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Fatwa Corner

Al Azhar answers some of the most frequently asked questions in Ramadan


by et staff



What should a Muslim say upon breaking his fast?

The Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) would break his fast saying, Zahab al za’maa, wa ibtalet al orouk, wa thabet al agr be izn Allah, “The thirst is gone, the blood vessels have become moist, and the reward has been established with the will of Allah.”


What is required of a fasting person?

Unfortunately, many people think that fasting is all about abstaining from eating, drinking or smoking ― when these should be the easiest and the least to worry about. In fact, a fasting person should abstain from all kinds of sins and wrongdoings, exerting self-control. He should pray the five daily prayers at their correct times or his fasting could be incomplete, abandon lying, cheating, dealing in usury, and all other prohibited matters.


As the Prophet (PBUH) made it clear: “Whoever doesn’t abandon falsehood in speech and action, then Allah the Almighty has no need that he should leave his food and drink.”


Moreover, one should perform as much charity as possible. If you can feed the poor from the type of food you eat at your iftar, then you’ll be reaping the fruits of God’s mercy. Nowadays, many people have taken to preparing what they call “charity bags,” which include bottles of oil, sugar, rice, samna, dates, qamar el-din, pasta and tea, and they give them out to the poor. [Adding meat is an appropriate touch.]


How does one prepare for Laylat Al-Qadr?

Laylat Al-Qadr is better than 1,000 months. True believers know that it is the most blessed and cherished night. A person who misses it has indeed missed a lot. If a believer observes this night in worship and obedience, all his or her previous sins will be forgiven and erased. Therefore, it’s preferred to make a long qiyaam prayer during the nights on which the night could fall.


It’s also recommended to make extensive supplications on this night. Al-Saida Aisha asked Prophet Mohammed (PBUH): “O Messenger of Allah! If I knew which night is Laylat Al-Qadr, what should I say during it?” He instructed her to say, “Allah! You are forgiving, and You love forgiveness. So, forgive me.”


Moreover, we should spend more time in worship during the nights on which the night is likely to fall. This translates into abandoning many worldly pleasures in order to secure the time and thoughts solely for worship.


Aisha bint Abu Bakr reported, “When the last 10 [days of Ramadan] started, Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) would tighten his izaar [he stayed away from his wives in order to have more time for worship], spend the whole night awake [in prayer] and wake up his family” (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim). And she said, “Allah’s messenger used to exert more [in worship] on the last 10 than on other nights.”


Does the use of eye or ear drops break the fast?

Whoever uses eye or ear drops for medical purposes doesn’t invalidate his fast. These drops aren’t classified as food or drink ― aren’t called so by convention, nor by Islamic terminology ― besides, they’re administered through places in which food and drink aren’t ingested.


However, if taking such drops could be delayed until night, then it’s preferred to take them then, for this would avoid entering into any difference of opinion. We have to bear in mind that Allah doesn’t burden a soul with more than it can bear, and that the Almighty said, “And We have not made for you any hardships in religion.” (Qur’an, Surat Al-Baqara, 2:221).


How does one make up days missed in Ramadan?

Making up missed days of Ramadan is an obligation Muslims must fulfill. If one day of Ramadan is missed, then only one day needs to be made up ― there’s no additional penalty.


Whoever is sick or traveling and breaks the fast must fast the same number of days that he missed, consecutively or not consecutively. As for those who delay performing the missed days of fasting until the next Ramadan comes, they’re to fast the present Ramadan and then make up the days from the previous Ramadan. However, religious scholars differ about whether the person should pay a ‘fine’ if the fasting was delayed without any acceptable excuse.


Some scholars, like Malik and Al-Shafaie, agree that a person should make up by offering a amoud (a complete meal) given in charity each day, even though some claim there’s no authentic legal text to support it.


If someone dies and still had some days of Ramadan to make up, can his son or heir make them up on his behalf?

Just as all scholars agree that if an individual dies and has missed some prayers during his life, his guardian can not perform those prayers on his behalf, they agree that if one doesn’t have the ability to fast while he’s alive, no one is to fast for him.


Yet, there’s a bit of a difference of opinion when it comes to those who die without making up some days of fasting even though they had no excuse. Most scholars ― including Abu Hanifah and Malik ― agree that though the son or heir cannot fast on the deceased’s behalf, he can feed one person a day for each day missed.


However, some scholars, including followers of Al-Shafaie, take the argument a step further, stating that it’s preferred that the son or daughter fast on the deceased’s behalf, fulfilling his duty, relying on what has been related by At Tirmizhi, Ibn Majah, and others that a man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, “O Messenger of Allah, my mother died and a month’s fasting was due from her. Should I fast on her behalf?” The Prophet (PBUH) asked, “If your mother had a debt would you fulfill it for her?” He said, “Yes.” The Prophet observed: “A debt to Allah has more of a right to be fulfilled.”

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