by Shaikh Saleem al-Hilaalee and Shaikh Alee Hasan Alee Abdul-Hameed
* Forgiveness of sins
THE Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) urged that one fasts in Ramadan, explaining its excellence and high station, such that if the fasting person had sins as many as the foam upon the sea, then they would be forgiven for him through this pure and blessed act of worship. From Abu Hurairah, radiyallaahu anhu, from the Prophet who said: He who fasts Ramadan, due to eemaan and hoping for reward (from Allah) then his previous sins are forgiven.
From Abu Hurairah, radiyallaahu anhu, that the Prophet climbed upon the mimbar (pulpit) and said: Aameen [O Allah grant it], aameen, aameen. So it was said, O Messenger of Allah, you climbed upon the mimbar and said, aameen, aameen, aameen? So he said: Indeed Jibraaeel, alayhis salaam, came to me and said, Whoever reaches the month of Ramadan and does not have [his sins] forgiven and so enters the Fire, then may Allah distance him, say aameen So I said: aameen ...
* That supplication (duaa) is answered and freedom from the Fire is granted
He (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) said: There are in the month of Ramadan in every day and night those to whom Allah grants freedom from the Fire, and there is for every Muslim a supplication which he can make and will be granted .
* He will be amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs From Amr ibn Murrah al-Juhanee, radiyallaahu anhu, who said: A man came to the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah what if I testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that you are the Messenger of Allah, and I observe the five daily prayers, and I pay the Zakat, and I fast and stand in prayer in Ramadan, then amongst whom shall I be? He said: Amongst the true followers of the prophets and the martyrs.
* Warning Against Failing to Fast in Ramadan
Abu Umaamah al-Baahilee, radiyallaahu anhu, said: I heard Allahs Messenger say: Whilst I was sleeping two men came to me and took hold of my arms and brought me to a steep mountain and said: climb so I said: I am not able to. So they said: We will make it easy for you. So I climbed until came to the summit of the mountain where I heard terrible cries, so I said: what are these cries? They said: That is the howling of the people of the Fire. Then they took me further on until came to a people who were strung up by their hamstrings, with their jawbones torn and flowing with blood, so I said: who are these. He said: Those who break their fast before the time at which they may do so.
As for what is reported that the Prophet said: He who deliberately fails to fast a day of Ramadan even if he were to fast forever it would not make up for it.
[This hadith is weak (daeef), not authentic.]
* The Intention (An-Niyyah)
The obligation to have intention for the obligatory fast before the appearance of the true dawn
When it is confirmed that the month of Ramadan has commenced, then it is obligatory upon every Muslim upon whom the Shariah rulings are binding to intend to fast until the night, as the Prophet said: He who does not resolve to fast before it is Fajr, then there is no fast for him.
He also said: He who does not intend during the night to fast, then there is no fast for him.
The place for the intention is the heart, to pronounce it upon the tongue is an innovation (bidah) and misguidance - even if the people think it to be good. The necessity of having intention from the night is particular to obligatory fasts since the Messenger used to come to Aaisha, radiyallaahu anhaa, at times other than Ramadan and say, Do you have any food? If not, then I am fasting.
The like of this is reported from the practice of the Companion: Abud-Dardaa, Abu Talhah, Abu Hurairah, Ibn Abbaas and Hudaifah ibn al-Yamaan, radiyallaahu anhum, and may Allah raise us up amongst them beneath the flag of the nobles of the children of Aadam.
So this refers to the optional fast and shows that the obligation of having intention before the appearance of the true drawn is for the obligatory fast - and Allah the Most High knows best.
TIME FOR BEGINNING AND ENDING THE FAST
When the Companions of the unlettered Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) fasted and the time for breaking the fast came, then they would eat, drink and cohabit with their wives as long as they didnt fall asleep. If one of them fell asleep before eating the evening meal then it was not permissible to do any of that until the next evening. Then the Mercy of their Lord, the All-Powerful, the Bestower, enveloped them and allowance was made for them, and they were overjoyed this is explained in the following hadith:
From al-Baraa, radiyallaahu anhu, who said: When the companions of the Prophet fasted and it became time to break the fast, if one of them slept before eating, then he would not eat that night, nor the next day until evening. Once Qays ibn Sirmah al-Ansaaree was fasting, so when it was time to break the fast he came to his wife and said to her, Do you have any food? She said: No, but I will go and seek some for you. He used to work during the day so sleep overtook him, then his wife came and when she saw him she said, You have missed it. Then in the middle of the next day he fainted, and that was mentioned to the Prophet, so this Aayah was sent down (which means):
It is made lawful for you to have sexual relations with your wives on the night of the fasts.
So they were overjoyed, and, And eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night).
was also sent down.
This is the cherishing mercy which the Most Kind and Most Merciful gives abundantly to His humble servants who say: We hear and we obey, we ask for Your forgiveness our Lord, and to you we return.
The fast has a specified time - with specified beginning and end and is from the appearance of Fajr until the daytime ends, the night begins and the suns disc is hidden by the horizon.
* The white thread and the black thread
When the aforementioned Aayah was sent down, some of the Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) took black camel tethers and white ones and placed them beneath their pillows, or (one) tied them to his foot and would continue eating and drinking until he could distinguish them.
From Adiyy ibn Haatim, radiyallaahu anhu, who said: When, Until the white thread appears to you distinct from the black thread.
was sent down I took a black and a white camel tether and placed them beneath my pillow, and during the night I would look to see but they didnt appear any different to each other, so in the morning I went to the Prophet (sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) and informed him, so he said: Rather it is the blackness of night and the whiteness of dawn.
[Reported by al-Bukhaaree (4/113) and Muslim (no 1090). The narration apparently shows that Adiyy was present when this Aayah was sent down, which means that he was a Muslim at the time. However, this is not the case, since fasting was made obligatory in the second year after the Hijrah, and Adiyy accepted Islam in the ninth or tenth year as occurs in al-Isaabah (2/468). So either we say that the Aayah was sent down very much later on and this is very unlikely, or that explain the saying of Adiyy: When it was sent down, to mean When I accepted Islam and this Aayah was recited to me. And this is what is correct due to the narration of Ahmad in his Musnad (4/377): Allahs Messenger taught me the prayer and fasting, he said: Pray such and such, and fast and when the sun sets then eat and drink until the white thread is clear to you from the black thread, and fast for 30 days unless you see the new moon before that so I took two threads of wool, one black and one white ... (the hadith).
abridged from Fathul-Baaree (4/132-133).]
(*Taken from Fasting in Ramadan as observed by the Prophet, by Shaikh Saleem al-Hilaalee and Shaikh Alee Hasan Alee Abdul-Hameed)