullah Yousuf Ali (1934), Richard Bell (1937), A.J. Arberry (1955), Sher Ali (1955), N.J. Dawood (1956), Abdul Majid Daryabadi (1957), Mir Ahmed Ali (1964), Syed Abdul Lateef (1968), and Zafarullah Khan (1971).

In 1972, I came to the U.S. to pursue a graduate degree in English. Four years later (1976), I met at Atlanta's International Airport Sayyid Hashim Amir Ali who handed me a delux copy of his own English translation of the Holy Qur'an published in 1974 by Charles E. Tuttle Company of Tokyo, Japan. Qur'anic chapters in it are arranged chronologically, that is, according to the sequence of revelation, starting from Surat al-Alaq (Chapter 96) and ending with Surat Bara'at or Tawbah (Chapter 9). This caused an uproar among many Muslim dignitaries, organizations, and governments who were not used to seeing the Holy Qur'an thus arranged.

The translator told me about the financial woes from which he was suffering due to the bad publicity his translation, titled The Message of the Qur'an Presented in Perspective, was then receiving, so I gave it some exposure in Vol. 2, No. 14 (Sha’ban and Month of Ramadan 1396/August and September 1976) of Islamic Affairs, a publication which I and a couple of Pakistani brethren launched in 1974, months after the establishment of our organization the Islamic Society of Georgia, Inc.

In the same year (1976), Shaikh Muhammad Sarwar, of Quetta, Pakistan, came to the U.S. as the very first Shi’a missionary delegated by His Late Holiness Abul-Qasim al-Khoei (1916 - 1992), the then Ayatullah al-Uzma (Supreme or Grand Ayatullah), to cater to the religious and social needs of the Shi’a community in the U.S. and Canada. Al-Khoei was responding to requests he had received from American converts to Shi’a Islam to send them an ‘alim. One of his instructions was to translate the Holy Qur'an into English. His came to be the least known translation of the Holy Qur'an and the least circulated according to the Publisher himself. It was published in 1979 by the afore-mentioned Tahrike-Tarsile-Qur'an which was founded in 1978 by Aun Ali Khalfan of Dares-Salam, Tanzania.

In 1978, I obtained my graduate degree, and in 1979 I moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Hyattsville, Maryland, then got married in 1982 and moved to Arlington, Virginia, where my wife and I founded the International Islamic Society of Virginia, Inc. primarily to resume the publication and distribution of Islamic Affairs which was suspended after my departure from Atlanta, Georgia. While remaining thus busy editing it, I came to be in direct contact with a man whom I very much admired. He is T.B. Irving whose translation of the Holy Qur'an is, to the best of my knowledge, the very latest and the only one undertaken by an American. It was printed by Amana Publishers of Vermont.

Probably the most impressive are the translator's marvellous style and invaluble textual comments, and the fact that the text is arranged in groups of verses comprising a full thought or theme. In other words, it departs from the usual method of individually numbering each verse.

This may pose a challenge to one who is not familiar with the original Arabic text and who is prone to losing his place and failing to identify where a verse starts and where it ends. And the average reader can be easily intrigued by words which he may not find in other translations: "Diabolis," for example, is used in some verses and Eblis (or Iblis) in others; most proper nouns are anglicized; heavy punctuation is employed, but there are no explanatory footnotes, a glossary, or an index. Irving's seems to me to be more of an attempt to explain than to translate the Holy Qur'an, something which converts to Islam, as well as non-Muslims, can find particularly helpful. But the original Arabic Qur'anic text is missing...

The reason why I have provided the reader with all these details is to make him realize that I did not choose Shakir's translation of the Holy Qur'an arbitrarily; many translations of the Holy Qur'an are available at my library, Alhamdu-Lillah.

Despite all my efforts and the efforts of a select few whose advice and suggestions I solicited and appreciated if the reader nevertheless detects any error in this text, I accept full responsibility for it and admit my ignorance and plead to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, and to the reader, to forgive me, since He best knows my limitations, faults, and shortcomings. The sad fact is that most original Arabic text translated, then incorporated into this book, lacks accent marks. Only those who are familiar with Arabic can realize the significance of accentuation in as far as Arabic is concerned.

During the period of more than 7,500 years, Arabic has reached a degree of complexity and wealth of diction which no other language in the history of the world has ever reached - or will ever reach. The problem is compounded when you try to convey the meaning of an Arabic sentence or phrase into a language as young as English, one whose vocabulary, compared to that of Arabic, is quite limited, even sadly poor. Although the meanings of most Arabic words used in this text are either enclosed in parentheses or explained in a footnote, a Glossary is included at the end of this book for the benefit of non-Arab or non-Muslim readers.

We pray Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to cover our faults, overlook our shortcomings, and enable us to enlighten the readers with knowledge which

may benefit them in the life of this world and in the life to come..., especially in the life to come, Allahomma Aameen.

Yasin T. al-Jibouri

Rajab 1415/December 1994

Fast in History

Since the dawn of history, man did not find any means better than fast to ascend above yielding to his desires and worldly wishes, attain spiritual upliftment, return to spirituality, and renounce contemptible habits to which he became addicted and which led him to perdition. Divinely revealed creeds, non-Muslim societies and former nations have been familiar with the fast. Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese and other nations knew and practiced fast for various reasons. Many still do even today. The Greeks came to know about fast and its merits from ancient Egyptians. They used to fast immediately before engaging in a war.

The Romans emulated the Greeks not only in mythology, but also in observing the fast, especially when they were attacked, in order to gain victory. They believed that fast strengthened them and taught them patience and perseverance, two prerequisites required to win the battle against internal temptations and external dangers. Ancient Chinese, too, incorporated fast into their doctrines and prescribed it for those who were passing through periods of trials and tribulations.

For centuries, Hindus and Buddhists have been observing a somehow more rigid form of fast. Jews and Christians observe certain types of fast. Moses, peace be upon him, observed the fast for forty days at Mount Sinai; see Exodus 24:18. During that period, he was granted the heavy responsibilities embedded in the Ten Commandments.

He was commanded in the Torah to fast the tenth day of the seventh month and the ninth of the eighth. Jews used to (and some still do) fast during times of grief and mourning and when exposed to danger. They were also accustomed to fast one day as an act of atonement and whenever they believed that God was angry with them.

Nowadays, they fast one week to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) son of Nabopolassar, founder of the Chaldean or Neo-Babylonian empire, on March 16, 597 B.C. They observe fast on other days, too.

Jesus of Nazareth (6 B.C.-30 A.D.), peace be upon him and his virgin mother Mary daughter of Imran (Amram), was reported to have observed the fast on the day of atonement. He and his disciples fasted the forty days observed by Moses before him; see Matthew 4:2. This set the precedence for the pre-Easter fast among some Christians. Other Christian theologians started other types of fast during which they do not eat meat, fish, or eggs.

Name and Derivation

Allah Almighty has said,

"Surely the number of months with Allah is twelve in Allah's ordinance since the day He created the heavens and the earth, of these four are sacred; that is the right reckoning; therefore, do not be unjust to your own selves regarding them (Holy Qur'an, Surah Tawbah 9:36)."

These are the lunar months upon the reckoning of which does a Muslim in the east of the earth or the west rely; chronologically arranged, they are as follows:

1) Muharram,

2) Safar,

3) Rabi' I,

4) Rabi' II,

5) Jumada I,

6) Jumada II,

7) Rajab,

8) Sha’ban,

9) The month of Ramadan,

10) Shawwal,

11) Thul-Qi'da, and

12) Thul-Hijja.

According to astronomy, the lunar calendar cannot be less than 29 days, nor can it be more than 30. It may once be 29 days and another 30, and its average is 29 days and 12 hours and five minutes. The beginning of each lunar month is recognized by the sighting of the new moon, the crescent. The Almighty says,

"They ask you concerning the new moons. Say: They are times appointed for the benefit of men, and for the pilgrimage" (Holy Qur'an, Surah Baqarah2:189).

In this verse, the Almighty has explained to us how to calculate and determine time by mentioning the word ahilla, which is the plural of the Arabic singular hilal, crescent, when it becomes visible to the naked eye. These crescents set the time for people and help them determine when the pilgrimage is to be performed.